He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it — Plato
Emirates Airlines is one of the leading airlines globally and this is reflected in its networks of routes. I have travelled with Emirates a couple of times, but my last journey with the airline last week was dour, as I was left with a sour taste. I was more than embittered and wondered whether there was justice in this our world and whether the talk of all men born equal had any meaning.
I first travelled with Emirates from Accra to Beijing and back in 2011. Then in 2017, I had another encounter with the same airline. In both instances, I was the august guest of the government of China and travelled Business Class.
Things were different on my journey with Emirates from Dubai to Accra last Tuesday, March 27. I was part of the team of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection which attended the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York from March 12 to 23. I went by Emirates from Accra to New York and had to return by the same carrier. On the first leg of the journey, there were a few hours delay in reconnecting. However, the return journey had a transit period of nearly 12 hours and by international aviation rules, accommodation and meals have to be provided by the airline. Emirates passed the test, with the provision of decent accommodation outside the airport.
My discomfort commenced as I embarked upon the journey from Dubai to Accra. At the JFK International Airport in New York, luggage was checked in bound for Accra. On the ticket, it was indicated that I was entitled to two pieces of luggage which were transferred directly to the one bound for Accra. There was no such indication for hand luggage.
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Since I was checked in at the JFK Airport by Emirates staff and there was no issue about my hand luggage, I did not foresee any difficulty at Dubai, but I was totally mistaken. But for providence, I could have enmeshed myself in serious trouble and embarrassment. When I got to Dubai in the night and looking at the fact that my next flight was at 6.45 am, I anticipated stress if I should decide to buy gift items in the morning since there would be very little time between moving from the hotel to the airport; so I wanted to buy in the night but something advised me against that. I had reserved USD 300 for the purpose of gift items.
Whatever it was which counselled me not to spend any money that night proved my saviour. The next morning as I entered the departure gate and headed for those already checked in, I encountered Emirates staff with a weighing scale. All hand luggage were to be weighed. To my dismay, I had two hand luggage, one with a few items and another hanging on my neck which had a laptop and my winter jackets. One weighed nine kilogrammes while the other weighed six kilogrammes. I was told that I could carry only one of the two into the plane. When I asked whether the journey from the United States (US) to Dubai and that from Dubai to Accra had different baggage rules, nobody was ready to listen to me, except that I could carry only one.
The fact that I had never had problem with hand luggage on my earlier trips with Emirates because I travelled Business Class and that I did not face any problem with the two when I boarded the plane in New York made me ask questions as to why Emirates was being mean. I, thus, went to check in one of my hand luggage. I had anticipated that it would be considered as excess weight and charged according to weight, but again I was mistaken. For the nine kilogramme bag, which I bought in Dubai as my second-hand luggage last year, I had to part with AED 960 which translated into USD 267, leaving me with less than USD 40. If I had done the purchases the previous night, I would have been compelled to throw some of the items away.
With my sole hand luggage of six kilogrammes, I had to redeem a compatriot, dressed like an Emir who could not escape the one hand luggage rule, which brought my weight to 9kg, before he was allowed to enter the waiting area leading to Boarding Gate A7.
I felt diminished and humiliated because Emirates considers travellers from the US superior. If the main luggage were to be removed from the aircraft and reweighed, they would have imposed overweight or oversize charges. I, thus, feel Emirates cheated me.