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A flight of disappointment


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Today I fly Kuching – Kuala Lumpur [Kuala-Lumpur-travel-guide-1096867] – Auckland with the shortest available connection time of 1h25. I was advised by Malaysia Airlines 2 days before that I had been successful in my bid for an upgrade at the minimum price.

With an upgrade guaranteed, I became concern that my domestic flight might be delayed and cause me to miss the longhaul flight (and face an overnight in Kuala Lumpur followed by the admin headaches in trying to get the upgrade refund).

I managed to find out online the pattern of the aircraft’s usage for my flight: KCH-MYY-KCH-SIN-KCH-MYY-KCH-KUL. Tracking each of the flights beforehand gave me some comfort that all was well.

My brother and parents dropped me off at the airport around 1700 (for an 1840 departure) before they headed out for an early dinner. Surprisingly, the check-in area didn’t have the usual queues. Despite my best intention to eat less, I was slightly peckish and utilised the lounge before an on-time departure for Kuala Lumpur.

Some passengers brought in too much cabin baggage and some put their smaller items in the lockers, meaning that later passengers had to have their cabin baggage taken down to the hold. I asked the ground staff on board what would happen if I had been unlucky and not got locker space, how would a cabin bag offload be handled in view of my short connection to an international flight.

He explained that offloaded bags are delivered to the carousel and with a connection of an hour or more, one can collect the bag, exit and re-enter through immigration and security! I disagreed and asked if he would choose to offload other passengers’ cabin bag instead. He acknowledged that but I was rather disappointed at how mis-informed he was.

I had a word with the Leading Stewardess during the flight, and also the Stewardess who was nearby when I posed the question to the ground staff. They both agreed it would have been impossible. In fact, the Stewardess said she kept quiet because she knew my bag was already safely in the locker.

We landed a little early in Kuala Lumpur and I swiftly made my way through immigration to get to the international area. It was five minute wait outside my departure gate before they opened up and a little more before we boarded the Airbus A330 for Auckland.

The Inflight Supervisor greeted me by name and immediately confirmed that I had a special meal ordered before showing me to my seat. Actually it wasn’t a special meal as such but a Chef-on-Call meal.

We departed about 10 minutes late. Drinks were served soon after take-off. I chose a bubbly which was accompanied by a premium nut mix which I prefer less compared to the peanuts in cattle class. Then came the canapés of satay which was absolutely tops. The Stewardess serving was exceptional in her casual but hospitable, respectful style. She asked me if I wanted lots of sauce and then mumbled to me “Banjir banjir lalu sedap” (loosely translated, I’ll just drench and flood this so it will be really yummy for you).

I asked the Inflight Supervisor how they maintain the consistency when catered from overseas and he explained that all the satay is prepared in Auckland and frozen for the return flight (unlike other meals).

This was followed by appetiser and then my “Chef-on-Call” preordered meal of Beef Cheek. Sadly it was so tough the knife hardly sank into it. I ate a couple of mouthfuls and ate everything else except the meat. I showed my lovely Stewardess and she was most apologetic. As I wasn’t hungry after having had seconds of satay, I opted for some fruit and the cheese (which could have been more mature and softer).

Bed time came. The electrical adjustment for the flatbed seat didn’t work and I thought it had been powered off for takeoff (which was the case with some flight). The crew checked and came back with the bad news. My seat appeared to be faulty with power supply issues. They released it manually but it wouldn’t go into the fully flat position and left a gap between the seat and the ottoman. The flight was already full and there was no spare seat.

Despite that, I slept for 4h with the help of a sleeping pill. I woke up about an hour before the breakfast service. I had opted for the nasi lemak which the crew ensured I got seeing that I have had two product failures already.

The Inflight Supervisor issued me with MYR200 of inflight shopping vouchers which I used on an overpriced adapter which I didn’t need (since I have cheaper but workable ones). A little later, he beckoned me into the galley and said “Mr Chan, it appears you enjoy food. One of our crew made some homemade rendong tok which you may enjoy. Would you care to try some?” I tried a spoonful and then he got me a small dish and heaped a few more spoonfuls on to it.

Kind gestures like this are more effective than any kind of apology or vouchers but I’d still write in for a partial refund. The crew must have been pretty amazing in my mind to overlook the two product failures so forgivingly. Nevertheless the upgraded flight had been a large disappointment.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia

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