Monday, July 4, 2022

Try, try again: AirAsia passengers spam their way to ticket refunds

While they are glad to have received their money back, they express disappointment in the airline's customer service.

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It took months of waiting and a great deal of typing, but Indian national Sanjay Banerjee hit upon a novel way to get his money back from AirAsia for tickets to Bali on flights that never took off: by spamming the LinkedIn account of the low-cost airline.

Sanjay, from Kolkata, booked three tickets in 2020 for flights on April 15, 19 and 22 – flights which, like hundreds of thousands across the world, were cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As compensation for the cancellations, he received payment in the form of credit to be used within two years. Unhappy with this arrangement, though, he demanded that AirAsia pay him back in cash.

“I also lodged a complaint about the matter, asking why there was an expiry date for the credit and what would happen if, during the two-year period, I was unable to travel,” he said in an interview with MalaysiaNow.

At first, he emailed the airline and left comments on Facebook and Twitter. Still, it wasn’t until January 2021 that he received a response from AirAsia, informing him that his refund would be given within six weeks.

Sanjay was relieved – but the weeks turned into months, and after a year of waiting, his money had still not arrived despite an email in August requesting his account details.

The email also informed him that he would need to respond within seven days, failing which his case would be closed.

He did so, but January 2022 came and went, and nothing happened.

Seeing no other options before him, Sanjay began spamming AirAsia’s LinkedIn, asking question after question about his repayment status in the comment section of Capital A Bhd CEO Tony Fernandes’ account.

After two weeks of this, he was blocked from making further comments.

Undaunted, he looked for the LinkedIn accounts of AirAsia staff and continued doing the same thing until finally, someone from the airline’s communications department responded.

“He told me that someone from AirAsia would email me,” Sanjay said.

When the email came, it said that the refund process would take up to three weeks.

This time, though, the money came through and Sanjay finally received his refund for the three tickets from Kolkota to Bali via Kuala Lumpur.

But while he was happy to get his money back, Sanjay was severely disappointed in AirAsia’s customer service and the lengths to which he was forced to go.

Another passenger, Rose Marie Jane Rementina from the Philippines, also managed to get back the money she spent on flight tickets in March 2020.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, she said the refund process had been difficult but that she had persevered for two years.

Rose was initially told that the refund had been given although the amount was not reflected in her bank account.

“What did I do next? I gathered together all of the communication I had had with their customer service department since 2020 on Twitter,” she said.

“I then emailed the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Malaysian Aviation Commission, and several other parties.”

Rose, who had to repeat the process a number of times, said it might have helped that she shared one of MalaysiaNow’s articles on international travellers uniting to demand their money back from AirAsia.

“I did it to show how serious the case was,” she added.

She also asked AirAsia if spamming their social media accounts would be enough to get their attention.

“Maybe this made them panic,” she said.

Adding that the entire experience had been a tiring ordeal, she said she would think long and hard before deciding to use the airline again in the future.

MalaysiaNow has attempted to contact AirAsia for a reponse.

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