This is a feedback message regarding my recent trip.
I have just boarded your MH001 plane from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur. The journey was pleasant albeit a slight problem in the beginning.
My experience at the check in counter is quite demeaning. My baggage allowance is only 20kg but I had an extra 6 kg which I admit is due to my fault, not because I didn’t pay any attention but due to the thought that it might had been fine.
But honestly, I had packed about 20kg when I left my house but I couldn’t resist the temptation to grab few more stuff for my family while walking around the city of London couple of hours before my flight.
The check in lady which I presumed a British referred me to the ticketing counter due to this issue, noting on a piece of paper that my hand luggage is already 7kg. I was served by a Malay guy at the ticketing counter. The thing is, I understand that my luggage weight is over the limit. Which in my mind, I would take out couple of books which weigh about 3kg already and carry in as a hand luggage. Going through security wouldnt be a big problem because they never bother of how many piece of hand luggage that a person has in hand. So that left me with another 3 kg.
I asked and beg the ticketing counter guy if I could get at least 1 or 2 kg extra. But to no avail, he refused and told me that if I wish to bring extra 6 kg, I would have to pay somewhere in between GBP 200-300. He told me that another option is to get a student pass or something (which allows extra 10kg) that can be done online, earlier. So, he pretty much left me with no other option other than tossing some of my stuff in the bin. Note that he never said that, but as I cannot afford the extra payment, that seems to be the only solution. The lady at the check in counter had already warn me that my extra stuff cannot be taken with hand luggage as I had already reached my quota.
See, I know that I’m not a girl with pretty face, but as a guy with guy-next-door look, I’m quite pampered in life in this kind of situation and often enough get away with it. Not at MAS counter unfortunately.
So, my solution is simple. Take out 6kg from my bag and ask a group of Malaysian girls who happened to be there;
to see my stuff while I check in my luggage, pretending that I’ve sorted out the rest.
The same lady at the check in counter was even suspicious and asked me what I did with the rest of 6 kg. I lied to her which was really uncomfortable because I hate lying. I prefer to keep silent, as not telling isn’t the same as lying. So all she knew is my stuff was taken by my friend who sent me off; and this is what happened 4 years ago.
4 years ago, I flew with MAS from Heathrow to KL and I had experienced the same thing. But I got a British friend and German friend who sent me off so they could take few of my items with them which I collected when I returned to the UK.
Except this time, I was alone. So I proceed to the departure hall with 6 kg of item which mainly clothings and few books for my lovely nephews and niece.
I’m pretty sure that I can get away with the books but clothings items are just bulky and big, making it a tad obvious that I’m bringing extra stuff, and I am less optimistic and more paranoid when dealing with this kind of situation and what it may be when I’m at the gate later.
So I get myself into the toilet and wore another jeans under the jeans I was wearing (thanks God that it was skinny jeans) and what must have been about 10 layers of t-shirt. Technically by doing that, I’m not breaching hand luggage allowance, as no airlines ever define of how many layers of clothing one is allowed to wear. But you can sense how uncomfortable it was. I was sweating straight away, but looking at myself in the mirror when I get out from the toilet, with me now having belly, is a rather good reminder to keep watching my weight so that is fine. Plus, I cannot afford to leave my stuff behind and do not even have money to pay extra if MAS staff pulled the same trick as Ryanair, which I’ve seen they had done it to people with extra hand luggage before boarding the flight.
So, I didn’t mind the sweat due to multi layers clothing and ice tea from Costa soothed me. So now I got my bag pack which is about 7kg and about 3 kg of item in my hand which they will assume that i bought it in the departure hall and my fat version of myself walking successfully through the gate passing the same lady from the check in counter. Honestly, I felt a bit worried giving my boarding pass to her as if she may stop me and recheck weight of my hand luggage. It didn’t happen.
In a way, I was probably acting a bit more that I should, but I’m not sure if I’ll passed it through if I’ve just brought another plastic bag – a rather bulky one; and that is not the risk I was willing to take. And I’m a rather paranoid person as I said before.
Once I was on the plane, I took off the shirts and sit back and enjoyed the Malaysian hospitality served by the cabin crews.
The irony is, I knew that my in-flight experience would be fine thus making me felt crossing the gate with those extra kilos was nearly like those Mcgyver scene where he crossed the border except mine is less dramatic, but dramatic enough in my head.
While this whole experience wasn’t by any fault of your part, and is mine to lose, I could have wish that my check in experience wouldn’t be that memorable in a bad way. And for a premiere airlines as opposed to a budget one, I was surprised that begging for an extra 1-2 kilos was such a big deal. I would assume it might had been harder if a British was the one who regulates it, but this is a Malaysian guy at the ticketing counter.
On a different note, 5 years ago, I was flying to London with MAS in the month of Ramadhan. The stewardess was aware that I wanted to fast so while I was sleeping, she woke me up to let me sip my last drink before imsak started. That felt like home and I never forget about it so far. Couple of times I told my friends about it because it was simply nice and the stewardess didn’t even have to do it. And that was even before MH was advertised as Malaysian hospitality, but I felt it already.
I am an avid traveller. I flied numerous time with normal airlines like Emirates, KLM, Sri Lankans Airlines and cheap flight like EasyJet, RyanAir and Jet2 and I have no doubt of why MAS won cabin crew award because you guys deserve it.
But I wish that MH wasnt subjected only to the in-flight experience because the journey starts way earlier than that. You know, it’s probably starts with those moment where I bought some extra stuff in Oxford Street and thought that I can get away with it due to Malaysian Hospitality. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Ahmad L A Ramli
P.S: This feedback had also been posted on my blog at http://pagihari.solarstreak.com/2012/05/a-casual-feedback-letter-to-mas/