Singapore Airlines (SIA) issued an apology to Gill and Warren Press, a New Zealand couple who were inconvenienced when seated next to a passenger traveling with a dog during their SIA flight from Paris to Singapore in June.
This happened in June during their 13-hour flight from Paris to Singapore. To their surprise, they found a dog seated beside them.
Mrs. Press shared with Stuff the local news website that during the flight, she heard a distinct “heavy snorting” noise, and upon investigation, discovered it was emanating from the dog. She further noted that the dog was not only emitting unpleasant odors but also encroaching on their legroom and drooling onto her husband’s leg. Mrs. Press overheard the dog’s owner explaining to another passenger that the dog was on the flight due to anxiety.
“I heard loud snorting,” said Gill Press.
“I thought it was my husband’s phone, but it was the dog. I couldn’t bear this for the entire flight.”
According to local news report by Stuff, the dog’s owner explained the dog had anxiety. They talked to a flight attendant, but only seats in the back of economy class were available.
As the flight went on, the situation worsened due to the dog’s odor and intrusion into their space.
Gill Press said, “My husband was in shorts, and the dog’s saliva was on his leg.”
They talked to a flight attendant again, who moved them to the front of the economy class.
The airline assured them that an incident report was filed.
In response to queries from media, Singapore Airlines (SIA) confirmed that the couple was relocated to two seats in the economy class after the flight had taken off.
After a week with no response, they contacted Singapore Airlines’ customer service. Two weeks later, they got an apology and SG$100 (NZ$125) gift vouchers each for the airline’s KrisShop website.
The Presses argued that this compensation didn’t match the difference in seat value.
Finally, over three weeks later, the airline offered a travel voucher of SG$160 (NZ$200) per person, still considered inadequate by the Presses. They demanded full refund for that flight segment, initially booked through Air New Zealand.
The couple stressed that their issue was not with dogs, as they are dog owners themselves, but with the airline’s lack of prior notice about the dog and its response to the situation.
A Singapore Airlines spokesperson reiterated their apology and pledged to work with the couple directly to address their concerns. The airline acknowledged the lapse in notifying passengers about assistance dogs and vowed to prevent such incidents in the future.
“We didn’t receive the experience we paid for,” Gill Press added.
The airline assured that they would continue to engage directly with the customers to address their feedback. SIA also acknowledged their lapse in failing to notify customers who might be seated next to an assistance dog before boarding.
“The airline said on Saturday that it “endeavours to notify customers” who may be seated next to an assistance dog prior to boarding.
It added that when passengers request to be moved, they will be reseated in the same cabin if space permits.
“In this instance, we were unable to move Mr and Mrs Press within the same cabin as the premium economy class cabin was full.
“Our crew offered to move Mr and Mrs Press to two empty seats in economy class, which they accepted after take-off.”
Effective April 1, 2023, SIA ceased allowing “emotional support dogs” onboard its flights. However, the airline continued to honor travel for customers and their dogs who had submitted requests and necessary documentation before this date. SIA would still accommodate approved assistance dogs, which are trained to assist passengers with disabilities, including guide dogs, onboard its flights.
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