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SINGAPORE: A New Zealand couple who had to sit next to a noisy and smelly bulldog during a 13-hour Singapore Airlines flight from Paris to Singapore earlier this year have been offered compensation by the company for what they endured.

Gill and Warren Press said in early September that they had paid for premium economy seats on the flight, where they sat beside a passenger with an emotional support dog that disrupted their journey.

Ms Press said that she “heard this noise – a heavy snorting” when they boarded, and asked a crew member if they could have different seats.

However, when they were told that the only seats available were at the back rows in economy class, the couple retained their original seats but transferred later on in the flight.

Midway into their journey, the dog began to pass gas and also entered Mr Press’ legroom, getting under his feet. Since Mr Press was only wearing shorts on the flight, he also got the dog’s drool on his leg.

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“Halfway through in the dark, the smell got to me,” Ms Press is quoted as saying.

The dog’s owner was unable to keep the dog in the aisle as it needed to be free for the crew to push their trays through.

The animal was “snorting – he was breathing heavily and the back of the dog’s legs was out into the aisle so the flight attendant had to ask him, the owner, to move it forward so that he could get the trolley through,” Ms Press added.

After the flight, the couple complained to Singapore Airlines and requested a refund.

At first, the carrier offered a NZ$125 (S$100) gift voucher from the KrisShop website and then added in two NZ$200 (S$162) travel vouchers.

Ms Press said, however, that this was unacceptable because she and her husband “didn’t receive the experience we paid for”.

She shared her experience with the media, and it was published in a number of New Zealand and international sites.

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Now, Singapore Airlines is offering, “as a gesture of goodwill”, a reimbursement worth NZ$982.50 (S$795) each for the difference in seats from premium economy to economy, for a total of NZ$1,965 (S$1590) in addition to the vouchers they were already given.

Ms Press has said that the money would be donated to Blind Low Vision NZ, a group that trains guide dogs.

“It wasn’t about the money in the end. The fight was more about principles and normalising things that really aren’t normal and acceptable,” she told New Zealand news site Stuff.

“Singapore Airlines endeavours to notify customers who may be seated next to an assistance dog prior to boarding the flight. We sincerely apologise that this did not occur in this case, and will work with our airport teams to ensure that this lapse does not occur in future,” SIA had previously said.

The carrier no longer lets “emotional support dogs” fly with their owners, but still honours prior bookings for customers and their dogs who handed in proper documentation.

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/TISG

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