My Atrocious Customer Support experience with Malaysia Airlines

As those who would’ve been to Bali from India would know, the tourist destination is pretty far from India, and hence, so far, we don’t have direct flights to Bali from Indian airports. You could pick a transit point of your choice, though, and hop over to Bali via Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I was wrapping up a week-long trip where I visited some friends in Singapore for a couple of days, and from there, I hopped over to Bali for a few days, where I was planning to catch up with a group of friends. Everything worked out as intended, except at the end of the trip, where Malaysia Airlines played spoilsport.

a plane flying in the sky

The Phone Dings

At about 4 AM local time, I received an alert from one of the many flight tracking services that I subscribe to sent me a warning about the delay of Malaysia Airlines flight 714, which flies between Denpasar (Bali) and Kuala Lumpur. It is the first flight of the day for MH and is scheduled to depart at 12:55 PM every day from DPS. It also nicely connects to MH190, which could bring me to Delhi on the same evening.

a screenshot of a phone

Unfortunately, the alarm caught my eye at the same hour, and I looked at it with a side eye, fully waking up as I realised the mess it would be. This was the last day of the trip, and I’d have liked to be a bit more chill getting on the plane.

It seems an A330-300 of Malaysia Airlines was down for some reason in Medina, and the airline perhaps did not have a spare out of their 15 A330-300s to depute on the route.

a screenshot of a phone

This notification was even earlier than it had percolated through Malaysia Airlines’ reservation systems, where they were still selling tickets with the original schedule.

a screenshot of a phone

Malaysia Airlines creates further problems…

While looking forward to a nice and easy breakfast before heading to the airport, I was now working on protecting us from the after-effects of this move. The ticket was booked using Avios from my BA Executive Club Account, which meant it was issued on British Airways ticket stock (on a ticket number starting with 125).

However, when Malaysia Airlines detected that we would not make it for the second flight, they automatically rebooked us on the flight the following day. In the process, they issued us a Malaysia Airlines ticket stock number for the Kuala Lumpur – Delhi leg (a ticket number starting with 232). That was the beginning of the confusion.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

As you can see, Malaysia Airlines rebooked on the next flight out of Kuala Lumpur, which was the following day at 8:50 AM. I called MH to check whether they would facilitate an entry landside (take responsibility for visa issuance) and provide us with a room for the night in case of this Irregular Operation. The MH line pretended not to understand the question and just asked us to arrive at the airport where all our questions would be answered.

screenshot of a flight schedule

Mission Fix It begins…

Since I was not going to pack up and leave to spend 12 hours at an airport without any assurance on where I was going to spend the night, and with such an early warning, I’d be damned if I’d needlessly packed and left, I asked Malaysia Airlines on social media to look at rebooking me on Singapore Airlines, which had tickets available. No, Go.

a screenshot of a flight ticket

I would have booked myself, even if so in Economy if I’d had the miles in my KrisFlyer Account, which I did not. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no instantaneous transfer partner for KrisFlyer.

Here is the response of Malaysia Airlines, which is gobbledygook and ignores the request altogether (The timestamp is different because it is taken on India time and not Indonesia Time)

a screenshot of a message

Now, Social Media teams of airlines are highly empowered folks, where some of the most capable and witty agents are usually put up. Airline agents have helped me rebook tickets, confirm upgrades, and assign seats but also helped me get on a flight when I was stuck in a traffic jam, and what have you. I would usually trust an airline’s SM team implicitly.

I then asked MH to put me on the same itinerary (MH714/MH190) the next day so that I could use KL as a transition point rather than an overnight stop. Except, by this time, they had introduced a new variable in the mix, where they wouldn’t take any responsibility for their actions but passed the buck to British Airways. Err.

a screenshot of a phone

a screen shot of a phone I reached out to BA’s social media team, who are usually very prompt in responding. And respond they did. Remember, this was 6 AM Bali time, meaning it was 10 PM in the UK, where the BA Social Media team was based. But they sent me looking in the direction of Malaysia Airlines again.

a screenshot of a message

This deadlock continued till I sent both of them the screen grabs of each other’s claims where they were pointing me in the other’s direction.  They were both right and wrong simultaneously because the ticket was (initially) issued by BA but was now (taken over) by MH. Eventually, MH continued to be lousy since the beginning, but BA gave me some hope after a bit of going around in circles.

a screenshot of a phone

I pointed out to BA that economy seats were available the next day on the same routing, and a BA Social Media agent picked it up. They blocked the economy seats for me and said they’d further request Malaysia Airlines to book us in business class. However, they needed Malaysia Airlines to offload us from the disrupted flights, and they were talking to MH through their liaison channel. (Long story short, that liaison came to nought)

a screenshot of a message


a screenshot of a flight schedule

Now began the waiting game. While British Airways did what they could do with still having access to the ticket, the folks at Malaysia Airlines had to do the rest. Except, they were not interested in resolving the issue, or so it seems.

a screenshot of a chat


And thus, the time-limited tickets booked by BA (to be actioned by Malaysia Airlines) were dropped from my PNR, causing more confusion. I got 17 emails from Malaysia Airlines in quick succession without any hint that the new leg on the ticket was cancelled.

a screenshot of a phone

Eventually, I got desperate. I did not want to be on a plane that would fly in 3 hours from now and spend the night at an airport I’ve transited before and I do not have a great opinion of. I also did not want to be missing out on the flight the next day. So, I booked the tickets for the next day using British Airways Avios.

At this time, I was betting the house on someone offloading us and cancelling the original tickets. But, Malaysia Airlines’ social media refused to understand the meaning of “offloading me”, so I googled the email address of a real person in a high position in Malaysia Airlines and sent him an email outlining the issue. Bingo! I got a call an hour later, telling me the “offload” was done. For which the Social Media team wanted to take credit.

a screenshot of a chat


Funny enough, at this point, I just gave up, and I wanted to head out. We headed out to the beach in Bali Seminayak, which was very dirty, by the way, but on FlightRadar, I could see my plane climbing out. It took me just 14 hours to sort a ticket which was supposed to be a piece of cake. I spent money calling the airline on international roaming; I tweeted and whatnot to come to this stage. But I was not willing to do any more. All I did do after was call the front office and extend my stay for a night.

a map of the world

Funny enough, I got a second call in the evening, offering to reschedule the ticket to the next day in Business Class when I’d already booked a second ticket in Economy. I enquired who would cancel the other ticket, and I was given the famous MH response, you’ll have to manage it yourself. I declined the offer, of course.

The comedy of the whole affair

I can safely say that I’ve worked on 100s of redemptions, both for myself and many a time for other people. Covid or no covid, I’ve never spent 14 hours at a stretch straightening out a ticket, and this one was unique and pointed to the incompetence of MH in so many ways. I had to tell them what to do and how to do it, and it still took them a long while to get it done. All for a sub-par product in the end.

And at the end of it, while they apologised profusely, the refund of my Avios has still not come in because British Airways is awaiting an email from Malaysia Airlines confirming that the ticket was not flown. And Malaysia Airlines, while apologising profusely, is not moving a finger and has never heard the term service recovery. [Update: after yet another try with British Airways, I’ve at least received my Avios. The money should follow, I hope.]


Malaysia Airlines, which prides itself in Malaysian Hospitality, royally dropped the ball earlier this month and, with a combination of factors, did not fix up a situation which was their creation. With this, I am sure I’m not putting a foot on any MH-operated flights anytime soon. Unfortunately, they might have been good pre-covid, but right now, they are not even in a space where they understand how to create customer recovery, forget, delight.

What has been your experience with Malaysia Airlines? What would you have done in this situation?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Could you please provide the email address of the person in management that you sent an email to? I have multiple customer care issues which have not been resolved

  2. Live from a lounge

    Hi Ajay,
    Recently I was on the same route except it was KUL/DPS and I was on vacation. I was seated in Business Class, and during meal service I was served a dish not of my choosing because there were no other choices available and shockingly found that one of the potatoes which was cooked was also rotten. Issue was reported to FA on board, and was informed that the issue would be addressed and reverted to me but never heard from them one month later.

    So I decided to write and post the images to the top management at MAG and although the issue was promptly investigated and resolved by Malaysia Airlines, I felt all these could have been avoided if the airline took measures to control its food quality and safety.

    Customers who fly business class pay to be served proper meals and services however I feel that Malaysia Airlines although they do somewhat well at their hub in Malaysia, they fail to understand passengers needs and expectations. Compare the same class with other airlines, and you will find that there are a lot of differences in services, comfort and food offered. While I also agree there are far worst airlines that offer worst, as an airline that proclaim to have 5 star airline ratings should be doing better especially with the prices charged which is not cheap.

    Post pandemic, many airlines are charging more and offering less for the exception of Qatar, British Airways, Air France, Singapore, Lufthansa and Emirates who still offer their best services across the board of similar class or higher.

    Malaysia Airlines in my opinion can grow better and improve dramatically, the question is whether they are listening to their customers feedbacks and promptly acting on improving or will they choose to ignore and continue serving sub-par service and comfort at 5 star prices?

  3. Dear Ajay,

    I am truly sorry about your unpleasant experience with Malaysia Airlines. As a representative of the company, I want to express my deepest apologies for the inconvenience and discomfort during your trip with us. There is absolutely no excuse for any negative experience, and I completely agree that we could have definitely done much better. I am so sorry once again.

    If you are comfortable with it, I would be very grateful if you would give me the opportunity to have a chat with you about your experience and how we can set things right for you. Please let me know if this is something you would be open to. I am once again very sorry.


  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ajay. If you could share which social media platform of the airlines do you generally write to (twitter, instagram)? Asking just in case I need to in the future.

  5. I’m not sure Malaysian Airlines were good pre-Covid. They arbitrarily cancelled my business class return to Bali from London and then claimed that I had done it even though I was about to fly. I had no choice but to buy a now overpriced economy ticket on the same flight. I repeatedly asked them to sort it out and they palmed me off, only eventually ‘investigating’ it and then concluding that I had indeed cancelled my own ticket!! I tried to doorstop them in their London office to please reinstate my ticket but they wouldn’t let me in. Never flying Malaysian Airlines again!

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