When living in Australia I usually flew back home to Germany with Emirates. I loved the service, the food and the on-board entertainment! Until my very nasty experience at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. I stopped flying Emirates. Eight years later, I gave it another shot; the deal from Nairobi to Frankfurt was too good to be true. Approaching the check-in counter, my thoughts wandered back to September 2011 when Emirates denied me boarding my flight.
Imagine: Saturday, 10th September 2011. Nairobi airport around 9pm. Ready to check in for my flight to Frankfurt. Not thinking of anything until I was asked to present my credit card with which I purchased my ticket.
ME: Sorry sir, but this card got stolen out of a hotel safe in Diani Beach. Here’s the police report.
HIM: Sorry, I can’t let you board the flight until you show me the credit card.
ME: Err, didn’t you just hear me, it got stolen – out of a hotel safe! Here’s the police report.
HIM: Not a problem, we can cancel the ticket and you can purchase a new ticket.
ME: How do I pay?
HIM: By credit card.
ME also looking suspiciously around as I was sure there’s a hidden camera somewhere and am part of a hilarious TV prank: Funny! I don’t have a card anymore, my dad wired money as it was towards the end of my trip. I don’t have USD800 in cash. How can I buy a new ticket?
HIM: Not my problem.
ME: I can log onto my bank account and you can check that the credit card was in my name and that the ticket has been paid for.
HIM: No, you need to get a new ticket.
ME: What do you want me to do? I don’t have a card. I don’t have enough cash.
HIM: This is not my problem. Please step aside so I can check in other clients.
ME: Can I please speak to your supervisor.
SUPERVISOR: Please speak to the man in charge for online bookings or reservations.
MAN IN CHARGE FOR ONLINE BOOKINGS AND RESERVATIONS: Please present your credit card.
ME: I can’t. But I can show you my online account, so you can check that the flight has been paid for.
MAN IN CHARGE FOR ONLINE BOOKINGS AND RESERVATIONS: To save us time, please leave and purchase a new ticket!
Up to this point, I tried to remain calm and friendly. Then I burst into tears. WTF!!! I talked to a lot of people who seemed to be in charge, but couldn’t care less. The police report was worth nothing. That I’ve lost everything from cash to passport to credit card didn’t really impress anyone!
What was I supposed to do?
All of a sudden a god-send angel appeared in the shape of a middle-aged Englishman! He realised the situation I am in. My challenge evaporated into thin air. Get this. He flicked his credit card over the counter and told the guy: “get this girl on the plane!”
A total stranger lend me US$800!! He told me: “You could be my daughter and I trust that you will pay me back! Besides you remained so calm and friendly, it totally impressed me.” We swopped email addresses. And that’s it, I was able to board the flight…
What an amazing experience. I couldn’t believe my luck. Angels exist – they come in all form and shapes.
By the way, it took me seven months to get a refund from Emirates. I was transferred from one service centre to the other; from Kenya to Germany to Dubai to Australia back to Kenya. But persistence is King. I got my refund.