Emirates’ U.S. Bookings Fell HOW MUCH After The Travel Ban?!

Filed Under: Emirates

In late January, President Trump instituted an executive order immediately banning nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya, from entering or transiting the United States. At the time this included tourists, students, guest workers, legal immigrants, refugees, and potentially even U.S. green card holders.

While this caused a lot of confusion and chaos, most airlines said that their bookings weren’t impacted all that much by the ban. After all, there weren’t that many people from those seven countries traveling to the U.S. Some airlines reported a very short term impact, but said that bookings had fully recovered by now.

Well, apparently that’s not the case for Emirates, at least according to the airline’s president, Tim Clark. Fortune reports Tim Clark as saying at ITB Berlin that bookings for travel to the U.S. fell by 35% overnight, and haven’t recovered:

“The first U.S. travel order saw the booking velocity fall by 35% overnight. The effect it had was instantaneous,” Tim Clark told journalists in Berlin on the sidelines of the ITB travel fair.

“When will it recapture the original booking curve is anyone’s guess,” he said. Clark said he hoped for an improvement in the summer following the usually quiet period during Ramadan.


It’s interesting to hear how great of an impact the temporary ban has apparently had, especially since other airlines haven’t reported similar issues. Sure, this certainly impacted some travelers directly, though a vast majority of Emirates passengers traveling to the U.S. weren’t coming from the above countries.

I suspect one element may be that people aren’t visiting the U.S. as a way of protesting the policy, which is understandable as well. However, you’d think that would impact all airlines, including other carriers in the region.

Are you surprised to see Emirates’ U.S. bookings impacted as much as they have been?

  1. Lucky, I think your capslock was momentarily stuck when you cobbled together the title. You may wish to fix it so this blog doesn’t go too far down the sensationalist tabloid route.

  2. I think I should be allowed to live illegally in any country that protests about us sanctions. Let’s see Mexico take kindly to me using forged documents to get government benefits.

  3. Emirates will carry a far higher proportion of Muslims than European or Far Eastern airlines, I should imagine. Were I Muslim I would do my best to avoid a country where I was made to feel unwelcome and possibly even hostile. So it’s no great surprise that Emirates is harder hit.

    This should delight UA, AA and DL who will use any means to try to hobble Emirates and the other ME airlines – this is something I shouldn’t think they expected but they’ll lap it up. But they do have to be careful what they wish for – to the extent that the USA becomes more marginal in world affairs, then the US airlines will suffer.

  4. I’m an American and I’ve cancelled international trips since the travel ban came up. I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of haphazard rule making and newly emboldened CBP agents deciding to mess with people. My passport is like many travel hackers. It contains stamps from many Muslim and unusual countries.

  5. I have typically travelled 5-6 times to the US every year for the last several years. Decided not to do any US travel this year. It’s not a protest, just seems like too much of a hassle. I know several friends and colleagues in Europe who feel the same way. Just going by the anecdotal data that I have, the drop in Emirates traffic doesn’t seem that surprising.

  6. More award ticket availability? Also please get rid of trivago ad at the bottom of the mobile page. It makes the page scroll to the bottom automatically, every time.

  7. Makes sense. In the same way that I don’t go to countries that are particularly hostile to Americans, I wouldn’t travel to a country that was hostile towards Muslims if I was Muslim.

  8. I’m surprised that you keep attempting to comment on topics that have proven divisive and alienating to many of your readers.

  9. I’m an American living in Canada and I have no plans on crossing the border at all this year. Not a protest so much as it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of the hassle of encountering a border guard on a power trip. If I had to give them my phone unlocked, I’d have to do a wipe of everything to make sure nothing was surreptitiously installed and change all passwords and reset everything… Meh not worth a weekend of theatre in NYC.

  10. When it comes to aircraft flying between the U.S. and Middle East, American foreign policy now dictates that foreign nationals don’t come to see us (queue picture of empty Emirates A380 taking off), rather we [USA] will go to see them (queue video feed from a USAF Predator armed with Hellfire missiles flying over the ME).

    Will be interesting to see how much the U.S. tourism/travel industry is affected this year.

  11. @ Sheila E.

    It’s an aviation/travel blog, and this is an aviation/travel issue. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

  12. My gut is that this is an excuse for general over-capacity in the US. I think Emirates is beginning to suffer from its party days of high oil prices.

  13. @Credit, if you intend to mean illegal Mexicans commit fraud and forge documents to get welfare, I think you are either completely unfamiliar with the issue or simply brainwashed. In my humble opinion, illegal immigrants would rather keep it low profile. If you want to find Welfare fraud, let me just point you to the nearest trailer park!

  14. So Clark discovered that travel has up and down cycles for particular markets. Now he can write his doctoral dissertation. 😉

  15. I think the real reason this is happening is because the U.S. dollar
    Is so overvalued right now. Going to the U.S. for shopping trips is not worth it for for the foreseeable future. Of course if trump does half the things he has said he will it will fall.

  16. @Matthew Poole – The real reason bookings fell 35% “instantaneously” on the night of the travel ban being announced is because the strong dollar is preventing people going for shopping trips? They all just suddenly realised that at the same time? Yes, that makes sense…

    Though why on Earth anyone is surprised about this is beyond me. 2 of the 7 people I know (me included) planning on going to the US this year (all non-Muslims, none with any connection to those 6/7 countries) have cancelled their plans – it’s hardly shocking that those specifically targeted by the ban would do the same…

    @Credit – What an incredibly moronic argument. It’s quite staggering how so many people trot out rubbish like “we’re not against immigrants, just the illegal ones” when who is legal or not is solely dictated by law and policy. No-one wants illegal visitors from Sudan, they don’t think they should be classified as illegal visitors in the first place. Logic was never your strong-point though was it.

  17. @Daniel Yeah, right, what Lucky wants is for half of his readers to not come here anymore, not to use his affiliate links, not add to the clicks that boost his Google rating.

    Lucky has done very little of Trump click baiting. Gary Leff did so much of it that after @10 years of reading his blog (usually checking it several times a day) I don’t bother to read it anymore. And I don’t think I’m the only one either. When he started that people would object. Now, crickets, which I’m guessing means a lot of people who didn’t like the Trump Derangement Syndrome posts also stopped reading there.

    If it was just VFTW it wouldn’t be so bad, but the media, by which I don’t just mean the NYTimes or CNN, but also things like Yahoo, are so full of non-stop Trump bashing that many of us, including many people who did not vote for him, are just sick of being bashed with it constantly.

    Trying to censor other people’s free speech works both ways you know. Might I suggest if you don’t like some of the comments here, like Sheila’s, which unlike yours was very polite, then you please don’t come back. 😉

  18. @Robert Hanson. @credit. Maybe you two could just go talk to each other about how much you like your friend in the WH. Kthnxbye

  19. Robert Hanson – You drone on about this topic a hell of a lot for someone who isn’t interested in seeing it…

    This is a travel blog. Most people who travel internationally despise Trump – get used to it. As to the other media, if reporting the reality of a Trump presidency upsets you, stick to Fox News and Breitbart like the rest of your ilk.

  20. @Callum “when who is legal or not is solely dictated by law and policy…don’t think they should be classified as illegal visitors in the first place.”

    Guess who said this:
    “All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.”

    “That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.”

    (in my forthcoming budget I will) “try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.”

    (note: Jordan, a black Democrat from Texas, was a staunch opponent of illegal immigration. From 1994 until her death two years later, she chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. The group sought more restrictions on immigration and called for deportation of illegal aliens and more penalties for employers who employed illegal aliens)

    “We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”
    Was that said by some alt-Right Breitbart extremist?

    Nope, that was from Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union Address to Congress. Back when the Democrat Party was mostly moderate. Way before the Sanders/Warren/Ellison faction took over, and moved the Party way far Left. 😉

  21. @callum “Most people who travel internationally despise Trump – get used to it”

    And you know this how? Here is what MSNBC and the Clinton News Network won’t tell you:
    “New York Times exit poll data from the last three midterm and presidential cycles reveals distinct longitudinal trends across demographic dimensions such as gender, race, age, income, educational attainment and ideological alignment.

    As one might imagine given the Democrats’ breathtaking electoral collapse, there is basically nothing but bad news for Democrats across the board. The data showed that the voting patterns of key demographic groups shifted dramatically downward from 2008 through 2016.

    There is a common misconception that Trump was ushered into power by old, white, economically disenfranchised men. However, according to the exit polls, Trump actually did worse than Romney among whites and seniors, but outperformed him among blacks, Asians, Hispanics and young people.

    While the Democrats lost a lot of support among low-income Americans, I think it would be a mistake to interpret these as Trump’s base. He won a plurality of every income bracket above US$50,000 as well. He also won more non-Christian and nonreligious voters than any Republican since the 2000 election.

    However the biggest surprise of 2016 probably relates to gender. The first major party female candidate for president, running against a notorious misogynist, captured the Democrats’ lowest share of female voters since 2004. And although Trump also got a lower share of female voters than his last three Republican predecessors, he nonetheless won over a majority of white women.
    Anyone who wants to read the whole thing can google:

    “The Democratic Party is facing a demographic crisis”

    I’m one of those people doing a “demographic shift”, as I grew up in a staunchly Democrat family, and have been a registered Democrat my entire life. By the way, I’m still a registered Democrat. So your “Breitbart” slurs don’t apply to me.

    When it says “He won a plurality of every income bracket above US$50,000”, I’m pretty sure quite a few of those Trump voters are “International travelers”. I know I am. I’m Lifetime Gold with AA, and I’ve been to Europe over 50 times, and to Asia half a dozen times as well. We have a FC award trip on Korean, SQ, and LH this Summer going to Hong Kong, Brugge, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Estonia, and Frankfurt, stopping in Boston, New York and DC on the way back. So yeah, we do travel a bit. 😉

    What I do know for sure is that Trump is the President of the United States for at least 4 years, and probably 8, so you might as well get used to it. 🙂

  22. As an American who has been living in Canada for the past 10 years, I’ve usually made several trips a year to the States. But I won’t be going while Trump is in the White House. Personally, I hope every tourist-related business, in every state that helped get that ignoramus elected, sees their business tank.

  23. Hey Robert Hanson…

    Let me spell this out so even an undereducated person can perhaps process.

    You truly have no soul, no decency, no compassion, no power of logical thought amongst other aspects most of us hold dear and important.

    You may think you’re the master race but you’re not. If you need some reasons for that assertion, please see above. You are the worst of America, and could well bring it down for everyone.

  24. @callum The problem for some of us is that Lucky seems to be a Trump supporter, or at least too numbed by his privilege to realize he comes off as one…

  25. @Andy I’ve posted logical, fact filled comments, with links to verify my statements.

    You’ve responded with nothing but a series of hateful slurs based on nothing. For instance calling me “undereducated”, when in fact I have a BA in Social Science, and graduated Cum Laude. And no, if you are wondering, that last sentence does not contain a sexual reference. 😉

    Yet ironically, you seek to denigrate my education with a sentence fragment: “Let me spell this out so even an undereducated person can perhaps process”. Seriously, that is not a proper sentence, and the use of “process” there just makes no sense in this context.

    Responding to logical, reasoned, fact filled comments with nothing but a series of hate filled slurs is the last refuge of a scoundrel who knows he is incapable of rational discussion, and has no actual facts to post in defense of his position. All you have is your hate, which you project onto others you disagree with, pretending to a intellectual superiority that you are incapable of actually demonstrating.

    If we were on a grade school playground, and I was willing to descend to your level, the typical response to your comment would be “I know you are, but what am I?”

    But since I absolutely don’t want to descend to your level, I’ll just say: I feel sorry for you…..

  26. @ Robert Hanson

    If you truly think the Republicans and their orange-faced buffoon are going to be allowed to lurch from one titanic policy disaster to the next, “for at least 4 years, and probably 8”, you’re as clueless as the rest of their constituency.

  27. Getting to the main point of this blog I have not found a major effect on Emirates fares either to or from the US. Got an amazing fare ex-Cairo a few months ago, but fares have approximately doubled since then (part may have been caused by the devaluation of the pound). Still they seem to be keeping many premium fares high, especially in comparison with the other ME airlines that apparently were not as affected.

  28. I dont think it got to do anything with the travel ban, that airline always seem to have something to blame for their choice of mistakes they make.

  29. I agree with Nevsky. Some of the problem is created by Emirates themselves. I am retired- I don’t fly first or business anymore. I fly economy or usually upgraded economy. Emirates has this stupid new policy where economy seats can not be chosen so I don’t fly them anymore. I can always fly Etihad or many others and especially with the reasonable sales everyone has been having.

  30. @ Robert Hanson

    You’ve taken the high road and used great restraint in your dialog with the pseudo-intellectuals on this site. They think they have everything figured out and when tasked to defend their point, they respond with juvenile insults.
    Thank you for taking the time to hopefully plant a “seed” in their undeveloped minds. I suspect many unwittingly identify with Saul Alinsky rather than Socrates, Plato or Aristotle (I respond in kind for Andy’s clarification, the aforementioned are not the Teenage Mutant Turtles).

  31. I just tried to book HKG DFW flying EK J for end of March ($7600 one-way). EK fares have been very high the past few months out of any Asian city back to the USA. Seems like a shift where as they used to want the business even if it’s wrong way to the US. Now not so much so part of this is EK pricing. AA one-way is only $3200 on the non-stop.

  32. @Bhindar

    I agree with you 100% but your post really crack me up with the last paragraph. I dont think it can be easily “processed” by the pseudo-intellectuals. 🙂

  33. @ Robert Hanson

    My word sir you are dull.

    Now can this blog please get back to airport lounges, suite upgrades and peddling credit cards.

    Thank You.

  34. Indians are by far the largest travellers on Emirates to US.
    there are about 260,000 H1-B visa holder Indians in US and almost all of them have cancelled their summer vacations plans

  35. Isnt emirates predominantly an indian carrier given most of their cargo is indians.
    Since indians are barred ent ry to america this makes senses

  36. Being an expat living in Dubai I recently flew to LAX with EK. Both ways the flight was mainly Indians. Flight back on 777 had 65 passengers, with only a handful getting off in DXB. Most continue to India. With a population of over a billion many travel to USA to gain residency.
    By the way UAE and Saudi won’t take refugees or allow anyone with a residency visa here!
    Go figure ..great Muslim country

  37. Yes, I can see why bookings would drop. The world is stunned. My parents dropped plans to attend their granddaughter’s college graduation – at their age, they’re simply not up to the stress of CBP “will they, won’t they…”

    I’ve dropped one vacation plan and one business trip myself.

    Let the Americans figure out what they want. No point the world stressing themselves out unnecessarily going there.

  38. I am a Caucasian Western European and I also won’t travel to the US for the foreseeable future (had a trip planned to NY and Vancouver next year but going to Toronto and Vancouver instead). Just too much hassle and not keen to get my ‘junk’ fondled by TSA without any reason. I’ve already spent significant time in the US before so it’s off my bucket list. Would love to come back in the future but I can wait 8+ years if necessary as I luckily have no business reason to go.

  39. @Deb in DXB
    Being smart and protecting their own interests over good feelings, hmm, yeah they are great countries. As for the refugee part, both the UAE and Saudi, as well as all other GCC countries, are not parties to either the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol. They have no obligation to take in unfiltered hordes of people, or anyone really. Like it or not, the UAE and Saudi are sovereign countries, free to choose who they admit.

  40. Interesting range of comments. Except for the technical comments about case usage in the title (why????), all of the comments demonstrate that a person’s decision on how and where to travel is based on personal perceptions. The perceptions may be founded or not but they are indeed felt. Air travel: what a crazy business.

    Emirates, Qatar and other Middle East carriers look impressive but I am not going to try them unless I have not other alternative. So, yes, I am bias. Also, I am not going to fly Air France, if I can avoid it.

  41. @Gary

    While naming which airlines to book around, may I add British Airways to the mix. Ridiculously high “fuel” surcharges, when using AA miles AUS-LHR ($483 on BA v $5.60 on AA, when you can find it) and $108 to make a Business Class advanced seat selection, is enough to cause me to book around BA when purchasing a full fare ticket.

  42. Just a general, and I hope apolitical, question. I have PreCheck and Global Entry, and am heading out of the country this week for the first time in several months. For those who have traveled in the last couple of months, has there been any change you have personally observed in the way things work for those with such documentation and background checks?

  43. @DaveS

    Do you mean on arrival to US?

    Nope. We flew home in Feb HKG-LAX but before the travel ban came in effect – no issue and got a “Welcome Back” from the CBP officer as usual when we handed out our slips which, one of the two actually had an X – machine unable to read finger print as usual.

    The next morning out from LAX we flew out from TBIT where there has no Pre-Check and very long line but we were moving along. Pre-check passengers did not have to take off shoes and laptop could be left in its bag. A TSA employee kept announcing such exemption every 5 minutes it so seems, to speed up the process.

    Personally I think a lot of the things are perception and sensation fanned by media. The reality isn’t as bad as seen on media.

  44. Not surprising. My company (based in the US) had to cancel many meetings and a few conferences since we had some of the keynote speakers coming from/routing through the ME. Even had one of the speakers detained and refused boarding because they *looked* like they were from the ME (they were from the Netherlands, sigh).

  45. Since the so-called travel ban I have flown to Europe and Dubai on a US passport with zero hassle, stamps and all. With the US$ currently strong against the GBP and Euro there are great deals to be had. This is cyclical of course as for years Europeans flocked to the US to, rightly, take advantage of a weak US$. To all who want to and can: be smart and safe, enjoy traveling and take advantage of Lucky’s amazing tips and reviews.

  46. I too cancelled some travel plans to the US this year. As mentioned before not really out of protest, but I generally don’t want to deal with the hassle/Trump atmosphere at the moment.
    Even though as a German I am not really concerned about being targeted right now, you never know what Trump will think of tomorrow…

  47. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of it is simply people feeling the time isn’t right now if it’s a trip that they can postpone. If one feels there will be added hassles, surprises and a general sense of unwelcome, it’s likely better to wait for things to play out a bit and perhaps settle down. When I was in Nepal recently I visited with an executive whose daughter is about to graduate with honors from the British School in Kathmandu and had been planning to do her university studies in the U.S. No way that’s happening now – he’s fearful for her safety in the current xenophobic U.S. environment. He can afford to send her anywhere, and she’s going to Europe. Anecdotal but I’ll bet those concerns are playing out all over the world.

  48. I’m a Canadian – who represent the largest source of travellers to the US by miles – and I have never experienced the level of discussion around NOT going to the US that I’m experiencing now. And passing through US preclearance in Toronto on Friday – the first of the annual March school break, one of the busiest times for travel – it was a ghost town. I’ve literally never seen it so empty. None of this bodes well for the US tourusm market.

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