Where to go for compensation for legitimate case?

In April this year we were to fly Air Asia (I know…I know…) from OOL to SGN via KUL.
We were transiting only, in SGN and then flying to Phu Quoc island which is in a special economic zone and does not require a visa. I researched prior to leaving, and as long as we were transiting through either SGN or HAN and not leaving the terminal, we did not require a transit visa.

We were issued all onward tickets at OOL, however we somehow managed to lose our son’s ticket from KUL to SGN. We arrived at KUL early after our overnight transit, and stood in line for an hour to have a new ticket printed for our son. When we were finally served we were asked to produce our visa’s to Vietnam.

I explained that we did not require them and why, and the desk attendant asked us to wait aside while he made a phone call. He continued to serve other people and made us wait 50 minutes until his phone rang again. He finally called us up and said they had never heard of this, and we could not board the plane without Vietnam visas.

After arguing back and forward we were sent to ‘complaints’ line where we waited for a further hour with our tired, hungry 1yo baby only to be have exactly the same thing happen. By this time our flight had closed and we were stuck in Malaysia.

We didn’t have much spare cash so we couldn’t buy more flights, so we decided to stay in Malaysia for the fortnight as it was visa-free also.

The day prior to returning to Australia, we spent the best half of a day waiting in queues at the Air Asia office in KL city, trying to ascertain if our homeward flights had been cancelled. It turned out that they HAD, as we had not boarded the plane to SGN. They were able to tell us this, but couldn’t help us any further and said we needed to go back to the airport and wait in the ‘complaints’ line again and see if they could help us.

We arrived at the airport at midday the following day, giving ourselves plenty of time for our 8pm flight. This time I had printed off every piece of information I could find on the net so that they had it in front of them in black and white. After an eternity of waiting in queues with a tired baby, the SAME WOMAN served us. She pretended not to remember us, read the documentation, muttered here and there to her colleague in another language and finally apologized for the ‘mix up’. She printed tickets for us to return home that night and couldn’t get rid of us quickly enough.

When we got home I emailed Air Asia complaints, waited the 30 days and surprise, surprise…no response. Nada, nothing. Not even an acknowledgement.

My question is, where do I take it from here? Who is the governing body that they will take notice of? Also, as this incident happened in Malaysia (where Air Asia’a HQ is), do I need to contact the authority in Malaysia? The tickets were bought and paid for in Australia. We do not have the money to take them to court.

Thanks for reading this very long winded account and for any advice you can offer.


Hi Dust,

It certainly seems like you and your family have had a really rough time of it; sorry to hear that!

The reason why you wouldn’t have been eligible for the visa-free transit is because although you weren’t staying in Ho Chi Minh, because you were not ticketed on a through fare with the one airline (i.e. you flew Air asia to Ho Chi Minh and then you would have had to be transiting to a Vietnam airlines flight as they’re the only ones who fly) Air Asia would be considering your final destination to be Ho Chi Minh city. Because your onward ticket is with another airline they can’t see it in their system and as far as they’re concerned they see you staying in Ho Chi Minh, so upon boarding they would have seen a passenger without a visa ending in Ho Chi Minh and the airline has rightly denied you boarding.

You can’t really blame Air Asia in this instance, just because airlines get hit with massive fines if they carry passengers who don’t meet the visa/passport requirements for the destination they’re travelling to. If you were transferring from one Air Asia flight to another in SGN it would have been a different story, but they wouldn’t have seen the VN airways flight you were joining in your booking so they have done the right thing.

In the future it’s always a good idea if you’re ever unsure to call the airline to confirm that boarding will be permitted under the circumstances that you think it will. Try and get a name as well of who you have spoken to, as it makes your case stronger and if the airline does then knock you back at the airport you can hold them accountable and argue that one of their staff has given you incorrect information, and then they would need to compensate you.

In this instance I really think that you should just cut your losses. As you have described it, it just sounds like you might have mis-understood the visa and passport conditions (which happens to the best of us) and not gotten the visa which your itinerary required. Air Asia will quite justifiably argue that they’re in the right as they had you finishing your journey in Vietnam for which you would need a visa.

Sorry it’s not more positive!

I don’t see any Australian body having any jurisdiction in this . This would have to be dealt in Malaysia. As it’s about a KUL to SGN airfare

I know Australian state fair trading agencies generallt do not deal with international air fare disputes.