(as published in Malaysia Today on 19 Sept 2011)
On behalf of the passengers of Air Asia X flight D7 2686 from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon, Seoul on September 2, 2011, I would like to share our experience about a delay that cost us more than 10 hours and the shabby treatment that Air Asia extends to its paying customers.
The chronology of the events are as follows:
The flight, D7 2686 was initially supposed to take off at 11.00pm and reach Incheon at 6.00am the next day.
11.00pm - Captain of the flight announced a delay due to a route change which requires the plane to upload 2 tonnes of fuel. The reason given was non-approval from ATP for clearance from Ho Chi Minh to Taipei.
12.00 midnight - Captain announces another plan change, requiring the uplifting of 1 tonnes of fuel from the plane.
1.00am - The plane was waiting by the runway to take off when the Captain announced clearance from Taipei and said that he would decide in 2 or 3 minutes if he would repark the plane.
1.30am - Captain re-parked the plane at the terminal
1.50am - Passengers were told to disembark to T18 by the Captain
2.30am - After more than 3 hours stranded in the plane, the passengers were finally allowed to disembark to T18 where everyone rushed to the rest room or to purchase much needed food and drinks
3.30am - Cold croissant and cold mineral water were distributed to the passengers.
4.00am - Some of the Korean guests requested for blankets for their children. The passengers were told that the plane will take off by 5.00am
5.00am - A new announcement was made that the plane will take off by 7.30am
6.00am - Two of the passengers cancelled their tickets and left
7.00am - One of the Managers assured the passengers that the plane will take off by 7.30am. A second Manager then said that Air Asia could extend our flight to another day. But he could not qualify for food and accommodation.
7.30am - The passengers were asked to re-board the plane.
8.00am - The plane reversed out of the parking bay and was parked in another place in the middle of the airport with 2 ground crew still on board. The new crew sat in the front portion of the plane, behind the red curtain, laughing and joking
8.20am - One of the passengers, a Mr. Chew, got up from his seat to approach the crew to find out what was happening. He was told that there was no pilot and the new crew said that they had just arrived from Delhi and were only told to sit in to board us on the plane. Anoother crew member, a Mr. Narin Singh, openly said that there was no pilot and he was there to bring the plane to where it was currently parked (in the middle of the airport). When pressed for confirmation, he declined to comment. However, it was very clear that Air Asia had moved the airplane without a qualified pilot on board!
9.20am - The plane finally took off for Korea
The delaying tactics employed by Air Asia was obvious. On top of all that, the passengers were subjected to rude treatment and thuggish behaviour from the ground crew and staff of Air Asia. When a disagreement arose between two Korean ladies and the ground crew at approximately 5.30am, passenger Mr. Chew recorded the incident on his handphone, but he was subsequently threatened and browbeatened by the Air Asia security to delete the video or else his mobile phone would be confiscated.
To date, there has been no effort from Air Asia to reach out to its customers and at least make an attempt to compensate everyone for the ordeal they suffered at the hands of Air Asia. We have never received any official answer on the reason for the delay. From what we had found out verbally, someone in Air Asia forgot to ask for clearance through Taipei air space, which sparked off the whole fiasco.
I am writing this to you in the hopes that our experience on board Air Asia X flight D7 2686 will be shared with your readers. Was all these hassle and stress worth the price of a cheap ticket? My answer, and the answer of all my fellow passengers would be, a resounding No.
More than that, seeing how shabbily Air Asia treated its guests that night, how they verbally accosted the Korean passengers who were struggling to speak English, I can honestly say, I felt an emotion I had never felt in my lifetime - I was embarassed to be Malaysian because Air Asia is a Malaysian company.
Tags: Air Asia X, Incheon, LCCT, Taipei Air Space, Ho Chi Minh, ATP