Changi Airport is deemed as the best airport in the world with top-class facilities for flyers. Unfortunately, a user by the name Joseph Chia didn’t have the best experience at the airport when he was flying back from Sapporo to Singapore on 28 December 2018.
Chia wrote in Changi Airport’s Facebook page on 8 January his ordeal at the airport, precisely his unhappiness with the airport's wheelchair facilities.
He started the post by explaining that his wife injured her knee during their trip to Hokkaido and had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair.
Upon arriving at Changi Airport, the couple experienced a string of inconveniences.
Chia said that when the airplane door opened, they had to wait for all the other passengers to leave before a wheelchair was brought over, and this whole process took 20 minutes.
Since the wife’s personal wheelchair was checked in, she had to use the one provided by the airport, which looked like “a modified shopping cart”, according to Chia.
The design of the wheelchair was flawed and his wife was not able to wheel herself anywhere. This is because the wheelchair functioned like a regular airport trolley with the brakes at the back.
Besides that, the small wheels on the wheelchair also gave Chia a “hard time pushing the cart up the carpeted slop” and he received no help from any airport personnel.
After collecting his wife’s personal wheelchair at the baggage collection zone, his wife found out that the wheelchair-accessible toilet was apparently “just a regular toilet with bigger doors”.
This meant that Chia was not able to accompany his wife to assist her.
If that is not all, Chia said that the design of the toilet made it “impossible for a person in a wheel chair to wheel in..then turn around and wheel herself out”. His wife even had to “ask the cleaning auntie to flush the toilet for her”.
In his post, Chia also said that they had a better experience in Japan.
He claimed there were plenty of washrooms with standalone cubicles for wheelchair access. The toilets also came equipped with auto doors and handle bars. Even the sinks are designed in such a way that people can wash their hands comfortably while seated on a wheelchair, he explained.
“Changi Airport is known to be attentive to details… so this comes as shocking to me,” Chia wrote.
Given the facilities that they’ve experienced in Japan, Chia said that Changi Airport’s facilities are in need of much improvement.
After his post was up, Changi Airport responded and apologised for the inconvenience caused.
They added that they will “feedback to the relevant department and get them to look into this immediately”.
However, after reading his post, many netizens lashed out at Chia and said that he needs to forgo his self-entitled mindset. Many of them had shared their pleasant experience at the airport.
Nur Fariza said that as a wheelchair user, she had a very good experience. She explained that it's normal for disabled passengers to be the last to leave the aircraft to avoid disruption from other passengers. She added if Chia needed assistance from the airport staff to push his wife's wheelchair, all he had to do was to request before boarding "so the Japan airport staff could get in touch with Singapore airport staff". She did that when she went to New Zealand and they were staffs waiting to assist her when she landed at Changi Airport. "I have seen, been to and experienced all sorts of inaccessible environments, and I am pretty sure Changi Airport is not one of them," she concluded.
Another Facebook user Lincoln Mah also shared his positive experience at the airport when he had to use a wheelchair due to a terrible gout attack. He said he did wait for everyone to disembark upon landing, but it's only fair to do that as he would not be holding everyone behind him. He added, "They also had a staff personally wheel me from the plane ,load my wife and I on to a bus which brought me directly to the transit area to register myself back to the country. (A secret door you almost don't notice carefully hidden behind a corner)." He ended his comment by saying that he will never forget the experience and professionalism of the airport.
Carolyn Sim opined that Changi Airport has her vote and told her pleasant experience that she had when she returned to Singapore with a ski injury in December 2017. She wrote, "I requested the air crew for ground assistance before landing and all support was arranged for me. I was wheel chair by an airport staff from the airbridge to a priority immigration queue and all the way into a taxi!"
As for Kevinn Yz Heng, he said that the wheelchair shown in the picture that Chia shared was made available in public area too and he don't see anyone complaining about it so far. "EVEN MY GRANDMA ENJOY SITTING IN IT and am happy the airport provision such facilities at 0 cost for the public! WHATS UR PROBLEM!", he exclaimed.