I blogged about my not just poor but disgraceful treatment by Singapore Airline cabin staff on 13 November during my flight, Heathrow to Singapore. I very unpleasant start to travel I had looked forward to for months.
The experience was so bad I put in a formal complaint to the airline who did respond apologising for their inappropriate treatment of me as a traveller with specific documented needs and also for the inappropriate way a male staff member spoke to my mother, suggesting it was her job to ensure my safekeeping and safety onboard the flight.
The fact is I sat on a Singapore Airlines plane for 13+ hours not knowing where anything was, that includes, safety information, toilets, no access to entertainment system, no access to assistance at all. The 13+ hour flight was a nightlight, I am completely blind in the dark and as a result of aircraft noise, little hearing and no access to lipreading my experience was not just horrible but uncomfortable and unpleasant and this was acknowledged with an offer of 100 Singapore dollars as what, an apology or compensation for their terrible service, either way a complete insult and not really the point. Clearly the principal far more important.
My travel agent was informed and both they and Singapore Airlines said they had learnt from my complaint and that my return journey would be perfect, everything would be dealt with to insure my needs considered completely.
So here we are travelling back from Denpasar, Bali. Check in 3 hours before your flight they said. Three hours before my flight they had already allocated seats for the Denpasar to Singapore flight and also the Singapore to Heathrow flight and guess what WRONG again.
Seats allocated were not appropriate, once again I would not be in a position to see or hear the cabin crew.
My mum contacted the travel agent in the UK who suggested we deal with the matter in Singapore, the people at the gate in Denpasar advised they would forward details of the seats required on the Singapore to London Heathrow leg - either that was not done or Singapore Airlines have serious communication issues on the ground.
Our travel agent was also horrified by the treatment on the outbound flight and I'm told has taken the matter up with his Singapore Airlines rep, repeating my thoughts on what an insult it was to offer 100 Singapore dollars as an apology or compensation, I should add that money could be spent only with, you guessed, Singapore Airlines so insult and completely invalid to me as I’ll never travel with them again.
I suffer with anxiety at the best of times and my stomach was tied in knots, I couldn't breath and went into meltdown at the airport in Denpasar, my Mum was at my side assuring me it would be okay and that the staff had promised to provide a supportive service on the way home, sadly it was not that way.
On arriving at the check in gate the young man on the gate suggested it was our fault the seats were not right and that Singapore Airlines do not attach any priority to people with disabilities - that is nice to know!
After the most embarrassing show of ‘We got it wrong’ having staff running back and forth to the plane asking people to swap seats, none wanted to so we boarded the plane virtually last.
I found it very hard to hold things together, I was so upset, it didn't feel like I had just had a wonderful holiday, I felt anything but relaxed.
Clearly the staff had been briefed to speak to me which would have been nice had I not felt like everybody was looking at me and listening to the conversation, I just burst into tears and wants to be left alone.
Yes this time I was told about safety and emergency procedures but to be honest I wasn't listening, I was far too upset.
I know the flight attendants were trying to help but the damage was already done.
Another 13.5 hours of seeing and hearing little or nothing, I decided to try to sleep in the hope I’d open my eyes and be home.
No such luck, closed my eyes and dozed on and off anxious, I might knock somebody or something, I just wanting to be anywhere but on this aircraft.
When the lights come back on in the cabin, about 3, 3 and a half hours from home I could see enough to look around the cabin, I could see no reason why my needs had not been considered and why I hadn't I simply been allocated appropriate seating with my Mum in a row of two where I didn't have to worry about knocking into or disturbing anybody else, I might even have been able to relax and possibly got some proper sleep.
I also could not see why I was not put in the bulkhead seats considering there were places for basinets but no babies, just a row of 3 men and a woman.
How can it be that this airline considers it is ok for babies to be on a bulkhead in close proximity to emergency exits and yet I would not? Makes no sense to me at all. A baby in arms would certainly be a hazard in the event of an emergency exit, would it not? I also scanned around when my mum escorted me to the toilet that the rows of two on either side of the plane did not have anybody with special needs, people who could have easily been more comfortable in the seats I was allocated, seems its true, Singapore Airlines does not give prior consideration to those like myself with very specific needs.
On scanning the cabin further I couldn’t help but notice the detail this airline go to symbolise Christmas, lots of decorations around the cabin, more concern for look than that of passengers with specific needs! Nice!
I cannot make head nor tail of this organisation, I simply asked for ‘Reasonable Adjustments” not because I’m difficult but because I want to feel comfortable just like everybody else.
Sitting in a front row means a staff member can stand in front of me so I can at least try to lipread, be independent rather than staff having to reach over to touch me to get my attention then repeat themselves over and over, making a spectacle of me in the process. I don't mind being touched but there are people who absolutely would be insulted, this is something else the needs to be considered.
I do not know what the answer is to travelling on a plane if, like me. you inform your travel agent and the airline of your needs and this sort of thing happens, what else is there besides do not fly at all!
The staff on my flight were very good, it shows just what they can do, sadly for me it was too little too late.
Thank you to both Elaine and Michelle for all your help on SQ306, you certainly tried.
To finish up, Singapore Airlines have demonstrated me just how thoughtless and incompetent they have been when it comes to travelling as a deafblind person and I’m sure will be happy to learn I won’t ever fly with them again. Expensive tickets to be treated badly.