I write this message out of frustration, and i apologize if some the language used are out of place. But I can't help but thinking that what if the complacency by the terminal staffs caused something tragic to the passengers. We were lucky that the mistake was annoying but minor this time. But if none action was taken on the responsible person, that person might cause bigger damage that will affect other human beings.
I was on flight VF 507 from Singapore to Jakarta on 21st Nov 2010. Our flight was delayed for 6 hours, we decided not to fly and total time wasted is 9 hours. Please note that i have flown valuair for more than 3 years but this experience has made me had enough with the airline and will swear this airline off my list. The point is to help you understand the problem and here is the detailed story:
We arrived at the airport 2 hours before departure time of 10.50am. The flight was retimed to 11.20. We asked during check-in whether the new schedule was firmed, they said it was.
Then after boarding the plane and waiting for about 1 hour, turned out there was mechanical problem with the plane and it taxied to the terminal and all passengers were told to get off the plane. I found out from some passengers that the similar problem with VF 507 happened the day before. Some of the passengers from the day before was put on VF507 on 21st Nov and they decided to get off the planes. We (myself and my wife) were considering to find another flight with different airlines but soon they announced the boarding call and we boarded the plane waiting for take off.
This is where the biggest delay that is due to, in my honest opinion, incompetence. During those period some passengers were allowed to leave the gate area to the airport and some even did not report to the terminal staff that they decided to offload. So when we went back to airplane at 2pm, the headcount on the plane and the terminal crew passengers manifest were off. The person in charge of our gate, suhaimi bin yussoff spent more than 3 hours calculating passengers when it really was a simple task. At one point he did manual calculation himself holding the passengers manifest and matching it with passengers boarding past. Even that he could not find the "missing passengers".There was no solution until around 3.30pm where one passenger suggested that all passengers collected their boarding pass to be counted by the ground crew. And when they finished counting at around 4.15pm (a good 45 minutes), it turned out all passengers were accounted for and soon the plane was ready to take off.
But another twist to the story was a lot of passengers were frustrated (there were no meal served and we can't even buy food on the flight menu) passengers had enough and few requested to get off the plane. After they matched the passengers with the manifest at 4.15, the captain announced that the passengers who wanted to off load can do so (????). After seeing few passengers got off the plane, we decided to do the same and in total there were 22 passengers who offloaded the second time.
After we got off the plane, i was shocked at the ground staff incompetence because they did not know what to do. Then we were escorted by one airport staff to clear the immigration to the odd size belt near lost and found to wait for our offloaded bags. While we were waiting for our bags, the staff simply vanished and left us waiting not knowing when our bags going to come or who to ask. We were asking all around and went to the lost and found counter. They called many numbers and was frustrated too saying the valuair staffs were nowhere to be found. It was nearly an hour later we met with the person in charge and we finally got our bags.
I missed my friend wedding reception and can't get refund for connecting airline tickets. If this was due to mechanical problem, bad weather or other factors that can't be control by human i can certainly understand. What upset me the most is that this is due to the inability of the terminal crew to count 150+ passengers and matched it with the manifest. That is beyond me and for me most of the blame is on the terminal staff who were simply incompetence. It was further complicated by airline crew who did not (could not) serve any meals and when asked what's going on keep giving "15 more minutes" answers.
Ticket Bought for flight Jakarta-Singapore on 12 July 2009 schedule to be departed on 17.05 pm. Check-in are being done manually in Jakarta. When going for boarding, the Gate not open yet, and being informed there will be delay at about 20.30 pm. But there also, 2 flight before are being delay without confirmation. When we come back at 20.30 pm, we are being handed a snack for waiting. Got passengers from the 1st flight since 9.00 am already delay until that time. Then we wait again without confirmation until 23.30 pm and there are no single staff from ValuAir to give an exact schedule, even though we did try to call to Singapore directly but nobody dare to pick-up the phoned. Finally, after waiting for almost 7 hours, we decided to cancel the ticket, and asking for refund. Till now, there are no confirmation regarding the refund yet. Bottom line is, poor services both in Jakarta and Singapore.