An AirAsia passenger from Zurich, Switzerland, has voiced disappointment at being forced to accept compensation in credit form despite stressing multiple times his wish to be refunded in cash.
Civil engineer Uwe Guenther said his struggle with the low-cost airline began when he was planning a family vacation in Indonesia.
The trip was supposed to have taken place in 2020, but they were forced to postpone it due to the onset of Covid-19 and the subsequent restrictions on travel.
But Guenther had already booked domestic flight tickets with AirAsia, forking out US$186 (RM754).
"At that point, I accepted compensation in credit form because I knew I would be going back to Indonesia for trips after the pandemic subsided," he said.
He later booked six more domestic flight tickets with AirAsia in March, using the credit he was given and topping up another US$51.72 (RM230.15) and US$109 (RM485.05) for his choice of seat.
The ticket reservation schedule which he showed MalaysiaNow indicated that the flight had been scheduled to depart on Aug 18, 2022 from Bali to Labuan Bajo-Komodo Island.
However, Guenther then discovered that the flight would not be taking off as scheduled. He reached out to AirAsia, asking to be allowed to re-book a flight with other airlines using the same online platform.
"I was assured that the flight would depart according to schedule, and no permanent re-booking was made," he said.
"But I still went ahead and bought flight tickets with another airline, Batik Air, as I was afraid that AirAsia would go back on its word."
Guenther's fears came true when AirAsia informed him in an email this month that the flight had been cancelled.
He tried to apply for a refund through the AVA system but his attempts ended in frustration when he was told that the flight cancellation was not due to AirAsia.
"I emailed several times informing them that I want to be refunded in cash, not credit which is of no use to me since I live in Europe," he said, adding however that he never received any response to his emails.
What he did receive was an email telling him that his application for credit had succeeded.
"I never applied for credit," he said. "To make matters worse, the amount they gave me was only part of what I paid for the tickets."
According to his account on the AirAsia app, Guenther was given credit worth US$163.53 (RM727.71) – less than half of the US$346.72 (RM1,542.90) he had paid.
Describing this as a crime, Guenther asked why there had been no intervention by the government which had allowed the airline to continue operating.
He said he had used AirAsia's services some 10 years ago in Thailand without encountering any problems.
"I often travel and have flown with many airline companies," he said.
"What AirAsia is doing is a crime."
When asked if he would fly with AirAsia again in the future, Guenther said he would prefer to use other airlines even if it meant paying more for tickets.
Meanwhile, his trip to Indonesia in August will continue as planned although he and his family will depart from Zurich using Singapore Airlines before transiting to a domestic flight on Batik Air.
"AirAsia used to be a respectable airline," he said. "Now, I refuse to use their services anymore.
"I would prefer to pay more, as I did when I bought six more tickets with another airline because of AirAsia's actions."
MalaysiaNow has contacted AirAsia but has yet to receive a response.