Letter to Malaysia Airlines

I was absolutely dissatisfied with the way Malaysia Airlines responded to my damaged wheelchair complaint at their Lost and Found Office in KLIA. The following is the letter sent via email to their Customer Response Centre (customer@mas.com.my).

Customer Response Centre
Malaysia Airlines.


With reference to the above, I would like to file an official complaint with regards to the mishandling of my wheelchair to the extent that it was severely damaged when I arrived at KLIA from Penang.

I am totally dependent on the wheelchair for mobility and independence. The damage caused great inconvenience to me because it rendered the wheelchair non-functional if I was left to use it on my own.

The staff who attended to me at the Lost and Found Office in KLIA was unhelpful. My request for a substitute wheelchair was turned down. His reply was that Malaysia Airlines does not provide for such contingencies and that I should get the wheelchair repaired by myself and to claim the expenses from Malaysia Airlines later.

With my mobility impaired to such an extent, how was I able to continue on my journey, let alone get it repaired? I would like to invite your staff handling such complaints to use that damaged wheelchair for the length from the Lost and Found Office right up to the exit at KL Sentral to see if they could cover that distance. This would be a good exposure for them to understand what I would have gone through and perhaps make them more sensitive in handling similar cases in the future.

Without the help of the escorts that Malaysia Airlines provided upon arrival, the porters of the KLIA Express and my girlfriend who was waiting for me at KL Sentral, I would have been virtually stranded.

From KL Sentral, I had to take a cab and rush to a shop dealing in wheelchairs in Cheras as they were closing at 4:00pm. Upon inspection, the manager informed me that the frame of the wheelchair was badly bent and suggested that I get a new wheelchair instead. Repairing such damage would have been pointless.

I had to pay for a new wheelchair. I would like to know what Malaysia Airlines would have done if I did not have the means to pay for it. As an analogy, would you have sent a man, whose two legs were fractured due to Malaysia Airlines’ negligence, to seek medical attention and pay for the medical expenses by himself? I was exactly like a man with two broken legs because without the use of my wheelchair, I was totally helpless.

I used to hold Malaysia Airlines in high regards. I was happy with the services accorded to me the previous times that I traveled alone. This incident has changed that perspective.

The damage was caused by negligence and incompetence on your side. The very least Malaysia Airlines could have done after that was to loan a wheelchair to me until I was able to get mine repaired or replaced. What would have happened to me if I was unable to get a replacement wheelchair? I would have lost all my independence and mobility. The insensitivity of your staff in handling this incident leaves much to be desired.

In all seriousness I hope you will look into this problem and remedy it before the good name of the national carrier is permanently tarnished.

Yours truly,
Peter Tan

Related entry:
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

23 thoughts on “Letter to Malaysia Airlines”

  1. Jordan,
    I hope they will educate their customer service personnels in this area. It was frustrating when the guy kept shaking his head when I asked for a replacement wheelchair.

  2. MAS tak ada sistem lah, that’s why such terrible handling of the situation. next time, peter, why not try another airline and see.

  3. Peter:
    Sorry to hear about the mishap. It just breaks my heart to know that there are still so many deadwoods working in MAS despite all the customer bashing they had in the past. Looks like some things never change. It also boils down to the incompassion and sensivities of the general Malaysian population. Do not give up on this to get a satisfactory answer from the highest level in MAS management.

  4. good, you kicked hard. 😛
    just one point.
    It should have been aimed at some specific individual to get things moving. What about that Suhaila (?) lady of Screenshot’s fame?
    Otherwise, it just gives some MAS weasel, wiggle room to ‘tai-chi’

  5. I hope you’re able to follow up on this somehow. Maybe somebody knows someone in MAS and he/she could send the link to this post?

    Somebody sent an email to a customer-service-type email address and it just bounced back. Check this http://tinyurl.com/ayogl
    The matter was only resolved when ‘somebody who knows somebody’ sent the link directly to that ‘somebody’ in the organization, bypassing ‘customer service’.

    Otherwise, you really need to go all the way and carbon copy all the newspaper editors in town

  6. I can hardly believe this. MAS prided themselves in customer services and this happens? My goodness, you don’t need official procedures or policies in such a scenario. It’s just some courtesy and common sense! Shame on you, MAS.

  7. There is some possibility that the MAS staff who told you that there was nothing MAS could do was either poorly trained and mis-informed, or simply was not authorised to handle a situation like what you described.

    In such a scenerio, I would advocate going up the management chain of command. It may have proved worthwhile to ask to speak to the person’s supervisor, and if that did not work, the next step up, which would may be some manager.

    There is also someone who represents each airline in airports to which the airline frequently flies. Typically, his designation is “Station Manager”. His level of authority should be enough for him to make decisions about loaning you a wheelchair for instance. It would likely have involved exercise of his discretionary powers as that involved property of the airline which is bot limited in numbers and strictly meant to be used within the airport [under normal circumstances]. But given the cirumstances, and a capable and understanding station manager, I think you might have gone away with a loaned wheelchair.

    If that failed, there is a separate avenue which could have been explored – the KLIA itself may [should] have wheelchairs. But that would again mean going up to a high enough level in the mangement chain to reach someone who can make a decision [as opposed to lower level staff who have to go by the book only]. Sometimes, it can take quite a bit of forceful and insistent standing your ground to reach such a level, but many a time, it can be done.

    As a last resort, if I was in your predicament, I would have approached other airlines which had staff in the airport to seek assistance on extraordinary and humanitarian grounds [you may need to go up the management chain]. And should a wheelchair be forthcoming, a nice letter to the Press praising the beyond-the-call-of-duty deed of that airline + stern criticism of the airline which failed you will be both a nice thank-you to the helpful airline and a stinging slap-in-the-face for the lousy one.

  8. MAS lost my luggage once inside KLIA. It was a terrible experience. I have no faith in them whatsoever. The worst part is, they refused to reimburse my losses and asked me to claim from my travel insurance.

    And then got this one time, I was stranded in KLIA for a few hours because my flight was over-booked. They then transferred me to fly with SIA instead and the change of schedule has delayed and messed up my arrival time in another country.

    I really hate MAS.

  9. Hi Peter,
    In order to teach MAS a big lesson. I agree with Silencers you should post your experience through the media, especially newspapers. Let the public aware about this case

  10. Hello Peter. Sorry to hear of your bad experience with MAS, but happy to learn that you are doing something about it.

    I’m with you in thinking that their behaviour is nothing short of negligence and insensitivity.

    The sad thing is this – things are NOT going to change until a Datuk himself gets struck down by Spinal Cord Injury.

    If I’m a mean person I’m gonna say I wish it was them and not you in the wheelchair. But I’m not. So I hope they do something about it.

  11. Dear Gabriel (see, I got it right 🙂 )

    Everything that has been said has been said. I hope you get a quick and more than satisfactory response from MAS.

  12. Even Mid-Valley and KLCC can provide wheelchair for disabled or weak patrons.

    Why can’t Malaysia Airlines??

    Wait till this happens to a foreigner, then our PM will probably hear of it.

    Malaysia Airlines, brush up your act, you must!

  13. whoa.. your case is sure getting a lot of media attention. atta go peter.

  14. glad to know that someone from MAS has replied and apologised for what has happened.

    on an unrelated topic, i just stumbled upon this article written in the UK Sunday Times Newpaper entitled “Golden rules for blogging clever” (http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,19510-1631577,00.html).
    If you check the 2nd page of the article, your blog has been mentioned in the last paragraph. I wonder if you’re aware of it.

  15. Actually, Peter. I don’t think they are very friendly as well. Singapore airlines staffs are much friendlier and they speak in clear tones.

  16. lucia,
    For domestic flights, I can either use Malaysia Airlines or Air Asia. I have to check with Air Asia if they provide extra services to disabled passengers.

    It is sad that a couple of staff dishing out sub-standard performance has affected the whole organisation as a whole. Malaysia Airlines have said they will look into this problem. I hope they will carry that through to improve their services.

    As you have already seen, there was little or no “tai chi” here. They have responded rather fast to the complaint. Perhaps it was the pressure from Screenshots, Jeff’s foreign correspondent friend and the emails that made them act faster than expected. I was told it would take two weeks. I m surprised it took only one.

    We just have to go on step at a time. For me, blogging about it works, especially when I have the “most influential blogger in Malaysia” and his readers’ support.

    You are right. Common sense was certainly missing. I do not see why it was so difficult to get me a wheelchair.

    With the damaged wheelchair, I really was not in the mood to go hunting for another, especially an airport the size of KLIA. If the staff concerned was not authorised to act, he should have consulted his superior insted of just shaking his head when I asked to be lent another whelchair.

    I guess that is part and parcel of travelling. The very least the airlines could do was to look into minimising the inconveniences caused.

    Sam Cheah,
    I usually do not like to blow an issue up when it can be settled amicably.

    We do not have to be mean. As I have suggested in my complaint letter, I would like to invite their staff to use that damaged wheelchair fo the length of the journey I had to cover and see if they could manage it. That is the best and quickest way or them to understand what i would have gone through. Thanks for your concern.

    That I got from them. I am more than happy.

    Denghiz Kant,
    To my understanding, such services have been outsourced to third parties. To be fair, Malaysia Airlines do provide wheelchairs and escorts for children, the elderly and disabled passengers when requested. My cse was different because I have my own wheelchair.

    Thank you.


    I am happy that they have reacted in a positive way. Thank you for informing me about the arrticle. I can see that my “Bloggers are Morons” is still making its rounds.

    Like in all big organisations, there are bound to be some who will perform below our expectations. Generally, I have no complaints with the service level of Malaysia Airlines except this time.

  17. I am still awaiting a conclusion to a terrible experience with MAS in Australia. I hope you get the response and resolution you deserve. MAS do not represent the hospitality you associate with asia. I would travel with another carrier if you can.

  18. chris,
    Malayia Airlines have reimbursed the full amount to replace the wheelchair. For this part, I am satisfied with their response. On the other hand, I also hope they will do something concrete to improve their services in handling wheelchairs and complaints of such damage with more sensitivity. I hope you too get a satisfactory response from them.

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