Crazy queue at SQ

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Some 50 minutes after entering the relatively short check-in queue for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 317 from London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 to Singapore Changi Airport, I neared the front of the line.

Finally, exasperated like all my fellow passengers, I spotted an airline staff member at the front of the line. “Could you tell me what’s happening here please?” I asked.

“One at a time if you don’t mind,” came her curt (in fact rude) reply. I hadn’t been aware she had been speaking to anyone else (she hadn’t – but apparently she had spotted someone beyond me asking her a similar question).

The staff member was English, not Singaporean. The delay was (depending on how you see it) the airport’s or airline’s fault, not mine (the baggage belt by the SQ check-in counters wasn’t working and the bags had to be loaded manually to the main belt).

But her irritated reply to a polite question about an unacceptable delay in no more than a 20-person queue was delivered with withering contempt for the consumer.

Finally she deigned to answer me.

“There’s a problem with the baggage belt.”

“Perhaps someone could have told us that earlier?”

“One of my colleagues has been keeping everyone up to date. Check-in is perfectly normal.”

“No-one has kept us informed of anything. We have been waiting 50 minutes – do you call that normal?”

“50 – five zero?

“Yes 50.”

Declining to acknowledge the fact that 50 minutes was abnormal not normal she made herself scarce.

I had arrived at check-in two hours before my flight – finally I cleared check-in after one hour. Another ten minutes awaited in security. 50 minutes to the flight – it was almost time to board.

I had intended to shop. I had intended to have a nice breakfast. Apart from buying a newspaper at WHSmith I did neither. The DFS Arrivals shop at Changi (below) got my business, not World Duty Free at T3.

DFS arrivals_Small

The incident is not atypical of the modern airport experience. It is atypical of Singapore Airlines (the crew as always were marvellous).

Not only had the lack of urgency – and concern – at check-in damaged the airline’s image but it certainly impacted on the airport’s commercial revenues. That fact would not have worried my frumpy friend at check-in one jot.

Many airport retailers and food & beverage operators have their concession fees linked to passenger numbers. Those numbers don’t mean a thing if the passengers are only getting through to the airside zone minutes before boarding commences.

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