Sick relative, missed call save families from catching flight
PUBLISHED: 4:03 AM, DECEMBER 30, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR - A sick grandfather, a missed call and an unopened email kept three Indonesian families from making it onto the AirAsia flight that vanished en route to Singapore.
Former beauty queen Anggi Mahesti said she was part of a group of 10 who missed the plane on Sunday because they were not aware of a change in its departure time. A passenger manifest showed 26 people who had bought tickets did not board flight QZ8501, which took off from the central Indonesian city of Surabaya.
“It was already the final call when my husband reached the airport in the first car with our bags,” Ms Mahesti said by phone yesterday from Surabaya. “Most of the family were in another car that arrived 15 minutes later. The plane left without us.”
Her husband, Mr Ari Putro Cahyono, who runs a motorcycle dealership, did not open a Dec 15 email from AirAsia informing them the flight had been brought forward by two hours to a 5.35am departure and missed a phone call from the carrier earlier this month. He was negotiating with the airline for a refund when informed that the plane was missing.
Ten-year-old Christopher Incha Prasetya cried when his parents cancelled a four-day trip to Singapore because his grandfather was ill.
A day later, he had to be convinced that the plane that would have flown them there was missing. “Christopher was very upset when we said we couldn’t go after all,” his mother, Ms Inge Goreti Ferdiningsih, 37, said on Sunday. “When we told him the plane was missing, he didn’t believe us until we showed him the tickets.”
Ms Ferdiningsih said she and her husband had paid more than eight million rupiah (S$850) for return flights on the Indonesian affiliate of the Malaysia-based budget carrier for their family, which included their seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.
They booked the trip in June and planned to spend three nights in Sentosa. With Ms Ferdiningsih’s father ill, they decided to call off the vacation the day before the flight.
Ms Mahesti, a Miss Indonesia runner-up in 2008, was planning to spend a week in Singapore with her husband, mother-in-law and their two children. Mr Cahyono’s brother-in-law, his wife and their three children were to join them for the trip.
The two families had travelled together to Australia and Thailand on previous vacations. This time, the group was bigger as Ms Mahesti and Ms Christianawati gave birth this year and planned to take their infants along.
“At first, we were angry with AirAsia and our travel agent,” Ms Mahesti, 27, said. They were planning to take a later flight to Singapore when news of the missing plane broke.
“An airport official told my husband it was a Christmas gift from God to our family,” she added.
“We decided not to fly after that because we were scared and didn’t want to tempt fate.”