Travel Lessons Learnt #2 : Why you should always get to the airport early

Ever missed your flight? Imagine waking up at 5:30am, and waking up a 3 year old and 1 year old. Getting everyone ready, into a taxi, to the airport. Making it to the check-in line, and when asked where you were heading to, the staff simply asks you to join the queue. Get to the check-in counter, attendant smiles and starts checking passports and verifying who each person was. Then………. she goes,” Sorry, your gate is closed. “

Let’s just fast forward to current day, over 12 email correspondences and a hundred phonecalls later. Whilst I tried to make a complaint to FlyDubai, I lost the case and it wasn’t much of a surprise. I mean, did I really think they would check the cameras to see what time we got to the counter? We were told we were late by “3 minutes”.

3 minutes.

So, to save you the pain that we had to go through, next time you are planning to take Fly Dubai, just make sure ….

a) Check-in online. Yes, we did do that…..

Snippet from the online boarding pass
Snippet from the online ticket

b) If you have bags to be dropped, make sure you get to the counter 60 minutes before departure. Note that you are able to drop your bags 24 hours in advance for Fly Dubai flights, and 48 hours in advance for Emirates flights.When you get to the line for the Check-in Counter at Terminal 3 Dubai International Airport, you will be routinely asked by the staff ,”Where are you flying?” You’ll then simply be asked to join the queue. Don’t get excited that you have now ‘made it on time.’ No one is going to warn you that your counter will be closed in the next 20 minutes, so you may have to try and ask other passengers to let you in front just in case it took too long for other people to get checked in. Bear that in mind. Just because you got to the line on time, doesn’t mean that you’re ‘on time’ to be checked in.  

c) 1 minute? 2 minutes? 3 minutes? No chance. We tried our best to ask if there was any way we could be let on the plane. We questioned the staff, why she even bothered to take her time and verify each person on the passport, wasting time, then informing us that we were now… late. Don’t even bother. You won’t be let on.

What happens next?

i) If you still want/need to go on the trip, you can pay for a one-way ticket. There is a Fly Dubai counter near the Check-in Counters of DXB T3.  We had to pay for a one-way ticket to Catania, departing two days later.

ii) We were advised by the staff that if it was Fly Dubai’s fault, they would refund us for that one-way ticket. So we made phonecalls to the FlyDubai hotline (600 54 44 45), where they’ll tell you to send an email to Don’t get overly upset when they tell you do that, just be little nice to them and understand that ‘Lets Talk’ actually means ‘Lets Email’.

iii) We were then told that they will ‘investigate’ This went on for almost 6 weeks, with me constantly following up via emails and phonecalls. At the end of it, we were advised the following :

Whilst I did send a follow up email to question what this ‘investigation’ entailed – i.e did they simply speak to the staff at the check-in counter or did they actually check the cameras? No one responded to me afterwards. Why would they?

So, lesson learnt.

We should have gotten to the airport earlier than we did. Whilst we may have gotten to the line on time, we had assumed that we were okay because the staff letting us join the queue did not warn us that we may miss our flight if we didn’t get to a counter in the next twenty minutes. Why would they? We may have actually gotten to the check-in counter on time, and should have informed the staff to check us in immediately instead of taking her time. So many should haves. Who can we blame but ourselves, really.

Note – Travel insurance will not cover for this. They have explicitly stated that if it was the fault of the airline, they (in this case, Fly Dubai), would have to pay for all losses incurred. I.e the one-way flight, the cancellation of accommodation, car rental, the pain. And at the end of the investigation since it was our fault, that’s it. Our loss!

So please – next time you have an early morning flight. Get the kids up even earlier. Get your a%% to the airport early !!! And have a great holiday 🙂

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Dubai resident. Stays most of the time in the marina as she can't be bothered going anywhere else after work and in the weekends. Originally from the land of the orang utans, spent the latter half of her life in the land down under. Always on the look out for deals, loves organising get-togethers, and occasionally steals some time for a sip of wine or four at ladies nights.

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