And there I was thinking I had experienced just about every travel SNAFU possible. But Sunday and Malaysia Airlines managed to prove me wrong!
What was supposed to be a regular Malaysia Airlines flight from HK to KL, gradually devolved into a nightmare experience thanks to Malaysia Airlines’s “don’t care” and “budget airline” attitude.
The flight (MH433) was originally scheduled to depart HK @ 14:45 (Sunday, 22nd Oct). That way I would have got a good night’s sleep in preparation for contractor arrival scheduled for 10am on Monday.
I was visiting friends for the weekend in Shenzhen and was going to take the 12:15 ferry from Shekou to HKIA. Normally a very simple 30 minute boat ride.
Not this time!!!! As it was I got no sleep – thanks Malaysian Airlines!!
The “experience” started gently enough at 23:19 on Saturday 21st. 15 1/2 hrs before the scheduled departure, I received an apologetic email from Malaysia Airlines advising a 3 hour 50min flight delay. No big deal, I thought. Delays happen. Just sleep longer and catch a later ferry from Shekou to HKIA.
Although I did think “MH seem to be having an rapidly escalating number of “delays” of late”.
It began to escalate at 06:52 Sunday when I received an SMS (RM0 Dear Guest, your Flight MH433 is retimed to depart Hong Kong at 21:00 / Oct 22, 2017 and arrive Kuala Lumpur at 00:50 / Oct 23, 2017. www.malaysiaairlines.com) advising a further delay until 21:00. Again tedious but manageable given the advance warning.
At 10:58 Sunday I received a further SMS (RM0 Dear Guest, your Flight MH433 is retimed to depart Hong Kong at 23:20 / Oct 22, 2017 and arrive Kuala Lumpur at 03:10 / Oct 23, 2017. www.malaysiaairlines.com) advising a further delay with revised departure time of 23:20. This meant arriving at 03:10 (Monday) 8 hours and 40 minutes later than scheduled.
This prompted me to contact MH to see if I could get on another flight, but the computer said “NO”. Everything was fully booked apparently. Even connecting flights via Taipei and Penang. This seemed pretty unbelievable given that most Malaysia Airlines flights I have flown recently have struggled to be half full! Anyway you can’t argue with a guy’s computer that’s telling him “NO”.
Still not the end of the world. So I arranged late check out from the hotel, coffee and dinner with friends and a l bought a ticket online for the 30 minute ferry ride on the 20:15 ferry from Shekou to HKIA. All simple enough……….no rush…..plenty of time………..
……….but that plan disintegrated once I tried to check in for the ferry. And all because Malaysia Airlines in their wisdom decided (or did they just forget??) to arrange for the HKIA ferry terminal to be manned for this now significantly delayed departure. And as the desk was unmanned, I was not allowed on the departing ferry at 20:15!!! Or any departing ferry for that matter. And it of course it didn’t help that the Shekou ferry terminal records showed the flight MH433 as having left at 18:35 (the original delayed ETD). China is not known for its flexibility of rules….unmoving, dogmatic and pedantic are the words that best describe their approach. You probably have to go all the way to Xi Jinping if you want deviation from a guideline. I wasn’t going anywhere by ferry, that became very clear, very quickly.
“What am I supposed to do” I asked, “I need to catch that flight”. Apparently the only solution was to go to the Shenzhen Bay land border, cross into HK and go to HKIA from there. This changed a relaxed 30 minute ferry ride into a frantic 2 hour race against time. Thanks Malaysia Airlines, for your incompetent, complete lack of care.
At 21:30 I managed to called Malaysia Airlines (a miracle in and of itself) to advise that I might be late for check in, but I was definitely trying to get there. The helpful girl was confused as her computer was clearly telling her that the flight had left at 18:35. After I explain there had been 2 further delays since then, she did go off and establish that yes, indeed the new departure time was indeed 23:20. Phew! At least I wasn’t going entirely mad!! Just firmly entrenched in a real life nightmare hand crafted by Malaysia Airlines.
And so the nightmare proceeded ….. taxi to Shenzhen Bay crossing point. 30 minute traffic jam for last kilometre. Ridiculously lengthy queues for immigration out of China and into HK. Taxi from Shenzhen Bay to HKIA……50kms!!
I did finally make it to HKIA with barely minutes to spare. But where were the Malaysia Airlines check in desk signs? Not a sign in site!! There were none!!! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Just 2 sloth like, disinterested male checking clerks refusing to do anything…..and 2 very frazzled ladies who were rapidly losing it, as their baggage label printing machines failed to print and their male colleagues sat idly by, like useless lumps of lard. So much for customer service. I asked if there were any Malaysia Airline staff I could speak to, as by this stage I was primed and ready for a serious rant to vent my compounded frustrations. I was told there were no Malaysia Airline staff at the airport FULL STOP – NO ONE!!….it seems that in HK at least, Malaysia Airlines staff don’t work on Sundays……even when they have chronically delayed flights and many rather fractious (understandably) passengers. More indication of an airline that no longer cares.
The plane it seemed had been changed from the normal 777 to a 380. Sadly MH had made no attempt to allocate to recorded Enrich seating preferences. I guess they really don’t care!
Anyway at least I was checked in – the second “miracle” of the night – and I thought, “finally I can relax in the lounge for 30 minutes before the 20 minute trek to the 200s satellite terminal” which has become Malaysia Airlines’s “nest” at HKIA these days.
No sooner had I arrived at the boarding gate than I received yet another SMS (RM0 Dear Guest, your Flight MH433 is retimed to depart Hong Kong at 00:30 / Oct 23, 2017 and arrive Kuala Lumpur at 04:20 / Oct 23, 2017. www.malaysiaairlines.com) advising yet a further delay to the flight ….. another hour and ten minutes!!! Departure ETD now 00:30 (Monday) some 9 hours 45 minutes late. “That’s bad timing” I thought. “I could have spent another hour being pampered in the Cathay Wing Lounge”. But I had no energy to trek back to Gate 5 and the comfort of the lounge. So I stayed to wait out the newly added delay.
While precariously perched on the cowling of a travelator, patiently waiting for some further update, the gate area was awash with rumours. “The flight was delayed to 02:55”. “The plane had a flat tyre and they could not find a replacement”. “Time to get food vouchers and head back to the main terminal and refreshment outlets”. “They were booking people into hotels”. “No other flights available until Tuesday or later”. And numerous others examples of “fake news” or was it just “alternative news”…… or perhaps they were all based on reality. But most notably not a single Malaysia Airlines staff member was anywhere in sight!!
It seems the flat tyre rumour certainly had some basis in fact, however I guess they did find a replacement, because they started the boarding process at 00:30. And at the same time the refuelling started! “Don’t fasten your seat belts” we were told. Now that was confidence evoking…….NOT!!
Eventually we took off at 01:50. Some 11 hours and 5 minutes late. And finally landed in KL at 5am. 10 1/2 hours later than schedule. Not even an apology. Nothing. No “do contact us to claim your compensation” Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Just more “cattle” to inconvenience an uncaring airline!
Luckily for Malaysia Airlines it didn’t happen in Europe. Otherwise I’m pretty certain a full refund of the return airfare for all passengers would be required by law. So I wonder if MH are considering giving any compensation for the inconvenience, costs and stress that their complete lack of care engendered. Not just to me, but to all the other seriously inconvenienced passengers. Should I (we) wait patiently for someone to contact me (us); and apologise; and offer to refund my (our) additional expense and compensate me (us) for their lack of care? I better not hold my breath, otherwise I might die and end up being sadly disappointed from another failure by Malaysia Airlines to deliver to expectations.
The last few months have been terrible months for Malaysia Airlines……..for me anyway. Virtually every experience with Malaysia Airlines since August has had negative connotations, mostly resulting from Malaysia Airlines not really caring about their customers. Delays are sometimes unavoidable, everyone realises and accepts that, but its how you treat and communicate with your customers that shows whether you actually care or not. And Malaysia Airlines’s treatment and communication shows they really dont care!
28th August 2017
4 hour delay on London flight. Actual departure time was even later!
RM0 Dear Guest, your Flight MH4 is retimed to depart Kuala Lumpur at 14:00 / Aug 29, 2017 and arrive London at 20:45 / Aug 29, 2017. www.malaysiaairlines.com
14th October 2017
Baggage took 45 mins to arrive after flight from Jakarta to KL. It seemed like they just forgot to off load it!!
17th October 2017
Baggage took 30 mins to arrive after flight from KL to HK
22nd October 2017
10 1/2 hours delay on flight from HK to KL.
23rd October 2017
And now just this morning, a 3 hour delay advised for our up coming 1st November flight to HCMC.
I travel with Malaysia Airlines a lot. So this is not random by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps indicative of some deeper malaise! I fly 40 to 50 flights with Malaysia Airlines each year compared to 5 to 10 times a year with other airlines, so these constant reschedules, delays and issues become very noticeable and impacting.
“What next” you have to ask. And as importantly “do Malaysia Airlines actually care”. Based on current showing….THEY REALLY DON’T CARE AT ALL!
Clearly as this chaos looks to be ongoing, it definitely seems it’s time to start flying with an airline that does not treat its customers like just so many cattle. My unflinching loyalty to Malaysia Airlines is rapidly coming to an end. The time has arrived to consider Vietnam Air, Air Asia, Cathay and other more caring and reliable airlines.
And lastly my undying thanks to Lukas, Leslie, Owen and Berry, for without whose advice, patience, support, encouragement and kindness I would have just given up and not even made the effort to take an alternative route to HKIA! You guys are the best!!