Passenger on Emirates Self-Upgrades to First Class, Ends Up in Court

Aug 7, 2019

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Self-upgrading — the rare but often disruptive case of passengers who decide to go sit in a higher class of service without permission — can lead to disturbing scenes. In one recent case on Emirates, it landed the passenger responsible in court, and resulted in the bizarre suspension of a flight attendant he had allegedly assaulted.

According to a report in the Emirati newspaper Khaleej Times, the case was debated at the Dubai Court of First Instance last Sunday, when the flight attendant who was allegedly assaulted and harassed by the self-upgrading passenger testified about the incident. The longtime Emirates crew member told the prosecutor that she was in charge of the flight attendants aboard an Airbus A380 from Los Angeles to Dubai on April 13. The 31-year-old man, who is now facing multiple charges, took it upon himself to move from his economy seat to an upper-deck premium seat. The man didn’t just self-upgrade; he self-upgraded twice, in the crew member’s description of events.

“We faced a problem with one passenger — the defendant — who was traveling in the economy class and moved on his own to the business class,” she said in court. “He would not want to listen to me as I tried to explain to him about the airline’s regulations. He then moved to the first class and put the earpiece on while insulting me.”

The defendant’s father then approached the flight attendant to defuse the situation, however, the defendant would call on her again later in the flight. “He then called me names and followed me to the upper floor,” said the flight attendant. “He twisted my arm and groped me for a few seconds. The man damaged my work card as I screamed at him to let go of me. During the police interrogation, he said that I was not his type.”

The defendant also allegedly told the victim that he would “get her sacked” along with her supervisor, who witnessed the assault. He also claimed that “he had connections in the Dubai Police.”

The plaintiff had been working as a flight attendant for Emirates for 12 years. She said that this was the first time she had ever dealt with something of this nature aboard a flight. Despite the presence of multiple witnesses of the assault and harassment, the airline ultimately decided to suspend her.

“I was suspended and did not receive my salary for one month pending my mental evaluation by a psychiatrist,” she said in a tearful testimon. She has apparently been deemed unfit to deal with passengers, according to the report by the Khaleej Times.  

We reached out to Emirates for the airline’s take on events and to clarify why the flight attendant would have been suspended, but hadn’t heard back by the time of publication. 

The trial will resume on September 10.

If you want to experience Emirates First Class yourself, check out our beginners guide on how to get to fly premium without breaking the bank.

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Featured image of an Emirates first class suite on the A380 by TPG 


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