AO-2023 series (Part I) MH129

AO-2023 series (Part I) MH129

March 1, 2023 by umanath nayak14

MH370, MH17

In 2014 the world was stunned by two back-to-back horrific accidents involving Malaysia airlines – one flight disappeared into thin air and a few months later another was shot down by a wayward Russian missile.

I should have paid attention to this fact before confirming my flight schedule with my travel agent. But memory is short and nine years is a long time. As I stood in line at KL airport I cursed myself for my folly in forgetting history. The start of the Australian Open tennis experience seemed anything but promising.

We had arrived at KL airport a few hours earlier from Hyderabad. My connecting flight to Melbourne which was scheduled to depart in the morning was now rescheduled to 19.00, a delay of 9 hours. I had travelled overnight and the tight confines of the Boeing 737 had prevented me from getting any sleep. All I needed was a place to relax before catching the eight and half hour flight to Melbourne.

There was no clarity about what we were supposed to do though I was hopeful that something would be arranged for transit passengers to get a bit of rest.   Long lines were waiting patiently for someone to explain the subsequent course of events.  A large group of noisy Aussie girls ahead of me got tired of standing and unabashedly squatted on the floor even as they continued their chatter.   I smiled at them, side-stepped and got ahead in the line. They did not object. An hour later when I reached the counter I saw that two airline staff was desperately attempting to pacify 200-odd passengers, some of whom were getting quite restless with the inept handling of the situation.  I tried to explain to the lady that all I needed was a bed to sleep in for a couple of hours but either she did not understand or did not care. She told us to go have lunch and gave us lunch coupons worth 20 Ringgit.  To me, it appeared a tactic to clear the crowd. Some passengers were given the option to take a coach outside the airport to a nearby hotel. She asked me if I wanted the same but being aware of the risks of going out without a valid visa I declined and repeated my request for a place in the airport lounge. She said it was full and to check back after lunch.

We had lunch paying twice the amount of the coupons worth and when I returned there was just one lady at the counter. She still refused to provide us with any lounge accommodation insisting it was full. By this time many Indian passengers including some with families and children who had been asked to proceed through immigration to hotels outside the airport were now coming back since they had not been allowed to exit without a visa. Some of them were begging to be given a place where their children could rest but the lady was unmoved.

My persistence paid off and finally, at around 4 pm, I was given a coupon for the Malaysian Airlines airport lounge. It was mostly empty and I found a sofa easily. At the other end, I saw badminton world champion, Carolina Marin and after exchanging some pleasantries with her I settled down; but sleep eluded me.

We arrived in Melbourne the next morning and lost no time in making our way to Melbourne Park just in time to see Sania Mirza lose in the women’s doubles. I was in no shape to stick around for any more tennis that day; I had barely slept 2 hours in the past 3 days – courtesy of Malaysia Airlines.

I wrote an email to the authorities at Malaysia Airlines asking them:

  1. When it might have been known in advance that the flight would be delayed why couldn’t proper arrangements have been made for such a contingency rather than the scramble at the last minute?
  2. When it is common knowledge that immigration would not allow Indian passengers to get out of the airport without a visa why were they made to go through the process of getting out of the airport, only to return?
  3. When Malaysia Airlines had a lounge in the airport that was half empty, why was accommodation refused in this lounge? Were you trying to keep it reserved for non-Indian passengers?

I am still awaiting an answer.


AO-2023 will be continued in (Part II) Rod Laver Arena

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  • Jyotsna Rao

    March 1, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    Valid questions but would be surprising if they give an answer. Look forward to the tournament experiences.


  • Harihara Murthy

    March 1, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Good recount of the travails of travel mishaps! Well put questions though rhetorical. I don’t expect an answer! Did you Umanath!?


    • Umanath

      March 1, 2023 at 7:29 pm

      Let’s hope they read the email at least, even if they don’t reply!


  • Ritesh Daga

    March 1, 2023 at 6:04 pm

    I also feel all the Eastern airlines don’t care much for us. High time either they respect us or our brother get more civilized to earn that respect.

    Feels like one of those excited trip got squashed


  • Niru

    March 1, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Well articulated Dr Umanath. No response as yet right? Can very well relate to your frustration. Went through an experience decades ago, with AI our national carrier. It was a case of overbooking and callous behaviour towards passengers.


  • Praful Mody

    March 1, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    Very well written episode.

    Hope you get a reply and they offer some peace. Sometimes they do. I had a similar experience with Air Arabia. They did refund a good amount of money to us.

    Persistence pays.


    • umanath nayak

      March 1, 2023 at 7:38 pm

      All I expect is an apology and an admission of their wrongs!


  • Sreekanth Devarakonda

    March 1, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    Dear sir,

    Your experience with Malaysian airlines is no surprise and was echoed by many folks in the past. We traveled to Australia in June 2022; our travel agent sent us an itinerary with Malaysian airlines but I dreaded at the thought of flying through KL. We went ahead with Singapore even though it costed significantly more.

    Hope you had better time in Australia. Looking forward to part 2.


  • Maybe KB

    March 1, 2023 at 8:04 pm

    From multiple first hand accounts, Malaysia Airlines and KL airport are the things to avoid at any cost. Even on a good day, its purely cattle class.


  • Lakshmi Shree

    March 2, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Had distressing experiences with Malaysian airlines too , they lost my luggage in transit in KL & indefinitely delayed flights! If they do reply would love to see their response sir 😄


    • umanath nayak

      March 2, 2023 at 4:24 pm

      If they read all the negative comments against the airline in this post, they may just shut down! 😁


  • Vasavi J

    March 2, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    Genuine questions sir. Hope the airlines respond to your email.

    Lack of sleep/rest can no doubt take a toll on our body, mind, as well as energy; nice that you were still able to recognise people and watched the match! 😂 (I kinda lose my mind when I’m sleep-deprived.)


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  • Melly Maitreyi

    May 2, 2023 at 9:46 am

    Fail to understand the unprofessional attitude of some airlines. It may not be possible to expect hassle free experience some times due to unavoidable circumstances but it is a crime not to be ready with contingency plans and arrangements. It shows poor management skills and lack of empathy for the passengers/ consumers. I will think twice before embarking on Malaysian Airlines flight.


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