Answer by Randall Reade:

Many years ago I planned my first trip to the Far East.  There was a conference in Taiwan I wanted to attend, and I figured I could make business contacts there, in Singapore and HongKong while I was at it.  I booked a circle trip on Singapore Airlines and the US domestic airline was United.

About three weeks before the trip I realized two things:  The conference was for the following week and I had booked the wrong days, and I lost the tickets that were mailed to me.  Yes, I had actually looked at the wrong date on the calendar, but I am often quite stupid that way.  I've always been careful with tickets (this was before e-tix were common) and can't believe I would lose them.

As soon as I realized my mistake, I went on down to the United ticket office that they had downtown and tried to rebook.  The agent was totally flabbergasted, had me spending a night in Tokyo, awful flights late at night or early morning, and about $1500 in extra charges, change fees, etc. 

I panicked and cancelled all that, and ran back to my office to call Singapore Airlines.  By now I was a total wreck, and the agent on the phone told me several times to please just calm down and go directly to their own office downtown.

It was a small office on the second floor, and the woman was watching tv.  I explained the whole problem to her, and she simply wasn't interested in my long story.  "Sir, please just tell what days you want to fly and where."  So I told her.  Tap, tap, tap at her computer.  She printed out tickets and handed them to me, saying, "I apologize, as I do have to charge you $50 for the lost ticket fee, but here are you tickets.  You are good to go."  "What??? No change fees?  I got exactly the flights I wanted?  Nothing?"  "please have a nice trip, sir."

I was totally flummoxed.  NOW I realize of course any airline could do this, but they won't.  But the story continues.

On the flight over to Taiwan, I had the BEST airplane food ever — better than most Thai restaurants, in fact.  When they asked what would I like to drink, coffee or tea, I said tea.  "Chinese or English?"  "What??? Since when does an airline offer TWO types of tea?"  I tried both, of course, and each were brewed properly.

I had an individual entertainment systems.  At the time, only first class passengers got that on other airlines.  My legroom was close to what you get in business class elsewhere.  Tourist class in Singapore Airplanes is almost as good as higher classes in other.

But wait — there is more!  As we approached Taipei airport, there was an announcement.  They asked if I, Randall Reade, could please check in with the customer service counter before I picked up my bags.  I had no idea what was up, but I naturally forgot to do that.  A long flight will do that to me!  After I cleared customs, I was waiting for my bags.  Two lovely women came up and asked me if I was Mr. Reade.  How they knew, I don't know.  "Please come with us." 

I was taken to their Customer Service desk.  The woman in charge bowed and apologized profusely.  My luggage did not make the LA connection and they do not have it.  It is on the next flight over, though, and they will deliver it to my hotel as quickly as possible.

Since I was planning on napping the whole day, it was not a problem.  They gave me a whole kit for shaving and personal needs, a cotton robe, a wonderful ball point pen with their logo on it, and about $100 worth of cash just in case I needed anything.  She asked me if I needed a new shirt for a meeting, and I said it was not necessary, but she kept asking if there was anything at all that needed. 

I took a cab to the hotel.  I took my time to check in, and I lied down for an hour or so.  Then I hear a knock on the door and wonder what the heck that could be.  There was my luggage!  The Singapore delivery man was profusely apologetic, but I tried to explain this was just totally wonderful.  In short, there really was no delay, and they saved the trouble of shlepping my luggage through the airport and the taxi.

The airlines didn't just correct a problem, they actually anticipated it and couldn't have been nicer.  They offered solutions before I even knew what the problem was.  Name another airline that treats you like a person, let alone a valuable customer.  

Their flights are not cheap, but if you plan a layover in Singapore, you get much better deals.  Trust me, they are worth it.

Why is Singapore Airlines so successful?


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