Friday, March 10, 2006

Flight from Hell

The passengers of Flight 884 were unaware of the fate that awaited them in the skies that evening, early March. A father cradled his young toddler up against his chest as the Boeing 737 taxied along the runway. The boy nodded off to sleep as the aircraft went airborne. And as he did, the man turned to the mother of his child and squeezed her hand gently as they exchanged smiles. The flight was on time and their child was going to sleep right through it all. It was going to be a pleasant trip.

Thirty minutes on, the flight had progressed along quite nicely when a cackle of electrical hisses came on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we will be returning to the airport," the co-pilot explained. "It seems we have a..." the faint voice over the intercom hesitated momentarily, "... slight equipment failure." A cacophony of chitter-chatter filled the cabin as confused passengers talked amongst each other trying to make sense of the co-pilot's message.

No sooner had the co-pilot's message sunk in when the plane suddenly convulsed violently, rocking from side to side and trembling under the pressure of the atmosphere! The screams and shouts of passengers sent a chill down the man's spine as he hugged his toddler close to him. Perhaps this would be the last time he ever held his son again.

. . . . . . . .

That would have been quite a tale if it hadn't happened to us. But it did. "Now everybody can be delayed," said Bud, quite prophetically.

By the time the plane turned back to KLIA, it was already 8:00pm. The turbulent wasn't really that bad, but because it came so close after the co-pilot's announcement, people freaked out. Fortunately for Jesse, he slept right through it all.

Back at KLIA, the ground crew announced that there would be a plane arriving from Jakarta and we would be able to take that one instead, since they could not repair the "hydraulic leakage". So, our flight was reschedule to 10:30pm. Fine. Mae, Jesse, Roma and my brothers Jeff and Steve decided to just have dinner at the airport and kill time.

By 10:30pm the plane from Jakarta did indeed arrive. All the passengers lunged towards the front section of the gate hoping to get in. However, little did we know another surprise awaited on the plane. So there we were, all queued-up when suddenly a couple of ground crew pushed a stretcher through the crowd. Apparently someone on that Jakarta flight had had a heart attack. I knew then we wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. There'd be protocol to follow, and endless reports and investigations. But we weren't given any such information.

By midnight, the passengers had turned into an angry mob ready to hang somebody. No one was giving us any explainations. Ground Crew didn't know what was happening. No Senior Management came down to pacify the crowd. Instead, they left us with a tactless Ground Crew member to address this increasingly agitated crowd. "You can cancellation your flight, or wait until 1:30am!" the young fellow said in the most insolent tone he could muster, and in horrifyingly broken English. Some passengers demanded refunds. "We don't refund anything," the boy yelled in his microphone. Asshole.

So yeah, we finally flew off at 1:30am. We got there and back safely. And Jesse was a trouper through it all. Still, it was a pretty harrowing experience, made worse only by AirAsia's lack of customer service. If you're gonna delay someone's flight for 7 hours, the least you could possibly do is to send someone from management to explain the situation. And how about making sure the plane is in good order before taking off, dammit? But I suppose perhaps AirAsia is merely sending out a message that customers shouldn't expect too much when they pay so little. For an airline that is notorious for delays, they sure don't look like they're about to change anything.

In any case, I doubt if I'll ever stick around to find out. I may not be so lucky next time.


  1. oh jeeze. welcome to the true face of corporations that has an outwardly pretty facade

  2. WOW, that was BAD! You were delayed for 7-freaking-hours! Any sane person can turn insane, having to wait and kill 7 hours in the airport!

  3. Wow, that's scary... and I'm booked for Bangkok early April!

  4. Oh my.. James..! i would have just turned back. .and not go.. ! good thing.. jesse was a trouper.. :)

  5. good thing jesse slept well. good thing u guys r all was bkk?

  6. One in a million, free flights doesn't come free, does it.
    It comes with having to put up with people who can't get their act together. Yes, customers shouldn't expect anything when they are not paying at all. Even common courtesy..
    The extend of what people can do to each other doesn't surprise me anymore..
    My honeymoon in July is booked on Air Asia. Hmmph.. Murphy Rules. :|

  7. Common courtesy should be a given - no matter how much you pay for a ticket. Thanks for sharing your story. Won't be flying that airline ever :)
    The Good Life

  8. It's my fault. When the plane returned to KLIa I made a dumbass comment," My friend was once delayed for 6 hours on airasia!"
    I guess we now hold the record for longest flight delayed-7hrs. I missed one quality night at the go go bars at soi Nana because of that goddamit!

  9. You get what you pay for. :P
    But then, it's AirAsia. You shouldn't be surprise if such thing were to happen. My friend's flight to Kuching was delayed more than 12 hours. :D

  10. hmmmm... i've generally held air asia in high regard. i guess i view it as i get what i pay for. cheaper tickets, and thus slightly lower quality of service, but not compromising on safety though.
    that rude ground staff was really unnecessary though.

  11. OMG!! I doubt I'll ever fly again if I was put through the same traumatic case as you did... at least not with my son!!!

  12. Dramatic blog, man. And u breached your 200 words limit!
    Your kid impress me. No fuss from him? Wow.
    Anyway, dont go for free thrills now.

  13. Funny things is, people keep going back for more...

  14. Pretty meh, Leo? :D
    Pelf, don't forget check-in time for international flights is 2 hours before take-off. We were there since 4:30pm!!!
    Don't forget to pray hard, Sue.
    Indeed, Voltboy.
    MamaBok, had we delayed another time, we'd have taken it as an omen and gone home.
    BKK was lovely, MOTT!
    You're married, Shine!??!?!
    I guess perhaps courtesy is not that common at our budget airline, Maria.
    Stevo: You jinxed us, foo!
    I guess your friend broke our record then, Jason.
    To be fair, Adriene, most of us weren't all that annoyed with the ground crew fella. In fact I think quite a few passengers found his bluntness quite amusing. Thankfully many of us managed to preserve our sense of humour.
    For me, I was glad Jesse was with us, Eggy. More on that in a future entry!
    He was oblivious to all the fuss, Joshua. In fact, he was going around entertaining folks.
    Ah, Bonnie, the allure of a bargain... *sigh*

  15. pretty ?? nah ... i'm working in that field XDXD

  16. that's y i avoid air asia flights these days. i also kena teruk-teruk a few times already.

  17. Omigawd!!! That is so freaking bad! I hope Wai Ye's flight this month end is gonna be okay.. so does my family this coming May. Christ!

  18. my flight was delayed once in the States for an entire day....they were nice to give us cash vouchers for cab and food. Unfortunately, it was Christmas eve. Of course, ALL places were closed early and snow all over the place. Good thing I bought some food at the airport.

  19. aiyo, I hate flight delays.
    and i thot they hv got new planes!

  20. Yes, Leslie, AirAsia should buck up or else there'll be more ppl like you and me.
    Good luck, Gina. Don't forget to pray.
    Oh no, Simmie - one whole day??!?!
    They have the new Airbus but they didn't give us that, Papi.

  21. I heard AA is famous for flights delay. Cham, I have 2 flights book on AA. *Keep my fingers cross*

  22. Dun worry lah Michelle, probably I'm just unlucky!

  23. Sounds like what I got on my flight back from Bangkok. It was delayed for more than six hours. And what was worse was this: there was no one around to explain anything to us.
    That's why I stop flying AirAsia.