Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ricardo uses SQ business class toilet and gets a scolding from crew

Time and tide wait for no man. I might add a tummy ache and its consequences, too, especially for just retired Ricardo Rodrigues recently.

Ricardo was completely stunned when he was reprimanded by a senior cabin crew from Singapore Airlines for using the Business Class toilet
when he was not allowed to do so while on a flight back to Singapore.

His mitigating factors were: he had a stomach ache and needed to use the loo urgently, and the economy class toilets were completely occupied.

When he got home, he wrote to the airline: "I would like to bring up an encounter with one of your flight crew that happened to me on a flight from Narita to Singapore on Sat 4th December 2010.

"I was on board flight SQ 637 departing Narita for Singapore and was seated in economy class seat 33D. This being a A380 flight, my seat was in the cabin directly behind the Business class section with a galley between the two cabins.

"After take-off, the crew started to serve drinks to the passengers. I suddenly developed a stomach ache and had to use the toilets. I stood up and saw that the toilets behind me were being used and there were other passengers waiting in line for them. I was also blocked by the drinks cart which was between me and the toilets.

"At this point of time, I had no choice but to try and use the Business class toilet. I went forward and saw one of the toilets was empty, and went to use it.

"Before entering the toilet, I saw two crew members near the toilet who did not stop me going in. After I had finished, I exited the toilet and started walking back to my seat.

" I heard a sound behind me, and when I turned around, I saw a senior crew member whom I recognised to be the In-flight Manager behind me and he in not too many words began to "scold" me by saying "These toilets are not for your use, they are solely for our priority passengers, you must use the toilets at the back. Do not use these toilets again".

"I was too stunned for any words, and I stood there and just replied OK. I then turned around and made my way back to my seat. I guess this guy was still not finished with me as he followed me back to my seat and continued to stare at me.

"I would like to admit that I may have made a mistake by using the Business class toilets and I will not make any excuse for using it except that it was an emergency to me.

"What I really expected was for your crew to speak in a better manner and tell me instead of treating me like some child. I may be in economy class, as this was a family holiday, but when on business I do travel on business class on certain sectors.

"I cannot give you the name of the crew, as I was too stunned to take down his name, but he was definitely a senior crew because all he did was walk around the cabin not doing anything.

"He had a crew cut and had quite a lot of grey hair. I also want to inform you that whilst he was telling me off, there was also another cabin crew member near him, and I could see from his face that he was quite uncomfortable to see and hear his senior treating a passenger in this manner.

"I am writing this not so much to get things from SQ, but to highlight the 'new' kind of service cabin crew are giving to passengers. I am sure that dealing with the millions of passengers SQ handles this has to be part and parcel of the job, but I as a Singaporean who always flies SQ, am very shocked by this.

"Kindly assist me by investigating this matter, as I know a simple letter of apology will normally be the case that Companies send and also to say that the person concerned will be counselled. In this day and age all airlines etc are doing the same for customers, but the difference has to be in the customer service both on the ground and in the air. I know this as I have been in the service industry for the last 30 odd years and have just retired.

"I would like to be able to receive a personal apology face to face from the crew concerned, or I may have to take this matter further. Please understand that this is not a threat."

Ricardo tells me that a woman from SQ called him last evening to apologise, but he feels that a more appropriate response would be a personal apology from the crew member concerned.

The ball is now in SQ's court.


  1. I would be stunned too if I am in his position and even though today I might be an economy class passenger it does not mean that I will not fly business or first class.

  2. Informing the crew first of the emergency (stomachache) and ask to use the business class toilet might just prevent the whole saga.

  3. This happened to me as well on an SQ flight from HK to Singapore (about a year ago).

    My child (5 years old) had urgent calls and the queue was long for the Economy class toilet. I brought her to the business class toilet. When I returned to my seat, a senior stewardess came over and gave me a dressing down.

    While I understand that there are differences in tiered pricing, the rude approach by the "high class waitresses in the air" left a sour taste in my mouth.

    At the end of the day, the service folks need to remember that this is a free market. There is tough competition among the airlines and some of them have service levels that are on par or better than SIA.

    If economy class seats are too "low class" for these stewardess, SIA might as well convert all seats to Business Class and First Class. Let the "cattle" class chose the other airlines at a better price.

  4. Do write to me if you encounter such bad experiences. My email is

  5. I would say both parties are at fault. But definitely this is not acceptable from a SIA crew.

  6. Next time use the Economy toilets or pay more and fly business where there is rarely a queue.

    YOU are the only one at fault here!

  7. A personal apology face to face by the crew? I think this is a bit too much... Moreover the crew 'committed the error' when he is in uniform, anything should be follow up by the company. It's nothing personal, why should there be a face to face apology ?

  8. I am just curious how the crew would have reacted if that was a Caucasian economy class passenger!!