Why is Malaysia Airlines such a crying shame?
I never thought of putting the title of any of my critique the way it is appearing here but then there are even fewer things in life that deserve this sort of absolute condemnation. And before anyone gets judgmental on my objectivity I take this opportunity to share a story I wrote just over a week ago which was in stark contrast to the one I have been made to pen just days later today!
Here you go.
This is not a safe harbour statement but guess you could now shun any preconceived notions about the author's intention and transparency.
At the outset you have a sense about Malaysia Airlines being not even a decently classy one in the business with the way their primitive loyalty section 'Enrich' navigates and frustrates you. It's far from the being an enriching experience.
The trick used by the airline to put itself in the league of full service carriers is its baggage allowance which is at par with the 'normal' full service carriers. But its claim to fame stops at just that and the first timers who got fooled into expecting a comparable experience are in for a rude shock from this cheap imposter!
In the last 72 hours I have forced myself into flying Malaysia Airlines four times on two trips viz. Singapore - Kuala Lumpur - Phuket and Phuket - Kuala Lumpur - Bali. Even as I am writing this text I am midway on the fourth of them which incidentally happens to be of the longest duration (of 3 hours 10 minutes) among all and as such I thought that it would eventually give me a reason to raise a toast to itself but alas, it was bound to be an out and out Doom's day experience with Malaysia Airlines.
God forbid, if you have mistakenly selected a meal for yourself after booking your tickets and later wish to change the same any time before flying I openly challenge you to try your luck with this. There's just no way on their portal to 'edit' this very innocuous passenger information which freezes your 'original' selection! They have an email ID firstname.lastname@example.org
mentioned on the official website for customer contact but when you write to it you get a delivery failure!
I don't want to write in great detail about the very ordinary ground handling experience in both the journeys having four flights but wish to highlight that should you wish to interact with an airline staff at the Kuala Lumpur airport during a transit they just don't exist there, at the base station of the airline and the 'contracted' people simply ask you to take a train to the 'other' building to be able to do so, even at the cost of missing your flight from 'here'!! What!!
In my maiden flight with Malaysia Airlines (from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur) we were served with just a glass of juice and nothing else. In the second (Kuala Lumpur to Phuket) we couldn't have our food as the 'mistakenly' selected food was served on us.
This morning came with the most unexpected surprises of my over 15 years of flying experience, including with the most basic, no-frills airlines world over. We were flying MH 787 from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur. At the last minute we were informed that the boarding gate has got changed and that we would have to rush three levels up. Alright, though not a pleasant one to expect it's not entirely a once in a lifetime bummer for a regular traveller.
After almost half an hour of delay the flight took off and when the seat belt sign went off I rushed to the toilet. I realized that both the loos didn't have a single drop of water! Holy Zeezus! When I complained about it to one of the flight stewards Zarak he nonchalantly said that I can't be asking him to help with that! Shocked, I asked him if it is the captain then I should directly go to? With a dismissive smirk he said, "Whatever"! By this time his colleague had joined and when I told him about the 'situation' and the attitudinal issue with his colleague Mr. Zarak had not only the audacity to give me another dismissive look but also to ask the other 'good' guy to snub me the way he did!
As an afterthought Zarak then went to save his skin to report to his in-flight boss, the captain Ng who took his sweet time and announced that he knew about the pressure system in the aircraft not working even before the take off but when it couldn't be fixed he thought that since it's not a security concern he could take off! Seriously? If Zarak behaved that Malaysia Airlines is owned by his own family and that he could get away with anything he does the captain overshadowed him in his underestimating himself. He had the discretionary authority to take off the aircraft with a carrying capacity of 175 passengers after a delay of 30 minutes with another 90 minutes in air expecting none of the passengers to use the toilet all this while. And yeah, he didn't even have the courtesy to admit this beforehand and allow passengers to make a decision on whether to fly or not! Of course, he could do so because in all likelihood he was under the instructions of his management to keep mum over the issue and don't even acknowledge it before someone 'forced' him to do so. Then midway he announced that if someone had any problem with a non functional water system in the lavatories he could divert the plane to Penang! Boy-o-boy!! Oh boy!! Are we playing hide and seek here? And to top it up, it happened at the very 'Den' of the airline. If not in Kuala Lumpur where else in the world would you expect Malaysia Airlines to have professionally and gracefully handle such a serious issue which in pure commercial interests it allowed to be brushed under the carpet!
Don't wish to even remotely sound cynical here (I always end up behaving on the contrary; I was forewarned by my friends and family members to not choose Malaysia Airlines) but with a crew and management as unconcerned and indifferent about its booked passengers' well being there shouldn't be any more surprise as to why it happened the way it did, when it did. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! It's an open and shut investigation.
In your own interest take an informed decision.