Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Letter to Air Asia

After no posting for quite a while (not so proud of this), finally new post, this post is actually a complaint letter which I sent to Air Asia. Last week I was in New Zealand for holiday and this trip was almost got canceled, and the detail of the story is below.. enjoy!

Me and my 3 friends have booked flight KUL-AKL (D7 206) for Aug 2017 which departed at 23.55, we are Indonesians. As you would know this flight to Auckland will transit at Gold Coast, Australia, as per schedule we will arrive at Gold Coast at 9.55 (local time) and flight from Gold Coast to Auckland at 11.10 (local time), so practically we only have 1 hour and 15 minutes transit time. We came to drop baggage counter V (Aug 17, 2016 about 22.15) and the officer lady told us that we need to have Australian VISA in order to check us in since our flight is to Gold Coast, based on my experiences, if it's only a transit/transfer, we won't get through any immigration (technically we are not entering Australia) and thus we won't need Australia VISA, and we have checked official website of Australian embassy which mentioned below
If you are an Indonesian passport holder, no transit visa is required if you depart Australia within 8 hours of your arrival (

For us it’s crystal clear that we don’t need Australia VISA for our flight to Auckland with 1.25 hours of transit time in Gold Coast. We tried to argue to this officer lady but she insisted, she even asked around to her fellow officers and all of them confirmed that we need Australia VISA, even with our argument that it’s only 1.25 hours of transit and there won’t be a time to get out and get in through Australian immigration whit that limited time, we shown to them what was mentioned in the official website of Australian Embassy, nothing works. They said it’s a requirement because Air Asia is a low cost airline so we can’t compare with other airlines. We need to have Australia VISA, that’s the only way they can check us in, otherwise we won’t be able to be in our flight that day. They offered us some solution, we apply Australia VISA (which can take 2-3 days) then we reschedule our flight (and for sure we have to pay for any additional fee if the new schedule price is higher) or we buy another flight ticket to NZ and they will refund to us or we have to contact Australian Embassy and provide to them in black and white that for this specific flight using Air Asia to Auckland we don’t need Australia VISA, well, actually it’s mentioned clearly in the official website of Australian Embassy that Indonesian don’t need visa if transit less than 8 hours and I believe that rule is general regardless of what airline that we used. We went back and forth from baggage drop to the service center asking around and all of them are saying the same. Now, can you imagine already our situation, it’s less than 1.5 hours before take-off time, we have bought all the return ticket to Auckland, flight tickets in NZ, accommodations, tours, etc which if we total it’s not less than USD 700, which is a quite significant amount, and we also have booked our personal leave for this holiday, just imagine all of those are being taken away from you in a blink of an eye.

But, we are tough girls, we still believe the world hasn’t gone mad (yes, it’s a mad world if we need Australia Visa for 1.25 hours of transit), I remember one of my friend just went there on Apr/May this year with Air Asia as well (flight to Auckland transit in Gold Coast) and we quickly messaged him asking if we need Australia Visa before, and he answered clearly that he didn’t need Australia Visa, we called him immediately just to reconfirm and he really sure 100%. I gained my confidence because of that and once again went to the service counter, but we found the service counter which we visited before was empty but I still can see 3 officer ladies who talked to us before so we approached them and told them that our friend didn’t need Australia Visa when he traveled to NZ using same flight as ours (transit in Gold Coast), but they only told us to talk to the next person in the service counter which will be arrive at 23.30 (again our flight is 23.55 and that time it’s around 23.10), such a selfish attitude with less sense of urgency. We don’t lose hope, we went to other service counter which was still open, and we met this lady who turned out to be our heroine that night (if I’m not mistaken her name is Fati, I attached her photo here, the one with hijab) she told us that no problem with Australia Visa, but there is a problem with my New Zealand (NZ) visa, then she checked my other 3 friends, no issue with their visa and they’re all can check in. She asked me to call NZ embassy and ask what is the problem, she dialed the number and I tried to asked, but I wasn’t quite sure what was the issue with my visa, then I gave the phone to her and she talked to someone and did something on her computer, she didn’t explain much to us on what was happening but finally she’s able to checked my name in as well, only a little problem is, there is no time to checked in my luggage, I have 1 medium suitcase which impossible to be placed in the cabin, so she told me to bring this suitcase until the gate, give the luggage tag, and then tell the officer there that it needs to put inside the cargo. It was already 23.20 when everything was complete and we start running for all those immigration, security check and long way to go to the gate. We finally made it just in time.

Ms. Fati

From above story, basically have 2 purpose:
  • To complain about this super inconvenience, all of them gave wrong information and misled us with it and we almost cancel our trip because of this information, it is very risky and dangerous to give wrong information, why don’t any of them check first what went wrong so they can’t check us in (as it turned out, Ms. Fati was able to identify the real problem is NZ visa, not Australian Visa), if they don’t know or not sure about something, why don’t they ask to their supervisor/boss/manager instead of giving a misleading information to customers. I only have name one of the ladies, her name is Low Pei Ling (the one with red uniform), but please be noted, she’s not the only one, others officers also gave us this wrong information (some are in the baggage drop/check in area V and some are in the service counter)

  • To remind Air Asia to please not do this kind of mistake to your customers, please do give training to them so they would know and provide reliable information and to provide better service and have more sense of urgency in this kind of situation. I really want to praise Ms. Fati who really helped us through this problem until we finally able to fly to New Zealand.
Story continues..
Remember before I mentioned that my suitcase which should be checked-in but because of the limited time, they asked me to just bring it until the boarding gate and tell the officer to put it in the cargo. They also have provided the tag for my luggage so it's really indicating that it's a checked-in bag, instead of cabin luggage. However, when we passed through the security check, the officer guy still asked me to scan my suitcase and he insisted to take all liquid items above 100 ml, no matter how I tried to explain that my suitcase wont be placed inside the cabin and it's been tagged as well. He was just simply trying to be strict but of course with stupidity. Now imagine again, we were already in the rush and they still prolonged us with this nonsense. I have to ask my 2 friends to go first to the boarding gate and to tell the lady to wait for us.

Arrived at the Gold Coast Airport, we really only have time to went to down, going through document check (boarding pass & passport) and security check for your cabin luggage, we still have time to go to toilet and re-fill the water, that's it. Even we're actually using the same aircraft. I have taken photo as well as the evidence that there are really separate lanes for immigration and transit. See the image below.

at Gold Coast airport

3 hours later we arrived at Auckland (finally!), and again to complete all this drama, of course as expected, my checked-in luggage was nowhere to be found. I waited until no more bags left, and there was even a writing on the screen mentioning that all bags have been delivered. Hmmm.. whyyy is this happening to me? But now that I think of it, maybe it's because my suitcase was placed in the different place from the rest of the luggage. I went to the luggage service and had to queue for about 15 minutes until the guy ask me to describe how is my suitcase look like (size, color, etc), when I started to explain, suddenly there was one guy who just entered the room and brought my suitcase. It's all happy ending but still too many drama for 2 days.


LousyAirAsia said...

I landed at your website when I searched for "D7 206 transit visa". lol.

Similar situation, except that I am about 15 days away from boarding my flight and no one is able to give me a satisfactory answer regarding the transit visa requirement. Will I be getting off the aircraft in Gold Coast? Will I be in the transit lounge or should I go through immigration at Gold Coast? - everyone Airasia staff has a different answer. sigh.

I am applying for transit visa to avoid the hassle that you went through. Thanks for writing about your experience. Air Aisa staff are not one for customer service. Bye!

LousyAirAsia said...

Also, hope you had a great stay here in New Zealand :)

john smith said...

The Korean Embassy has now also made this easier if you meet the following condition. Singapore Visa

Ing said...

Halo Nianti,salam kenal ya. Ngeri juga ya baca ceritamu. Kebetulan aku juga mau ke nz tahun depan pakai AA juga,dan galau juga masalah visa transit ini. Aku baca di blognya orang yg baru dr nz pakai AA juga,gak perlu visa transit. Temanku 15 orang juga gak pakai visa transit pakai AA ke nz Juni 2016 kmrn. Aku uda tanya ke kedubes Ausie juga dikasih website yg ada aturannya kalau dipahami betul itu gak perlu pakai visa transit. Tapi aku telp AA harus pakai visa transit. AA dikasih tahu tetap ngotot dengan jwb harus pakai visa transit. Pusing dibuatnya. Pdhl cm transit 1 jam aja. Enaknya gimana ya Nianti?

Niantiaulia said...

Hai Ing..
Waduh bingung juga menjawab pertanyaan kamu yah kalau si pihak AA kekeuh begitu, mungkin coba bicara dengan orang yang lebih tinggi jabatannya (supervisor atau managernya) atau bisa coba email ke kedutaan Australia untuk menanyakan masalah ini sehingga nanti kalau ada email balasan dari mereka, email ini bisa dijadikan bukti kalau memang visa transit tidak diperlukan. In case diperlukan, saya bersedia kok jadi saksi, hehehe..Semoga sukses yaa!!