Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Baggage Handling: MAS Fares Better Than Industry Benchmark

Reacting positively to customer complaints and continuously seeking ways to enhance processes, has helped Malaysia Airlines improve its baggage handling and missing incidents substantially over the years. According to data available, MAS' incident per 1,000-passenger/missing baggages, was brought down to 3.3 percent in 2009 when it carried 12.473 million passengers compared to 4.7 percent in 2006 (16.44 million).

"This is fairly better than the industry benchmark of 3.4 per cent and the important thing is, we are reducing it," MAS Airport Operation's Senior General Manager, Yusop Jaridi told Bernama in a recent interview. He also said the incident per 1,000 passenger/ mishandled baggages was significantly low at 2.4 per cent, compared with 10.8 per cent of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

He added that MAS was able to solve 96.3 per cent of the incidents that happened last year. "Only a fraction of bags went completely missing," Yusop explained, while highlighting that baggage handling, is part of the airlines' corporate key performance index.

Such improvements, he said, was only possible due to constant communication not only within the company but also ground handlers such as Malaysia Airports Bhd, other airport authorities as well as customers. "Constant communication and improvement is the only way to address such issues, as the airline alone cannot solve the problem, in not being the sole contributing factor," he noted.

Yusop said according to SITA, the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology (IT) solutions, 52 percent of baggage mishandling happened during aircraft transfers. The statistics showed that failure to load was at 16 per cent, ticketing error / bag switch / security / others at 13 per cent, Airport / customs / weather / space-weight restriction was at six per cent, loading / offloading error at seven per cent with arrival station mishandling and tagging error being at three per cent each.

The bigger contributing factor is also airport structure and the methods by which bags are transited, especially at complicated airports. "At the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the bags travel almost 32 kilometers before they reach the aircraft and vice versa," MAS' Head Customer Relations, S. Pushpalata disclosed.

However, she said that as far customers are concerned, if they are checking in with MAS, it is the responsibility of the airline though this is not the case. "It is actually a shared responsibility of the airline, ground handlers as well as the customers among others in properly packing their items, not over stuffing and tagging their bags," said Yusop.

Going forward, in 2010, MAS has redesigned the baggage tag to reduce cases of bags being tagless, "although it is a minimum contributing factor".

"It can be the most sensitive issue though, as people mistakenly take someone elses bag and travel to another destination," he stated. "We have also sped up investigations into tagless bags, provided incentives for bag handlers, reminded passenger to reclaim the right bags and in 2007, introduced the computerised reconciliation departure system.

"The system automatically counts the number of pieces of luggage loaded on to the aircraft and compares this against what was checked-in, before departure. This has helped improve the whole process," Yusop said.

He also said to enhance the overall security of baggage handling at the KLIA, more close circuit television (CCTV) cameras would be fixed.

On subsequent delivery of missing bags that had been found, especially within Malaysia, MAS will deliver it to the homes of customers regardless of the distance and at no cost to them. However, in some countries, such a system is not allowed, and passengers have to come to the airport to collect their bag or bags.

Baggage not received by customers within 24 hours is compensated according to the different categories. For first class, the compensation is US$110, while for business and economy class, it is US$90 and US$60, respectively. "Payment is made at the airport and if claims exceed the above, it is forwarded to customer relations to review and process," said Puspalatha. She also said that damaged baggage had its own claims structure.

Pushpalata said annualy, MAS received about 14,000 feedbacks, including enquiries, suggestions, compliments and complaints.

Source : Bernama
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