From: “Disgruntled passenger” via email
A lot has been talked about in recent months in relation to passengers’ rights while flying. Yet incidents of delayed flights, cancelled flights, missing baggage and mishandling of baggage still happen and most times passengers like myself, are forced to accept these situations without receiving any compensation.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances” is the reason given to explain these situations and most times passengers are able to accept it, albeit reluctantly.
However what happens when it involves human error? Especially by the airlines? Often, we hear passengers complain about how airlines often get away without paying proper compensation or furnishing explanations when “situations” arise.
I would like to personally share an experience recently on a Malaysia Airline’s flight to Hanoi in April this year. As usual, the six of us checked-in online, printed our boarding passes and baggage tags, and proceeded to the check-in counter for our check-in baggage. Everything was smooth sailing and we arrived at our destination safely.
Unfortunately, this was when things went awry.
Two pieces of our baggage never arrived at our destination. We waited for one hour at the airport and were finally told our baggage was somehow left behind in KL. We were also told it would be sent on the next available flight, approximately 10 hours later, and which was estimated to touch down at 9:30pm that day.
However, we were reminded that there was no guarantee that the airlines could deliver the baggage to us that same day.
As we were catching a cruise the very next day, we informed the desk that we needed our baggage urgently as it contained my parents’ medicines.
On top of that, we were heading out for a cruise and would not be able to receive the baggage in the event it was delivered the next day.
Without any of their personal belongings, my parents were forced to purchase disposable undergarments and an extra pair of clothes since we were told the baggage may or may not arrive that day.
This was not how we wanted to start our holiday but we understood that situations like these happen and we accepted it. Thankfully, the baggage finally arrived at our doorstep at 11:30pm, almost 12 hours after we touched down.
When we came back from our trip, we lodged a complaint with Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), asking for reasonable compensation for the delayed baggage.
MAB did not respond to my email nor the feedback form on the website. I proceeded to lodge a complaint with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and to their credit, an officer responded quickly and directed me to MAB.
I was informed that it may take some time for MAB to investigate the case.
Approximately two weeks later, I received an email from MAB explaining the entire situation without offering any form of compensation.
When I pressed further, they claimed that the baggage was delivered within a day and hence there was no need to provide compensation.
According to the MAVCOM website, a passenger is expected to receive his/her baggage at their destination and in the event the baggage is delayed or mishandled, the airline is liable for reasonable compensation.
The entire process from the day I lodged my complaint up till the day I received a rejection for compensation, was lengthy and outright unreasonable.
Ask any passenger how it feels not having their baggage once they arrive at their destination and to go through an entire day not knowing whether the baggage will arrive.
While I understand that human error does occur, there must also be reasonable compensation for the trouble, physical and emotional hassle, that passengers have to go through.
At this point in time, MAVCOM has not responded to my inquiry on their stand on MAB’s decision.
But as far as I see it, airlines seem to have their way of getting out of fulfilling their responsibilities.
“Disgruntled passenger” is an FMT reader.
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