Singapore Airlines staff recognised for going the extra mile

Mr Muhammad Ali Faizal Bin Abdul Rahman (left) and Mrs Heather Nelson and are two recipients of this year's SIA CEO TCS Awards, meant to honour SIA employees for delivering outstanding service. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

SINGAPORE - When it was reported that a 14-year-old girl travelling alone had not boarded her connecting flight from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Singapore, Mrs Heather Nelson knew something was amiss.

Mrs Nelson, 64, a Singapore Airlines (SIA) senior customer services officer based in Christchurch, started searching for her immediately. She later found a lone girl at the foodcourt using her computer and confirmed it was the unaccompanied minor.

"It was really frightening that we couldn't find her. Someone should have been looking for her sooner," said Mrs Nelson.

The teen was travelling from Wellington, via Christchurch and Singapore, to Mumbai, in the incident last year.

After booking the teenager on the next flight out, which left the next day, Mrs Nelson still felt uncomfortable leaving her alone in a hotel.

With permission from the minor's homestay mother in Wellington, Mrs Nelson took the girl into her own home, even taking her to the supermarket to pick what she wanted for dinner.

Mrs Nelson is one of the 190 winners of this year's Singapore Airlines CEO Transforming Customer Service Awards, the highest service accolade that recognises SIA staff for extraordinary service.

Winners received their awards at a ceremony on Friday (May 20) at Shangri-La Hotel, with SIA chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong as guest of honour.

Another awardee this year is SIA chief steward Muhammad Ali Faizal Abdul Rahman, 47, who went to great lengths to care for Mr Thomas Lennon Sr, 90, who holds Australian and British passports.

Mr Lennon had problems breathing on a flight from Munich to Singapore in September last year and needed nearly three full bottles of extra oxygen.

With his permission, Mr Faizal massaged Mr Lennon's head, arms and feet. "To me, the human touch is important so you feel somebody is there for you," said Mr Faizal.

Upon arriving in Singapore, Mr Lennon was taken to Changi General Hospital with his two daughters.

Mr Faizal tagged along to provide support and helped Mr Lennon's daughters find a place to stay.

On hearing Mr Lennon died later the same month, Mr Faizal took the chance on his next flight to Brisbane to visit his grave. Mr Lennon's daughters were very appreciative.

Correction: An earlier version of the story stated that Mr Faizal flew to Melbourne to visit Mr Lennon's grave instead of Brisbane. This has been corrected.

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