Some of you may remember the completely unexpected and uncharacteristic problems I ran into during my first ever Singapore First award trip to Bali back in January. I flew from IAH-DME-SIN-DPS for 70k United MileagePlus miles (booked during the Singapore glitch), but had a non-functioning TV, broken seat that would not recline, and food incidents(hair in the dish and food poisoning) on two legs of the trip…both in first class! Some of the more memorable excerpts
….that’s when all hell broke loose. It started with a long line for the bathrooms and several passengers holding their stomachs. I then saw the line lengthen and flight attendants were handing out vomit bags and water bottles. I knew exactly what this was about…back in The Private Room (TPR), a few Point Me to the Plane readers who traveled on both the IAH-DME and DME-SIN legs, asked me if I was feeling OK. I said I was fine, though they said they were feeling very nauseous. They couldn’t even stand to look at food. I thought it was strange that more than one person was feeling ill, but I really didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I saw several of the business and first passengers from the previous flights lined up for the bathroom, that I knew something was very wrong….
Unfortunately, there was one problem with my baked clams appetizer…a nice long piece of hair was added to the dish for extra flavoring.
However, there was a problem with my chair. It would not recline at all. The controls were not functioning and the seat had to be reset. They tried several times without any luck and then told me they could manually recline the seat each time or I could switch to the open seat that had a defective in-flight entertainment unit…my TV suddenly stopped working. The crew reset my unit three times and then tried resetting the entire system with no luck. The system came back on but would play everything in slow motion with no sound.
Singapore first responded back in February and I thought their compensation offer was a little stingy, most readers thought it was just plain horrible. For a flight with an average first class fare of $8000 each way, they offered me $242 voucher. They would not discuss the food poisoning issue at all as they had only “received reports of 22 passenger complaints. Reports of 40 or more are required to investigate airline responsibility“. OK, so forgetting my 24 hours of sickness, $242 still seemed off for an inoperable seat and TV in first class and some hair in my dish. With the coaxing of several readers, I responded back to the airline and received a response a few weeks ago in June. Essentially, they felt their initial offer was appropriate but would be forwarding the details on to senior management. Interestingly enough, reader reaction to that post was split:
Dave said - yeah SGD300 was too much for a broken IFE or seat… hair in food is not life threatening, only 22 people not feeling well – they could have gotten that from the lounge devouring. plus you only spent 70k miles, SQ has to make a living somehow.
Jonathan remarked – Firstly, the fact that the fare is normally $8,000 is irrelevant. The cost incurred by you was 70k miles.
Secondly, you were only able to book this flight due to the airline’s error. It’s questionable whether they were even obligated to honor the deal to begin with. Thirdly, the flight attendants made a good effort to accommodate you. In light of all of the above, I have to agree with SQ. $242 is fair compensation for the minor inconveniences you experienced.
Milezjunkie and Manoj seemed to understand my reasoning that compensation should be evaluated regardless of whether the ticket was purchased with cash or redeemed with miles:
Milezjunkie -You think SQ is letting award flyers on the plane for free? They’re paid by United. It’s not the full amount but its the amount they’ve agreed to accept for the class of service they offer. And do you think Point Me got completely free miles??? Even if he got them from a credit card sign up they were paid for, by the bank. If they were earned by credit card spend then he essentially paid for them as well because alternatively a cash back card would have given cash in lieu of miles. With your logic, if Starbucks gave you a free coffee after buy 30 coffees and your “free” coffee was just a cup of urine you wouldn’t complain. I’m sure that is likely.
Manoj – I think they should offer a 1 way upgrade from Coach to Biz or Biz to First; or refund half the miles. It is a small goodwill gesture to a passenger that was in F, regardless of whether it was a mileage ticket or not or it was booked in error. A passenger in F should get a F class product experience – the experience should not change based on what was paid.
Well, this morning I received word from Singapore once again, here’s a copy of that letter:
Dear Mr Point Me to the Plane
Thank you for your email of 19 June 2013.
Please be assured that our management is aware of your experience onboard flight SQ61 /10 January 2013, and we sincerely apologise once again that your in-flight experience on this occasion had not met your expectations. We note that the audio facility of the in-flight entertainment system at your seat 2F (Houston-Moscow) was not functioning properly during the flight and we would like to share that this has since been rectified. While we understand that our crew was able to offer you a seat change to 1A, we acknowledge the disappointment caused in this regard as that seat was without proper in-flight entertainment system. Based on our findings, instead our crew had assisted you in manually adjusting your footrest to the required level for the Moscow-Singapore sector. However, based on our records, we confirm there were seat defects recorded at seats 1A and 2F for both sectors.
That being said, we truly regret that our product delivery in these aspects had caused you disappointment. We will ensure that our engineers intensify their pre-flight checks to ensure that our cabin facilities are functioning properly on our flights, and also have our Food and Beverage Manager work closely with our caterers to ensure that they continue to adhere closely to our strict food preparation guidelines. We hope that you will allow us the privilege of serving you better in future.
We have reviewed your case further and we would like to credit 15,000 miles into your KrisFlyer account in addition to the transportation voucher previously offered. The miles are valid for three years and can be used for future flight redemption.
We hope that you will consider our offer favourably, Mr Point Me to the Plane. We look forward to hearing from you.
I’ve already gone ahead and responded in acceptance of the offer for 15K miles and $242 USD. I don’t want to devote any more time to a flight I took six months ago and this certainly seems like their final offer. Interesting though that it took several emails for them to provide the full details of their investigation, finally acknowledging and confirming the broken seat, food mishaps, defective IFE, and the fact that if I switched from the non reclining seat, I’d be without any IFE. After all that, they felt that this was the appropriate compensation. What do you think?