I was offloaded from my flight on the 9th of January. The flight was scheduled to depart at 0655hrs.
I am a staff of an airline and previously I was working in the airport as a flight operations officer. I am familiar with the airport operations and security regulations.
On the 9 of January 2015, I was supposed to travel with my parents from Singapore to Los Angeles. We were on staff standby travel. We checked in 3 luggages at 0455hrs. We boarded the gate hold room at 0630hrs. At approximately 0653hrs, two minutes to departure, I was called out from the aircraft by the airline representative. She informed me and my parents that we had to be offloaded from the flight as one of our check in bags did not pass security screening. We quickly took our cabin bags and disembarked the aircraft as requested.
We were then brought to the gate hold room to wait for the Airport Police. At 0710hrs, still no presence of security authority, we were called to proceed to the reconcilation room escorted by the airline personnel.
When we arrived at the reconcilation room, we had to wait another 15 minutes for AETOS and Airport Police to arrive at the scene.
Two AETOS officers then turned up with one of my checked in luggage. We were clueless as to what was wrong with the luggage because it was empty. My parents had not packed anything inside as they wanted to store their souveniers in it at our destination.
In the reconcilation room, there were AETOS officers, Airport Police officers and airline personnel. I was told to open the bag. Following the guidelines entering United States, since we had no TSA lock, we did not lock our check-in bags. When I opened the bag, everyone in the room saw it was empty.
The AETOS officer began to explain to me that they detected explosive substance on my bag. It wasn’t in my bag, it was surprisingly on my bag. They started questioning me my destination, my purpose of travel and so on. The AETOS officers then did a check on the bag which he eventually informed me it was tested negative for any explosive substance.
Firstly, there must have been a delay in the security measures taken. I understand there is an SOP to follow. But how can their SOP cause an inconvenience to the passengers? Put it this way, what if this had happened to a commercial passenger who paid over $2000 for a flight to the States?
Secondly, if my luggage had explosive substance on it, why weren’t the officers there wearing any personal protective gear? And why was my bag carried all the way to the reconcilation room like it had no hazardous substance on it? No precautions were taken, hence it would only mean that the problem with my bag shouldn’t be that big of a deal ENOUGH for me to miss my flight.
Thirdly, if I was a real terrorist or in a more pleasant manner, a dangerous passenger who managed to board the aircraft, I could have left an explosive inside the aircraft after I was being called out. Wouldn’t that be putting the lives of the passengers on board at risk? Wouldn’t that be jeapordizing the airline’s reputation? The fact that I went through pre boarding screening is not valid. Because since I used to work in the airport, I know that many of my passengers managed to get on board with liquid more than 100mls, with mini scissors and many more examples. Don’t tell me I’m wrong because on the 11 of January, I took the flight on Jetstar Asia to Denpasar with my fiancee. On our return flight, the airport security stopped my fiancee from boarding because his hand cream 150mls had to be discarded. It was then that I realized this hand cream passed pre boarding security in Singapore airport. Question is, how can a third world country airport security be more effiecient than one of the world’s best airport? So imagine this, had I brought an explosive of 150mls on board my flight on the 9 of January, and left it behind… What would have happened to the aircraft?
I called Airport Police Division when I got home, and the officer who answered my call told me APD only received a call from AETOS at 0620hrs. APD has a protocol to follow- To arrive at the scene in 10 minutes. Which in my case is 0630hrs. I was in the gate hold room at 0630hrs, I should’ve been denied from boarding the flight, that couldve saved me the embarrassment of being called out of the aircraft. But come to think of it, my parents and I waited in the gate hold room until 0710hrs before we made our way to the reconcilation room without being escorted by security personnel. So question is, where were the security measures at this time? Or was it just the airport security being lax like always?
Despite the fact that I missed my flight, my concern was how the airport security was questionable. Singapore Changi Airport, one of the world’s best airport. I know eventually, at the end of this long essay, there is nothing the airport security can do to compensate the fact that I missed my flight. But do I not deserve an apology for the inconvenience caused to me, my mom and my limping dad? This is such a horrible experience and I demand an explanation from the airport authority.
I yearn for the nation to know what happened, because as Singaporeans, this breach of security is unacceptable. I am curious to know how many our citizens would feel the same way I did. This is not an angry passenger ranting about her experience, this is an aviation and aerospace specialist that is concerned about the airport safety.
Please have this matter investigated because my parents and I, and my fellow Singaporeans need an explanation. We deserve an explanation.
Thank you for your time.