SIA passenger's 'stressful' business class experience: 'I was mistaken for someone else'

Submitted by Stomper EK

This story was submitted via Web contribution form.

He was looking forward to a relaxing flight back to Singapore. It turned out to be anything but.

A Singapore Airlines (SIA) business class ticket-holder was downgraded at the airport, then re-upgraded at the boarding gate but asked to pay the price difference in cash.

And all that was even before he boarded the plane, after which he was mistaken for another person and given the wrong meal.

"Getting a business class experience from SIA may be memorable for many, but for me, it was a painful one," said Stomper EK.

Upon arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on June 25, he was surprised to be told there was no seat for him.

"Really? The options given were to accept an economy ticket (compensated with an extra economy seat for more space) or to fly on the next flight in business class two to three hours later," said the Stomper.

"I had to work the next day and I wanted comfort and rest. Though I was reluctant, upset and disappointed, I took the option of an economy ticket as I was promised expedited custom clearance and access to the lounge. Basically, the ease and comfort I wanted, less the seat.

"Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite of ease. At every point from customs clearance to access to the lounge, I was met with question after question – each process took 15 to 30 minutes and was stressful as I was constantly questioned and denied what I was promised. It was very tiring."

When he reached the boarding gate, he got another surprise.

The Stomper recounted: "I was informed that there was a seat in business class and was offered the seat.

"I was also told I had to top up the price difference at the gate. Who would prepare cash on hand while boarding the plane? Not me.

"I was however told I had to pay up before boarding. And of course, after digging for the cash, I was the last to board."

And the indignity did not end there for the Stomper.

"After boarding, I was mistaken for someone else," he said.

"I had to explain the situation again. It seems no one informed the crew onboard. After that, I was still addressed by the wrong name and given the wrong meal."

In the months since returning to Singapore, the Stomper has contacted SIA 15 times, trying to get someone to address his issues.

On Oct 30, he told Stomp: "They issued a $150 In-flight gift voucher for me to utilise when I fly with them again. I am shocked that SIA thinks that this resolves the frustrations and inconveniences it has caused."

On Nov 3, he received an e-mail from an SIA customer affairs manager apologising for the delayed response due to the "high volume of feedback".

The e-mail said: "We are sorry that you were initially informed that you were unable to travel in business class on flight SQ709 on June 25 from Bangkok to Singapore.

"Please allow us to share that like many airlines, Singapore Airlines applies an overbooking policy on selected flights because some customers with confirmed bookings may not show up for the flight. We manage this very carefully and are generally able to accommodate every customer who has a confirmed booking in their respective class of travel.

"The involuntary downgrade of passengers in an overbooked situation is done with careful consideration, and only after all other options have been exhausted. This process is generally carried out at the check-in stage, and boarding will commence when the overbooking situation is resolved, and passenger acceptance is finalised.

"We understand that our ground staff had approached you at check-in if you would be willing to assist with the overbooking situation. A cash compensation of 5,090 baht (S$190) was presented as a token of our apology for the downgrade to economy class and you would still be able to access the lounge.

"There was one business class passenger who did not show up for the flight when passenger acceptance was finalised. The ground staff informed you at the boarding gate of the availability of the business class seat for you to be reinstated. As the cash compensation was to be recalled, an SIA gift voucher of S$150 was presented to you instead. We note that the voucher has been redeemed via our KrisShop website on July 8.

"We have highlighted your experience to our Bangkok station manager for his continuous review of the processes to handle overbooking situations. This would include better communication with our lounge and cabin crew team to better meet our passengers’ expectations.

"As a token of our sincere apology for your overall experience, we would like to present you with 10,000 KrisFlyer miles."

In response, the Stomper replied: "Is it worth a mere 10,000 miles for the terrible experience and silence from SIA for over four months?

"I do not accept the resolution and would expect to have a full refund of my plane ticket as compensation."

He also said: "The extended non-response has been immensely frustrating and it makes me wonder how many other customers are suffering through the same experience as I am."

Stomp has contacted SIA for more info.