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I had a weird experience with Emirates traveling from Canada to Dubai. After having checked my documents the Emirates representative asked me whether it is important for me to travel. I asked him why and he said if I do not travel then they can think up "alternate arrangements". I am not sure what that was about, or what that meant?

No one else in the line was asked this question and the way of asking the question was bit "cringe" to think of another word.

Any one has any ideas why that line of questioning? It came out as very odd. I am thinkin to tweet Emirates customer service a complaint, unless what he had asked had some reasonable justification? Reasonable justification would not be that he was trying to limit the number of passengers to encourage social distancing because the flight was packed.

Thank you.

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    The usual reason for this is that they are overbooked and are trying to find a few passengers that want to voluntarily switch to another flight before they need to bump passengers off. They may not ask the question from people with status (frequent flyers), or people who have connections (because that makes things a lot more complex), or people with more expensive fares (flexible vs discount fares), etc.
    – jcaron
    Jun 25 at 7:42
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    Also, you were traveling alone and if it's only one seat that's overbooked, they wouldn't ask people who are traveling with companions.
    – hb20007
    Jun 25 at 8:32
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    @jcaron and my impression is that Emirates' marketing is heavily oriented towards itineraries that connect through Dubai, which, if it is correct, would imply that a large proportion of passengers have connections and would therefore be less likely to be approached.
    – phoog
    Jun 25 at 8:33
  • Thanks folks, what you guys make complete sense and rational. I guess still a jet lagged if I could not think those up. Thanks again for your help. However, just to clarify, I did have a connection in Dubai but overall what is being said does make sense to me. Jun 25 at 12:36
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    @Sphero hmm that sounds a bit ominous ....... Jun 25 at 13:34
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Since the OP appreciated the reasons in the comments, and would like to mark an answer as accepted, I will summarize the comments.

It seems likely that since the flight was packed, the Emirates agent was likely looking for volunteers to get bumped off the flight and take a later flight. Various examples of reasons why more people were not asked:

  • OP was travelling alone
  • OP did not have a connecting flight out of Dubai, and most other passengers likely did
  • Other passengers might have had more expensive tickets, so Emirates more likely to bump a discounted fare
  • Other passengers may have had high levels of frequent flyer status

Now my observations/opinion: If they did not need to bump several people, no need to announce over the PA that they need volunteers. And although the question almost sounded to me like, "Can you take a bus instead of a plane" it could have been what they are trained to say to be more formal way of asking "Do you want to take a later flight for a possible free travel voucher?"

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