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Friday, January 4, 2013

Why is SQ cabin crew service down to fourth position?

"SIA used to be a brilliant airline with customer servive second to none, had high expectations for my flight Singapore to UK, but flight attendants hardly noticed that you were there; never mind a friendly smile, there was virtually no interaction." 

 4 September 2012 by R Reay  (UK)

"Slightly late departure and late arrival into Changi. A surprisingly disappointing flight compared to the outbound one we took a week earlier. Crew seemed completely disorganized and flummoxed when it came to the meal service. It was interminably slow and we didn't get served until 35 mins before landing. And they ran out of any meal choice by then. A senior stewardess serving in our aisle was visibly annoyed with a new crew member working ahead of her, correcting her on how she opened a beer can and balanced a tray. No passenger needs to see or hear that. On a popular route with cheaper high quality airlines like Qatar, or even KLM, its starting to get harder to justify the extra in the fare for very ordinary service like this".

6 September 2012 by S Klass    (USA)

14 September 2012
BNE-SIN-HKG-SIN-BNE. Very disappointing experience all round. Famous Singapore girlsnot so friendly, the guys were much nicer. Heated towels at the beginning of each flight nice, and meals were generally good. Annoying that they serve all special meals first and make everyone else wait. My first flight on A380 HKG-SIN, no good - seat/tray table filthy, one toilet not working so all economy section upper deck made to share 1 toilet - choice! Asked for tea with meal, got a coffee plonked on the tray table, when I asked again for tea, cabin crew rolled her eyessnatched the coffee and never returned.

14 September 2012 by A Williams    (Australia) 

Source: Skytrax 

It's hard to believe that paxs could comment so bitterly about the SIA cabin crew and the inflight service.

I believe SIA service is heading downwards and if nothing is done to correct it, it will soon lose it title as a world class airline.

As an ex SIA cabin crew executive trainer,interviewer and administrator, I still have great faith in SIA. It can regain the title as being the Best Cabin Crew in the world again if it adopts the following formula. 

Please note I am not saying SIA is not doing what I am stating or incompetent. It's my way of contributing to help improve its services and avoid having those disturbing comments from its passengers. 

I sincerely believe that it all boils down to tackling the "RTM" acronym for Recruitment, Training and Monitoring at its roots.


Let us examine the current methods used for the recruitment of cabin crew.

Are the staff competent enough to be interviewers? It does not mean it you are graduate sitting in the office you are suitably qualified as an interviewer. Most are non cabin crew or without cabin crew experience. Most are administrators.Are they trained to be interviewers? My colleagues and I had to go through various courses to learn the techniques on how to interview and recruit cabin staff.

Interviewing or recruiting good workers need skills. Perhaps visiting this link may help.
As an interviewer you are also representing your company. Remember as you are interviewing the candidates, they are also assessing you. You will leave a bad impression of your company if you are described as being "arrogant", "aloof", "rude" etc. by the candidates.

The many stages of the interview (I believe there are 5 and spread over 2 days) are tedious and unnecessary. I was recruited at a single interview.

Recruiting the right people is extremely important. Therefore the interviewers should ask themselves these questions:

Are the candidates I am recruiting "trainable"?

Do they have the ability and humility to be of service?

Are they able to handle difficult situations on board the flight eg in an
emergency or having dissatisfied passengers etc?

Will they be able to uphold the company's image?

Do you think they are able to work with others (team players).

If you get the right people with good service potential then half the battle is won.


This is also a very important department. We should pause for a moment and ask ourselves who and what type of person is in charge here. Is the person in charge of training a person with passion and commitment to his or her job? Is that person there just for the salary? Does he or she possess any experience as a trainer?

The next question we ought to ask is who are the core trainers? I presume most are current cabin crew. Granted these crew are experienced enough with serving passengers but are they able to teach and impart their knowledge to the trainees? In short, are these trainers experienced and capable enough in the field of training? Even if they are, the next question we would want to ask is are these trainers people with good characters? Are they are also strict disciplinarians? Or are they a group of people with commitment and passionate about training or just be there for their own gains?
Training is not as easy as one may think. It not only involves imparting knowledge of the job but it also involves inculcating the company's values in the newbies.
As far as I know SIA cabin crew do not have "professional" trainers like it used to. By "professional", I mean staff who are suitably trained for the job like the former CCEs who were "encouraged" to leave during the SARS period.


The manager in charge of crew monitoring or a department known as "crew performance" (not sure it is the same name) must be one who has the experience of managing 7,000 crew besides managing his assistant managers. He must be competent in man management skills and as well as a disciplinarian. Furthermore he must be exemplary in conduct and behaviour. If he is there just for the money then I think the department would not do well.
Crew monitoring is an important area. If the crew are properly trained but their work performances on board are not well monitored it would be disastrous.
Crew need to be reminded now and then of their progress. They need to know how they perform. A good appraisal system is one of the answers to that question. 
Crew should be re-trained if they fall short of the expected desired performance. A carrot and stick approach should be adopted. When a crew does well she should be given a pat on the back. But if she has slackened she should also be told. If no improvement is made on her part, she should be sent for re-training.
For the senior crew to monitor the work performances of the junior crew, the senior crew should also be motivated.
The current practice of the juniors giving feedback to the office about the seniors' performances  is to be discouraged. Yes I am talking about the UFS or upward feedback system. Say what you like but to the seniors the UFS is subtle way for the juniors to back stab the seniors. Get rid of the UFS  once and for all as it is making the seniors feel insecure.
With a group of demoralised seniors not only would they be unable to truthfully monitor the juniors' performances but also unable to give their best to the passengers.

In conclusion, I hope the managers or management staff would not be offended with what I have stated above. I acknowledge that I was merely an ex junior executive back then but my objective is to help SIA cabin crew to regain its position as the " Best Cabin Crew" in the world.

Gambatte SIA cabin crew!


Anonymous said...

Don't forget for the senior mgt to have a heart and take care of staff welfare. I used to worked for a Singapore GLC, ranked #7 in the world and #2 in Asia. Worked like sh*t and mgt still wanted more. Some times Sat and Sun must also work. Paid me more also no use because I have only 24 hrs a day, minus sleeping time, make time, toilet time, etc. No time with family, EPL and social life. Finally I resigned and migrated.

Anonymous said...

Bohtong. Part of the reason why we are going downwards is maybe because of you leh. Give seminar and trained people who keep failing the interview. Theres a reason why they fail once or twice. Seminar can help them pull through the interview, but what about after that? Lol. Thats why alot of cmi crew ;) dont talk about buey swee crew nowadays.

boh tong said...

aiya u r quick to blame people. I help them to get into sia but it is up to sia to train,and monitor them.

Anonymous said...

SIA should pay BT to train and monitor the crew. I think BT is an able person since he could help those wannabes got the job.

Anonymous said...

I was on an SQ flight where a crew who when I was sleeping, tapped on my shoulder, and "Oei" me in order to wake me for dinner.

Appalling service.

Being Singaporean, I do hope to see standards rise.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Boh please don't tell us how to do our job. As grads we are capable to do anything not like you non grads ex cce who were bleeding the Co. all those years. Look at Hanifah or Kumar and James Tan and many deadwoods. Good that Sim Kay Wee got rid of you all.

Anonymous said...

Not ALL the dinosaurs are useless but SOME are real boss bootlickers, buayas with High & Mighty attitude who enjoyed a Free & Easy life that led to a sense of Supremacy & All Mighty ! There again there are a Few good ones !

boh tong said...

Anonymous said...
Not ALL the dinosaurs are useless .....

BT: Hope I was not judged to be useless or a dinosaur.

Anonymous said...

"As grads we are capable to do anything...."

Another Braggard.

Wonder how you pass your English?

Anonymous said...

I agree. A few years ago, when I was a kid I used to feel like SIA was the best airline in the world cause the crew made me feel so special. These few years the crew seems flustered, rude and perpetually annoyed.

Anonymous said...

sorry to interrupt but those were the days all of us ,the cabin crew of SQ's worked really-hard to be the best and world no1......grad or non-grads,all cce mention or not mention above.... done their part/share to bring our SINGAPORE AIRLINES as AN AIRLINES THAT EVEN OTHER AIRLINE TALKED ABOUT and should be respected as our seniors & ex-seniors

Anonymous said...

that's because SIA cut crew's overseas allowance again & crew's morale are very low!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Being one of the Best Cabin Crew in the World for 7 years (the last one is in year 2012) and was interested to try my luck to serve in SIA (as I remembered how I used to love to travel with SIA when I was a child), I went to its Cabin Crew Interview. I was shocked to see they have chosen the one I least expected to be qualify as a Cabin Crew! At first, I thought maybe they (the interviewers) have seen the potentials and capabilities in these candidates and I must have had certain short-comings though I have the experiences. However, after winning the title as being part of the Best Cabin Crew again last year, I would really say that our recruitment process which seems to be easier than SIA one are better! It might be like what BT said that it goes back all to the basic~~starts from the Interviewers! I am not trying to show off here but I will like to express my thought about SIA Cabin Crew selection process (which seems to have something wrong about it).

Boh Tong said...

"....I would really say that our recruitment process which seems to be easier than SIA one are better!"

Are u with another airline bcos U said "our recruitment process which seems to be easier than SIA one are better??

Anonymous said...

BT I think that person was with MAS.

Worried said...

SIA interviewers have to look themselves into the mirror first. They are purely technocrats and had no flying experience at all. Unlike Bohtong and his colleagues, these interviewers are not trained for the job. They take in people based on their gut feel. That is one of the main reasons why SIA inflight service is going down the drain.

Anonymous said...

To BT and the 2nd replier: Yes, I am. However, down bottom in my heart...I always take SIA Cabin Crew as my role model. I really have no idea if it is a truth that SIA standard has dropped as I have been traveling with my current Airline that I am working with ever since I have the privileged/concessional tickets. In other words, it also means that my memory about SIA Gold service is my childhood memory and those SIA Cabin Crew that I took as my role model are those that I traveled with~~before year 2002! ......reply from this column commentator.