Malaysia Airlines has made the news for all the wrong reasons in the recent past. After struggling for some time already it seems that the airline now gives a haircut to their schedule with little to no notice to the passengers.
Last Thursday I was on my way from Bangkok to Taipei via KL when I noticed that one of the Malaysia Airlines flights that evening was cancelled (not mine, fortunately). I haven’t thought much of it even though I later suspected that this must have been cost cutting of some sort as even my flight 1h earlier was not very full. Given that the airlines usually accommodate canceled passengers on a flight close to their original departure time it was highly unusual that my flight to KL was this empty with only 7 passengers (including myself) in Business Class and Economy being wide open as well.
Yesterday evening I received an email out of the blue from Malaysia Airlines informing me that my flight Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on Monday evening has also been canceled.
Dear Valued Customer,
We would like to inform that due to operational requirements your booked flight on MH776 / 13 JUL 2015 has been cancelled. Now you have been booked on MH 796 / 13 JUL 2015, departing from KUALA LUMPUR at 2215 hours and arriving BANGKOK at 2320 hours.
This change in your travel is unavoidable and your new flight details will be emailed to you.
We apologize for this sudden change in your travel itinerary and truly regret the inconvenience this may have caused you.
My original flight would have left KL at 18:40h, a convenient time after work to leave the city and get into Bangkok at a not too ungodly hour. Now they wanted me to sit around until past 10pm which meant that I would have reached home not before 1am. I find the text of the email completely unacceptable as well.
Then I remembered the cancellation from Thursday last week and went to check, sure enough it was the same flight. This is more than an indicator that MAS strategically takes certain flights out of service, thinning out unprofitable connections (due to lack of passengers) on short notice.
Malaysia Airlines is currently undergoing a restructuring due to their dire financial situation (see related LoyaltyLobby article here) and has recently been firing staff on a mass scale (access our article here). The airline has also received a new CEO to oversee the operations from the Senior Management level.
I am all for adjusting schedules and saving money but not ad hoc with a notice of 48 hours and without consulting the passengers by phone. These are antics of a charter carrier and the last time I checked Malaysia Airlines was still operating scheduled flights. I contacted MAS to rebook me to the following day on a more convenient schedule and will for sure be requesting a compensation over this.
Malaysia Airlines had an unproportionally large amount of cancellations on their departure board the last few times I went through Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). It seems like their schedule is everything but reliable at the moment with the airline giving a ‘haircut’ to their operations as they seem fit when the numbers don’t justify a flight.
Passengers should be aware of this and the negative impact such unforeseen changes can have on their travel.