Customer Service Commitment

Since the beginning of aviation passengers have held expectations of a certain level of service standards and care. Passengers expect their planes to operate safely and on-time to arrive thousands of kilometres away without incident – in fact international air travel is still idealized as a luxurious experience. We are committed to providing you with courteous, quality service throughout your travel with us. We know many of you are travelling on special holidays or perhaps your honeymoon or anniversary. Flying for you is often a joy for us – few people get to spend as much time with happy newly-weds as we do! Unfortunately, occasionally unexpected things happen that make a routine operation turn into a delay, diversion, or re-routing.

For any delay, our first priority is always your safety. Sometimes that may mean taking more time to get the job done right. As unpleasant as delays are, aviation has become the safest way to travel because of an industry wide commitment to quality and high standards. In fact, in most countries it is actually safer to fly than to walk across town.

This page is to help you understand more about how we will support you during a delay and the factors involved in managing a delay.

We go to great efforts to avoid delays. We monitor the weather and make contingency plans in cases of large storms; we design schedules to avoid crowded airport times whenever possible; we keep a full stock of spare parts at our home base; we put spare crews on standby at our main base and many other steps. Nonetheless, we sometimes can’t detect and avoid a problem until passengers are already on-board and the plane is ready to depart. What’s worse, sometimes we can’t tell how long or difficult a problem is going to be.

Our first priority is always your safety. Thus, even when on the ground, we may ask you to follow directions about remaining seated and avoiding crowding the aisles and exit areas. Next, we pledge we will keep you informed about every 20-30 minutes in the case of short delays or hourly in the case of longer delays. Communication will be by general announcements. To the best of our ability we will explain the delay honestly and in simple terms. Sometimes, our ground or air staff may not have access to detailed information if the delay is occurring elsewhere. We ask you that you be patient with them until a full picture of the situation can be shared.

If we expect only a short delay, we will ask passengers to stay in the boarding area or onboard the aircraft. If time permits, we may provide refreshments or snacks.

For delays of 3-5 hours we may provide meals depending on the time of day and we will collect information on any special transfer or connecting flight issues and pass it to our ground staff at the destination and to our headquarters. In some instances, particularly in Male’, we may be able to communicate the delay ahead so that your domestic connecting flight, sea plane, or boat transfer can be re-organized. Where possible, we will try to provide feedback back to the departure airport; however, we may not be able to provide detailed information to each passenger due to manpower limitations.

In the cases of a known long delay we may provide accommodation in a hotel, lounge, or other facility. In rare cases, we may move certain passengers to other carriers, particularly those with infrequent or difficult to re-organize connections.

In case of long delays of 5 hours or more, we will provide a “delay letter” describing the nature of the delay, which may be used as proof to your insurance company, travel agent, resort or connecting service of your delay situation.

Please note that although we are not responsible for lost hotel nights, missed activities, or missed connections due to delay, that does not mean we are not sympathetic. Please tell us about your difficulty and where possible we will see how we can assist. If we cannot handle your situation immediately, please be patient. Although we cannot guarantee results, we may be able to help you obtain a discount, refund, or possibly special treatment at a later date. Rude behaviour, unreasonable demands, and refusal to follow crewmember instructions is not acceptable and may result in withdrawal of services.

In addition, remember that your best protection against the unexpected is travel insurance that may cover you for the loss caused by a delay or cancellation.

For passengers with special needs such as children, the elderly, or the handicapped we will do our best to address any special requirements within the constraints of the facilities available to us at the airport or on-board the aircraft. This might include finding extra blankets or pillows, assisting with dietary needs, or making special transportation or accommodation arrangements. The passenger has the obligation to approach our ground staff or flight attendant and inform them of any concerns or difficulties.

When we are notified of a substantial delay of a flight in-bound to Maldives we check our passenger manifest and if hotel and connecting flight details are provided to us, we will attempt to contact them with your updated arrival information. Even if we don’t have your connecting information, we maintain close contacts with all domestic airlines and nearly always they will re-book you on the next available flight after your arrival. In case the delay is caused by us (for example, not a weather or air traffic delay), then we may help with accommodations in a Male’ hotel if required. Please note that once the aircraft has departed, our crews are unable to send messages or questions about your specific situation. However, rest assured our team is likely working on it to ensure the impact on your travel plans are minimized.

For connections outside of Maldives (for example on your return flight), we are unable to guarantee handling of your situation in advance of your arrival. In the Maldives we are able to work closely with the local airlines and resorts, but in your home country, we may not have ties with all other airlines operating at our outstation airports. Your best option is to ask your travel agency for help or appeal to the duty supervisor of your connecting airline at your arrival or transit airport.

We would like to kindly remind you to avoid tight connections. We also advise you to book carriers that have multiple flights a day in case you need to take a later flight.

When a storm comes or a plane breaks down, the initial problem sometimes creates follow-on problems. A mechanical issue might only need 2 hours to fix, but a severe rainstorm might double the required repair time. A typhoon in one region might cause a delayed arrival elsewhere that results in missing our departure slot that results in a very long air traffic control hold. Although we put padding into our schedules to allow us “catch-up time,” it can be difficult to explain all the factors that lead to a delay on your particular flight.

Airlines are constrained by a number of regulatory and physical situations that affect our ability to recover quickly from an unexpected delay. Long haul airlines like ours, operating from remote locations face additional difficulties. Some of these are:

  • Duty time limitations and spare crews: regulations prohibit us from operating a crew beyond a certain number of hours per day for safety reasons. Although we keep spare crews on standby, they may not be positioned at the location of your delay or it may be difficult to move them to you location quickly.
  • The main international airports in the Maldives have a single runway and no parallel taxiway (this is why the plane always goes to the end of the runway and then makes a slow 180 degree turn to taxi back to the airport terminal). This means only one plane can prepare to take-off or land at a time. At most other airports a parallel taxiway allows other planes to get ready to fly or get off the runway quickly, increasing the runway utilization dramatically. It also means that if the air traffic is not carefully managed, we may have to wait a long time to be permitted our chance to depart.
  • The aircraft parking area is also limited to 5-6 large aircraft. This means the airport can handle many fewer flights compared to other airports you may be familiar with. Also, the runway is fairly old, and periodically requires maintenance. This requires all flights to stop for several hours. We generally avoid flying at these times, but in one unhappy example: some years ago we once had a flight that was initially delayed by about 5 hours for technical reasons, 2 hours by passenger reasons, and then another 5 hours due to runway closure!
  • We fly many of our flights to China where severe weather can cause greater than usual delays due to airspace and other constraints in China. In addition, China’s limited airspace available for civil aviation and restricted flight corridors mean we have limited flexibility to fly around weather or avoid choke points
  • Operating long-haul flights means that the distance to move a backup aircraft into position may be 8-12 hours even if we dispatch the plane nearly instantly after we hear about the delay. It is also very expensive to fly a plane this far, so we may only dispatch backup aircraft once we are sure no other options are viable. In addition, as an international flight, we may need to apply for additional permits and approvals to overfly multiple countries. These approvals may take time.
  • Although we have a group of talented technical staff and spare parts, our home base airport has limited maintenance facilities. For example, after routine maintenance work on an engine we are sometimes required to do an engine run to ensure all is well. In the Maldives, due to limited airport space, this requires taking the plane out onto the runway – which may require us to wait quite some time until there is an empty period in the schedule due to the single runway and no parallel taxiway.
  • Our home base airport is also undergoing construction and renovation, which sometimes may constrain our ability to provide facilities to delayed passengers as quickly as we would like or to the standard you may expect in larger international hub airports.
  • The time it takes to move 200 or 250 passengers to a hotel and back can be several hours in certain locations once immigration processing and transportation logistics are considered. Thus, if the expected time till the aircraft is ready for departure is shorter than this, plus a reasonable time to be at the hotel, it may be better to stay in the airport to avoid making the delay any longer than necessary.
  • There are limited air services to and from the Maldives and in peak season, nearly all airlines are fully booked. Re-booking onto another flight is sometimes not practical for a large number of passengers. From some places, there may only be one or two direct flights per week. In addition, in nearly all cases, even if we are delayed we still plan to fly as soon as possible.
  • The seaplanes (air taxies) that serve many of the resorts in Maldives only operate during day times and the latest check-in time for your destination may be at 4 PM or earlier. Some resorts may only be served once per day or even less frequently. Others will have several flights per day. If you have a tight connection you may miss your flight. In case of long delays, the practical reality may mean you have to wait until the next flight is available.
  • Flights to domestic airports may operate during day or night, but some domestic airports have relatively little traffic with few connections. Domestic flights are also on small aircraft of 50 seats or less. Even if there is another flight, seats may not be available.
  • If you book your trip through a travel agency, especially for a packaged deal, then they are responsible for the overall management of your trip. Our company is responsible for our portion of your journey.
  • In most of our travel agency contracts we specify that the agent has an obligation to assist passengers in cases of severe delays and to help us attend to passenger needs. In a crisis, all parties should be working together in good faith to help you, the passenger, have a successful trip.
  • Please be aware, not all travel agencies are equal. The service and support you get could be different, and the price you pay maybe a reflection of this. Most reputable agencies have special hotlines for emergency situations and may offer travel insurance included in their packages. Others do not.
  • In a delay situation, the airline will not have cash on hand to handle any compensation or refunds in case of severe delay or cancellation. Like most airlines, it is our policy to provide refunds via the point of original sale, which is your travel agency. You may be required to show the original, signed delay letter and a copy of your boarding pass to qualify for the refund or payment.

A diversion is when an aircraft has to fly a path other than its regular route, or land at a location other than its intended destination. Well before passengers show-up at the airport, our staff are reviewing weather, checking the status of the aircraft, and preparing our flight plans. Sometimes we identify a potential problem, such as a typhoon or winter storm, or a sudden closure of airspace by government authorities (as sometimes happens off the coast of India for missile tests). Once we take-off, we may discover later in the flight that there is a medical problem on-board, or a mechanical issue may come up unexpectedly. For whatever the reason, a diversion means a delay in your trip and inconvenience.

When a diversion arises, the Captain of the flight and our operations center will be in communication to determine how best to proceed. Our first priority is always safety. Next, we have to consider any urgent care needs and then the convenience of the majority of the passengers. Finally, we also consider what is practical and whether there are any further risks. When we have to divert, the diversion airports is typically assigned to us by air traffic control and we may have little choice to accept it. At some airports we may be able to pre-arrange support: ground transportation, hotels, and supporting ground staff, but this is not always the case. After we land, we may we may need to stay in airport either on the plane or in the terminal and we may attempt to continue the journey a short time later. Alternatively, we may arrange travel by other means or we may ask passengers to accept a hotel while the situation is resolved. Factors may include immigration clearance, availability of ground transportation, the amount of time the crew is allowed to keep working under civil aviation regulations (for safety reasons), and the location and facilities of the alternate airport. All we ask of you in the case of a diversion is your patience and understanding. We’ll be working very hard behind the scenes to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

For more information, please look at this special section on weather diversions prepared by our operations department to understand more about what we do to manage such a situation.

Air travel in Asia has developed very quickly sometimes outgrowing the infrastructure or services required to handle all passenger needs. Also quite a few passengers may have limited experience in air travel and the proper way to handle an unsatisfactory situation. When we fail to meet your expectations we welcome you to tell us in writing or in person. If we can, we’ll see how we can try to remedy your complaint or help you understand better how the situation was unavoidable. Even though you may not fly with us again for many years, we hope you’ll tell your friends about your trip and, hopefully, how we helped make a bad situation better.

However, refusing to follow instructions of our crew or ground staff and disrupting normal operations may only make the problem worse. We understand that for many years some airlines in Asia had few policies to deal with passenger complaints and this led to passengers taking the matter into their own hands to highlight their growing difficulties and frustrations. Those days are mostly over and airlines, including ours, take passenger complaints seriously. We take them even more seriously when they are presented in a proper and serious way at the appropriate time and place.

Passenger engaging in a sit-in or obstruction on-board the aircraft or in the boarding gate, verbally or physically assaulting our crews, or blocking the movements of our crews or airport staff are committing an offence against civil aviation regulations and international and local law and may face significant consequences including being physically restrained, de-planned (not allowed to continue your journey with us), placed on a no-fly list, fines, being arrested and imprisoned, charged with damages, and the chance of civil lawsuit. Becoming disruptive or occupying an aircraft or boarding gate for the purpose of extorting compensation is also illegal.

The best approach is to write down your complaint and present it to a crew-member on-board or an airline service staff on the ground. In some cases, you may present your complaint to a supervisor on the spot (on-board the aircraft, the Purser is the crew-member in charge of the passenger cabin). In this way, your situation can be reviewed by management and answered properly. We carry comment cards on-board and you can always email us at comments@megamaldivesair.com