Malaysia Airlines says checked-in baggage limit imposed only effective for two days

The airline cited safety issues and its need to conserve jet fuel.
The airline cited safety issues and its need to conserve jet fuel.PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP) - Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has clarified that the checked-in baggage limitation it had imposed on Tuesday (Jan 5) will only be effective for two days – both Tuesday (Jan 5) and Wednesday (Jan 6)– for passengers flying to Amsterdam and Paris.

Passengers travelling to the two destinations from Tuesday (Jan 5) to Thursday (Jan 7) will be able to get their tickets reissued before Jan 14, it said.

The airline had  earlier on Tuesday (Jan 5) announced immediate restrictions on check-in luggage for some Europe-bound flights, citing strong headwinds, a move that left aviation analysts puzzled.

In a follow up statement  to the  notice, MAS said Europe bound passengers booked to travel between Jan 5 and Jan 7 and who wished to reschedule their travel could do so. “The following voluntary change policies apply, where tickets will need to be reissued by Jan 14, and travel must begin before Feb 1,” it said. 

“When rescheduled travel occurs beyond Feb 1 2016 the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply,” it added. “If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance,” said the statement.

It added that applicable change fee and fare difference would apply for new travel dates and that final travel must be completed by the end of the ticket’s validity.

The airline added that the limitations only applied to  passengers flying to Amsterdam and Paris. Those flying to London were not affected as normal baggage allowance on Malaysia Airlines’ flights to London has been restored. 

In its earlier statement announcing  the baggage limitations, the airline blamed “unseasonably strong headwinds” which it said were limiting the amount of baggage its flights could handle.  “This longer flight path consumes more jet fuel and for safety reasons, Malaysia Airlines has had to impose temporary limitation on checked-in baggage allowance,” it said.

“Passengers who wish to check in their luggage will be able to do so, however their baggage will only arrive later,” it added.  

The airline had advised economy passengers only to carry 7kg of hand luggage and first-class and business-class customers to limit themselves to 14kg of hand luggage.

The move left some aviation analysts puzzled.

“It’s highly unusual and bizarre but that’s what we’ve got used to from Malaysia Airlines. By their reasoning all other carriers in Southeast Asia heading to Europe would not be able to check in luggage, too, if indeed what they claim is true,” Shukor Yusof, analyst with Malaysia-based Endau Analytics, told AFP. “I’ve never heard anything more ludicrous in my 20 years in the industry.” 

Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at Flightglobal, described the airline’s reasoning as strange. “It doesn’t make sense... and it’s probably going to cause a lot of passenger frustration,” he said.

The trouble-plagued company last month said it was investigating a Christmas Day mix-up that sent one of its planes flying in the wrong direction after it left Auckland.

The airline is also still reeling from the loss of two planes in 2014, including Flight MH370 which disappeared in March that year after inexplicably deviating from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight path with 239 passengers and crew aboard.

In July 2014 Flight MH17 was blown out of the sky by a ground-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard.

In June last year the loss-making flag carrier’s new CEO Christoph Mueller outlined plans to stabilise it including 6,000 job cuts.