Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am a passenger of SQ333, and a very unhappy one.

First of all, during the flight to Singapore, about 2 hours later, we heard a stuttering pilot talking over the intercom, conveying to us about the engine failure. His stuttering told me that he is in fear, and he did not know what to do. He made all the passengers on board panic and not knowing what’s next. Or ‘are we all going to die?’ If you think that the newly crowned Miss Singapore World speaks poor English, then this pilot is 10 times worst! If Singaporeans think that the Miss Singapore World is going to disgrace Singapore (if she ever represent Singapore), well, sad to say, Mr Pilot already does! He disgraced Singapore in front of Australians, French, Americans and people of different nations.

No explanation about engine failure has been done through the intercom for about an hour or so. Lots of passengers started making up stories, sighting smokes coming out from engine and creating more mess and fear among us. This is just not the right way to handle situation like this and I thought pilots should be educated in their schools to remain calm when such incident happened and SIA should have a protocol for the pilot to follow not just in terms of navigating the flight, but to calm the passengers, assuring us that ‘we are going to be fine’.

Although the pilot emerged several hours later to inform us that the plane works on 4 engines and one of them failed, it just didn’t really matters to us at all, cause that was what we heard from fellow passengers and all of us were already panic, these kind of information should be conveyed to us from the beginning and not several hours later.

Anyway, more unhappy things followed, in brief:
- We waited for about 1.5hours at the baggage collection area, clueless about what caused the engine failure and ‘are we going home?’
- We waited in the cold, about 17Degree Celsius for tour bus to pick us up to some hotels, note that no one told us, which hotels we are going and where! To think that I really trusted SIA so much that I got on to the tour bus. The wait was about 2 hours depending on whether we are kiasu enough to dash across the road (lucky not to get killed) and up to the tour bus. The tour bus driver drove recklessly and nearly killed us all while stopping in front of us. If getting on a flight with engine failure is not traumatizing enough, then this one is surely to wake me up.
- Reached the hotel, a representative from SIA told us to go up to put our luggage and come down to the lobby for a briefing or information update, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Everyone is still in lost.
- I decided to trust SIA again that you will bring us home safely and so during this period of time, my husband and I remained calm. We did not pursue for any answers from SIA, we waited for SIA to contact us.
- However, I realized on the next day, a significant number of Caucasians passengers packed-up and leave the hotel, seemed to be going to the airport. I was slightly disappointed, aren’t we Singaporean given a priority in times of such incident, even if we don’t, then why can’t SIA be fair about allocating passengers? Not like we don’t need to go home, just because we are not transiting to somewhere else like the Caucasians.
- Finally, was assigned to Dubai and then back to Singapore. Although this is not our ideal flight and means more time onboard, but we accepted it willingly, because we don’t want to pose more troubles to SIA and the staff organizing all these. I don’t even want to delve into questions why some people can get direct flights and some don’t.
- The flight paper had my husband name on it, but not mine, and the staff assured me that ‘it was joint’ so I can get onboard, even my name is not there.
- Reached the airport 3 hours ahead of the flight time, just to be sure that nothing going to happen again. More disappointment! We were not allowed on flight by Air France because apparently, the flight paper which we are holding is not even confirm and even if Air France allowed us to get on board, there was no flight from Dubai to Singapore (via Emirates) and if we get on board of the flight to Dubai, that would mean that we are going to get stranded in Dubai! I don’t believe SIA let this happened.
- The group of about 20 of us, could not get on flight and so Air France let us make a call to the local SIA to ask for an explanation and guess what, after talking for a few minutes with one of the passengers, this person (not sure if her name is Marie) hang up on us and refused to pick up our subsequent calls.
- We heard about someone in the T1 office for SIA, but it was out of bound to us and when we tried to contact them, they were off duty.
- Lost and stranded again, I made long distance call to Singapore SIA for help and they did help us, but due to the distance, it was not a timely help, there were lots of ding-dongs here and there and I literally pass the phone to the Air France crew to talk to the SIA person and the gate closed shortly even before things were sorted out!
- To think that I trusted SIA so much that SIA will help us to get home, I was really disappointed, we were push around like burden in the airport, no one to help us when we needed the most, flights details were shoved to us without getting confirm and ‘we are literally on our own in this foreign land’! I see fellow passengers came very early to the airport and running within the terminals just to get an answer. Why is SIA so cruel to local like us?

After this entire ordeal, I decided to plan my own trip home, since SIA is inefficient. I booked the next available flight from Paris to Shanghai and then Shanghai to Singapore, there is only business class available, but I couldn’t care more, because I WANT TO GO HOME, I don’t want to carry my 40 kg luggage around the airport and back to hotel and wait for unconfirmed flights again.

I don’t know if SIA is going to settle this in a cheap manner, because why are we not put on flight for Shanghai, is it because it is business class? Is it more cost-efficient to make us stranded in Paris then putting us up on business class flight so that we can GET HOME?

My husband and I and 2 other mothers with their 2 5-year old kids booked the flight, the SIA staff on the phone asked us to hold, but the Air France crew could not wait anymore because the flight is not taking in passenger anymore for the next 1 minute. Ultimately, we still chose to believe in making our own arrangement rather than stuck in Paris with SIA.

I don’t take ‘isolated case’ as an excuse. It’s a shame that SIA being so established do not have a team on risk or crisis management. Coming from a public relation background and not practicing it, I cannot comprehend why there isn’t a team in SIA to work protocols in times of crisis like this? You should have the team to analyze on different situations that may happen especially when we are dealing passengers in terms of hundreds. And if you already have the team in SIA, I think you should either fire them all or re-train them again, because this is not what established companies do. There are many case studies on how big companies handle crisis and SIA is nowhere near their standards.

We booked SIA because we wanted direct flight, but we already accommodated SIA by accepting the transit flights, which is not what we signed up for in the beginning, and it brings us lots of pain to do the transit because we have huge luggage.

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Blogger KooshKing said...

Hope you had a safe flight back. Besides seeking compensation from SIA, don't forget to claim travel insurance if you had bought some.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

gosh. what a traumatising experience. just like a picture out from a movie - except it's REAL! glad you're finally HOME.

5:08 PM  
Blogger I, Cactus said...

gal, your ordeal is really an anti-climax! glad you r safe and sound.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Cel said...

guess what, a business class ticket cost sgd11,000.
and we bought 2!

9:55 PM  

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