Saturday, 24 January 2009

Dealing With Hostile Passengers On Malaysia Airlines

I don't know why they market themselves as "Living Malaysian Hospitality", because what it should really be is, "Exhibiting Malaysian Incompetence".

Ms Radhika Iyer-O'Sullivan was one such victim of poor service by MAS when she was seated next to a hostile passenger during a flight from Dubai to Kuala Lumpur.

The cabin crew were unfortunately nonplussed (and I'm being kind here) as to what course of action to take, in what I would personally regard as a reasonably simple situation.

Someone who writes in as 'Former MAS Frequent Flyer' agrees with me. In fact, his assessment of the situation was identical to mine.

MAS royally screwed up when they didn't immediately remove the hostile and aggressive passenger from his seat immediately upon the first signs of a temper tantrum.

They went on to exacerbate their mistake when they eventually moved the victim instead of the aggressor. And not to Business Class, which they claim was full on that flight.

Business Class was full?

That's something I wouldn't believe for even a second because on an international flight (say, Dubai to KL) I deduce that the aircraft would probably have been an Airbus A330 which has over 40 seats in Business Class.

Let's be conservative and assume it was the smaller variant, an Airbus A330-223 which has a seat configuration of 0 First Class, 42 Business Class and 187 Economy Class. Ref: 229 (-/42/187)

Frankly, I find it rather hard to believe that all 42 seats would have been taken, and you would too, if you only knew how much Business Class costs.

So they didn't relocate her to Business Class. Instead a flight attendant took her to "the kitchen", of all places!!

Now there are no kitchens on airplanes; what she was referring to is probably the galley.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is no place for a traumatised passenger. And neither is coke and water the solution for soothing frayed nerves.

I think this situation occured because the cabin crew were not adequately trained on what to do in situations like this. As the victim was non-confrontational, they insensitively opted to "resolve" the matter by the easiest way possible: sending her away.

I am surprised there was no sky marshall on board. Such a hostile passenger should have been handcuffed to his seat for the safety of ALL other passengers on board, not just Ms Iyer-O'Sullivan.

Evidently, MAS does not have much regard for its passenger safety. It should because it is, afterall, a national carrier and Malaysian reputation is at stake.

I checked its blog and found only a whinging response saying that the aggressive and hostile passenger was a Malaysian and describing how shocked the cabin crew were at his behaviour.

Read further and you will find even more disturbingly lame excuses.

Do you know what Malaysia Airlines offered as a service recovery? A miserable 25% discount off her return flight. At this point, I just had to send them a piece of my mind.

I am appalled to hear of such poor service by MAS. At no point in time should Ms Iyer-O'Sullivan have been removed instead of the hostile passenger. In fact, the situation should never have been allowed to escalate to such a point.

You obviously have poorly-trained staff with a severe lack of quick-thinking and problem-solving measures. I am even more disturbed to hear that the only measures being taken are a miserable apology and a 25% discount on the return flight ticket.

Do you seriously expect Ms Iyer-O'Sullivan to patronise MAS after such deplorable service? I have flown MAS a number of times for business purposes when I had no say in the booking of the ticket, but you can be assured that the next time I am booked on MAS, I will flatly refuse to travel on it.

I don't know if they will publish it as they do moderate their blog. Probably not, if they want to maintain the pleasant facade of a stream of satisfied customers.

But do you know what I really think Ms Iyer-O'Sullivan should do?

While I'm not a fan of legal action because so many lawsuits have reached the threshold of frivolity (especially in the USA), I personally believe she should sue their pants off for causing such trauma through their insensivity and incompetence.

Perhaps being relieved of a substantial amount of cash would spur them to provide better service to their customers in future.


Antares said...

Cranky, YOU deserve to be upgraded to the cockpit... AND seriously hugged!

Btw, did you put all those links at the bottom to various posts in my blog? Looks rather nice, like a string of festive colored lights :-)

Mr Bojangles said...

Post 9/11, airline crew have so much power they put Homeland Security to shame. Try saying "boobs" in, around,near an airport, much less a plane, and see the whole tone-deaf US Airborne Division get the chance to act out their movie fantasies.

No 2: in situations where one party is obviously disadvantaged: elderly, sick, female, the crew should automatically favor them not the stronger.

So, on both counts our Great Malaysian Hospitality failed. And to add insult to injury, they offer, in typical Malaysian fashion, monetary compensation and a paltry amount to boot. "Have a problem? Here, take this money, go buy yourself an ice cream and don't bother us anymore."

And so, while Idris is going great guns at the corporate level, his foot soldiers have obviously let him down.

False smiles, sexy uniforms, perfectly coiffured hair mean nothing when you fail the crunch test. Or to put it another way, Mesti Ada Style is no longer the only way to go. You also must ada substance.

Crankster said...

Thanks Antares, but why? No, I don't know what links you're referring to.

Crankster said...

Mr Bojangles, I was quite shocked that they would offer a measley 25% discount. It's quite presumptuous of them to think she'd want to fly MAS again.

If monetary compensation could make up for some of the trauma she went through, they should have offered to pay for her entire trip back on business class.

Idris can take the circus to town. But if his team is miserably pathetic as evidenced, who'd want to patronise MAS??

Mesti Ada Style is getting old.

donplaypuks® said...

Mana Ada Sistem Airlines should be ashamed of itself and the conduct of its staff.

This is what happens when meritocracy is abandoned and substituted with doctrinaire employment policies.

Surely the person who insulted Radhika Iyer was a Malaysian Muslim. The failure to arrest and charge him in court for his threatening and racist behaviour is yet another sign of the double standards practised in our glorious nation!!

Patricia said...


I was appalled when I read about this. Sickening! I've flown MAS and have nothing to complain about. But then, nothing like this happened on my flights.

I agree that the 25% discount thingy is insulting and ridiculous! I'd like to see how their PR machine try to parlay this into something positive! Good luck to them.

But the reality of this is scary: is this how they would react to real danger as well? What if this guy were voilent? Or had a weapon? Would they still have shunted out the attack-ee and smiled at him??!

Oi, Idris, time to send your lientenants undercover on flights and see what is realling happening 'on the ground/air?'!!


Greenbottle said...

for the past several years i always travel abroad on SINGAPORE AIRLINES instead of Mas.

it's not that i've encountered any unfortunate incidence such as that but it's simply because sia gives a lot better service, right from in flight service, in flight entertainments down to ground service and frequent flyer call me unpatriotic but fuck mas...

Crankster said...

donplaypuks, I think they substituted meritocracy with good looks.

Pat, I've never had anything really bad happen to me either. But they have displinary issues - keeping the passengers well-behaved. I've run into the drunken ones once too many times.

Greenbottle, unpatriotic fellow you! But flying MAS has its perks, like checking in your luggage at the ERL in KL Sentral.

yoyo said...

The passenger that sat beside her was Pakistani. Please do your research before accusing other people of practicing racism.