自从2014年，马航（Malaysia Airlines）发生了 MH370 和 MH17 的事件后，不少人对马航的安全问题都失去了信心，甚至因而不再选择搭乘马航的飞机。
当年的我只是一个蓝色 Enrich 会员，如今我已经是 Platinum Plus 了。
2014年3月9日，我乘搭马航的 MH851 航班飞往巴厘岛。而 MH851 这架客机就是 MH370 波音777的姐妹机。
当 MH370 突然消失的消息传出以后，上千名乘客都临时取消了马航的行程。但与他人不同的是：我早前预订的马航机票，我并没有因此而取消任何一趟行程。
当天清晨，我搭乘 MH797 班机飞往曼谷，我记得当时几乎没有人乘坐那架737小飞机，因为担心会发生像 MH370 这样不幸的事。我认为这是非理性的思维。
我记得那天早上，机场的休息室几乎空无一人，你可以明显地感觉到吉隆坡国际机场（KLIA）都沉静在哀伤的情绪中。除了基于礼仪的打招呼，没有人笑。这是可以被理解的，因为大家对于 MH370 事件，都感到非常难过。
虽然马航的商品一般般、食物也不好吃，但这些男士和女士都自豪地穿着他们的制服，他们是马航所拥有的最大资产。我希望 Tun M 和马航的管理层能够意识到这一点。
▼ 包括当年的 MH17 事件！
Ma’af – this is a bit long but it’s something I want to say because I am tired of why so many people ask me why I fly Malaysia Airlines when I am so disappointed, frustrated and often angry with the way that management folks treat its fare-paying passengers and think of us as mere numbers. So here goes….
If you know me by now…I have a love for MH like no other Mat Salleh. I’ve been flying MH since it was MSA in the 60s. (yah…saya tua! hah). In the 80s and 90s I continued to fly MH here and there as I lived in Singapore and now Thailand.
Then I was merely a blue Enrich member. Now I am Platinum Plus (whatever the + means!)
The turning point, which now sees me clocking up 171k miles this year and 150k on average for the past 4 years, occurred when I flew on the MH851 to Denpasar on the 9th March 2014. It was the sister Boeing 777 to MH370 that only the day before had vanished.
Unlike thousands of others, I didn’t cancel a single booking that I had pre-booked on MH when 370 disappeared.
I had flown in early morning from Bangkok on the MH797 and I recall virtually no one aboard that small 737. The fear was taking its toll on the airline. Irrational thinking, in my opinion. The crew were amazing and I had a chat with them but they were understandably numb with grief and disbelief. Being so early I slept most of the flight and wasn’t really awake to appreciate what they were going through.
I remember the Golden Lounge was near-empty that morning. You could almost feel the sadness throughout KLIA. No one smiled except in greeting and it was robotic. The hearts, understandably, had no more energy. I boarded the plane – there were only 2 of us in C and from memory around 20 or 30 in eco. It was going to be a quiet flight.
But – what was most striking was the professionalism of the crew. Each one of them, for sure, knew a colleague that was on-board 370. But they handed out the newspapers as normal with those screaming headlines. I thought to myself that an airline in the west would not do this. But MH decided to carry on as normal. After all, the world was talking about it and it would be absurd to try and hide it. They had a job to do and passengers and cargo to fly around.
One of the FAs came to me after the doors closed. He said “Good afternoon Mr Riches” and he handed me a menu and wine list but still he smiled and asked me for my choice of drinks post-take off. I recall quickly folding up the newspaper in shame at having it open in front of him. He touched me on the shoulder and his eyes said ‘don’t worry’. No words were necessary.
It was a quiet and somber flight.
One young FA spent most of the flight in the front galley crying her eyes out. Other crew you could see, hadn’t slept and had been crying, too.
From where I was seated, I could see through the gaps in the curtain the FAs talking and from time to time, hugging each other. They straightened their ties, adjusted their kebayas and headed back to work across the aircraft. I almost felt that I should not be there to witness their grief.
The youngest FA who was totally overcome with grief came out mid-flight to ask if I needed something. She apologised for not being attentive. “Oh no!” I said to her. Goodness me..I wanted to leap out of my seat and give her a massive hug. ‘I completely understand’, I said. I told her that I was so sorry and there was absolutely nothing that I needed to which she managed a small smile and hurried back behind the curtains – apologising as she left.
Like the rest of the world, they were stunned and in shock.
Just before we landed at Denpasar, a more senior FA came to me, lowered himself to see me eye to eye and said ‘thank you for being here today’. He smiled, shook my hand and went to his position for landing.
It was on this flight on the 9th March 2014 that I realised MH was going to be ‘my airline’ for the future. And it has been.
Because here they were doing what makes MH in the air such a great airline to fly. It’s the people and the human spirit that they exude. The product is so-so, the food generally terok…it’s all about the men and women that wear their uniforms with pride. They’re the biggest asset that MAB has and I hope Tun M and the management of MAB / Khazanah know this. These people are ordinary Malaysians that have pride in their country, their airline and in my opinion, make them the best way to fly. That makes them extraordinary people in my mind given the continuing uncertainties.
If any of you here are MH crew in the air – or on the ground – Terima kasih You’re the best
Oh – and I am looking forward to my next flights this Sunday