Emirates has come under fire for offering a cake as compensation to an elderly disabled passenger who was left without a wheelchair at Hong Kong airport and had to struggle to make her own way to arrivals.
Marian Robinson, 77, and her husband Herbert, 79, (pictured here) flew with Emirates last week from London to Hong Kong, via Dubai, to visit their daughter, Lindsey Gordon.
Mr Robinson had pre-booked wheelchair assistance for his wife, who cannot walk more than a few steps unaided due to several illnesses.
Although a wheelchair was provided for the Dubai stop-over, there was no wheelchair on arrival in Hong Kong.
“They waited on the aircraft until they were told to get off, then they waited outside the aircraft and nobody came,” explained their daughter.
“The captain kindly tried to help and asked a passing porter to assist, but he declined. I was waiting at arrivals for over two hours, terrified that they had somehow been stranded in Dubai.
“Eventually, after much trauma, they managed to find their way through the airport and I found them in the middle of the concourse more than two hours after the aircraft landed. There were severely traumatised and confused as to what had happened.”
When Mrs Gordon complained to the airline, requesting that her parents could perhaps be upgraded on their return journey by way of compensation, she received an email from customer services saying this wasn’t possible due to policy.
Instead, she was told: “We can surely book a complimentary cake for them. Let me know if I should book the cake for them?”
Mrs Gordon said she was shocked by the response.
“I hardly think a cake makes up for what my parents went through, and the real issue is that nobody explained why the wheelchair wasn’t provided and they still haven’t. Mum and dad had been travelling for a total of 20 hours. My mum can only walk a few steps, even with a walking stick, so it was a massive effort for her to get from the aircraft to the arrivals hall which is quite a distance and involves a train and several escalators.
“To make matter worse, when my parents checked in for the return flight I told them what had happened on the inward journey and the check-in clerk laughed. I had to inform her that it wasn’t actually funny.”
Emirates said it was investigating the case and issued an apology.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Emirates Flight Crew to help Mr and Mrs Robinson on the ground, adequate assistance from the Hong Kong airport wheelchair handling team did not materialise in time. This service is operated by third parties on behalf of all airlines,” it added.
“The comfort and safety of our passengers is our priority, and we are truly sorry that we did not meet Mr and Mrs Robinson’s requirements on this occasion. Our Customer Services team in Dubai made sure that the wheelchair assistance was provided for their return journey.
“We take all complaints very seriously and are currently investigating Mr and Mrs Robinson’s case to establish how this may have happened.”