Singapore Airlines Disassembles a Seat to Help Passenger Find Lost Item, Would Your Airline Do That?

Four years ago Singapore Airlines ran an ad campaign “The Lengths We Go To” where you can see a Singapore Airlines flight attendant traveling in search of the perfect tea to serve you inflight, attending a Bollywood film festival to select movies for inflight entertainment, and more to find ways to make you feel at home.

And the thing is even though flight attendants aren’t exactly doing it, you could imagine it, it’s almost a credible claim.

Attention to detail? Singapore Airlines built a model A380 out of manila envelopes and the seats even work. They send the signal that no detail is too small to care about to get the experience right.

It’s hard to imagine US airlines making these same claims.

Still there’s so much bad about air travel these days, and so many incidents to complain about, that it’s worth pointing out when airlines go the extra mile for passengers.

A passenger took to Facebook Monday to share that he dropped a SIM card in his business class seat on SQ860 Singapore to Hong Kong recently.

The SIM card dropped down into “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.”

He asked a flight attendant for something long and thin he could use to fish it out. A crew member instead came over to help.

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

He spent half the flight working on the SIM card. Not to worry, there were empty seats in the cabin for the passenger to use in the meanwhile.

They didn’t get the SIM before landing. So the cabin crew radioed gound staff who came onboard once the plane reached the gate. The passenger went to baggage claim, while Singapore staff texted photos of progress as engineers “literally dismantled parts of the seat” to get his SIM card.

I once left a camera behind on a Bali – Singapore flight. I didn’t realize until I made it to the train to change terminals. I returned to the gate and there were no staff there to help. So I went to the lounge and told them my story, the camera was recovered, I was updated in the lounge and told it would be waiting for me on the jetbridge of my connecting flight. And it was.

To be sure other airlines go to great lengths for customers, and I wouldn’t argue Singapore does it every time. But it struck me here that when an airline goes to real lengths for its customers that should be applauded at least as much as when they’re criticized for not focusing on their customers.

(HT: @ghimlay)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Almost this exact same thing happened to me on a United flight from Newark to LAX this May. I was dead asleep when my phone fell into that crack between the seat and arm rest while I was in the full flat / bed position. I couldn’t get my hand in the crack and still grab the phone. The flight attendant spent a good 25 on our approach and then 15 after we landed working to get the phone out. He didn’t have to take the whole seat apart but there were a lot pieces stripped away until he was able to get the phone out and without a scratch on it. It was excellent service and definitely different than the conventional wisdom about United. I was very grateful.

  2. Impressive. My phone fell between the gaps in the business-class seat on Delta’s 767 a year ago. The flight attendant took all the pads off the seat and retrieved it for me. More recently, I left my prescription sunglasses in the seatback storage. The Red Jacket supervisor at Chicago-Midway stopped ground staff from closing the boarding door and letting the plane depart until she could get down there and retrieve my glasses.

  3. On an American flight DFW-MAD a passenger dropped his hearing aid in the gap of the business class seat. The flight attendants disassembled the seat to retrieve the hearing aid.

  4. “It’s hard to imagine US airlines making these same claims.”

    Oh they’re definitely capable of making claims like those – they’d be complete nonsense but then that’s never stopped them claiming all kinds of things in the past 🙂

  5. The same thing happened on our QR BOS-DOH on the A350 in J. The stewart radioed ahead and as soon as they opened the boarding door, two mechanics came, took my wife’s seat apart and 5 mins later we had our phone back. Very impressive!!!

  6. On Lufthansa 747-8 from Bangalore to Frankfurt, wife’s headphone cord got tangled somewhere inside the lie flat seat. Crew knew how to disassemble the seat bed, and free up the cable without damage.


  7. Same thing happened to me a few years back on AA. HNL – DFW. Lost my phone in the seat and flight attendants were on it. Maintenance ended up retrieving it once we landed.

  8. Wife left art portfolio filled with her work and supplies while shopping at Singapore terminal when we arrived home we called SQ in Singapore, in less than 1/2 hour they called us back in NY – told us it is in lost and found and gave us a choice —send it to us in NY or hold it at airport until our next trip -this was 25 years ago- never forgot the great service

  9. Read so many good things about SQ, every bit of them is true as I deplaned in HKG for the final leg of my JFK-FRA-SIN-HKG in the famed Suite . I wanted to know more about the culture of these people as a country and company.

  10. In 2008 just before leaving on a trip to Beijing, My wife had emergency dental work resulting in a temporary crown on a front tooth. About 3 hours before landing I woke to hear the the words I hoped to never hear. “Bill I Lost My Tooth” Not only did the flight attendants bring flashlights in an effort help to look between the seats, when the plane landed a maintenance crew came on board and disassembled the seat. They continued for a good 20 minutes until the captain said they needed to board the next group of passengers. Although the temporary tooth was not found, I am forever grateful for the effort American Air Lines employees put forth…

  11. My husband dropped his eyeglasses into the crack on the AA angled business class seat MIA-LHR 18 months ago. The male FA saw we were struggling to retrieve the item and came to take a look in the middle of meal service. Right after he finished the meal service he returned with his cell phone for lighting, knelt down and started to reach the eyeglasses. it took him good 10 min to retrieve it. We were very grateful for that. I sent in the thank you chit after we return home to praise his service.

    So it is not US or international airlines, it is a matter of the INDIVIDUAL who cares. Though it probably happens more with international carrier than US carriers.

  12. I’m sure there are a lot of individuals at different airlines who care and go above and beyond.
    What has impressed me about SQ in-flight crews and made them my favorite airlines is that they consistently go beyond expectations. They will do all the little things you stopped expecting on US airlines a long time ago…

  13. On a United Airlines flight from Shanghai to LAX in 2013, I forgot about a newly-bought top-of-the-line Dunlop titanium badminton racket I have left in the overhead compartment when I disembarked. After retrieving my baggage at the conveyor belt I realized and contacted the airline immediately requesting their assistance. They reckoned it is probably taken away by the cleaning crew. No attempt was made to look for my racket. I was so upset at the cavalier attitude exhibited by the ground crew and the dishonesty of the cleaning crew.

  14. On a BA flight in CW, the person in front of me dropped his ring beside the seat. Cabin crew at least partially dis-assembled part of the seat to retrieve it.

  15. Dropped my AA Citi card in a business class seat and the flight attendant was more than willing to help me when she saw me attempt to get it. I decided to just leave it be. I was planning on downgrading the card and told her that it was fine, but she offered to help regardless.

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