Plane saga

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 March, 1998, 12:00am

I would like to relate a dreadful experience I had with Continental Micronesia Airlines, travelling with it from Guam to Hong Kong.

This saga began on February 16 when the flight, scheduled to depart at 4.45pm, was cancelled due to adverse weather in Hong Kong. Visibility at Kai Tak, according to the airline representative in Guam, was at a level less than that deemed safe to land by the pilot. Whilst the safety of passengers is paramount, and the pilot's concern can be considered laudable, one had to wonder how other carriers were able to operate in and out of Hong Kong at this time.

I consider it unacceptable, for the representative to have then stated that Kai Tak was closed to all air traffic. A quick telephone call to Hong Kong revealed this statement to be untrue.

If that was unacceptable, then what happened next was totally unforgiveable. It must be borne in mind that some passengers had actually boarded the aircraft, before being told to disembark and join the remaining passengers who had not boarded and who were still waiting in the departure lounge. Shortly after being informed that the flight was cancelled, we were told that we could leave the airport but that Continental Micronesia would not be responsible for any accommodation expenses - neither would the airline provide any refreshment or compensation.

The representative informed us that we were basically left to our own devices until 8.45am the next day (the re-scheduled departure time) and that the reason the airline was not responsible for us was because the flight was cancelled for reasons outwith the airline's control, that is, the weather. It is of interest to note that the reason initially given to Japanese passengers for the flight cancellation was 'on operational grounds', although this was hastily changed to the adverse weather - as stated in English and Chinese. The flight eventually departed for Hong Kong on the following day, after a further short delay. I have written to Continental Micronesia both here and in Guam, but thus far the company has not even shown the courtesy to reply. I consider this type of behaviour in this day and age to be totally unacceptable - perhaps the airlines, knowing they have a monopoly on flights to and from Guam, consider customer relations to have no importance? M. H. HEYES Pokfulam