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Ho Ching apologises for sparking backlash against woman who was not allowed to board Scoot flight

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"My apologies to Felicia E for the angst caused to her and her family by the unintended hurt caused by my post,” said Madam Ho in a Facebook post

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, apologised this evening (21 July) for sparking a firestorm of criticism against a Singaporean woman who was not allowed to board a Scoot flight alongside her family.

The woman, Ms Lin, told Shin Min Daily News earlier this month that her family’s holiday plans were thrown into disarray when they encountered an unexpected issue at the airport. The family of eight, who were heading to Macau from Changi Airport, arrived at the airport for their 1.50 pm flight on 12 June.

The group consisted of Ms Lin, her husband, their 18-month-old toddler, their six-year-old daughter, grandparents, an 85-year-old wheelchair-bound great-grandmother, and an aunt.

During the check-in process, the airport staff informed them that their six-year-old daughter’s passport had less than six months of validity and, as a result, she couldn’t board the flight.

Despite Ms Lin saying that the other five members could proceed with check-in while they resolved the passport issue, the staff apparently insisted that all passengers must check in together due to the booking being made in one itinerary.

Ms Lin attempted to seek help from Scoot’s personnel via Facebook Messenger while en route to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), and she was informed that the remaining five passengers could have boarded the flight. However, the airport staff at the counter remained unyielding, and the family could not make it back in time for the flight, as the boarding gate had already closed at noon.

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Consequently, the family had to purchase expensive Business Class tickets for a flight to Hong Kong the following day (June 13) and then take a ferry to Macau. The family had to stay in a hotel near the airport for the night, requiring them to book two rooms to accommodate the large group.

After the incident, Lin contacted Scoot on social media, seeking an explanation and compensation for the incurred expenses.

After the story broke, Mdm Ho shared an article covering the incident on her Facebook post, suggesting that the family should have been aware of the airline’s passport validity policy. She wrote:

“It is standard requirement for many jurisdictions that airlines are not allowed to board passengers with less than 6 months of validity for their passports. So it is up to ALL passengers to check and ensure the validity of the passports.”

Scoot, however, took responsibility for the issue days later. Confirming that it is not mandatory for groups flying together to be checked in together, a Scoot spokesman said:


“Scoot is sorry to know about Ms Lin and her family’s experience on June 12. We have since reached out to Ms Lin to offer further assistance and extend a resolution out of goodwill.

“Our staff also assisted Ms Lin and her family members to secure the booking of their return flight from Macau to Singapore on June 17, which would have been cancelled as per our conditions of carriage if Ms Lin did not contact our call centre within 48 hours of departure time of the flight that had been missed.”

It was, however, too late to undo the damage possibly caused by Mdm Ho’s post.

Revealing that Ms Lin approached her, Mdm Ho said in a Facebook post today: “My apologies to Felicia E for the angst caused to her and her family by the unintended hurt caused by my post.

“She explained that the purpose of her post was to highlight the wrong SOP by the Scoot ground staff who didn’t allow the rest of her family to board even as she was trying to sort out her daughter’s passport validity issue.”

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She added, “The correct SOP is to allow the rest of the group to board separately, which Scoot service manager had confirmed. I understand that the Scoot management has reached out to her and her family to help make amends. Also understand that the ground services are handled separately, and not direct part of Scoot staff.”

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Pointing out that the new staff employed in the post-pandemic period may not be up to speed, the former Temasek chief said: “So please don’t go scold Felicia E or her family, or the ground services staff, or Scoot. These things happen.”

She added, “We are fortunate that the worst that happened was a lot of runaround and angst, and there were no safety lapses, or other other more serious damage. My apologies again for any unintended FB backlash against Felicia and family.”

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