SEPANG: Although most flights to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan have resumed operation since late yesterday evening, there are still a few pockets of people languishing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1, after being stranded for more than 24 hours.

The chaotic delays follow the volcanic eruption of Mount Ruang, Indonesia, which resulted in thousands of passengers from several airlines, including Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Batik Air, travelling to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, being stranded at KLIA Terminal 1 and KLIA Terminal 2, yesterday.

Sabahan school clerk, Suraini Bacho, 48, who was supposed to fly to Sandakan at 10.25 am yesterday, is still faithfully waiting for the next flight to the district, which was re-scheduled to 2.50 pm today, on Malaysia Airlines MH2668.

“My husband, daughter and I just returned from a festival in Ipoh, Perak on April 4, and we should have returned to Sandakan yesterday. We arrived at KLIA at 3 am yesterday, but we were informed that there was a volcano eruption in Indonesia, but I didn’t think our flight would be affected,” she said, today.

Despite having received a new flight schedule, Suraini said that they were asked to brace for further announcements and face any possibility, including flight cancellation.

When asked about the challenges of facing such an unexpected twist, Suraini, who has resigned herself to the fate, stated that it involved additional expenses, such as accommodation and transportation costs.

“We were only given food vouchers, and were told that accommodation was not available, so we had to book a hotel room which is quite far from here, in Kota Warisan, Sepang. We spent more than RM200 on accommodation, and the cost of the Grab fare reached RM80,” she said.

Malaysia Airlines has resumed flights to and from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in stages since yesterday evening (April 18), following the prevailing weather conditions.

In an update on its social media today, Malaysia Airlines said that this positive development is a follow-up to flight cancellations due to the volcanic eruption (on Tuesday night and Wednesday), at Mount Ruang, Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Johor Matriculation College student, Muhammad Hafis Zainal Abidin, 19, lamented that he and his friend Faris Luqman Khairul Nizam, 19, needed to be in Kundasang, Sabah to participate in the robotics competition in the state, which started yesterday.

“We have been stranded here since early yesterday morning, the robotics competition started yesterday until April 22. We are also disappointed because we cannot be physically in Kundasang. We did try to withdraw from the competition, but the organisers still hope that we will be able to attend.

“We understand that the Kedah and Penang teams have withdrawn due to the lack of flight tickets following the volcano eruption; we hope we can still get there,” he said.

As at 2.30 pm today, it appears that the situation at KLIA Terminal 1 is under control, with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd staff working hard to provide services to disoriented passengers, especially in the KLIA check-in area provided specifically for stranded passengers to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.