I AM writing this letter on behalf of passengers of BI 636, which was scheduled to depart from Hong Kong to Brunei Darussalam at 2.35pm on January 5, 2018.
We wish to share our recent experience in which our Brunei-bound flight from Hong Kong was delayed for four hours (departure time was now 6.30pm and estimated arrival time in Bandar Seri Begawan was 9.35pm.
At this point, although frustrated with the delay (as it affected some of our connecting flights), we kept our cool and did not make a big deal about it.
After we departed from Hong Kong at approximately 7.15pm, we were alerted that the airplane had to be diverted to Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah in view of bad weather conditions in Bandar Seri Begawan at about 10.16pm. We arrived at Kota Kinabalu at about 10.48pm.
At about 10.57pm, we were updated that passengers would be given overnight accommodation and that a new travel time would be announced for the next day.
We awaited further updates from the holding area. Again, although very inconvenienced by this, we accepted the decision of RB as it would allow passengers an opportunity to rest before the next leg of the journey.
At approximately 12.15 midnight (now January 6), we were informed that there were no available hotels to accommodate the passengers of BI636.
We were informed that RB would try to get an airplane from Bandar Seri Begawan with a new crew to fly us back to Brunei. The new flight was scheduled to depart at 1.30am. Passengers in the waiting area were understandably getting increasingly frustrated.
To make matters worse, it was announced that there would be further delays and that the new departure time was 2.10am.
However, the actual departure time was approximately 2.30am.
Do not get me wrong, we understand the necessity to divert the flight to Kota Kinabalu due to bad weather conditions. After all, this was a safety matter.
However, during the almost three-and-a-half hour wait at Kota Kinabalu International Airport’s holding area, passengers who already had to endure an earlier four-hour delay in Hong Kong (in all, almost eight hours of delay) were not given basic necessities like food and drinks. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t this standard practice in such circumstances.
Passengers, most of whom we observed, could not speak the local language (or English for that matter), included children and elderly passengers who were travelling in wheelchairs.
Some arrangements should have been made for the comfort of these passengers. By now, passengers were exhausted and hungry.
Ground staff were visibly frustrated and agitated when we asked for flight updates, assistance on contacting family members back home (of which no assistance was given) and requests for refreshments (of which none was given).
If updates and assistance were more willingly and readily offered and provided, passengers would not have to keep approaching the ground staff to make enquiries.
Passengers who requested to purchase food items from the airport at their own expense were not permitted by ground staff to bring food items into the holding area. For some reason, they insisted that they be consumed outside of the holding area. Mind you, all but one food outlet was open near the waiting area.
I also made request to ground staff to assist me with storing perishable food items which I was carrying with me to avoid spoilage (especially since we were coming off an initial four-hour delay in Hong Kong). However, no assistance or effort was made to help me as well. Unfortunately, returning home – most of these items had already gone bad.
Although there was one cabin staff who was apologetic throughout the ordeal – the majority whom we sought assistance from did not extend the courtesy or assistance we expected during our truly ‘unforgettable’ journey.
I would like to point out that there were foreign tourists onboard the flight. It is most unfortunate that their impression of our local airline would be quite negative from this experience.
In future, we hope that RB could ensure that basic protocols and customer service procedures are put in place to ensure their passengers’ well-being.
Looking forward to improved customer service and a ‘Better Fly’ experience the next time we use the airline.
– Disappointed Passenger