Le in-coerenze di Emirates.

ek5Consistency è un termine inglese che si traduce come coerenza e, come ad una azione o una persona, si può applicare anche ad un viaggio aereo.

Per le compagnie aeree che fanno delle qualità la loro bandiera e di un grande hub il loro fulcro di azione, mi riferisco ai modelli delle compagnie del Golfo (Emirates, Etihad e Qatar) e Turkish Airlines, tanto per intenderci, la consistency più che un concetto diventa un obbligo nei confronti del passeggero. E’ forse per la difficoltà a mantenere la coerenza che Emirates è restia alle Alleanze, come leggerete più sotto, e Turkish ha eliminato la Premium Economy?

Vishal Mehra ci racconta di un viaggio New Delhi DEL – Dubai DXB – Barcellona BCN e ritorno da Lisbona LIS – Dubai DXB – New Delhi DEL a bordo di Emirates e delle sue varying consistencies = coerenze variabili, e forse pure incoerenze.

– Questo post doveva essere un tipico post di viaggio sino a che Tim Clark, Presidente e CEO di Emirates, mi parlò, tra le altre cose, del futuro della compagnia e della sua personale visione sulle alleanze, con un podcast di 30 minuti dal canale #1500 dell’IFE di bordo. Stavo volando, il maggio scorso, da DXB a BCN a bordo di un Boeing 777-300 tanto bello e regale dal di fuori quanto lussuoso e confortevole all’interno, nonostante la disposizione 3-4-3 di Emirates, quando sullo schermo appare lui: bella voce, bel modo di fare ed estremamente convincente. Le Alleanze non servono alle compagnie, dice Tim Clark, che teme la perdita di gestione del comfort e della qualità di assoluto livello promesse da Emirates ai suoi passeggeri sia a bordo che al Terminal T3 di Dubai, al quale fa riferimento. Continua informandomi di come il network di Emirates sia in continua espansione, il progetto finale prevede il doppio delle rotte attuali, sulle quali la compagnia promette lo stesso assoluto standard qualitativo.

Mi ha convinto. D’altronde l’esperienza che sto vivendo su questo volo è altissima. L’IFE che ho di fronte, basato sul sistema 3000i di Panasonic Avionics Corporation, è un vero gioiello capace di mostrare informazioni senza interrompere il contenuto dello schermo principale; persino l’handset ha un piccolo touch screen. I pasti, colazione e pranzo di qualità superiore alla media, sono serviti da un equipaggio efficente e cortese.

Anche il viaggio di ritorno, da Lisbona a Dubai e sempre a bordo di un B773, è un vero piacere. A Lisbona i controlli di sicurezza e passaporti sono veloci, ma la camminata sino al gate, l’ultimo dell’aeroporto, è qualcosa di più che un breve collegamento. Per inciso, comunque, nulla in confronto alla distanza che dovetti camminare al Terminal 3 di Delhi. A bordo mi aspetta lo stesso world class IFE, e penso alla consistency che si mantiene, ma la vera sorpresa è il ridotto numero di passeggeri: solo il 50% dei posti risulta occupato. Ad esempio: io ho due posti liberi accanto al mio, un finestrino, mentre il tipo nella fila di mezzo ha 4 posti tutti per lui. Sullo schermo scorre l’intervista a Tim Clark: ancora estremamente convincente. L’ottima cena, il mio primo pasto indiano in 8 giorni, è servito da un equipaggio cortese e ben disposto pure a conversare con i passeggeri. Verso la fine di un volo impeccabile servono alcuni drink.

Poi arriviamo a Dubai, in leggero anticipo. I controlli più veloci che all’andata mi lasciano 5 ore e 45 minuti di tempo da spendere prima del volo per Delhi. A questo punto va espressa una opinione personale sul Terminal 3 di Dubai Internation DXB, dal quale sono passato già sei volte, e del quale non ho timore ad affermare che: è uno degli aeroporti più noiosi che conosca. Non c’è nulla da fare che non sia shopping. Lo shopping può essere parte di una esperienza di transito, ma non deve essere la unica opzione. Perché Dubai non impara da Monaco, Zurigo, Amsterdam, Seoul e Changi, ad esempio? Essere l’hub di una delle più grandi compagnie aeree al mondo comporta delle responsabilità, e da questo punto di vista DXB T3 è, a mio avviso, decisamente carente.

Stanco e stressato mi incammino verso i gate B, per scoprire, una volta a destinazione e dalla voce urlante di un impiegato di Emirates, che il mio volo ritarda di 1 ora e 30 minuti, e che ha pure cambiato di gate. Al secondo gate mi informano di un ulteriore cambio di gate, il terzo, dal quale, e con altri 15 minuti di ritardo, finalmente ci imbarcano … sugli autobus con destinazione un lontano Airbus A330-200.

Il ritardo iniziale è stato causato da una fitta quanto inusuale nebbia che ha avvolto Dubai, nonché l’aeroporto di origine del volo, Damman DMM. Ma, mi viene da pensare, com’è possibile che Emirates non sapesse del ritardo, tanto da avvisarci solo all’ultimo momento? Una delle policy di Emirates prevede l’alloggio gratuito in hotel per connessioni superiori alle 8 ore.

Nulla di tutto ciò è in linea con la coerenza di trattamento promessa da Tim Clark.

Neppure l’imbarco è all’altezza delle aspettative. I passeggeri di prima e business class vengono fatti imbarcare dalla scaletta anteriore mentre quelli di economy, anche chi siede delle prime file, dalla posteriore; c’è malcontento diffuso. A bordo trovo una disposizione 2-4-2, e per fortuna anche ora il posto a fianco del mio finestrino rimane libero, ma questa volta la sorpresa non è positiva: l’IFE non solo è mediocre, ma probabilmente uno dei peggiori che abbia mai trovato. Altri 20 minuti di taxing si sommano alle 2 ore e 15 di ritardo, mentre mi rendo conto della scomodità del sedile con il cuscino sfondato e con un improbabile supporto lombare, solo con Ryanair ho volato peggio.

La voce di Tim Clark mi torna alla mente, ma questa volta urlando.

In volo si mantiene ottima la qualità dei pasti e il servizio, mentre leggo il Financial Times offerto al gate. IFE, no grazie!

Una volta a terra traggo alcune conclusioni.

Dov’è quella coerenza di servizio world class senza soluzione di continuità di cui parla tanto Tim Clark? Emirates opera questo stesso A332 su Delhi con frequenza giornaliera, e se non fosse stato per le ore di sonno recuperato e il vicino di posto simpatico, del volo dell’andata, avrei avuto le stesse impressioni negative.

Emirates, per la quale l’India dovrebbe essere il maggiore mercato, trasporta più passeggeri di qualsiasi compagnia indiana, e allora perché la disponibilità e l’accettazione del passeggero indiano è data per scontata? Altre grandi compagnie globali, come Lufthansa, usano i migliori aerei, ad esempio il top di gamma Boeing 747-8, per volare verso le città indiane. Non mi stupirei che compagnie del Golfo come Qatar e Etihad, con un migliore servizio sul Subcontinente, erodessero fette di mercato a Emirates, alla quale auguro di riuscire a offrire un servizio più coerente, com’è nelle loro promesse.

Ecco la valutazione complessiva dei voli:

Delhi – Dubai: 6,5

Dubai – Barcellona: 8,5

Lisbona – Dubai: 9,5

Dubai – Delhi: 3,5. –

 .

This post was supposed to be your typical trip report until I heard Tim Clark (President, CEO) talk about future of Emirates and his view about airline alliances among many other things within that 30 minute podcast/interview on Emirates IFE (known as ICE) channel no #1500, the default start on the home screen. Let me take you back to where this all began. I was flying from New Delhi to Barcelona in early May and during the DXB-BCN leg this post took a life of its own. I was completely mesmerized by the sheer beauty of this Boeing 777-300, regal on the outside & luxurious on the inside. (Barring the bone crunching 3-4-3 seating arrangement of Emirates). The IFE on this aircraft was state of the art in its truest sense and I can safely say the best IFE I have experienced till date on all 32 airlines I have flown in. The system is based on 3000i from Panasonic Avionics Corporation. Even the handset had a small touch screen on it, and was capable of displaying information on its own without interrupting content on the main screen. We were served breakfast and lunch on this flight by a very efficient crew, both meals were good and above par.

It was during this flight I had my eureka moment. Hearing Tim Clark talk about Emirates future plans, their new destinations, that even with current network they are only half done and of course why Emirates is averse to joining any Airline Alliance. The meat of his answer revolved around the fact that Emirates was averse to joining any alliance because alliances never helped an airline much, and Emirates feared that transferring your pax from one airline to the other may give them inconsistent experiences, completely opposite to their vision of seamless, comfortable and world-class hospitality that Emirates wants its customers to feel across their network and at their home in Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3. Fair enough I thought and agreed with his thought process in my mind as I disembarked.

The LIS-DXB flight of this trip was also on a B773. I had an Open-jaw ticket and was returning to Delhi via Lisbon. The security and immigration was pretty painless, but the walk to the flight gate, which was actually the last of the airport, was quite a walk. Dare I say, it would have dwarfed the walk at Delhi Airport’s T3. After an efficient boarding process I moved to my seat to see the same world-class IFE greeting me and I remember thinking to myself, “consistently world class indeed”. But the biggest surprise of the flight was when Cabin crew armed & cross checked doors and I was sitting next to 2 empty seats. Suddenly the Aviation Geek in me woke up and I stood up to have a look around the cabin to check for loads. It was a Saturday evening flight, with just about 50% occupancy in economy. The guy in the next middle row had all 4 seats for himself. As we rose up over the balmy and beautiful evening of Lisbon, I fired up ICE and got to hear Tim Clark again. I must admit I loved hearing him speak; his voice was like a gentle massage to my eardrums with a soothing accent. He had me completely sold on Emirates vision and their reasoning for it. Our crew for the flight was nice and chatty, and the meal service for this flight served as Dinner, was yummy. I had my first Indian meal in 8 days and the chicken tikka masala did not disappoint at all. The crew also served drinks just before landing into DXB. Overall a flawless flight from Emirates.

But then we landed into DXB. We arrived slightly before time and I had 5 hours &and45 minutes left for my early morning connecting flight to New Delhi. Transfer and security was much better this time compared to my outward leg. Here’s my take on Dubai International T3 after been there 6 times now. I find DXB as one of the world’s most boring airport/terminal. DXB sadly offers nothing for the traveler but shopping. I think that’s where it should take a cue from airports like Munich, Zurich, Amsterdam, Seoul and Changi. Shopping is just one part of the experience, not the entire experience. Being a hub airport for one of the largest airlines in the world should carry responsibilities with it & so far DXB T3 has failed on my watch in many aspects. With my tired limbs and stressed mind I hopped on the train towards B Gates. I reach our scheduled gate only to hear an emirates employee shouting loudly that our flight is delayed by an hour and 30 minutes, with a gate change. Later on an Emirates employee tells me all delays at the airport were due to unseasonal fog, which enveloped DXB in the morning and has had a knock on effect on flights throughout the day. Our aircraft was scheduled to arrive from Dammam and its arrival was delayed by 2 hours due to the same problem.

But there’s another dimension to this thought. As the disruptions have been on since morning, Emirates must have known about possible delays for our flight to DEL as well, then why it decided to inform passengers at the very last minute, at their boarding gate? Also, from my point of view, if Emirates knew about this 2 hour delay much earlier, they could have even given me a hotel accommodation at DXB. Emirates has a policy of granting all economy passengers with a layover of more than 8 hours at DXB, a complimentary hotel stay. Needless to say I was physically exhausted after almost 15 hours of travel and would have loved some shuteye, even for couple of hours. My decision of not going to the Lounge at T1 came to haunt me.

I reach the new gate as per the re-scheduled departure time only to find that the gate has been changed again. So, I reach the 3rd gate of this journey and it finally seems to be the correct one. We start boarding 15 minutes after the re-scheduled departure time, and are already running late. Again. And there is no explanation from the airline staff as well. And to top it all of, we are transferred to buses. It seems our Airbus A330-200 has chosen to park remotely.

Certainly not the world-class consistent experience that Tim Clark promised.

By the time I boarded my DXB-DEL flight, I had lost all sense of time, but it would be safe to say that the flight took off at least 2 hours and 15 minutes post-scheduled departure. The boarding for this flight was completely mismanaged by the Emirates crew/ground staff. First and business class passengers were requested to use the front staircase understandably but the entire economy class passengers were required to board the aircraft from the rear. Even those with early economy seats were turned away from the front door to board from rear. Naturally that had many passengers agitated, as they had to carry their hand baggage from the back of the aircraft, almost to the front. One of the few positives about the flight I immediately noticed was the 2-4-2 seating arrangement, with a window seat It seemed ideal for me. My luck continued with this flight as well as the seat next to me remained vacant. But as I sat down, I immediately saw this (the IFE system) staring back at me. From the best to the worst, Emirates had provided me two extreme IFE options and the voice of Tim Clark talking about consistent world-class experience for passengers started ringing in my ears. You see having a mediocre IFE system is one thing, but this was the worst. Just as we were all set for the taxi to runway, the captain informed us of another 20-minute delay. Apparently the control tower wanted us to wait, if we hadn’t waited enough already. Meanwhile I also took notice of one of the most uncomfortable seats I have been on in an aircraft (not as bad as my Ryan Air flight but close enough) with weird lower back support settings which made a thick uncomfortable cushion pop out and the seat itself was not the best.

Tim Clark and his voice came back to my mind and ears. Shouting.

We were served lunch on this flight and the butter chicken I opted for was very well prepared. The crew of the flight, barring the initial boarding process, was also very friendly and professional. Did I mention that the IFE on this flight was almost repulsive and I never bothered to even use it once, preferring to read FT on Sunday, provided gratis by Emirates at the boarding gate. Nothing else of much note in the flight as we had a smooth landing at Delhi and the captain apologized in the end for multiple delays.

One big question lords over my mind after these extreme experiences.

Where is the consistent world class seamless (and other adjectives) experience that Emirates loves to boast about? This is not a one-off thing as Emirates operates this very A332 daily to Delhi? I haven’t documented my first flight, DEL-DXB in detail, again on A330-200, but if it wasn’t for catching up on sleep or a chatty co-passenger, I would have been horrified about that as well.

India is supposed to be Emirates biggest market, then why this huge inconsistency? Emirates flies more Indian passengers abroad than any other Indian carrier, Why the Indian passenger is almost taken for granted? Especially considering other global players like Lufthansa fly their top the line aircraft, the Boeing 747-8, to Indian cities.

And it’s just not me pointing out their inconsistencies; plenty of others are talking about it as well. Just that nobody else has devoted such detail to it. I won’t be surprised if the more nimble (and smaller as of now) gulf carriers like Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways attract more Indian travellers to their much superior product in time to come. For Emirates, I only wish for a consistent passenger experience, only to live up to their own promise, which should be good enough for now.

Overall I would rate my 4 flights with Emirates as the following:

DEL-DXB – 6.5/10

DXB-BCN – 8.5/10

LIS-DXB – 9.5/10

DXB-DEL – 3.5/10.

(the original post here)

2 comments for “Le in-coerenze di Emirates.

  1. July 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    È strano Michele, questa azienda, Emirates, ha cominciato a volare a San Paolo. Capisco che la Turkish abbia dei voli a San Paolo o Rio in Brasile (turismo), ma c’è flusso di passeggeri tra il Brasile e gli Emirati Arabi Uniti che faccia rentevoli dei voli regolari tra San Paolo e Dubai?

    • July 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      André, le compagnie che puntano sul mega hub, quelle del Golfo e Turkish, non pensano in termini di turismo né di business, ma di connessione globale. Con 1 solo scalo un passeggero può raggiungere qualsiasi città del mondo. Magari, per te, da GRU all’Europa non conviene per questioni di distanza e di praticità visti i tanti voli diretti, ma per i mercati emergenti dell’Oriente e del Subcontinente Indiano è sicuramente un vantaggio. Più destinazioni riescono a connettere al mega hub e più ha senso il modello di sviluppo.

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