Once Was A Great Way To Fly

5 Jun 2012 Update: SQ’s Customer Service emailed to apologize and say that they have “alerted our engineers of the defective tray table and also reminded our engineering colleagues to step up their pre-flight checks to ensure that our cabin facilities and equipment are in working order prior to flight departure”, and that the Cabin Crew Manager will be monitoring the particular crew member’s performance closely. They are also giving us S$150 worth of inflight gift vouchers as a token.

When we were on the SQ flight to Shanghai last Friday, I read an article in that day’s BT about the airline’s unprecedented consecutive quarter losses. In it, CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong said there was no basis to write off the airline.

That may be true, because to write off the airline as a failure, a bankrupt enterprise would be wrong. SQ would still function as an airline, just not the best, just not the most innovative, just not the one with the inflight service that other airlines talk about.

Last night, on our flight home, my economy class meal was about as good as an economy rice dinner, only smaller. And the much vaunted New Economy Class seats and Krisworld Inflight Entertainment System exhibited a fair bit of wear and tear.

One of our tray tables was broken, and because it was a full flight, we weren’t able to get to another seat with a working one. But what made Naomi’s and my jaw drop was the air-stewardess who noted the tray table defect, and still tried to serve dinner, assuming that Naomi would place her tray on her lap.

This was one situation where a cable tie would have come in handy.

Someone had difficulty returning the control to the cradle
The broken tray table

China Rising

So Changi Airport has slipped a couple of notches. So what? We got Changi Airport Millionaire Game! You got or not? But seriously though, Shanghai Airport in our books is doing pretty well because when we got to immigration, an officer lifted a barricade for us and let us through without having to queue. Priority for families with young children. Win.

It’s been less than ten years since I made my first trips to China, and those first trips were full of me making fun of how backward China was, and how, once when I flew Air China overnight to Beijing without having dinner first, I starved all the way until I got to the hotel in Beijing because I turned down the plain porridge they served in-flight thinking there was going to be breakfast and refreshments before landing.

There was also the illogical security checks at Guangzhou Airport in 2004, where one could take out any illegal items from one’s check-in luggage before putting them into the x-ray machine, and then placing the same illegal items back into one’s luggage afterwards to be checked in.

It’s different these days, and the only thing they need to get up to speed with is sending people who smoke in the airport taxi queue to jail for life. Naomi counted 8 smokers who didn’t give a shit about there being children around, including one who chain-smoked (3 cigarettes) until he got to his taxi.

If they don’t die from smoking first, these folks here will be doing everything we do better than us. We had better buck up, or at least start doing something they haven’t done.

When You Wake Up From The Singapore Dream

A month ago I was asked by this client if I wanted to be involved with a campaign for a retirement financial product. I was reluctant, until they told me of the story of Mr Leong, a former taxi driver and uni graduate.

Mr Leong’s former assumptions of life, health, family and retirement haven’t panned out. He’s widowed, in remission from a blood cancer that’s stopped him from driving a cab (his sole income), his son has flown the coop, and he’s relying on the charity of other family members to get by.

But Mr Leong’s isn’t a hard luck story – it’s turning out to be the average Singaporean’s story. He’s just telling it for the rest of us.

Your First Real Automobile

If you haven’t already read my friends’ accounts of their firsts, here are the links:

Melody Chen tells of her first bungy jump. It would already have been memorable before even considering the fact she is terribly acrophobic, and that her first jump was filmed for a reality tv show, later broadcast to homes across the region. Actually, it was her blood curdling screams that most people remember Mel’s first jump for.

Randall Tan’s first pair of football boots – the magical pair that kicks the ball further, curls it into the imaginary net behind the keeper guarding the goal made from a pair of slippers, which were worn before we got our boots. Every kid in the 80s knows how it was like playing soccer in our slippers – if you could kiap your slippers while taking a free kick, you could do anything.

What firsts jog your memory? Have a think and check back here, maybe after checking out the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI – released this weekend, and hopefully becoming several people’s memorable first cars.

You Never Forget Your First

The thing about being first time parents that always tugs at the heartstrings is the number of firsts you experience in a short span of time. I remember vividly the first time I mistook another person’s baby for ours, tapping at the nursery window in the hospital, promising to be the best dad ever, vowing to be a better person for five whole minutes before the maternity ward staff nurse wheeled out another bassinet with our actual son who was crying his lungs out because he was hungry.

I must have looked quite daft as I wheeled him to my wife’s hospital room, all my steely eyed, firm jawed conviction evaporated, and all I could think of was the hint of a smirk on the staff nurse’s smile.

It has come in quick succession, our son’s first solid meal, the first word (“Dog”), first unaided steps, first Halloween, first Christmas, first New Year’s, first birthday, first flight, first unaided kick-scooter ride, first ski lesson (followed by nine mountain ski descents), first first nursery class, first school bus ride, the first time he said a rude word because he heard one of the songs Papa wrote for work (Kow Peh Kow Bu).

It’s all a blur, but somehow, each one’s as memorable as the other. There’s been the anticipation, excitement, joy and pride, over and over again in the last three years and a bit, and we’re looking forward to the first skateboard ride, even though that’s a little way away while we look for a board that’s small enough for him.