Letters – October, 27 2014

Letters – October, 27 2014

Open Letter to Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines:
I would like to give you feedback on my recent travels with Singapore Airlines.

My husband, child and I traveled from Melbourne, Australia to Athens, Greece return in business class.

At Frankfurt, Germany, as we were allocated seats, I spoke to your staff at the airport because I had noticed we were assigned two aisle seats in one row, and then in the row behind, we were allocated another aisle seat. Your staff at the airport advised me to speak to the staff on the plane once we had boarded.

I spoke to a male staff member on the plane, and he said he could not help me as the plane was full, but would speak to the person in charge and they would come and speak with me. A female attendant came and spoke to me although she did not identify who she was. She said she could not help me either as the plane was full. You can’t help me? I paid $20,000 FOR THESE TICKETS and you cannot, or will not, help me? I want a full refund.

My response to her and to you is, your airline knew months in advance from at least December of last year that there would be three adults traveling on Singapore Airlines on the July 9, 2014 flight A31202 from Frankfurt, Germany to Singapore.

There were people sitting in the same row to my left and to my right in the window seats who were travelling by themselves. Why couldn’t they sit in the row behind and keep my family together?

Or if you want to look at it another way, I paid for three adult business class seats and they only paid for one. I paid a hell of a lot of money and this was a nightmare trip. I did not get what I paid for.

Business class to me means special treatment, the family all together and happy. That did not happen, we did not see my husband for over 12 hours. That is not a happy family flight. Business class should also mean choosing the meals we want to eat from the menu and getting them–because this experience gets even “better”–when your flight attendant brought around the menu for breakfast and I chose the Asian option as I do not eat eggs. I was told to choose something else as that option had run out. I chose a second option, but was not happy; and then I noticed this same attendant would always come to me first for drinks or food orders. Keep this in mind as it is very important. The next meal the attendant came to me again and I asked for the Asian meal and again I was asked if I could make a second choice as she was not sure and she could run out and it would be best if I chose something else from the menu. It didn’t make sense to me, but I knew I would get to the bottom of this ridiculous response in time. I work for Government and I am very observant. I noticed after she asked me to choose my meal she went to the Asian lady in the window seat to my left and then to the lady ahead of me in the aisle seat and then the window seat again two rows ahead. Oh, another Asian lady. After all the meals were served I went for a walk up and down the aisle and guess what I saw? The Asian couple sitting in front of me both had the Asian meal option, and so did the two Asian ladies sitting in the window seats to my left ahead of me, and so did the Asian man sitting behind me next to my husband.

Can you explain this? I can. Your staff have obviously been told to give preferential treatment to Asian people. I will never, ever, travel with your racist airline again and I have told my travel agent exactly what happened so they are aware and can advise other Australians that Singapore Airlines treats us differently and they don’t care to keep a family seated together. We had a horrid flight, when I paid top dollar for my family to have a great time seated together. Our 15 year-old daughter would usually go and sit with her father when he is placed in the same row in a window seat, but she felt uncomfortable doing that this time as there was a stranger sitting next to him. I never ever imagined I would experience racism by Singapore Airlines. I will tell as many people as I know through work and personal friends of my experience with your horrid airline.
Soula Zagarelos

Editor’s Note: Soula, thanks for sharing your letter with us regarding your experience flying Singapore Airlines. It’s unfortunate and a bit odd that your family was not seated together. From your description, we do not know if you booked directly with Singapore Airlines? The airline website states that when you are traveling in business class, “you can request for a specific seat any time from the time of booking.” This means you should have been able to get assigned seats far in advance. If you didn’t request the seats, that may be why they were assigned at the last minute and why you were not seated together. We recommend everyone who is booking a flight review the way in which your seats are assigned and act accordingly so there are no unpleasant surprises at the airport.

Unfortunately, if all of the seats were assigned when you got to the airport, there is little the airport staff could have done to change the seats for you. Once you were onboard, the staff there might have been able to help rearrange the seating. This can sometimes be accomplished by the airline staff, or by politely asking the other passengers involved to change seats so that your family can sit together. This personal approach can work, but asking a window-preference flyer to move to an aisle seat can be a tough request.

In a similar vein, as a paying business class passenger, you could have taken advantage of Singapore’s “Book the Cook” service that allows you to order your main course in advance. The website states, “If you would like to make a meal request, go to the ‘Plan and Book’ page to retrieve your booking details.” Perhaps those served the Asian meals had requested their meals in advance?

We are sorry that your experience with Singapore Airlines was not what you expected, but we hope that with additional planning, in the future your expectations will be met with any airline you choose to fly.

Mulling Over Miles
[Regarding your recent] survey about buying/selling/trading miles. The final question is “Should users be allowed to do it?”

My view, which I imagine is contrary to many …

Although many flyers would argue otherwise, I think it’s in our collective best interest to not own the miles as an asset that we can trade on an open exchange.

The miles would quickly settle on a value, just like any other currency or equity would, and that would eventually lead to accounting, tax, legal and regulatory implications for everyone involved–airlines, governments, trading firms, mileage users, etc.

It would also likely raise costs of redemption and depress the trading price of the miles, as nearly every mile that today goes unused or expires would be sold to the market and, in theory, to a user who wants them for a higher-value purpose than the market trading price.

As power users of the programs, we rely on other users not paying attention to their miles, letting them sit orphaned, letting them expire or using them poorly. Those neglected and abused miles are what make the international first class award available for 125k R/T. If all miles are used well, the best awards will jump in price by several hundred percent.
pinniped [FlyerTalk]

Mulling Over Miles II
I have two strong opinions on two of the questions [in your recent survey]. I do feel I own these miles and would like to see them easily go to my daughter in the event of my death. (I know there are ways around that … but would like to see it just slide over to her account.)

Secondly, I do not feel members should sell miles, but sure wish, for example to be able to exchange 25,000 AA miles or so with a Delta or United member for their 25,000 miles. Sometimes we must fly outside our preferred airline but have no miles to upgrade or purchase awards on these other airlines.
trekker954 [FlyerTalk]

Smiles Turned to Frown
GOL Smiles, after their increasing costs to redeem tickets, has lost all its shine. It’s difficult to accrue miles, elite recognition is just text on a Web page and redemption, well, it goes two ways: a) When the website is able to come up with a direct flight or a connection of maximum two flights; b) When the website does not work, fails to come up with flights or connections, the call center has no flexibility to override it, meanwhile they just make you wait and wait. Forget about, for example on an international itinerary, to use a connection longer than the next available flight, regardless if that flight has award space.

To add insult to injury supervisors clearly and openly disregard the T&C of their own program–charging two awards for a domestic flight connecting to an international destination such as NYC-GRU-CWB and leaving the customer with no protection if there are any irregular operations–plus baggage costs.

When it was a more inexpensive redemption table it might have been worth the effort. Now, they charge 170k for a roundtrip business class flight Brazil-North America and it is almost impossible to snag a space, add the issue with connections either in the U.S. or in Brazil, and it becomes ridiculous.
pb9997 [FlyerTalk]