08 Jan 2023 8:00AM
JOHOR BARU – The National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) received 3,029 complaints against airliners from January 2020 to December 2021, according to its senior manager Baskaran Sithamparam.
The majority of the complaints, he pointed out, pertain to travellers facing obstacles in receiving refunds for cancelled flights.
During the height of the pandemic, Baskaran highlighted, travel restrictions saw travellers’ flights cancelled, with some airlines operating in Malaysia offering vouchers instead of cash refunds.
“What makes things worse is that these vouchers sometimes come with a time limit, whereby travellers must use them before the period ends.
“Furthermore, for some consumers, vouchers were not a feasible solution given that they paid for flights using their credit cards, so in such situations, cash refunds would have been best,” Baskaran told The Vibes.
Najib Redzuan is an example of a customer who purchased a flight with a low-cost carrier in early 2020, which was cancelled due to the movement control order in place at the time.
Until today, despite spending over RM5,000 on flight tickets to Japan for a family vacation, he has yet to receive proper reimbursement.
“We were planning to fly to Japan sometime in March, and when our flights were cancelled, I was told by the airline that I would get a refund within a certain time period.
“I waited a whole year until I came across the news that the airline would be pursuing a restructuring scheme, which would see customers like me receiving credits we could use to purchase another flight.
“However, when we decided to book flights when the borders reopened, the credits we were given could not be used,” Najib said when contacted.
In the middle of 2022, Najib said he took steps to escalate the matter to the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) but was informed by the regulatory body that they received no response from the airline.
Meanwhile, Lee Kok Yew purchased tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Vietnam in December last year with the same budget airline, but saw his outgoing flight cancelled and rescheduled to another date.
When demanding a refund, Lee was informed that he could only obtain a partial reimbursement, which he has still yet to receive.
“I was frustrated with the situation and made a complaint to the NCCC, after which the airline contacted me to inform me that they are looking into my grievance.
“I understand now that my case is under the purview of Mavcom, but in the meantime, I will not book any more flights with that airline,” Lee said. – The Vibes