The New Year didn’t get off to a flying start for a planeload of passengers onboard a Malaysia Airlines A330-300 bound for Auckland, New Zealand. Two separate attempts to takeoff were aborted while the plane was accelerating, leaving some passengers both shaken and stirred.
The incident was flagged by Sam Chui in his blog. So we did a little digging and it seems the story has got a bit of traction largely because of one irritated passenger. Naturally, rather than a nice letter of complaint to the airline, the passenger took to venting his ire on social media.
A little background to the story
But firstly, a little background. Passengers were safely tucked into their seats onboard MH145 on 1 January 2020. This flight is Malaysia Airlines’ daily mid-evening departure down to Auckland.
If you go by the claims of this one passenger, a Mr Serjit Singh of New Zealand, the aircraft was heading down the runway at full throttle when it braked suddenly and came to a fast halt. Probably not so much fun and enough to give the pre-departure drink an unpleasant swish around in your belly.
Mr Singh is quoted in media reports as saying;
“The ordeal was harrowing …. I thought we were goners.”
The pilots were reported to have told passengers there were instrument issues and that they were heading back to the gates. Passengers were reportedly kept on board for three hours while engineers checked out the plane. One passenger was so stressed an ambulance was called.
Second time unlucky
Eventually, the passengers were deplaned, overnighted and told the come back the following morning. Which they did, only to see the same plane (9M-MTY) waiting for them at the gate.
Mr Singh is quoted as saying the senior flight attendant on this flight told him;
“Don’t worry, the plane is great and we will reach Auckland safely.”
So Mr Singh kicked back in his business class seat and waited to take off. Unfortunately, once the aircraft was accelerating, the same thing happened.
“I was in utter shock and disbelief. The exact same issue that was meant to have been fixed was not and the lives of all the passengers and crew on board were risked.
We are not to be used as crash test dummies. This was the collective view of the entire flight.”
And it was back to the gate for a second time.
Third attempt to takeoff goes as it should
So Mr Singh wasn’t happy. And fair enough too. At this point, I’d be Googling the Air New Zealand timetable, or even AirAsia. I’d be even more unhappy when I discover that only Malaysia Airlines flies nonstop between the two cities.
Which is why poor old Mr Singh and the rest of the passengers mostly gritted their teeth and went back for round three on Malaysia Airlines later that day (at least on a different aircraft). This time, everything went fine and the plane landed safely in Auckland, albeit a day late.
Between the second and third flight, Mr Singh sought refuge in the Golden Lounge but reportedly felt bad for the rest of the passengers who had to wander aimlessly around KUL for several hours. Hopefully, he guested one or two of them in.
An apology from Malaysia Airlines
Back in New Zealand, Mr Singh demanded an apology – which he got. Although whether the apology was for Mr Singh personally or everyone on board, I’m unsure.
In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said both flights were ‘discontinued’ when the aircraft was at a low speed. A spokesperson said;
“The flight was retimed twice due to an unexpected technical issue involving the aircraft system.
“Safety is Malaysia Airlines’ number one priority at all times and it regrets the inconvenience caused to its passengers.
“Hotel accommodation, meals and transportation were organised for all passengers affected while some were transferred on other available carriers.”
In an attempt to establish exactly how fast the aircraft was going when it braked during the two aborted takeoffs, Simple Flying contacted Malaysia Airlines. If we get a response we’ll update this story.
Meanwhile, if this ever happens to you, the Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur Airport has a noodle bar that does a very good laksa.