- Singapore Airlines faced heavy criticism for its poor handling of a technical issue on a recent flight from Shanghai, leaving passengers on the aircraft for nearly eight hours.
- Passengers on the flight experienced discomfort and distress, including crying children and near-fainting, due to the lack of air conditioning.
- The airline eventually canceled the flight and provided hotel accommodation, but passengers faced long queues and limited ground staff assistance.
No airline is ever safe from criticism, as Singapore Airlines is beginning to find out after coming under fire for its poor handling of a technical issue on a recent flight departing from Shanghai. Due to a fault with the aircraft, passengers were locked in for nearly eight hours – certainly not the most fun for anyone.
Not yet ready for departure
The flight in question was SQ 833, a daily scheduled flight that brings passengers from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Singapore’s Changi International Airport using an Airbus A380. With a planned departure time of 16:50, the flight is usually expected to arrive in Singapore at around 22:20.
On September 6th, operating this flight was an 11-year-old superjumbo registered 9V-SKT, and everything seemed routine for passengers when the push-back occurred on time, and the aircraft taxied to the runway. However, due to an unspecified technical fault, the take-off run was aborted, and the aircraft returned to the gate. According to the passengers, the captain had announced that the maintenance crew would have to board the aircraft to diagnose the technical issue.
Photo: cartoonfullhd | Shutterstock
Passengers were also asked to be patient for approximately half an hour. No one seemed to mind this minor issue at first, but then the half an hour turned into an hour, and then two, with no end to this ‘short maintenance’ issue in sight.
Waiting in an Airbus sauna
The technical issue could not be resolved quickly, and the waiting continued. Passengers were served meals and refreshments, and ground staff boarded the aircraft to assist passengers. Passengers noted that the engine was turned off at least twice throughout the ordeal, turning the Airbus A380 into a sauna with so many people on board and no air conditioning.
Due to the uncomfortable situation, passengers said children were crying and others felt faint, with some even requiring oxygen masks. In a video shared by one passenger on Facebook, most passengers could be seen out of their seats onboard the aircraft, and many were also seen trying to fan themselves down with either the aircraft safety card or whatever paper they had to hand.
Perhaps what was most frightening was that, even at 00:35, the passengers were still stuck onboard the widebody aircraft, and the technical issue was not resolved. By this time, everyone had already been onboard for eight hours; some additional people had been boarded, but no one was allowed to disembark.
A delay turned into a cancelation
Given how long it had already been and with no proper timeline on when the technical issue would be fixed, Singapore Airlines eventually canceled SQ 833 for September 6th, albeit it was already the following day. Passengers were allowed to disembark sometime after 00:30, with the flag carrier arranging hotel accommodation and replacement flights.
Although passengers could finally leave the Airbus A380, everyone faced another problem at Shanghai Pudong, where hundreds were snaking in queues at the check-in counters, including young children and the elderly. Passengers also highlighted that very few ground staff were around to handle this mass of people, further aggravating the additional waiting.
Some passengers shared that it was after 03:00 on September 7th that they finally arrived at the hotel that Singapore Airlines had booked for them. Many passengers complained that they had to book an additional day of annual leave due to the hold-up.
An oversight by Singapore Airlines
For a well-renowned flag carrier with a long-standing positive reputation, the way this situation was handled does seem very unlike Singapore Airlines. Commenting on how things escalated in such a way, a spokesperson for the airline admitted:
“The aircraft returned to the bay, and engineers were brought on-site to rectify the issue. To facilitate a quicker departure, passengers were asked to stay onboard in the event the engineers could resolve the technical issues. We recognize that the customers could have been allowed to leave the aircraft earlier. Singapore Airlines apologizes to the affected customers for this, and we will review our procedures to avoid a recurrence.”
The Star Alliance member added that all affected passengers from the canceled SQ 833 were eventually rebooked on other flights on September 7th, and all have since departed Shanghai. Concerning the Airbus A380, the technical issues seem to have been fixed, as 9V-SKT recently operated the Singapore-Hong Kong and Singapore-London routes with no problems.
What do you think of this situation? Let us know in the comments below.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Singapore Changi Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Goh Choon Phong
Photo: Getty Images
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Shu Jun Shen
- Passenger Count :
- 30,476,531 (2020)
- Runways :
- 17L/35R – 4,000m (13,123ft) |16R/34L – 3,800m (12,467ft) |17R/35L – 3,400m (11,155ft) |16L/34R – 3,800m (12,467ft) |15/33 – 3,400m (11,155ft)
- Terminal 1 |Terminal 2