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YOURSAY | Customer satisfaction lacking in budget airlines
Published:  Dec 28, 2022 8:21 AM
Updated: 12:21 AM

YOURSAY | ‘Asking them to apologise won’t stop them from doing the same thing again.’

Passengers stranded for 8 hours: Loke instructs Malindo to apologise

Siva1967: The swift action by Transport Minister Anthony Loke to instruct low-cost airline Batik Air (formerly known as Malindo Air) to apologise to affected passengers is very encouraging. My colleagues and I frequently travel between Phnom Penh International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Recently there have been many instances where low-cost carriers are resorting to combining two or more flights into one flight, which throws a spanner into our schedule and travel plans. Since we are working abroad, we have to apply for leave days to time our departures to spend maximum time with our family. Some of my colleagues have connecting flights to other parts of Malaysia as well.

Once the ticket purchase is completed, rest assured that within a couple of weeks, one will receive a notification that one's flight has now been rescheduled. This notification disrupts our initial leave plan and a lot of communication then ensues to get the credit back from the low-cost carrier. These are an utter waste of time and since we are working professionals with tight deadlines, we sometimes lose track of time and in turn lose our reimbursement from the airline as well.

We can accept a delay once in a while, but a total rescheduling? If time permits, we would have booked that flight in the first place. There is a specific reason why a certain travel time was picked and booked. The authorities need to take an uncompromising stand on this matter. These big businesses think they can get away with these kinds of things. You, the airline, decided to get into business, and providing good service is mandatory and all business comes with a cost. These costs cannot be shifted to the customer by providing the prompt service that was initially promised.

FairMind: Once, AirAsia rescheduled my flight to three days later without asking me - more or less forcing it down my throat. Later, AirAsia allowed me to change my rescheduling flight back to the original date by paying a fee that amounted to almost the cost of a new flight fee and a new baggage fee in spite I had earlier paid a baggage fee.

I had no choice but to change back to the original flight date as the flight was booked months ahead, annual leave had been taken and other prior commitments had been made. This is tantamount to double payment for the same flight and is very unethical. It’s almost like cheating or taking advantage of the passengers’ prior commitments.

Loke, asking the airlines to apologise won't stop them from doing the same thing again because of the financial benefits arising from it. Are you going to ask them to apologise each time it happens? Only when their pockets hurt will these airline malpractices stop.

The Transport Ministry should direct all airlines to:

1. Besides an apology, compensate the passengers for delayed or rescheduled fights; and

2. Allow passengers whose flights are rescheduled to choose a date of their own choice without forcing the rescheduled date down their throat and charging them for any change of date which is due to the fault of the airlines

Only with enforced rulings will these malpractices stop.

Hmmmmmmmm: I think there should be rules clearly stated on the flight tickets and maybe around the airports as well as what passengers can expect to receive in cases of flight delays over a certain length of time or if the flights are cancelled. There have been many times when we are not sure of our rights, and so we will be at the mercy of the airlines.

Earlier this year, I came back from overseas at around noon for a connecting flight home scheduled at 4.30pm. The flight was initially delayed by one hour. Closer to the departure time, it was further delayed by another hour and so on. The plane finally took off after more than four hours' delay. We continually asked to be given meal vouchers, but the staff just told us they are looking into it but nothing was done.

I was fortunate that I had bought a lot of Gardenia rolls earlier, and I must have eaten at least five or six of the rolls. There was another couple who had also arrived from another country earlier that morning so it was a much longer wait for them. I think the least that the airlines could have done was to provide everybody with food since it was well past dinner time. That would have calmed passengers down considerably.

Even though this is a budget airline, there must be a minimum service that should be expected of it. We cannot just sit back and accept this kind of treatment just because it is a budget airline. Also, airlines should not be allowed to delay or reschedule any flight except for bad weather or mechanical fault in the plane. I hope the government will look into this and come up with firm guidelines on this.

Anonymous9483: Loke, I know as a minister, you need to be seen to be doing something. But if you are going to call every airline for every flight delay reported on social media, you are going to have no time for the rest of your job. And we didn't elect you to be the call centre to answer all these complaints.

For God's sake, you're now in a position of power. Do something about the worsening flight delays. Come out with policies or legislation to resolve them. Don't just focus all your time on cost-cutting for the East Coast Rail Link but end up missing the big picture. Don't end up penny-wise, pound foolish.

Max Fury: The Batik Air chief operating officer should apologise. We are paying customers. We are not on a charity flight subject to Batik Air’s whims and fancies. If you want to run an airline, at least run it professionally. I pity those passengers on the flight. There is no excuse for Batik Air to treat its customers so badly. Yes. A fine would be good to keep these irresponsible airlines on their toes.

Pensieve: The real reasons for flight delays must be checked by the transport minister and the data released to the public. Is it weather, aircraft technical problems, cabin crew shortage, or is one's flight cancelled because of overbooking or too few passengers on certain flights to make a profit? Safety first, always.

Based on this, we use our combined consumer power as suggested by Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli to penalise/boycott the airlines. It takes all of us to effect change.

WhiteWhale3947: Delays will always happen, whether we like it or not, for whatever reasons. But airline personnel need to be trained to handle such delays. Communication and action taken are the keys and the airlines must minimise the delays and inconvenience to passengers without compromising on safety.

How airlines handle delays shows their professionalism and technical abilities and eventually their ability to survive. I once had a flight delay on an airline called Sabena that was so bad I said to myself “never again”. This airline eventually went bust.

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