A routine flight from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Singapore last July turned into a perfect storm for the Singapore Airlines (SIA) cabin crew when one passenger fell and hurt her hip, another became seriously ill and major turbulence hit.
Led by inflight supervisor Sharon Tay, crew members sprung into action to handle the situation, going beyond the call of duty to check on the passengers who fell ill, the following day.
For putting the customer first, Ms Tay and about 160 other colleagues were recognised for a job well done at SIA's annual Transforming Customer Service gala dinner at W Singapore Sentosa Cove last night.
An SIA Girl for the last 28 years, it is in her DNA to think of customers first, said Ms Tay.
Recounting the 12-hour flight, she told The Straits Times yesterday: "About three hours into the flight, we found out we had a birthday passenger on board and managed to put together a birthday card and a little sweet item."
But from there on, it was one crisis after another.
An elderly passenger slipped and fell, dislocating her hip. A doctor on board gave her a pain killer but without an X-ray to assess her condition, the cabin crew could not do much more except clear a row of seats to try to make her as comfortable as possible.
Just when the passenger was settled and the cabin crew about to start breakfast service two hours before landing, the captain ordered everyone to buckle up due to expected major turbulence.
Ms Tay said: "In the end, we had just an hour and 20 minutes for the meal service which was hectic but everyone came together and we managed without a glitch."
But the day was not over.
After the plane landed at Changi Airport and was moving to the aircraft gate, another elderly passenger became seriously ill and had to be given oxygen. He was later taken to hospital.
Ms Tay said: "It was a tough flight but it's what we are trained to do and we do it because good service is key to SIA's culture."
She and her colleague, chief stewardess Emmaline Lee, accompanied the passenger who had hurt her hip to the airport clinic.
The next day, Ms Tay also visited Changi General Hospital to check on the other passenger who fell ill during the flight.
SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said the airline has taken an "all-round and long-term approach to constantly enhancing customer experience".
Apart from its customer service programme, SIA continues to invest heavily in products and services, he added.
Mr Ionides said: "Customer expectations are growing, and our investments in all these areas, together with the determination of our employees to create extraordinary moments for our customers, are intended to help us continue delivering the best travel experience possible."
Another award winner last night was SIA's customer services officer in Frankfurt, Germany, Mr Arthur Riedel, 44. He did not think twice and took the next flight out when asked to go to Warsaw, Poland, on his day off to help passengers stranded there after a flight diversion.
"Together with my two colleagues, we reached Warsaw, worked non-stop for over 30 hours and then took the next flight back to Frankfurt the next evening."