Sunday, 27 May 2012

Unauthorized upgrades cost MAS 200 million a year?

The following link from Rocky Bru's blog is pretty damaging for MAS, if the allegations are indeed true:

"Malaysia Airlines has uncovered a ring involving some senior executive who have been enriching themselves by upgrading thousands of Economic Class passengers to Business Class every year, denying the financially-strapped national carrier of much-needed revenue.

Last year alone this syndicate let go over 50,000 upgrades without getting prior approval from those authorized to do so. I am not sure how they made money from "selling" these upgrades or if they were in cahoots with travel and tour agents, but by end last year the malpractice had cost the national carrier more than RM200 million in lost income!"

My family used to travel quite frequently with MAS, we were all member of their Enrich loyalty program, but somehow or the other, we almost never received our airmiles in our accounts. Our travel agent would key in our names and membership numbers, I would check the names and numbers, at the counter they would check the names and numbers and at the gate and immigration they would again check the names. Surely so many people couldn't be wrong?

I filled in lengthy claim forms, submitted them to Enrich and would get finally the miles back months later. This happened again and again, after which I was fed up and wrote a letter to the head of Enrich. I was phoned back by a lady who apologized, and asked me the details of the last holiday so she could help me claim back the miles. However, I was not interested to go down that path again, I wanted her to tell me what exactly went wrong, so that we could prevent that from happening again. She didn't give a clear answer, I handed over the data and months later I received the miles. 

In the mean time we found out that other people had similar problems getting their miles, they were used to claim back the miles afterwards and wait a long time for them to appear on the statements.

The next trip with MAS the same happened, we received no airmiles. I wrote again a letter to the head of Enrich, and suggested there might even be fraud involved, those airmiles are worth quite a lot of money. I was phoned back by the same lady, she was 100% sure there was no fraud involved (not sure how anybody can be 100% sure), again she could not explain what actually went wrong, and again I finally received my miles much later.

This happened a few more times after which my family decided that enough was enough, we changed to Singapore Airlines, and not a single mile was ever misplaced by them.

I have been in the IT industry for about 30 years and I can't believe software systems can be that bad that a huge amount of the allocations go wrong. It should be relatively easy to trace down and correct the error. Including the testing it should not take more than a few days, a fraction of the time needed to proces all the air miles claims forms MAS must have received.

The article of Rocky Bru sets me thinking, is it possible that our unclaimed airmiles somehow or the other ended up with other people who used them to upgrade their tickets? 


  1. Any comment on NFC technologies? Do you think smart phone will replace credit card & debit card? I believe it will but the technology is still new.
    Btw I dun think BN should bail out MAS! BN should act tough like Lee Kuan Yew. Make profit and stay alive or loss money and bankrupt!

  2. There is a lot interesting stuff going on at the mobile front, NFC is one important part of that. Not yet sure what will be the winner, things change very quickly.

    I actually own a bit of MAS-PA. My reasoning was simple: MAS will always be bailed out .....

  3. Yeah! Same apply to Citi Group, BOA, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. That's why those who bought these counters on 2009 had a handsome return. Without gov's aid or some ultra rich fellow's pump in money definitely all of them will bankrupt. Thay's why the problems keep coming.
    NFC is cool but it's hard to determine who will be the winner. Technology is too advance. A small kid today will emerge as google tomorrow if they control some new technologies that the consumer sought after.

  4. It is important that the name on the ticket matches the name EXACTLY on the frequent flyer card. When family and given names have been swapped, it already gets rejected and you have to reclaim afterwards. Even though I am aware of this, will make sure that there are no errors and have the frequent flyer no. printed on my boarding pass, so it is all there in the system, cvnts still manage often to have my miles missing. My most recent experience was on a China Airlines flight trying to get the miles added to my Flying Blue (KLM/Air France) card. Surely the Dutch are honest :) The French :S or are them Taiwanese the problem?
    Similar things happen when asking (mainly English) bookmakers for a bank transfer; even though you give them all the exact banking details, they still manage to mess it up. It is truly an art.
    You make a good point 'those airmiles are worth quite a lot of money', so it pays to make deliberate mistakes hoping clients will forget about it.

  5. You are possibly right about small changes in the name, but I wanted to hear that from Enrich, why our miles were everytime rejected, and the manager simply refused to do that.

    When the number is 100% correct but a small difference in the name (say they write extra "MR" in front), then those should be dealt with by a program or manually.

    I always had a feeling something else was going on, it was simply too strange. A large organisation not being able to handle such a simple task, with yearly millions of flights.