Friday, July 26, 2013

Contentment vs. Ambition Part 1: SQ and Disney

Frankly, I am fed up of making excuses for your faults and shortcomings. If you are against the disappointing downfall and the consequent criticism, then I suggest you not continue reading. We’ve all been there, we’ve all complained about the smallest to the largest, most appalling incidents. After being experiencing a series of disappointing services, I realized that all of the negative feelings I had developed were directly tied with my expectations. The latest unfortunate experience occurred on SQ 021, July 3, 2013 from Newark, NY to Singapore.
For eighteen years, I have been a loyal Singaporean Airlines. In the early years I sat in economy but soon upgraded with my parents. Currently, I am on the direct Singapore – Newark flight at an average of four times a year. A fussy flyer, I am well-known, amongst my family and friends, as the vomit(er). My current record is disabling an entire SQ bathroom from just puking (sorry!). I am immensely grateful that I am able to fly business class as it allows me the privilege to suppress the symptoms.
Even though, I may not be as deserving as the other passengers, who are mostly businessmen and privileged travelers, I feel entitled to equal service as the rest of the compartment. I admit that my common travel attire may make me an easy target for discrimination but that does not give the flight attendants the ammunition to do so. At the beginning of my travelling career, SQ was a gracious host that took care of each its passengers with the utmost dedication. Dubbed the best airline in the world, SQ is well known for it’s thoughtful service, if not for it’s strict rules regarding the appearance of its stewardesses.
On July 3, I took a routine flight from Newark Airport, NY to Changhi Airport, Singapore. My expectations of the flight declined due to recent experiences, however I was optimistic. I’m a typical defender, meaning, when delay occurs I would make some excuse for it, or when they run out of food, I’d blame myself for not ordering first. But, I was at the tipping point. Fortunately, at the beginning of the flight, I met D*, a friendly stewardess, who suggested that I should primarily call her during the flight. (Many businessmen tend to stick to one stewardess, usually the first they meet or the ones that are stationed for the area in which they are sitting). D’s warm welcome elevated my expectations slightly. “This is going to be a lovely flight,” I told my mother.
Unfortunately soon everything soured, following the initial meeting, I would not see D for the rest of the journey. Instead of greeting us and helping us with our carry-on bags, like the fellow passengers, the flight attendants scowled at us when we attempted to store our luggage. “What the hell is going on?” I thought to myself. In the middle of the night, my mother’s TV and flight attendant call button failed to function. Some stewardesses struggled to fix the problem. Only later, did the senior stewardess handle the problem. They had to reboot the system due to system overload. Then, the same senior stewardess tried to pull some sort of explanation as my mother filled out the evaluation card. The incident was repeated three times during the entire flight. With regards to this particular incident, shouldn’t an established and routine flight account for heavy system usage and prevent system overload?
As I said before, I am a fussy flyer, I reserve my meals prior to take off and choose the meals throughout the journey. I understand that this is unconventional and taxing to the attendants, however, in my opinion, it is better for me to be able to handle the timing of my meals as to prevent any puking and bathroom destructions. In prior flights, the attendants took care of the problem with great professionalism. Unfortunately, for the past three flights, many have complained when I passed my carefully written post it note to them. Other incidents, such as not being able to respond swiftly to the call button, my mother’s faulty call button, and the inability to prioritize on the passengers took place throughout the flight.
SQ flight 021 was an utter disappointment in a series of declining service. The flight attendants failed to care for at least two of its passengers. In addition, the system did not run properly, which is perhaps a reflection of the deterioration of SQ’s overall performance. With the fee that SQ charges, I hope that it would improve its services promptly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable flight. Eighteen hours of ill service has clearly worn out my inclination to travel with the airline.
            On another note, SQ is not the only company that failed to live up to its claims and reputation. Disney World, “the happiest place on earth” has also showed continuous decline. Earlier in the summer, my mother and I visited Orlando, FL. A big Disney fan, I looked forward to the largest Disney amusement park. I carried a series of Disney themed clothing just to optimize the experience. Instead, we suffered through multiple faulty rides and much too many awful services.
            Never before have I been on a ride only to have it breakdown halfway through. Perhaps this is the worst thing that could happen in an amusement park. I had to endure four cycles of the same pirate chasing the same wench and several more of the same little dolls doing the same movements in their traditional costume.
            Both of these incidences occurred in world-renowned places. SQ and Disney World are at the top of their respective games, but I would hope that these accolades do not stop them from delivering the best service. Perhaps, being complacent has nothing to do with it; perhaps it has everything to do with the decline in performance. From an individual perspective, I see both occurrences as a reminder to be ambitious even at the top. But then, I hear a voice deep within me say, “Infinite exhaustion.” To never be satisfied is to fight. Whilst, to fight, is to never be at peace. Even from these two experiences, I could feel the spirits in me fight. Contentment vs. Ambition.