61 stranded at Airport without explanation
What should have been a 2-hour flight to Phuket turned out to one that took more than 7 hours, including a 5-hour delay, for 61 passengers. -ST
WHAT should have been a routine two-hour flight to Phuket turned out to one that took more than seven hours, including a five-hour delay, for some 61 passengers on Saturday.
They were among 151 passengers who had turned up at Changi Airport's Budget Terminal to catch budget airline Tiger Airways flight TR152 to the Thai destination at 8.15am.
But when it was time to board the plane, only the first 90 passengers were allowed to do so.
One affected passenger, Ms Leonora Lok, 30, told The Sunday Times that no satisfactory explanation was given.
'All they did was to announce over the PA system that there was a flight restriction. Even the ground staff we spoke to could not elaborate,' she said.
An employee of Swissport which handles ground operations for Tiger Airways, told The Sunday Times that she and her colleagues were not informed of the reason why only 90 passengers could board the plane.
She added: 'We called Tiger Airways but no one answered. In the end, no Tiger Airways staff came down to explain to the passengers.'
Ms Lok, who had paid about $700 for two tickets for herself and a friend, said the 61 passengers were given the option to take a 1.30pm Thai AirAsia flight to Phuket.
She estimated that about 70 per cent of them accepted this offer though she and her friend declined to do so, and were seeking refunds.
Throughout the five-hour wait, she noted that tempers were running high, voices were raised and passengers crowded around the ground staff to demand answers.
'I'm more upset about the service than anything else. They should have given us a better explanation, and a faster one too,' she said.
A Tiger Airways spokesman later told The Sunday Times that one of the six Exit signs in the plane's cabin was not working.
'Due to safety precautions, we can board only half of the maximum capacity of 180 passengers. Our No. 1 priority was to make sure our passengers got onto the next plane as soon as they could,' she said.
When The Sunday Times called the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, none of the five people we spoke to said that they had heard of such a ruling.
Tiger Airways, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, started operations in September 2004. Its 70 planes fly to 31 destinations in eight countries in the Asia-Pacific.
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