AirAsia flight QZ8501: Family of 10 skipped flight after missing email and phone call on change in departure schedule

JAKARTA - Former Indonesian beauty queen Anggi Mahesti was part of a group of 10 family members who missed the plane yesterday because they were not aware of a change in the departure time.

“It was already the final call when my husband reached the airport in the first car with our bags,” Ms Mahesti, a Miss Indonesia runner-up in 2008, told Bloomberg news agency by phone on Monday from Surabaya. “Most of the family were in another car that arrived 15 minutes later. The plane left without us.”

Her husband Ari Putro Cahyono, who runs a motorcycle dealership in Surabaya, didn’t open a Dec 15 e-mail from AirAsia informing them the flight was being brought forward two hours from the original 7.20 a.m. departure, and missed a phone call from the carrier earlier this month, Ms Mahesti said. He was negotiating with the airline for refunds when he was informed the Singapore-bound plane was missing.

Mr Ari told Jakarta Post he and his family had arrived at Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, at around 5:30am and realised that they had missed the flight as the schedule had been changed to 5.20am.

"I did not read the email notifying the change of the departure schedule," said Mr Ari as quoted by kompas.com.

The operator had offered him the chance to board the next flight, but he refused after he got to know at around 6.30am that air traffic control had lost contact with QZ8501.

"My family and I then decided to cancel the trip," he said.

His wife told Bloomberg: “We decided not to fly after that because we were scared and didn’t want to tempt fate.”

The family was planning to spend a week in Singapore.

“At first, we were angry with  AirAsia and our travel agent,” said 27-year-old Mahesti. “We had bought tickets to go to Universal Studios and Snow City,” she said, referring to theme parks in Singapore.

The aircraft, with 155 passengers and seven crew on board, lost contact with air traffic control at around 6:17am local time. 

There were a total of 23 no-shows, three of whom would have had boarded with infants, according to the flight's manifest.