The case of the missing wheelchair

Yesterday, I went to leave my mother-in-law at the airport as she was going to visit her son in Australia. My mother-in-law is 72 and has not been keeping well. As such, we decided that she should travel by business class on Singapore Airlines (even though appox 25% more expensive) than Thai because we were told that they are the best in the business as far as service is concerned.

My wife had called to find out how a wheel chair can be arranged for my mother-in-law and was told that the security at Gate no. 3 will help organize the same. Also, that plenty of Singapore Airlines (SA) staff members could be spotted at the gate and any one of them would be willing to assist. Since one has heard good things about Singapore Airlines we had no reason to doubt their word. Also, as a precaution we also took their check-in counter telephone number at the airport.

Now this is what happened when we reached the airport. I got out of the car to request the security for a wheel chair or find a SA staff member. Now at the gate, the security people are the cops and they have no responsibility to go call Singapore Airlines people. Also, at each gate there was just one security guard and even if he wanted to help he could not as he could not leave the gate unmanned. I could not spot any SA staff members. Now I was in a panic. I asked a gentlemen going inside if he could ask somebody at Singapore Airlines to send a wheelchair. Then I approached the Security Staff boss to find out what I could do. He pointed me to a place where he said most of the airlines have their offices and suggested I try my luck there. In the meantime, I went back to our vehicle to inform my wife of the situation and my course of action. She told me that she had been trying to call SA check-in number but nobody is picking the phone. Also, to make matters worse, Delhi Police was asking us to remove our vehicle as we had been parked therre for a long time. We had to explain to 10 different security people that we were waiting for a wheelchair.

I then went to find SA office where the security boss had pointed out. I was in luck. I was told that the SA office was there but when I reached there, there was a sign saying office is closed and that everybody had gone to facilitate the boarding of the flight. Now I was in panic. In any case, I rang the bell a number of times and out came a SA employee. I told him what the problem was and he was kind enough to come with me and arrange for a wheelchair. I asked this gentlemen that I wanted to meet the person incharge who it seemed was not willing to even meet me. His name I was told is Kaushal.

The above realy had my wife worried because if this was how SA treated its business class passengers on a wheelchair, how would they be treating passengers in economy class with no wheelchair. Anyway, my wife heaved a sigh of relief after she spoke to her mother in the morning at Singapore.

Taking the situation at Delhi Airport, I think SA should give wheelchair passengers of all classification a telephone that they can call upon arrival so that SA can send the wheelchair. Of course, I think a business class passenger should receive a call from Singapore Airlines to find out the expected arrival time of the passenger at the airport so that a wheelchair can be made available for him.

Do you think our family would be interested in paying extra 25% to travel by Singapore Airlines? I doubt very much unless they respond to our complaint letter (which I intend to write to them shortly) in a positive manner. They may have lost a family of customers. I am sure Sa knows that losing a customer in the current business environment is like committing harakari.

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Dear Mr Narula,

Thank you for the feedback in your blog entry.

We are sorry for your unpleasant experience. We have looked into the matter, and we will be getting in touch with you directly.

Yours Truly,

C W Foo
General Manager (India)
Singapore Airlines



Let me first talk about something positive about Singapore Airlines. I have received a response from Mr. CW Foo to my posting. What this shows that Singapore Airlines is monitoring the internet to get feedback about its services. I think this is a very positive sign. It also supports to some extent what I have heard about the service of Singapore Airlines.

However, I am going to disappoint Mr. Foo by telling him what happened when my mother-in-law reached Melbourne. She was brought in a wheelchair outside where my brother-in-law received her. He left with the luggage to get the car and when he came back he found my mother-in-law unattended. The attendant had left her alone.

How can you leave a person on the wheelchair alone?

When you pay 25% extra for a ticket, I think you deserve to be treated better. I think really this should be not about money because in no circumstances a person in the wheelchair should be left unattended especially an old lady who is over 70 years old and not in the best of health.

Avinash Narula



Let me give you guys an update on the wheelchair fiasco with Sinagpore Airlines.

about aweek back, I received a call from my travel agent that Singapore Airlines was asking for my telephone number. He wanted to know what was the problem but I didn’t wantto repeat the details to him.

I think it Friday, the 17th of October when I recived a call from the Delhi Station Manager Nicholus Leong. The first thing he asked me was fotr the number I had called to contact Singapore Airlines. One thing led to another and I felt that he was suggesting that they didn’t believe what I had complained about. Anyway, let me give you his answers to my questions:

Ques: Why did it take over two weeks for them to investigate?

Answer: Slience

Question: Why didn’t Kaushal come refuse to meet me?

Answer: He was not aware that I wanted to meet him.

Question: Did you ask the person who helped me whether I wanted to meet Kaushal or not?

Answer: Yes. He confirmed that you wanted to meet Kaushal but he didn’t think it was important so he didn’t convey to Kaushal? Do you think I should believe this.

The excuse that was given to me for the failure was that the travel agent made a mistake. He didn’t inform us the correct number to call.

Their service recovery didn’t go well with me. When I asked him that I want him to make sure this does not happen to my ma-in-law on her way back, he said that I should call the number that he had given me. I don’t think he was interested in real service recovery. He thought that I was more interested in money so he offered me a $150 gift voucher. I didn’t say anything. I think I should receive the gift voucher in mail and Nicholas would think that he had done a great service recovery job.

Maybe some of you guys out there could suggest what Singapore Airlines should have done for an effective service recovery? If you have any ideas, do let me know.

Avinash narula


Hi guys!

Let me give you an update on my complaint to Singapore Airlines when the wheel chair went missing. The gift voucher for $150 was finally delivered to my mother-in-law in Australia. I hope she does not have any problems encashing the same on her flight back to India.

Even though, I was not happy with the way the service recovery was done, I must appreciate the fact that they are concerned about their customers. They are at least monitoring the net to find out dissatisfied customers and then voluntarily making the effort to resolve the same. I think they have realised that for every customer who complains there are at least 23 others with similar problem who do not complain to the company. these customers either take their business somewhere else or login their complaint on the internet.

I hope you guys are aware that dissatisfied customers are using the net in a number of ways to take revenge with the defaulting companies. If you need to know more, just read my books, details of which are available on my website


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