Bertha Chin, London
Jan 16, 07 4:27pm Adjust font size:
My family my mother, my brother and I were travelling from Kuching to London via KLIA on Jan 8. This is a biannual trip for us, and my mother is a frequent flyer on MAS, travelling on this particular route every two or three months per year. As usual, we were booked and confirmed on the MH2 flight from KLIA to London.
Upon arrival in KLIA, we made our way to the transfer desk to collect our boarding passes. I handed our tickets to the staff on duty at the transfer desk, and asked if there was a problem with our pre-booked seats (as this has happened before when Kuching told us they couldn’t issue our KL-London boarding passes). The lady on duty ignored my question and continued conversing with her colleague. After making us wait for a few minutes, we were told, without any apologies, that my mother has been off-loaded! Again, any queries we had regarding the situation were blatantly ignored.
At this moment, the duty manager, an Ahmad Faizal appeared at the request of a British couple next to us who were caught in the same situation. It was only after much pointless argument that we were told that the reason why people were being off-loaded was because the flight to London was over-booked. As far as we, as travellers, were concerned, it was hardly our problem, and we shouldn’t have been made to suffer the consequences of the mistakes MAS has made. We weren’t consulted on this, and MAS shouldn’t have volunteered any passengers for this kind of arrangements.
Faizal assured us that alternative arrangements have been made to ensure that we get to London. He told us that we have been booked onto an Air France flight to Paris, which leaves KLIA at 11:25 pm (30 minutes earlier than the MH2 flight bound for London) and arriving in Paris at 7.05 am where further arrangements for a connecting flight to London had been made for us (arriving into London two hours later than expected).
At the same time, we were promised an upgrade to business class seats for all the inconveniences caused. When we agreed to the arrangements, Faizal left to get our boarding passes and organise our luggage. When Faizal returned, we were told that the business class upgrade promised us was no longer available and we should either take the alternative arrangements MAS has made for us, or leave it.
As we all had pressing work and school appointments that we needed to keep in London, we had no choice but to take the alternative arrangements. It seemed pointless and a waste of time to continue arguing since it was made clear that we were not getting on the MH2 flight. Unfortunately, the disaster did not stop there. When we finally got to the boarding gate, we discovered it wasn’t an Air France flight, but an MAS flight bound for Paris.
The flight (MH20) was delayed for nearly two hours, causing us to miss the connecting flight to London. When we got into Paris, there was no MAS ground staff to meet us so we had to find our way around Charles De Gaulle airport. We also found out that we were not even booked on the Paris-London connecting flight that MAS had supposedly booked us on (as shown on the new flight itinerary print-out given to us prior to leaving KLIA).
Instead, we discovered that my mother had been booked on a different connecting flight than my brother and I! To add to that, we had no idea where our luggage was as Paris seemed to think that our luggage came with us on the fight while KLIA told us they would not remove our luggage from MH2 that was bound for London! When we finally managed to get on a flight, we discovered it was arriving at a different terminal, where it took us nearly two hours to finally locate our luggage. Rather than arriving into London at 7am as we had originally planned, it was 2 pm by the time we located our luggage.
This is clearly atrocious treatment from a major airline and worse, the national carrier of Malaysia. It’s clear that MAS had already known they were overbooked on the MH2 flight, so why were we not informed before we even boarded the plane in Kuching? Why confirm our booking if there was such an issue?
What this experience showed me and without a doubt, the rest of the passengers who were off-loaded was that even if our travel agents had confirmed our bookings, MAS can just choose to disregard them at its convenience. We made our travel arrangements at least a year in advance, and are travelling on full fare tickets. We are also Enrich members, but more importantly, we are paying customers. Malaysian customers!
Not only did the MAS ground staff at KLIA treat us without any courtesy or respect; the manner in which they informed us that my mother has been off-loaded from a flight she has been booked and confirmed on was rude and offensive. Not once was an apology offered for all the inconvenience caused, and we were all made to stand at the transfer counter like fools.
It is unacceptable treatment from a national carrier. If this is how MAS, as the national carrier of Malaysia treats its own citizens, then all the pride over the awards won is for nought! Furthermore, the distasteful and unhelpful attitude of the ground staff at the transfer counter is going to be such a nice welcome for tourists visiting Malaysia in 2007.
If this is the kind of attitude you want tourists to be exposed to first hand upon arrival at KLIA during Visit Malaysia Year no less, then I must say, KLIA and MAS, you have definitely trained your staff very well indeed! Kudos for offending not only tourists, but your own Malaysian travellers (and Enrich members) as well.