Warning - Malaysia Airlines
I thought I would write about our experiences flying with Malaysia Airlines, bit of long post as it has turned into a right saga!
We flew back to the UK from Adelaide in September for my brothers wedding.
We were due to fly out at 15.00 from Adelaide and they announced we were delayed, and then they announced we needed to collect our luggage as the flight had been delayed for 24 hours due to a mechanical fault and they needed to get a part for the plane from Kuala Lumpur. As we don’t live too far away from the airport, we collected a letter that was being handed out from a member of staff from Malaysia Airlines explaining about the delay and went home in a taxi and then repeated the journey again the next day.
My in laws had paid for a hotel near Heathrow to come and pick us up as the flight got into Heathrow at 0550 and we are originally from Nottingham which is a 2.5 – 3 hour drive down to Heathrow on a good day and having not seen their son for 18 months since we emigrated they were obviously keen to make sure they were there to meet us when we walked through arrivals.
So we obviously had to let them know we would not be arriving and they had to cancel the hotel and lost their money and instead set off at 2.30 am the next morning to come and get us as they could only get rooms at a high price at short notice. We also had to ring my parents and friends who were expecting us to let them know we should be arriving 24 hours later.
When we got on the plane the following day I was talking to other passengers and they said that apparently Malaysia Airlines laid on a bus and put passengers up in a hotel in Adelaide city centre for the night, but they kept it fairly quiet. Passengers were also saying as it was classed as a mechanical fault you are not covered under your travel insurance – and they are right! There were people on the flight that were starting organised tours in the UK and had missed the start of them and were having to organise travelling to meet the tour elsewhere at their own expense. We sat next to a lady with 2 teenagers and they were travelling to Italy when they arrived in the UK and as they had missed the connecting flights she had to rebuy 3 flights at a cost of over $3,000 and could not claim any of this money back – what a con, when you pay for travel insurance.
The travel insurers suggested I contact Malaysia Airlines to make a claim. I went into the head office on North Terrace in the city and explained what had happened, they said to write a letter and include photocopies of our expenses. I asked to claim for 2 taxi fares (back home and then back to the airport again the next day), some food we had at the airport on the second trip and the cost of my in laws hotel room, a total of $131.08.
I spent time writing a letter and photocopying our travel insurance policy and even the wording which would not let us make a claim and then copies of all of the receipts for everything and sent the information to Simon who is the Manager at North Terrace.
I then received a standard letter back from a secretary who’s job title is Secretary/HR/Admin, so she must be very busy (Simon has since said this is his secretary, but it does not indicate this in the letter) saying they would not pay and the letter was full of standard phrases that did not make sense from the letter I had wrote to them and it was obvious they had just sent a standard letter out without actually reading my letter.
I rang Simon up to follow up my letter and explained that it appeared that a standard letter had just been sent out and he assured me that it wasn’t and he would review the letter again. I said we were actually flying with Malaysia the following day back to the UK (my Grandma died suddenly and we had to book flights very quickly, on a Tuesday to fly on Thursday to return to the UK and booked with Malaysia as that was the best on offer) and to be fair to Simon he did ring through to the airport and requested the emergency exit seats for us from Adelaide to KL, but without appearing ungrateful we always get to the check-in desk 1 hour before it opens to try and secure the emergency exit seats as we are 6’ 2” and 5’10” with long legs!
We went to Flight Centre to book the flights for my Grandma’s funeral and I explained what had happened last time we flew with Malaysia and she said she had not heard of it happening before and Malaysia had a good reputation. She then said she felt sure that Flight Centre’s travel insurance covered mechanical fault, but of course when she rang them up to double check, it doesn’t. If anyone finds a travel insurance that does pay out for a mechanical fault/failure please let me know.
When we got on the plane, my emergency exit seat was broken and would not sit upright, I had to apologise to the man behind as the seat kept reclining back (I understand from a friend who works in the travel industry that if the seat is broken like that, you should not sit in it because if there was an accident the person behind can not get into the brace position correctly). We called a member of staff over and she did not seem too bothered but offered to move us. I said we had queued for 1 hour before check in and if they could find us a seat with the same amount of leg room we would move, of course they couldn’t. In the end my partner ended up getting on the floor trying to mend the seat and with brute force managed to put it back into position.
When we returned from the UK from attending the funeral, there was no response from Malaysia even though Simon said he would look into it. I then rang before Christmas and left a message on his voicemail asking for a response. Still no answer, so in the New Year I rang again and got his voicemail and left another message. On 9 January, I received a cheque for $43.76 to cover the cost of the taxi fares. There was no letter with it or an explanation, just the cheque with ‘not negotiable’ stamped across it and a remittance advice with the cheque. Simon has never returned any of my calls. It seems obvious to me that they just send me an amount, to shut me up so I would stop ringing them.
On reflection, we would have been better off to have waited around and got on the bus that was provided and stayed in the hotel in Adelaide and I would imagine that meals were paid for as well. It was not limited to people from out of the state, as a bloke I spoke to lived in Adelaide and him and his wife went and stayed in the hotel.
I have now checked our frequent flyer points we have with them, we were encouraged to join when we first returned to the UK for my brothers wedding and the points are missing for the last journey we made. I rang up yesterday and gave up after being on hold for 10 minutes. I rang again today and after 10 minutes got through to a member of staff that told me that the points were showing for our September trip but not for November. I thought, yes I know that, that is why I am ringing you, I can see that on the internet, you start to lose the will to live when dealing with these call centres. She suggested I write a letter to them, even though it clearly states on our booking with Flight Centre that the frequent flyer numbers have been given, so I am going back into the North Terrace office to sort it out so I can speak to someone in person, I wrote a letter last time and look where that got me – so watch this space!!!
Last edited by Jessica Berry; 17-01-2009 at 01:11 AM.
Like you say, what a con when you have got travel insurance. You would expect travel insurance to cover a mechanical fault.
Sounds like Malaysia Airlines need to work on their customer service. I always think it is a sign of the level of customer service when something goes wrong and how they handle it and their response.
Sorry to hear that you had to go through all this. We are flying back with British Airways in August, haven't purchased travel insurance as yet but we are thinking why bother with it now if it isn't worth it.
Thanks Michelle. When I went to pay the pathetic cheque into our bank the lady working there was asking why I had a cheque from Malaysia Airlines, had there been a problem, so I started briefly telling her the story.
She said she flew to Hong Kong (not sure which airline) and their baggage had been left behind and would arrive 24 hours later, so they got something from the airport to cover themselves and then went out and bought deodarant, supplies etc until their luggage arrived. When they tried to make a claim the travel insurance told them they did not have the right paperwork from the airport so they could not claim!
Last edited by Jessica Berry; 22-01-2009 at 04:13 AM.
That sounds like a right horror story... And although I think we have to expect these horror stories from time to time (in terms of delays) I'm suprised in the age of forums and word of mouth becoming wider known to the world, Malaysian Air have taken such a stance over a relatively small amount of money.
I was delayed in Sydney for 28 hours with Qantas for a work trip to the US last year, so I wasn't stressed or worried it was all work time, and even left the airport and had a day in Sydney. Qantas put me up in the CBD hilton overnight with breaky and mini bar, took me to and from the airport and as the ongoing flights to Detroit were with a partner airline my onward flights were re-booked. When i got home I received a $500 voucher from qantas for my delay.
I did feel sorry for people who had onward flights with non partner airlines as they their onward flights were lost... This is always a risk with scheduled flights as the carriers can always overbook flights or cancel them without warning, which can cripple your plans...
"I'm suprised in the age of forums and word of mouth becoming wider known to the world, Malaysian Air have taken such a stance over a relatively small amount of money"
Also when you consider in the space of 3 months we spent $10,410 on flights with them and they refuse to pay us $131.08 for our out of pocket expenses!!!
You could not have asked for better service from Qantas.
Like you say delays happen and at the end of the day no one wants to travel on a plane that is not safe, but it is the way the airline handles with situation and I feel Malaysias response was very poor.
As you say it's very poor service, and in the economic climate you'd think they'd try and keep you as happy as possible.
We'll now only use them as a last resort...
I noticed today in The Advertiser that Malaysia Airlines have a half page advert on fare offers.
The slogan says 'Hurry, book and pay by 31 January 2009 to experience world-class service at unbelievable prices.
We obviously missed out on the world-class service!!!