The couple decided to fly to England with Emirates, but when they boarded the plane to Dubai, they found that Emirates had put on the route a Boeing 777–300 with an old business class cabin, the seats in which did not even fully fold out.
According to the plaintiff's complaint to the New Zealand Dispute Tribunal, the old business class seat was also equipped with an outdated on-board system that also malfunctioned.
Emirates' official website for the New Zealand market features images of the latest Boeing 777 business class seat, which is fully reclining, modern upholstery, a personal minibar and the latest generation of personalized entertainment systems.
Airline lawyers, however , argued that these images and descriptions are not “misleading advertisements” as there is a small print notice at the bottom of the page warning that goods and services advertised may vary from flight to flight.
In fact, on flights from New Zealand, the airline usually used older Boeing 777s, but Emirates said that this was due to unprofitable routes to New Zealand.
At the same time, Emirates stated for some reason that the seat was a business class on her old Boeing 777 reclines by 166.1 degrees, which actually confirmed: these parameters characterize the seat for the “ordinary passenger”.
The Judge of the Dispute Tribunal declined to accept Emirates' arguments, pointing out that the warning footnote on the site could only apply to accidental changes to product and service parameters. “Emirates advertised business class services that consumers could hardly get,” — quotes the words of the judge Internet news portal Stuff. “This is an advertisement for a service that they did not regularly provide, not due to an accidental or one-time change of aircraft due to operational requirements.”
Thus, Emirates was found to have violated the Fair Trade Act 1986: “Advertising a service Emirates knew was unlikely to be provided is misleading.”
Emirates initially offered the plaintiff a partial refund of only NZ$786, stating that the service he received was “only 5 percent cheaper than what was advertised.”
The family, however, demanded a larger refund, including for a non-reclining chair. The tribunal sided with the plaintiff and ordered Emirates to return NZ$13,555 to him by 27 March.