Woman says family of 8 not allowed to check in for Scoot flight due to child's expiring passport

Michelle Chin
The Straits Times
Jul 12, 2023

A Singaporean family of eight could not board a Scoot flight to Macau in June when one of them was found to have a passport that was about to expire in five weeks.

Business development manager Lin Jiahui, 39, had booked seats to Macau on the budget carrier for her 45-year-old husband, six-year-old daughter and year-old son during the June holidays.

Joining them on the planned six-day trip were Ms Lin’s 85-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother, and Ms Lin’s parents and an aunt, who are in their 60s.

The family paid a fare of about $2,500 in total for return tickets. That included $42 for Scoot’s BoardMeFirst perk, which comes with priority check-in and boarding privileges.

When they arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 1 to check in at 10.50am on June 12, ground crew at the airport check-in counter told them that their daughter’s passport did not have the required validity period of at least six months.

Ms Lin said that meant her daughter could not board the flight. And because they were travelling together, the rest of the group was not allowed to check in as well.

She said: “The counter staff told us that as we bought the tickets as a group, we need to check in as a group.”

Afraid that their holiday plans would fall through, Ms Lin, her husband and their daughter rushed down to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) building at Kallang Road to try and get an emergency renewal for their daughter’s passport.

On the way to ICA, Ms Lin called the Scoot customer service hotline. She said she was told the remaining five members of her travel party would be able to check in their luggage.

However, they were not able to do so.

When Ms Lin, her husband and daughter returned to Changi Airport at about 1.30pm with her daughter’s passport renewed, it was too late to check in for the 1.50pm flight.

Unable to get economy-class seats on the next Scoot flight scheduled to depart at 6am the next day to Hong Kong, Ms Lin paid a total of about $2,100 for seven one-way business-class tickets for the whole family except the toddler.

To make sure they would be on time for the early morning flight, Ms Lin and her family stayed at a hotel in Changi Airport. When they arrived in Hong Kong, they got on a ferry to Macau.

Ms Lin contacted Scoot through the budget carrier’s Facebook page to get an explanation, but said she was not satisfied with the replies. She added that she also plans to ask the budget carrier for compensation.

A message sent by Scoot on June 16 to Ms Lin and seen by The Straits Times said: “Please note that the check-in counter closes one hour prior to departure, and all passengers in the same booking need not be present at the check-in counter in order to proceed with the check-in.

“Our check-in kiosks accept individual self-check-in under the same booking.”

Despite the hiccups, Ms Lin said her family had an enjoyable time in Macau, including a trip to Disneyland, a highlight of the trip.

The return trip to Singapore from Macau was uneventful, she added.

In response to queries, a Scoot spokesman said for flight bookings with multiple passengers, the carrier does not require all passengers to be checked in together. It added that its check-in counters open three hours before departure.

On the day of the incident, Ms Lin and her family were not able to check in on time for their flight, he added.

The spokesman said: “Scoot is sorry to know about Ms Lin and her family’s experience on June 12. We have since reached out to Ms Lin to offer further assistance and extend a resolution out of goodwill.

“Our staff also assisted Ms Lin and her family members to secure the booking of their return flight from Macau to Singapore on June 17, which would have been cancelled as per our conditions of carriage if Ms Lin did not contact our call centre within 48 hours of departure time of the flight that had been missed.”

The Straits Times

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