Horrible Injustice: Singapore Airlines Refuses Someone A Free Upgrade

Filed Under: Media, Singapore

It’s not often I check the comments section of airline Facebook pages, because they seem to be a dark, dark place. Come and think of it, I couldn’t imagine working in social media for an airline, given all the complaints they get.

However, one complaint from Singapore Airlines’ Facebook page is getting a lot of attention. This customer says that Singapore Airlines just lost a client and did something totally unacceptable that a world class airline wouldn’t do.

What did the airline do, you ask?

I am really disappointed with this airlines. So darned inflexible and rigid. Got a biz class tix for my wife and economy for my 3 yr old boy to London. Turned out that the air crew refused to let my boy rest with his mother and she ended up in economy class with my boy. The biz class was given to my father in law who was also on the same flight. If there is turbulence, understandable that my boy needs to buckle up, but otherwise what’s the harm of them staying together? This is not what a world class airlines should or will do. Totally unacceptable and trust me, u just lost another client.

With the exception of infants under two, airlines require each passenger to have a seat. And yes, Singapore Airlines is possibly the most “by the book” airline out there (which I think is great, for the most part). However, is it really Singapore Airlines’ fault when you booked your wife a seat in business class and your three year oldĀ a seat in economy, expecting that the baby would be able to hang out with the mom in business class the entire flight?


Something tells me he definitely thought he could get away with this, or else he wouldn’t have booked them in different cabins. The airline was simply (correctly) following their policy. But apparently a world class airline would never do something like that…

  1. This happens more often than you think. Working for an airline, I see this from time to time and hear this also from colleagues at other airlines. People book this deliberately, hoping airlines will simply upgrade the child. I say these parents shouldn’t be traveling with their children, if they are unwilling to pay for them.

  2. Saw this on FlyerTalk yesterday in the Singapore Airlines section. People including myself thought it was a troll. This isn’t SQs fault. Its his own fault for trying to get away with a free upgrade on an airline like SQ. Its unfair to people who actually pay money for their kids to sit in business.

  3. Siding with SQ on this one. I know nothing of the family but I assuming they bought three tickets, Business for the wife, and Economy for the father in law and three year old. Why not just pay for premium economy for everyone if they want to sit together?

  4. Ahhh, another BS title. First time I’ve clicked here in a while due to so much junk, and I’m sorry I did.

  5. I am also not very comfortable with the title. I feel like being cheated that’s the honest feeling. I was expecting something big but maybe I don’t understand your sarcasm well…

  6. @ kenny — A vast majority of traffic doesn’t come through the BoardingArea homepage. I have no control over how stuff displays there. All other social platforms should show the entire title. Next time check directly at onemileatatime.com and you won’t feel cheated. šŸ˜‰

  7. lol at all these crybabies about the title. Probably the same people who would book the kids they will never have in economy and try to pull this crap.

  8. I’ve been told you can only have a certain amount of people per row due to the number of oxygen masks in case they were ever needed.

  9. So this happened to me a few weeks ago. Traveling w my (4 days shy of) 2 year old son Booked tickets and we immediately cleared into economy comfort.

    Gate agent wound up clearing us both into first but not together. The person sitting next to me and the person next to my son refused to move seats (why you’d want to sit next to a 2 year old is beyond me).

    While i probably could have switched with folks in economy the gate agent let him travel as infant in arms in my seat.

    The gentleman next to me was none to happy about is as my son squirmed, whined and needed to get up 3 times on the two hour flight. Would have been better for all if he rode in his car seat next to me.


  10. “However, is it really Singapore Airlinesā€™ fault when you booked your wife a seat in business class and your three year old a seat in economy, expecting that the baby would be able to hang out with the mom in business class the entire flight?”

    Just to be clear, a 3 year old is not a baby. I would side with the airline in this instance.

  11. Too bad. I agree with SQ. If he really wanted mother and son be together, he would have forked out a business class ticket for his son too. He just wanted to use the emotional joker, thinking that SQ would “upgrade” the kid, given the young age. So too bad for him. Either all fly premium or you get a Y class ticket, if you cannot afford it.

  12. Now someone please help me out, what happens if you book an adult on business class and an infant under 2 in economy?

  13. Bafoons entertain us daily – that’s for sure. Here was response to that imbecile, who drew so much flak from the public, he has since removed his post:

    Now when you purchased the air ticket, a conscious decision was made by you, to purchase tickets in both Business and Economy cabins, of which your 3 year old son was seated, presumably with your Father-In-Law in the first instance, in Economy. Hence contractually, Singapore Airlines had honored their part of the agreement.

    Premium Class cabins are restricted at all times, to only the passengers who have been ticketed for that class. So, Economy passengers cannot cross over to Business and First / Suites; and Business Class passengers cannot cross over to First / Suites. This is standard practice, not just on Singapore Airlines, but on ALL airlines, irregardless of weather, i.e. Turbulent or otherwise.

    The crew, whom you mention are being inflexible and rigid were handling the situation on hand, i.e. your demanding and unreasonable requests, and I must say, they were likely “challenged”, reading in-between the lines here.

    Bottom line, make a decisive decision in future, and do not assume any airline or service provider will just upgrade you to make your situation a convenience. If they do, it’s a bonus, and if they do not, then suck it up and do not throw a tantrum. Gets you nowhere.”

  14. Interesting discussion.
    A few months ago, my family experienced a case of involuntary downgrade with ANA, and I am curious how you looked at this case. So, my parents, sister were traveling with my two kids back home from the US. My parents and my sister were booked in business while my two kids were booked in Economy. We did not expect or plan on grabbing free upgrade. We just wanted to have one kid to sit with the grandparents in business while the other would fly with my sister.

    So, I think, technically, what we did was switch seat among passengers but in different cabin. It was not problem for United when traveling from the States to NRT. Yet, when they made the connection in NRT, ANA denied them for boarding. They insisted that they could not switch seats and children cannot travel without a responsible adult. The only way they would let me finish the journey is that my sister “voluntarily” downgrade herself. So, ANA had my sister sign a waiver/agreement that she voluntarily gave her seat, and she would not pursue refund.

    It was just a 3 1/2 hour flight and my sister did not complain about it at all. Instead, she was all happy to sit with her nephews and had fun together. I did not even know about it until one of my kid mentioned in passing. We did not file a complaint to ANA and just let it go. Yet, frankly, I did feel surprised at the inflexibility. They were not taking anyone’s seat (the flight was fairly wide open). They just planned to switch seat among themselves.

    Technically, they had reasons to insist (not that I was totally in agreement). But, did they have to?

  15. Carl – You go directly to jail. You do not pass go, you do not collect $200.

    WCC – I am going to assume ANA has more stricter policy with seat reservation, and also a policy against the practice of leaving minors who are not unaccompanied but intentionally neglected in economy for all the Jared Fogles to subway on while the idiot or greedy caretakers wanted to take advantage of better splendor.

  16. Kenny – however you did invest time and effort in puking out your personal venom so… Please leave and never come back.

  17. @ WCC — That’s not at all unusual. Many carriers consider children to be unaccompanied minors unless there is an adult traveling with them in the same cabin. You could probably have otherwise paid the UM fees for the boys.

    The best practice is to ticket each passenger in the cabin you intend on having them fly, just to avoid these types of situations.

  18. WCC – You should not expect such flexibility. Next time book the pax in the cabin where you expect them to actually sit.

  19. He should have flown Qatar which is a romper room, kids running from the back, all over in Business.
    Women FA’s can’t tell men what to do.

  20. Informative article! I’ve always wondered about this, and not just about kids…if one’s seat (or suite) is big enough, can friends in economy hang out? If so, how long? What about passengers taking turns with the good seat? And who gets stuck next to Vegetable Lasagna?

    But seriously, is the problem that they’re sharing the seat? Or that nobody wants kids in business class? We are booked in biz class with 13-yr. old daughter.

  21. I’m glad the airlines are enforcing their own policies regarding children. As for ticketed children in J, as long as they’re quiet and they don’t disturb other passengers I have no issue with it.

    These people made a conscious decision to circumvent the rules and they were stopped – good job Singapore Airlines!

  22. @LL — Good question. Although “officially” the problem is having an un-ticketed passenger in biz, you bring up a good point about minors in premium cabins. I wouldn’t say that nobody wants kids in business class, but rather that people (for the most part) want peace and quiet. It really boils down to the behavior of the individuals onboard. I’ve flown with well-behaved children and also those who thought my seat was their personal punching bag. I’d say if your daughter is well-behaved then it should be a non-issue. One specific thing I’ve noticed with even the best behaved kids is they like to get out of their seat a lot, so perhaps consider putting her on the aisle.

  23. This happens all the time in steerage (my normal seating). People don’t want to pay for the seat they want and/or to be able to board early. So they board last and/or have the middle seats and can’t sit together. Then ask their various seatmates about doing a switch so they can all be together. I have had to say ‘No’ many times. The stink eye I get doesn’t matter to me. I also don’t say sorry and go into a speech about how I bought my boarding early to have the seat I wanted. I just say ‘no’. I don’t have to explain myself to them. I don’t even want them to pay me back the money I spent and take their crappy seat not they ever offered. I spent the money for a reason. The ONE time I agreed it was so two elderly people could sit together. They weren’t make a loud stink but they were getting so upset (the way only old people can) that the flight attendant basically begged me to do it. Maybe if the offending people admitted they were being cheap and just hoping to get away with this I’d do it just for their honesty. Who am I kidding, I still won’t.

  24. I don’t see anything wrong from the airline side that deserve the title of this article. The media should be taken to the court for damaging reputation of the airline.

  25. Even as a mom of 2 (ages 20 months and almost 3), I am definitely siding with SQ. Yes, it sounds silly to have to buy a toddler his own seat, but we do it because we have to. I recently bought 3 JetBlue Mint seats for my family so that we could all sit together up front. I would never expect a freeloader upgrade. Shame on the mom.

  26. I’m totally with SIA here. If the family wants to be seated with their child up front, book her/him in businness class. Correct behaviour by the airline.

  27. If you want your child or other family member to sit in a certain cabin, then book them in that cabin. No SQ fault on this. Besides couldn’t the child sit with the Father-in-Law (grand parent?) in economy (apparently) and why wasn’t he in business class as well?

  28. My friend is a BA Gold customer and flies a lot for work. He only ever books into Premium Economy and generally gets upgraded to business. However, occasionally he doesn’t get the complimentary upgrade and when that happens he kicks off and is irate with staff for the entire flight. I tell him he has no right. If he wants business he has to book business. He seems to think that because he’s Gold he’s entitled to the upgrade which I find very, erm, entitled.

  29. @Carl you can’t book, cause you can’t book an infant by themself.

    As for the topic: cheapskate. Buy your child a ticket or sit in coach.

  30. “If there is turbulence, understandable that my boy needs to buckle up, but otherwise whatā€™s the harm of them staying together?”

    And turbulence is never unpredictable or unexpected, right? If turbulence started suddenly and “my boy needs to buckle up,” that would involve mom gathering the child up, maybe finding an empty business class seat somewhere, but possibly walking him back to his seat in economy or wherever, buckling him in, then making her way back to her seat and buckling herself in. Dangerous for myboy, the wife, and all the passengers in their path. (And if wife/myboy had been injured in said turbulence, want to guess who would be complaining that Singapore jeopardized their safety by not keeping everyone in their correct seats?)

  31. There is a special place in hell for parents who travel in Business and stick their kids in economy for some poor saps to deal with.

    An Indian couple did that to me on a Trans-Atlantic flight and when the mother finally came back to check on her kids I bitched her out worse than Ive ever done on a plane.

  32. This couple should be given the “WORST PARENTS OF THE YEAR AWARD”! First, no one should expect their 3 years old to sit by themselves in economy while the parents dine and wine in Business Class. Second, who do they expect their child to be watched after? The working crew? NO! Third and finally, no one should be expected to be upgraded to Business Class when they have an economy class ticket. Want to fly Business, buy a freaking Business Class ticket! I think the father did this on purpose from the very beginning and expected the airline to “accommodate” his family. Yes, I would be happy if he does not fly the airline again. He should not fly any airline until he realizes what a good parent is supposed to act like!

  33. I blame SQ.
    Their business class seats are obscenely wide compared with e.g., BA

    All business class seats are getting smaller in most other airlines.
    No wonder the dad got confused while planning.

    He thought they could sit together, or even add the grand father who also happened to be on the flight
    SQ should install some reducers in business class seats to clear confusion

  34. Siding with SQ on this as well. It was very clearly planned in a way that would save the mom the money of buying a business class ticket.

    Now I’m not saying that ALL crew should deny things like this. If there’s a crew out there lenient enough to allow you to do this, sure. But don’t come crying to the airline when you meet a crew who doesn’t.

  35. The guy in question is a jerk but I’m in stitches about a points and miles crowd virtually yelling at someone to ‘pay for business if you want to be in business’

  36. LOVE IT SQ–ROCK ON! Another reason I love the airline.

    For the poster give me break you big sissy shit.

  37. The mom is totally at fault here. Get what you pay for. Shame on the attitude the mom displayed towards this situation. Kudos to SQ for following the rules.

  38. I completely side with the airline. Why should a nonpaying 3 year old get a free seat in biz class? 3 year olds cannot sit still for very long and would probably wander. On a recent transatlantic trip that I was on, the mother sat reading her book while her “darlings” terrorized the business class cabin by wandering from seat to seat “exploring.” I think it would be disgraceful if the airline had allowed the 3 year old to fly in biz class. I also think your tag line was really off base. This was not a horrible injustice at all, but an airline playing by the rules in a fair way that benefitted all the customers in business class.

  39. hmm… if I read it correctly, there was a father-in-law in the picture too, I interpreted it that the father-in-law was supposed to be with the 3-year old child back in Economy, but it seems that SQ did not allow that (maybe some guardian thing?) but made it compulsory that the mother travel with the child.
    – I based this on the comment that his father-in-law was given the business class seat.

    Anyway, for me, why not, if the father-in-law can’t appreciate or enjoy the extra’s flying in business and was OK with the arrangement that he takes care of the 3-year back in economy – what’s SQ here to forbid that?

    If above is true, I do agree with the poster that SQ went a bit overboard with following their rules. Again I don’t know the true situation.

    Just my 2 cents

  40. You read it all wrong. It’s nothing to do with the grandfather but rather the mom insisting the child be allowed to join her in biz.

    SQ was ok for the grandfather to accompany the 3 yo in Y. So this is a self entitlement issue.

    Poor kid is going to grow up with wrong perspectives and wrong expectations.

    SQ should ban the father and mom for life

  41. Next time use quotation marks to make the sarcasm more obvious. I was reading the headlines and wondering why you would side with the family in question.

    Just for the record, many if us in Singapore thought the father just had an entitled mentality. If you want the kid to sit in biz class – buy biz class tickets.

  42. Bravo SQ indeed! First if you want to catch a click, at least call this one “Con gone Wrong” which is far more accurate that the so called sarcasm you claim.
    Secondly this happens frequently and in economy time after time. Parents buy only two tickets for themselves and an “under age” offspring, then on board seek to rearrange the cabin with the help of bemused cabin crew (sometimes) to find a row of 3 to sit together.
    FA’s generally are up to this, and it depends on the support they will get from their Management (BA probably none, SQ full) in enforcing not only company policy but IATA ticketing rules and other safety regulatory authorities. Come on parents, you had the kids, what do they feel like being separated, BY YOUR ACTIONS in ticketing from you when travelling.
    ALL AIRLINES: please, please please follow SQ example and put an end to this grister behaviour!

  43. Many good comments today. Your article really struck a nerve.
    Shameless people are more than willing to game the system and in its absence, try to find a sympathetic audience for their so-called “plight”.
    That the “offended” took down his social media blasting of Singapore not long after its posting tells me just how “hurt” he was by the lack of support for his I-me- mine moment.
    Win for Singapore.

  44. Similar incident happened to my wife and son on KLM flying AMS-AUH. Emirati couple in J booked father-in-law in Y. Tried to get FIL upgraded to J so they could be ‘near him’ during the flight. Crew understood the scam so moved my wife and son into J (they were in first row of Y) and put FIL into the vacated seats in Y and moved the couple into last row of J so they could be near FIL.

    Excellent response by KLM. “Solved the problem”.

    Perhaps next time all three will book J (or will probably fly EK or EY)

  45. Nice try! Trying to take advantage of SQ knowing that your 3 year old son wouldn’t be able to handle the flight on his own in the economy class. Please understand that SIA is running a business, not a charity service. Don’t be so stingy in future, else get your wife an economy seat with your son or vice versa :’)

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