Malaysia Airlines / poor communication and mismanagement of crisis
I'm writing to let you know that you had not taken care of me as your passenger who traveled from New Zealand to Malaysia often to see family, friends and get dental treatments. Below, I will describe the problems with MAS communications with passengers, suggest improvements and finally detail my case for compensation as a consequence of your mismanagment. I was unwell when I get home on 18 Oct 2016 (after a flight delay of 2 days); hence the delay in writing this letter.
On 15 Oct 2016, I went to Kuching International Airport at 4.20pm to check-in my flight which was scheduled to depart at 6.25pm to Kuala Lumpur and to my surprise, it was cancelled; and I was told by MAS counter staff that I could catch the next available at 7.30pm which means I will miss my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland. I asked if MAS will pay for my hotel costs and the answer was NO. So, I stayed back in Kuching for another night.
Subsequently, I was told by counter staff that most passengers who had to catch a connecting flight had flown on the earlier flight at 4.30pm because they had been contacted. I was told MAS tried to contact me but could not reached me. Then, I realised that MAS actually called my New Zealand number and unlike other passengers, I do not have international roaming; therefore, I had not used my NZ sim card; instead I had purchased a new sim card in Kuching with a local number. Subsequently, I asked if MAS emailed me and the answer was NO. Hence, I do not receive any emails regarding the cancelled flight; and therefore, MAS has been negligent and should pay compensation for the expenses incurred by me to stay another 24 hours in Kuching.
FYI, I was re-booked on the 4.30pm flight (MH2517) the next day on 16 Oct 2015 from Kuching to KL. I had waited for one hour for MAS staff to re-issue my boarding pass, and upon landing in KL, I had waited another 3 hours for my connecting flight (MH131) from KL to Auckland which departs at 21.45. To my horror and disbelief, I missed this flight because there was a change in the boarding gate and I did not hear of my name being called on the bad PA system. Frankly, this is my first experience of a change in gate number and being unaware of the change, missed my flight again. Eventually, I found out at 10.45pm when I checked with ground staff and was told the flight departed and my luggage was taken out. Another passenger on this same flight (Ms Long) also missed it. Both of us were in shock and gone through so much stress and mental torture because of poor PR by MAS staff. We receive very little support from MAS staff and was simply told to get through immigration, get a security pass on 2nd floor and reclaimed our luggages (ground floor) and re-booked our flights (6th floor). To add insult to injury, we were told to pay penalties to re-book the flight (RM506). The whole ordeal took 2 hours, it was a rush from one floor to the next. Finally, at 12.30pm, 17 Oct 2016, I took the KLIA express to KL Sentral and checked into Hotel Sentral at 1.30am. It was an exhausting ordeal.
During this horrible episode, there was one saving grace. At KLIA, after checking in our luggages the next day, Ms Long and I met Encik Fakairi Ismail, Duty Manager Counter. He listened and emphatised with our ordeal; and at our request, he issued a letter (which I attached) and offered MAS Golden Lounge for us to wait and assured us that staff at the lounge will look for passengers who had not board the aircraft.
Here is the list of my expenses which I hope MAS can reimburse:
1. One night stay in Kuching (24 hours)
Taxi to airport 150
2. One night stay in KL (24 hours)
KLIA express 100
3. Penalties paid to MAS due to flights re-booked (receipt attached)
Total claims RM1, 076
Here's my suggestions to improve MAS communications:
1. MAS should not assume that all passengers have international roaming. When flights are cancelled, contact passengers by:
b. WhatsApp - This is a very useful mobile apps that uses the passengers original number at country of origin. If MAS staff had used WhatsApp, they could send me a message using my NZ number (+[protected])
2. When there is a change in boarding gate and passengers had not showed up at boarding time, pls send one staff to the original boarding gate to check and announce missing passengers. You can't rely o the airport PA system as KLIA is a busy and noisy airport. This is much more efficient to MAS since unloading missing passengers luggages took 30 minutes as compared to 5 minutes to ask passengers to rush to the new boarding gate from the original boarding gate; this is also much better outcome for passengers who would had missed the flight and suffer an exhausting ordeal.
My hope is that the CEO is made aware of MAS short-comings. As a passenger, I felt really let down by poor service and poor communications and would be very reluctant to fly MAS in future. I fly to Malaysia from NZ regularly. I hope you do not ignore my complain. I would really hate to put this episode on facebook or another website.
I can't attach scanned documents; pls email me: [protected]@yahoo.com
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