Why Singapore Airlines is the best airline in the world: Service!

Singapore Airline (SQ) is my personal favorite and I have praised them on this blog in many reviews. But the story of how Singapore Airlines handled the delay of one of their flights is exemplary of the outstanding service they provide. Marvin Tomandao had taken his niece from Manila to Singapore to celebrate her birthday last month and their return flight was delayed because a plane had overshot the runway in Manila, causing the airport to be closed temporarily and countless flights being delayed. Read how Singapore Airlines handled this delay and you’ll understand why passengers rated them the World’s Best Airline:

 Marvin told his story on Facebook after his return to Manila and the Philippines being a social-media crazy country, his pot collected more than 4,000 shares and close to 400 comments. Here is how he told the story of what happened:

“1. Singapore Airlines Manager Haziq Sulaiman would go to the mic every so often, to deliver clear updates about our flight and the situation in Manila. He would apologize at the start of every announcement, as if the NAIA runway overshoot was his fault.
2. Right after the first announcement of delay was made, SQ rolled out unlimited sandwiches, muffins and drinks.
3. A little later, we were all instructed to line up for a one-by-one instruction about our accommodation for the night.

Four Points Hotel Singapore

4. We were all given five-star hotel rooms, buffet dinner and limo cab service to and from the hotel.
5. Three SQ Managers were at the hotel lobby, early in the morning, to facilitate our swift checkout and made sure we get cabs to the airport.
6. When we arrived back at the airport, they provided special lanes for the cancelled Manila flights, making sure we checked in the fastest.
7. Back at the boarding gate, again, unlimited sandwiches, muffins and drinks.
8. An announcement about another hour and a half delay was made. Right after the announcement, we were given a $15SG voucher each for breakfast at specifically appointed restaurants.
9. Before flying, all passengers were given a flight delay survey, to help the airline assess how they handled the situation.
10. Upon clearance to fly, a number number of SQ Managers lined up on our way to the plane to apologize for the last time and wish us all a pleasant flight.”

While I have never experienced this kind of extreme delay with Singapore Airlines, this level of service is no coincidence or a single, hero-employee. This is how Singapore Airlines does business every day:

  • Employees are proud to work for Singapore Airlines and are representing them well. While many deride the term “Singapore Girls” as sexist, flight attendants consider themselves as proud ambassadors of the airline and the country and so do ground staff.
  • Staff genuinely wants passengers to have a great experience and they’ll go to great length to ensure that. They take accountability for the passengers experience, even when it is impacted by events outside their control, like this runway accident thousands of miles away!
  • Singapore Airlines understands that loyalty is earned over the long term and that a single bad experience can destroy years of hard earned loyalty. Instead of throwing some reward miles at you, they ensure that you have a great experience most of the time and never a terrible one!
  • Service is great, regardless of what cabin class you have booked. Marvin traveled in Economy Class without elite status – and still received service that many airlines can’t even provide to their premium cabin, elite travelers!

Let me contrast this briefly with one of my delay experiences with United Airlines. United canceled my connecting flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to San Francisco due to weather (when it was likely just a cost saving consolidation of flights). They provided no information for hours, then handed out flyers that they would not provide any food, accommodation, care or compensation due to weather and rebooked passengers in hour-long lines to flights out of Tokyo’s Narita airport the next day leaving passengers to figure out how to get from Haneda to Narita (a long and expensive trip) and spend the night. There were an elderly woman and older couple in our group who didn’t even realize that they had to switch airports and another frequent traveler and myself assisted them to get to Narita and on their homebound flight!
I was traveling in Business Class and am a Million Miler traveler, earned from lifelong flights with United, yet was treated a lot worse than an Economy Class traveler on Singapore Airlines.

And that’s why I love Singapore Airlines and avoid United Airlines – and why I recommend to carefully consider the quality of the airline you chose, not only price!
Thanks to Marvin Tomandao for sharing his story and photos on his Facebook Page, it’s a great story of how good travel can be if you choose the right airline.
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