Flying without wings…

The newspapers from West Malaysia e.g. The Star or The New Straits Times did not arrive as scheduled today as the MAS flight from KLIA to Sibu was diverted to Kuching, the reason being that the weather was bad and visibility was low. Good grief! That certainly was a lame excuse.

The weather was not too bad today, just some drizzle on and off and I had seen worse, like when Cooking4STP flew into town sometime ago. I could not see through the windscreen of my car and in an instant, the low-lying areas in the town were flooded and the roads were jammed. Now, that was what I would call bad turbulent weather and yet, the plane landed…more or less on time.

The same thing happened on Sunday, 11th January, 2009, when the weather was quite wet and some parts of Sibu were flooded. Alex aka Jienster was supposed to fly from Sibu to KLIA on transit to Melbourne but the flight was cancelled and he had to fly the following day instead. The excuse was the same – that the plane coming in from KLIA  to Sibu “could not land owing to bad weather and had to proceed to Kuching”.

My friend’s aunt who was supposed to fly home to Kuching that same morning waited the whole day until night. The last thing I heard was she was boarding the “rescue flight” to take the passengers to Kuching and it was already 7.00 p.m. by then.

The irony was on that day the Air Asia and the maswings aircrafts were flying in and out without a hitch. Perhaps the MAS people would like to explain why?

On my part, I have flown KLIA-Penang four times, I think and three times the flight was delayed. Once, they said there was engine trouble…and while I sat in the plane, I could see people climbing and walking up and down the wings of the Boeing 737, doing what I did not know.

But the best excuse was on another occasion when they announced that 19 people had checked in but did not appear on board so they would have to unload their luggage and that took ages. 19 people! If they had said 1 or 2, I would have believed it…but 19! One whole busload of them! Utterly ridiculous, I must say!

Sometime back, there was a report in the papers that the pilots were on strike so the second time it happened, I asked the cabin crew, “The pilots still on strike?” The steward just smiled and would not say anything that would incriminate him. No complaints about them though – on all occasions, they were very pleasant and generous in serving drinks and snacks to the fuming passengers on board.

So what exactly is the reason behind all these delays, diversions and flight cancellations? The MAS crew on strike again? During such difficult times economically, I think they should be thankful they are employed. As it is, many cannot find a job and some have had their services terminated and a lot of them wouldn’t mind taking over, I’m sure. Already the airline isn’t doing very well, so if it were to wind up and close shop, how many people would be jobless and wouldn’t it bring about a lot of inconvenience to the innocent travellers? There is the right time for everything and this is hardly the appropriate time to pull this sort of stunt.

My daughter left home on 2nd January, 2009 and experienced a problem with that KLIA-Penang flight. Upon arrival at KLIA, she called me and asked why there was the word “CANCELLED” beside her flight number on the information board. I told her that obviously, it had been cancelled and she would have to approach any MAS staff to get her on another flight to Bayan Lepas…which she did finally, arriving at 6 something instead of 4.30 p.m.

What I fail to understand is that she had checked in all the way – Sibu-KLIA-Penang and when she flew into KLIA, the MAS crew should know from their computer system that there were adjoining passengers coming in, supposed to go on that cancelled flight. They should have made arrangements to put her on the next available flight and got the boarding pass, meal voucher and what not ready to be handed to her as soon as she disembarked from the Sibu-KLIA aircraft. But no! They did nothing of the sort. That will be the day! Obviously, efficiency is not their middle name.

During festive seasons and school holidays, especially when there are extra flights added to the usual schedule, rest assured that there will be delays and cancellations and I can think of no reason other than the crew disgruntled that they are being made to work extra. I don’t know if KNB can still remember when the family flew in on New Year’s Eve for the reunion dinner with the granny and aunties here…but their flight was delayed from morning till late evening and even though he was just a little kid (brat) then, he  swore never to come back to Sibu for Chinese New Year ever again. It certainly looks like so far, he has kept his word.

Since time immemorial, MAS has always been taken as the acronym for “Mana ada sistem” or “Mesti ada salah/susah” and obviously, things have not changed one bit! Perhaps there is some truth after all in the old adage that “a leopard can never change its spots”? Thank God for small mercies! At least we still have the cheap airline, warts and all, or else we really would have to learn to fly without wings…