18 January 2012

I won't be singing in Singapore!

When I started this blog, I promised myself that it wouldn't be just somewhere for me to complain about my bad experiences. There are too many blogs that are too heavily focused on the negative, when travelling should be fun, and sometimes the hic-cups can add to the overall experience.

I've been so disappointed with Singapore Air though, that I felt I needed to write about it, even if it helps other travellers avoid some of the pitfalls.

Elsewhere in this blog, I have discussed how much I love flying. My airline of choice is Virgin Atlantic  but due to costs, I decided to fly to Australia with Singapore Airlines. I spent quite some time on Seat Guru picking my seat, and my plan was to write a blog post about the food, the service and the overall experience.

However, I am due to fly today and since nothing to date has been at all positive, I think it is unlikely I shall feel inclined to write a glowing review of the on board delights.

These have been my issues:

Language barriers: Of course I understand that an airline such this will be multilingual, but every time I have spoken to the "London Office" they staff have struggled to understand me, and I have struggled to understand them. So much so that the booking was incorrect when it was made, with many details relating to my name and email address being wrong due to the staff not understanding what I was saying.

Poor technology: The reason why I have repeatedly had to talk to the team is because of the number of glitches in the system. The website couldn't take my booking at the time. I couldn't amend my details relating to my booking online. When I needed to check the flight times, I kept getting error messages and the site wouldn't work from my Smart Phone.

Dreadful customer service: My flights have been delayed today, which means that I am missing my connecting flight from Singapore Airport to Sydney Airport. Again, I think we all know that sometimes there are delays on flights, but for me, it is about what airlines do when something goes wrong that makes them excellent as well as what they do as part of their standard service.

I was informed that my flight from Heathrow Airport was delayed because I received a text. However, the text did not give me any detail relating to my connecting flight. When I rang them, the operative informed me that I was going to miss the connecting flight and that they were trying to find me an alternative seat on a plane to Sydney, but that I might have to sort it when I got to Singapore Airport.
The view of Sydney Harbour I shall not be seeing as I sit in the Aisle by the loo!

I got quite upset (understandably) and asked whether the delays were due to the cracks in the wings on A380 which have been widely reported in the media. The operative had no idea why the planes were delayed at all. But it was "definitely not" due to the cracks in the wings. As a person travelling alone, huge delays at airports can be particularly tiresome, especially when you have done a huge amount to organise the detail of the trip.
After being put on hold several times, I asked to speak to a supervisor which I was unable to do straight away. However, I was rung back about an hour later by Sarah who had managed to find me a seat on a flight to Sydney. Woo hoo. However, I was unable to get a window seat, so no lovely view of Sydney as we land, and I am also dangerously close to a toilet. And I think we all know what that means on a long flight! 

So, this afternoon, rather than getting a lovely manicure and pedicure followed by a final fat busting trip to the gym, I have been on the phone to Singapore Airlines and getting increasingly frustrated by their dreadful website.

My revenge? I shall attempt to drink the bar dry on the flight. I'll let you know how I get on.

So I have now arrived in Australia after a fairly vexingly long journey. There were lots of people on my flight that were in the same position as me, and were going to miss their connecting flight. And most of them had left the UK without any idea when and if they were going to get a seat on a connecting flight. A lot of fairly disatisfied customers!

And was it a good flight? Well I had asparagus for breakfast and an onion and lettuce sandwich for supper. So, not so much.

Do I think the plane was delayed because of the issues with cracks in the wings? Well, interestingly this article was posted on Bloomberg on the day after I flew to say that Singapore Air was starting to check all of the wings of all of their A380 Airbuses. But that this was absolutely not going to affect operations. Hmmm.