Friday, July 1, 2022

AirAsia delays throw passenger plans into disarray

One family was forced to celebrate Hari Raya only on the second day, while two young girls scheduled for an afternoon flight took off at 1am instead, landing just hours before school began.

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Yadawwiyyah Samani spent the month of Ramadan looking forward to the arrival of her oldest son who had left the family home in Johor Bahru to work in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Eager to reunite with her child, Yadawwiyyah, 40, went ahead and bought a flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Johor. She paid RM104 for a seat on the flight which was scheduled to depart at 1.30pm on May 2.

On the morning of the flight, her son Abdullah Aiman Abdul Ghaffar arrived bright and early at the AirAsia counter in KL Sentral. It was 10.30am; he had arrived in plenty of time for his flight at 1.30pm.

However, he was told by the personnel at the counter that he would have to check in at klia2 instead.

Aiman was taken aback but nonetheless made his way to klia2 where he was shocked to see the crowds milling about.

It was 11.30am when he joined the queue for the AirAsia counter. It wasn’t until 1pm that he finally reached it.

Back in Johor, Yadawwiyyah was waiting for her son’s call – but when the phone finally rang, it was not the news she had been expecting.

“Aiman told me that the staff at the counter had said that he was too late,” she said. “He couldn’t board his flight.”

The official then directed him to a counter set up to deal with such problems. But even there, he was forced to wait two hours before he could speak with the person in charge.

By then, Yadawwiyyah and Aiman had only limited options if he was to make it home in time for Hari Raya. She got into the car and drove from the Senai International Airport where she had been waiting for his arrival to klia2 to pick him up.

By the time she got there, it was 4.30pm. Along the way, she managed to contact a customer service personnel whom she asked about getting refunded for the ticket.

“He told me that the company would take care of it,” she said.

Nonetheless, it was with anger and frustration that she finally arrived at klia2. There, she railed at the AirAsia counter staff, demanding an explanation for her son’s experience.

“We waited at the airport until dusk but received no logical explanation,” she said.

As they waited, however, they heard stories from other passengers who swapped tales of their own experiences.

“It was all very disappointing,” Yadawwiyyah said.

She and Aiman started off for home but did not get there until 2am. The entire family ended up celebrating Hari Raya on the second day instead of the first.

Safety

Yadawwiyyah and Aiman were among the many passengers whose plans were upended by delays and unscheduled disruptions to flight schedules throughout the festive period.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) said yesterday that it was looking into the flood of complaints and that it had directed the airlines in question to submit the relevant data regarding flight schedule disruptions from April 29 to May 9.

Mavcom executive chairman Saripuddin Kasim also urged customers who had faced delays or flight issues and who had not received “the proper care” to lodge a formal complaint with the airline in question, and to forward their complaints to the commission.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi meanwhile said that AirAsia had been given 24 hours to provide feedback on consumer issues, including those related to flight delays and rescheduling, following a wave of complaints on social media.

AirAsia itself later apologised for the situation, saying “several factors and unavoidable incidents” had resulted in delays that were “beyond the airline’s expectations and control”.

William Cheah, from Semporna, Sabah, had a similar story of frustration and disappointment.

He booked two tickets on an AirAsia flight scheduled to leave at 3.40pm on May 9.

“I specifically chose that time for safety reasons,” he told MalaysiaNow.

“The tickets were for two young girls in our care who were 17 and 14 years old.”

The girls had been in Semporna in order to carry out community service. Despite Cheah’s best efforts, their flight was unexpectedly delayed until 11.30pm.

“The main problem for us heading to the airport at night was the road conditions from Semporna to Tawau,” Cheah said.

“It’s very uncertain at night.”

In the end, the girls’ flight was not ready to leave until 1am. Their legal guardian, a single mother waiting to pick them up in Kuala Lumpur, had to make the trip to the airport alone at 4am.

“We wanted to avoid something like this,” Cheah said. “That’s why we picked a flight at three in the afternoon.

“They arrived home safe and sound at 5am but the older girl had to go straight to school just two hours later.”

MalaysiaNow’s efforts to obtain a response from AirAsia have so far failed.

“We will inform you of any developments,” a spokesman told MalaysiaNow.

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