earlier this month, i was in kuala lumpur for a business trip. this almost weeklong trip finished on july 7th and i was on my way back to manila. in KLIA, i went to my usual routine and looked for the philippine airlines checkin counter. not too many passengers on the queue and there was just one line. after just about three minutes or so, it was already my turn.
i handed my passport to the ground crew, her name is ain annuar. she was not the warmest of the bunch but it was ok since you rarely chitchat with them anyway unless you have some little requests. this trip, no such need for me. aside from two boxes of notebooks and my luggage, i didn't buy anything from KL.
ain kept on flipping through my passport and it seemed that she's having some issues. i kept quiet. she then asked if i can show my eticket, which i handed over. she then told me to look for the july 2 KLIA immigration stamp on my passport. i was taken aback. why would i have to do that? i only looked at the stamps on my passport during my earlier days of business trips (because i am excited and that's a normal reaction from a young guy). but now that there are just way too many stamps on it (it will only expire in 2019), i do not look at these passport stamps anymore. what i want is to get through that step the fastest possible time, get my luggage and take the taxi to go to my hotel. it's also not my problem if she cannot find a single july 2 stamp in it.
but this impolite ground crew had the gall to instruct me that i should always look for this, saying that this is my responsibility. with me starting to get fumed and incensed, told ain, as long as i went through the proper way, i don't have to check whether there was a stamp or not. ain countered saying that "you know sir, there are other ways to get in, you know sir!" at that point, i wanted to berate her and make a scene. but i know that i have to keep my composure. in a controlled voice and manner, i told her that i'm not going to justify her insinuations and i knew that i went through the proper immigration process and the stamp is in my passport. she was still talking in her inaudible local english but i waived my hand and said, "no more word from you at this point. you should be polite and more importantly, stop making these ridiculous insinuations." she then went through the motions of giving me my passport and boarding pass, circling the gate number and the rest of usual things to say. i knew that at that point she had already seen the stamp and true to her superiority complex, did not apologize for the ridiculous statements she made just a few moments ago.
through twitter, while still in the immigration queue, i immediately let KLIA and @flyPAL know of this incident. PAL immediately sent a direct message but there was absolutely zero response from KLIA. PAL said that they are going to forward this issue to the parties concerned. i of course got through the immigration counter (the july 2 stamp is in my passport, you irritating ain annuar!!!), and boarded PR526 bound for manila. no problem at all.
before this incident, i was so happy that PAL is not on a codeshare with malaysia airlines anymore. malaysia airlines flights are just way too depressing, especially the food and the service. PAL at least pushes for more, inflight meals are good (ice cream of dessert), newspapers, inflight entertainment via your own device and the crew are always willing to accommodate your little requests (1 more pandesal please!). i'm still happy 'though… but PAL has to review and reassess their ground staff in other airports. in NAIA, i never had a problem. but given what transpired in KLIA, i'm now having some doubts in other airports that a similar incident might happen. ground personnel, like ain annuar, should be sent back for an intensive training camp on how to provide the best customer experience and how to freakin identify KLIA stamp from other immigration marks! or best, transfer her to some tasks which would not require dealing with passengers directly. otherwise, issues like this will hound PAL, especially as KLIA seems not to care at all. such unpleasant incidents dampen the overall experience and put unnecessary stress to passengers who just want to enjoy the flight and come back home safely.
take note of this, PAL. i'm still flying with you, don't worry.