MAS CEO Personally Responds To OKU Passenger's Complaint And Offers An Apology
People have said that Apple's Tim Cook and the late Steve Jobs are "exemplary" for dipping their toes in customer service by responding to individual emails by customers.
Now, the same thing can be said of Malaysian Airlines CEO.
MAS CEO Peter Bellew has come under the spotlight for a recent email that he personally wrote in response to Peter Tan, a passenger who wrote an open letter to him on Sunday, 5 February.
Tan, who suffers from tetraplegia (tetraplegia (paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso), had lambasted MAS after his recent poor experiences that had transpired during his flight from KLIA to Bangkok, Thailand.
Bellew wrote back to Tan on 6 February, acknowledging that the national carrier has fallen short of expectations and failed to carry out its duty and obligations to accommodate his needs.
In the prompt reply, he also offered an apology and said that he wanted to meet Tan in person.
In his open letter, Tan wrote about how MAS had failed to accommodate his special requests and misplacing his customised wheelchair, causing him mental distress and even putting him in danger due to his physical condition.
Acknowledging these issues, Bellew wrote:
"Dear Mr. Tan,
Thank you for your open letter to the Borneo Post. On behalf of the Malaysia Airlines family, I humbly apologise. That was no way to treat another human being. Your journey was terrible.
Excuses. Who really wants to read my excuses? No one I am sure. In your booking, we were notified that you were “OKU” which is Bahasa for Orang Kurang Upaya which means you have a disability and needed a simple meet and greet assistance.
Unfortunately, before you arrived at check-in we did not know you needed a cabin wheel chair or special assistance which has a code of WCHC. Honestly - the global airline process is poor. For our future customers, we need to find a new and better way."
Bellew commented on how modern jet aircraft are poorly designed to accommodate disabled customers, adding that he will now personally review the safety of "how we speed these exits from our aircraft"
"I can say sorry all day but I don’t believe that helps you. A more constructive approach I think would be to meet with you in person and members of national organisations that represent people with mobility challenges.
There has to be a better way to help you. If you will grant me the time, I will arrange to meet you at your home or organise to meet you in Kuala Lumpur," he wrote.
Bellew opined that Tan's complaint letter had "raised a much broader question" on how MAS could live up to its status as Malaysia's flag carrier
"How can Malaysia Airlines survive in the modern airline industry? Our only hope is to offer extraordinarily good customer service. We simply must be the most customer-friendly airline in Asia.
That will be difficult but it can be done. In 2017 we are starting to switch mindset from pure survival to making the airline the pride of the nation again.
That will be a road with many twists but we have made great progress on our journey."
He also made a pledge to get everyone in MAS to practice the 'Golden Rule' to change the way they treat their own colleagues, all customers and the environment
"Kampung boys from Ireland to Malaysia were taught this by their mothers. It’s in the Koran, Bible and every religious text in the world. Simple. Treat other people as you wish to be treated yourself."
"Mr. Tan, I promise you I will work hard to get that Golden Rule in operation throughout Malaysia Airlines. We have wonderful staff. But they are tied down with red tape that currently prevents them from treating customers as they would wish to be treated themselves."
Hopefully we can work together to use the Golden Rule to create a new and better way for our disabled customers to see that the journey itself is the reward," Bellew wrote at the end of his letter.
Tan, who wrote about the ordeal that he had to go through as a MAS passenger just a few days earlier, shared the email reply by Bellew on his Facebook page yesterday, 7 February
He commended Bellew for his quick and personal response and hoped that the issue raised in his open letter, which was published on The Borneo Post on 5 February, would be resolved.
"I really hope something good come (sic) out of this.
Flying for disabled people should not be a hit-or-miss thing. If another airline can make it so seamless that I kept singing praises of its service, I don’t see why Malaysia Airlines together with our spirit of Malaysia Boleh can’t achieve that level of excellence," Tan wrote on Facebook.
Several netizens have since left comments, praising Bellew for responding "like a true human being" and that is was a "nice reply straight from his heart". They, like Tan, hoped that concrete steps will be taken to rectify the problems raised.
Earlier, Tan had detailed his excruciating experience while travelling on 1 February from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on flight MH784
His highlighted some of the challenges that he had to face due to the incompetence by the MAS staff, including the lack of support system for people with disabilities and getting stranded in the airport for an hour, among other things during.
Tan said that never hesitated to fly with MAS despite a previous bad experience last December as he gave the airline the benefit of the doubt. However, this latest experience has "made him think twice".
What do you think can be done to educate people on disability equality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.