What happened in the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar dated 9th March 2014, exactly a day after the MH370 disappeared makes him a loyal customer of Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
This gentlemen, known as Stephen Riches, posted on Malaysia Airlines page which garnered 9.3k likes and 3.9k shares in his post.
He is a foreigner and been flying with MAS since 60s. Even though he resided in Singapore or now in Thailand. From a blue Enrich member to a Platinum Plus member. He was clocking up from 171k miles this year and 150k average for the past 4 years.
The turning point was the day he flew on MH 851 from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar on 9 Mar 2014, a day after MH370 disappeared. The most disastrous day on our aviation history.
Unlike others, he didn’t cancelled any of his pre-booked flight with MAS. He took morning flight from Bangkok to KL and stop by KLIA and then boarded on another plane headed to Denpasar.
Golden Lounge was nearly empty that morning. He can felt sadness throughout KLIA. No one smiled except for some robotic greeting. He truly understood even the ground crew were in grief.
He boarded on the plane, as what he saw it’s was only the 2 of them in the plane.
But what amazed him was the professionalism of the cabin crew. Each one of them, for sure knew a colleague that was on board MH370. But they handed out newspapers as normal with those screaming headlines.
In the west, it will never ever happened but MAS carry on as normal. Like the rest of the world, they were stunned and in shock but still they knew had a job to do.
One of the cabin crew greeted him and handed him a menu while he was reading the newspaper. He quickly folded up the newspaper in shame. The cabin crew touched him on the shoulder with his eyes saying ‘don’t worry’ ( No words were necessary).
It was a quiet and somber flight. One cabin crew crying her eyes out, others also seems hadn’t slept and cried too.
He could see through from the gap of the curtain from where he was seated that the cabin crew was talking and hugging each other from time to time . They straightened their ties, adjusted their kebayas and headed back to work. He was sad to witness their grief.
One of the cabin crew who was totally overcome with grief came out mid-flight to ask if he needed anything. She apologised for not being attentive. After ascertain he do not need anything she put on a smile and hurried back behind the curtains, apologising as she left.
Just before they landed at Denpasar, a more senior cabin crew came to him, lowered himself to see him eye to eye and said ‘thank you for being here today’. He smiled, shook Stephen’s hand and the the cabin crew went to his position for landing.
From that day onwards, Stephen realised MAS was going to be ‘his airline’ for the future and it has been.
Stephen also commented the product is so-so, the food is generally terrible. But the ordinary Malaysian in their uniforms that have pride in their country and their airlines make them a great airline to fly. It’s the people and the human spirit that they exude.
They’re the biggest asset that MAB has and He hope Tun M and the management of MAB or Khazanah know about this.