A couple of days ago I posted about the Singapore Airlines flight that left me disappointed. I flew New York to Frankfurt in first class with a friend, and we selected the two middle seats in first class so we’d be able to sit together. I’ve flown Singapore Airlines first class many times and have been blown away each time. As I’ve said countless times, each Singapore Airlines flight is a performance by the crew. And despite my high expectations every time, they still manage to exceed my expectations.
My friend, on the other hand, had never flown Singapore Airlines, and I had been raving about it to him for days. So I’m guessing his expectations were even higher than mine had ever been, though I was certain he’d be equally impressed. Singapore just doesn’t disappoint. It’s part of their culture.
Anyway, on to the flight. The first-class cabin had only two other passengers in it until a few minutes before departure when the first lady of Zimbabwe and her entourage filled up half of the first-class cabin. The gentleman seated across from me, a German Lufthansa HON member (their uber-top tier status) shook his head and commented to me “it’s nice to see she’s flying first class and eating caviar while half of her country is starving.” It has nothing to do with the problem I had, but just an interesting side note. It was also odd to have her bodyguard seated across from me in first-class the whole flight without once reclining his seat.
The captain announced the flight time of 6hr40min, which, as usual, is painfully short for a redeye.
After takeoff, my friend tried to recline his seat. While the footrest worked fine, the seat wouldn’t recline in the slightest. Instead, there was just a constant thud noise as he pushed the recline button.
We brought this to the attention of the crew, and they had us stand there for about 10 minutes as they tried to fix it. Now, it’s worth noting all three first-class flight attendants were trying to fix the seat, so it delayed the service in the rest of the cabin (which is a bit problematic on a short redeye for people looking to sleep).
After 10 minutes they decided there was no way to fix his seat. Fortunately, the row of two seats behind us were the only two other seats available, so we were able to move to them. It’s closer to the galley meaning there’s more light, but that was perfectly fine given the situation.
My friend tried to recline his new seat again, and this time it worked. Then he tried to put the footrest up, only to find nothing happened. At this point the flight attendants once again have us stand up as they try to fix his seat, which lasts about 15 minutes. They decide they can’t fix that seat either.
So at this point, we’re almost an hour into a 6hr40min redeye not having eaten at all with nothing more than the flight attendants shrugging their shoulders.
The flight attendants suggested we go back to our original seats for dinner (without my friend being able to recline), and then offer to try and manually recline the seat in the other row into bed mode.
Fine, mistakes happen. I think it’s totally unacceptable that two seats in a row are broken in first class, but I suppose it happens, and it’s certainly not the crew’s fault.
But that’s not even my main complaint. If you’ve flown a foreign carrier you’ve probably noticed the role of the “in-flight supervisor.” In the US you have pursers, though that title means nothing. Those are people that get paid an extra dollar an hour to do the paperwork. At international airlines, in-flight supervisors have a totally different role — they’re actually supervisors and are supposed to personally welcome aboard each first-class passenger, deal with any issues, and make sure all the other flight attendants are doing their job. As a matter of fact, I’ve found the in-flight supervisors at Singapore Airlines to be among the most engaging, and without exception have had them stop by my seat for a few minutes to talk just after takeoff and just before landing when seated in first class.
But this in-flight supervisor was so indifferent that I was floored. He never greeted a single first-class passenger, and while he provided service, he didn’t say a single word to either of us. Not once. He would plop down drinks, and whenever I said “thank you” he would just look at me.
The other flight attendants were fine (they were the leading steward and leading stewardess — yes, the three highest “ranking” cabin crew were working first class), though this in-flight supervisor couldn’t have come across as more indifferent. Having a first-class passenger with a broken seat twice is a huge service failure. My friend wasn’t looking for any sort of compensation, but you’d think an in-flight supervisor would at least apologize profusely for such a situation. As a matter of fact, none of the flight attendants made any effort to apologize. They shrugged their shoulders and tried to find solutions, but that’s it.
So my friend got off his first Singapore flight rather disappointed and tired (thanks to the short flight time and hour wasted right after takeoff due to them trying to fix his seat and not serve dinner).
So no, even Singapore isn’t perfect… I’m guessing that means the end of the world is near. 😉