Hello Singapore Airlines,
I’m embarrassed to say that it’s taken me three months to write this letter. I told myself I would do it right after I disembarked Flight SQ860. Funny enough, exactly three months later, I’m sitting in the Singapore Airlines lounge at SFO writing this. Better late than never!
I would like the world to know about MR. FOO WEN HUEE, Chief Steward, who went waaaaaay above and beyond to help me with a small accident that took place in flight. (The word “beyond” is an understatement.) Mr. Foo was so determined to help me, he spent what felt like more than half the flight time trying to resolve the issue – and even broke into a sweat!
So what happened? Something very stupid, but it demonstrated the extremely high level of service that Singapore Airlines is famous for.
On June 25, 2017, as Flight SQ860 has reached maximum altitude, I decided to switch SIM cards in my mobile phone as I normally do when I travel. Seated at the window on the upper deck of the A380, I had extra “counter” space thanks to the cover of the side storage compartments.
As I was fiddling with my phone, pin, and sim card, my clumsy self somehow lost grip of the tiny nano SIM card. And of all the places it could’ve fell onto, it decided to dive down the tiny gap between the storage compartment and the side of the business-class seat (where the armrest is).
I looked down and could see the card resting peacefully on the carpet below. The only way to get it out was to patiently slide it forward beyond the armrest.
My first thought was to use the inflight magazine or safety procedure card. Both were too short. I tried using my charging cable and my ear phones. There was enough reach, but neither were rigid enough to maneuver.
I asked a stewardess if there was anything long and thin I could use. She was sincerely concerned and left to seek assistance from the rest of her team.
That’s when Mr Foo introduced himself to assess the situation. After scouring the plane, he could not find any sort of retrieval tool.
But that only motivated him further. He disappeared and came back with a creative McGuyer-style hack: two ice prongs straightened and taped together. I felt guilty that two prongs had to be sacrificed, but Mr. foo insisted on not only on his ingenuity, but that he would put his DIY tool in action himself.
That was the start of what was many, many minutes of chief steward turned part treasure hunter, part fisherman, 100% awesome. Not once. Not twice. But multiple sessions. And in his full uniform, suit jacket and all. I pleaded with him to let me try. After all, it was my own fault and I had time to kill. Mr. Foo would take a break
Granted, business class was practically empty, so the crew wasn’t at full capacity, but Mr. Foo gave me the impression that he would’ve been just as dedicated even if the flight was completely booked up. Just look at the attached photo.
It wasn’t a simple rescue mission because I there’s a recessed groove at the bottom of the storage compartment. As I dragged the card to the right, it ended up tucked inside that groove. To make matters worse, I may have pushed it under the carpeting (the carpeting isn’t secured to the floor).
Why did this SIM card matter much? It could be easily replaced by the telco, right? The thing was, this was my Singapore prepaid card. I have since left Singapore and use the card for one time pin (OTP) via SMS from my banks, government agencies, etc. To replace the card I would need to go back to Singapore in person, and my next trip isn’t until October.
By now, we were about to prepare for landing, and I’ve given up. Mr. Foo, however, had one more trick up his sleeves: he contacted the ground staff to come onto the plane immediately after reached the gate. If this isn’t service, I don’t know what is. As I was waiting for my baggage, Mr. Foo sent me photos via WhatsApp of the engineers who literally dismantled parts of the seat (see attached photos) — all this for a measly SIM card. To the crew and staff, it wasn’t the object at hand but the objective.
I seriously don’t know how else to thank Mr. Foo, the flight crew, and the ground staff. I know my story is a trivial one and is probably dwarfed by many positive experiences of other grateful, satisfied customers. Please let everyone know how appreciative I am of them. And please reward Mr. Foo for his unnecessarily — almost ridiculously — high level of professionalism, service, and dedication.
It was the second and last leg of my LHR to HKG journey for business. Despite a shorter, more convenient direct flight on a competitor airline, I specifically booked Singapore Airlines even with the stopover in Singapore in both directions.
Is this brand loyalty? Sure. And yes, there are many superficial reasons for my decision: better seats, better food and beverages, better inflight entertainment, better ground and inflight service (especially when it comes to me traveling with my now 16-month-old daughter), better lounges, KrisFlyer miles, and more. To top it off, despite being an industry leader, the ticket on Singaporea Airlines was cheaper than the competitors!
Even without Mr. Foo’s commitment, I would still choose Singapore Airlines in heartbeat. I’ve flown Singapore Airlines for many years, even before I was old enough to join KrisFlyer. To Mr. Foo and all the other employees, it was just another day on their jobs. To me, it was a lifelong memory that reaffirms my loyalty to this airline.
Edit: The SIM card was never found. Nevertheless this was about Mr. Foo and all the hardworking employees that go out of their way every day to make our travels safe, smooth, and memorable.