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Waiting two years and counting for nearly RM20,000 back from AirAsia X

Tan Wan Kiong says the refund process preceded the company's debt restructuring and should not be affected by it.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
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An AirAsia plane waits on the tarmac at KLIA in Sepang.
An AirAsia plane waits on the tarmac at KLIA in Sepang.

After more than two years of waiting, AirAsia X passenger Tan Wan Kiong is running low on patience. 

In September 2019, just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, he and 11 of his friends spent RM19,771 on plane tickets to Lanzhou, China, as well as several other destinations. 

All 12 tickets were cancelled in May 2020, after border closures put paid to any form of international travel as countries around the world slammed shut their gates in an attempt to curb the virus spread. 

Today, Tan and his friends are still waiting to receive their money back. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Tan said that when given the option of refunds in credit or cash form, he had chosen cash. 

"To make things easier, I paid for all of the tickets on behalf of my friends, after which they were to pay me back," he said. 

"But until today, there has been nothing. I have received nothing back, not even in the form of credit." 

Tan's efforts to regain his money began after their flights were cancelled in 2020.

He chose to be refunded in cash form as he had no use for credit, given the global restrictions on travel due to the pandemic. 

"I submitted all of the documents as requested, and I waited for months," he said. 

"I even went to the AirAsia counter at klia2. The personnel there said I would be refunded in two to three weeks' time, but that turned out to be a false assurance.

"The second time I went to the counter, I was told that they could not help me resolve my problem." 

This was not the first time Tan had requested a refund from AirAsia. 

In 2017, one of his flights was cancelled – but in that case, he was refunded almost immediately. 

This experience gave him the confidence to continue flying with the airline as he believed that any future cancellations would be dealt with as efficiently. 

At that point, he described himself as a loyal AirAsia X customer, having used the budget airline for more than a decade and hopping on flights every month or so. 

"Of course, the situation now has left my friends and I very disappointed with AirAsia," he said. 

"But since I was the one who booked the tickets, I will continue handling this case." 

MalaysiaNow previously reported discontent among some AirAsia X passengers with the statement by airline boss Benyamin Ismail, who said that the company could not provide cash refunds to passengers because of the law.

At the press conference on June 15, Benyamin said that AirAsia X had just undergone a court restructuring process.

Under the law, he said, the company could not give cash refunds to anyone including creditors.

He added that AirAsia X would instead provide credit refunds through travel vouchers as well as a 10% cash payment.

Tan however said there should be no issues with his refund as he began the process in 2020 – before the company underwent its debt restructuring process. 

A petition seeking to gather passenger support for a class action compensation suit against AirAsia had gained more than 10,000 signatures as of noon on Monday. 

The petition, titled "AirAsia class action lawsuit for losses due to cancellations and changes of flights", said a great deal of money had been lost because of these issues. 

"Most have not been refunded or have had to jump through many hurdles before they can even receive a portion of what they paid for their flight. When you factor in the losses from non-flight travel expenses together with flight expenses, it is only fair that AirAsia should be responsible for all these losses," it said. 

MalaysiaNow is attempting to contact the organiser for further information on the plan of action once the petition achieves its goal of 15,000 signatures. 

MalaysiaNow is also awaiting a response from AirAsia X regarding Benyamin's statement on refunds.