What was supposed to be an enjoyable holiday turned into an ordeal for one Malaysian woman and her family, who found themselves unceremoniously kicked off their flight.
The woman, Susan Yong, shared a lengthy Facebook post detailing her family's flight woes on Wednesday (Nov 23).
They were meant to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai on Nov 19, but were told that their flight was overbooked during check-in.
After some back-and-forth with AirAsia's counter staff, Yong and her family were informed that they could hop on a later flight to the same destination and were given their boarding passes.
"My husband and I received handwritten boarding passes. No one told us why, they just said they would get our seats sorted. The airline staff also confirmed that we had seats on the plane," she wrote in Chinese.
But that was not the end of their troubles.
The moment they boarded the plane, an air stewardess informed Yong that she and her husband were on the 'no show' list but assured them that they would be taken to their seats.
"Suddenly, a male staff member came towards us. He had a very bad attitude and told us to get off the plane, I was shocked," recounted Yong in her post.
The man told the couple that they had no air tickets and thus had to leave.
Yong's husband tried to reason with the staff by telling him that they were traveling with three seniors but the latter was adamant on making the couple disembark.
As they were unwilling to budge, the staff called in security personnel.
"When security personnel arrived, they wanted us to get off the plane even before discussing how the issue could be resolved. They didn't want to listen to us, talk about compensation, or talk about how to deal with the elderly," she said.
The situation became tense, Yong told her elderly family members to prepare to leave the plane.
"Moments later, about six or seven security personnel appeared and they kicked us off the plane as if we were criminals. Their attitude was really bad, I was really scared," she recalled.
The two videos shared in Yong's post show the family being forcefully moved out of the plane by security personnel.
For the distress they were made to endure that fateful day, Yong said the airline only offered each traveler a US$100 (S$137) credit into their AirAsia account — a token that she promptly rejected.
"If AirAsia told us about the flight change earlier, we would've been able to make the necessary arrangements."
In an update, the irate passenger said her family was offered one night's accommodation at a hotel, as well as a 12.45pm flight to Chiang Mai the following day.
AsiaOne has contacted AirAsia for more information.
Overbooking policy for flights
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), overbooking is a practice that allows airlines to better manage revenue.
This is because once a flight takes off, the seats on that flight are no longer available for sale — making it a "time-sensitive, perishable product".
But there are "actions taken to minimise the impact to customers who are denied boarding", such as having a call for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for an agreed-upon offer from the airline, IATA said.
According to AirAsia's website, in the event that the airline cancels a flight, passengers may move their flight booking to another date, subject to the airline’s ability to accommodate the change.
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