In The Mind Of An SQ Girl
*This is part 3 of a 5-part series of my journey as an SQ girl.
As the state carrier of a country known for its efficiency and reliability, SQ has to meet high expectations of passengers who pay a premium price to fly with Singapore Airlines.
So when I joined SQ as a cabin crew, I knew I had big shoes to fill. My seniors had set the precedence of delivering top-notch service, and with rigorous training, the same value of hospitality was ingrained in me.
We might not boast of the most luxurious seats or the best entertainment systems, but SQ prides itself on offering service from the heart.
In pre-flight briefings, we are reminded to be gracious hosts and treat the cabin like our home, and our passengers like our guests.
“Wouldn’t you ensure that your home is clean before inviting guests over?”, I was told. “Wouldn’t you offer them a drink to make them feel at home?”
First impressions matter
Even if boarding time was too early for most people to function in the morning, I greeted passengers with a bright smile when they entered the aircraft.
Yet, when my chirpy greetings mostly went unacknowledged, I was unbothered because I understood my passengers might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.
I was still pleased to guide anyone to their seat or stow their luggage or even hang their jacket in the closet.
After all, we do not simply stand in the cabin to offer lip service and look pretty. Providing good service is part of our job.
Never disappoint the passengers
To be part of the SQ cabin crew, one needs to have a high level of situation awareness.
For instance, we cannot adjust the cabin temperature to suit your preference but we can offer you an extra blanket if you feel cold. Similarly, during the meal service, we can keep your meal heated in the warming cabinet while you feed your child first.
If you are English-illiterate, we can help fill in your arrival card. If you do not know how to use the entertainment handset, we can assist you with selecting a movie. If you are a mother travelling with a young child, we can mind your child while you use the lavatory.
The bottom line is: We strive to meet every passenger’s demand, no matter how challenging or ridiculous it might be.
Even if we can’t fulfil your request, cabin crew will always make an effort to offer an alternative solution.
Ensuring fast and prompt service is important
In my haste to provide prompt service, I’ve thrown caution to the wind more than once.
While patrolling dark cabins, I’ve tripped over passengers’ bags and feet. I’ve also spilled juice on my kebaya while rushing to serve multiple drink orders.
Fortunately, I’ve never sustained serious injuries, save for minor cuts and scalds.
Once, a fellow stewardess I knew developed a urinary tract infection as she prioritised her duties over answering nature’s call.
When she eventually used the toilet, there was blood in her urine. Yet, in spite of her discomfort, she continued to work as she felt obligated to ‘run the show’.
Going the extra mile
Being the face of the airline, our every word and action is scrutinised. On top of providing service with a smile, we also have to make sure our service is genuine.
Once, my colleague offered her clothes to an unwell passenger who puked all over herself. She was concerned that travelling in soiled clothes for the rest of the plane ride would be a torture for the passenger.
Similarly, I have put in the effort to ensure passengers have the best flight experience possible.
One time, I scraped my arm while attempting to retrieve a passenger’s handphone from underneath his seat. Another time, I sacrificed my crew meal to allow a passenger to have his preferred menu item. I’ve also strained my back while aiding an elderly lady stow her luggage.
On our own initiative, we go the extra mile for our passengers.
The SQ work culture stresses the importance of taking ownership of our mistakes. This guiding principle allows us to provide a swift service recovery, and turn a negative situation into a positive one.
For example, I once reset a passenger’s faulty entertainment system and forgot to do a follow-up. As Murphy’s law would have it, the problem remained unsolved, and my passenger had no access to the system for an hour.
Besides offering her a sincere apology, I served her a cup of Milo and offered her a selection of magazines. Before the meal service commenced, I took her order to ensure she could have her food as soon as possible.
At the end of the flight, the smile she gave me made it all worthwhile.
Paying out of our own pockets
But it doesn’t always pay to be kind. There were times where I literally paid to be kind.
As we do not provide handphone charging cables onboard, the cables lent to passengers on request usually belong to one of the cabin crew.
Using a cabin crew’s wire might seem like a small, inconsequential favour, but we risk having to pay out of our own pocket if it gets damaged or goes missing.
On the same note, please have the decency to return the Swarovski pen you’ve taken from a stewardess.
Speaking for myself and behalf of all my colleagues who have lost a valuable item, some of our personal items might have sentimental value.
Providing Top Service
Although our acts of kindness often go unnoticed, it doesn’t deter us from being kind. We know how good customer service delights our passengers and appeases them when they are upset.
What sets Singapore Airlines apart from other airlines is our human touch and genuine care for our passengers. At the end of the day, it is our service which allows us to remain at the top of the game.
Cover image: Source