SINGAPORE — A family trip to Macau in June turned into a hiccup as they were allegedly denied boarding a Scoot plane due to their daughter’s passport having only one month of validity remaining.
Ms. Lin Jiahui, a 39-year-old Singaporean booked the budget carrier flight to Macau for her family: her 45-year-old husband, six-year-old daughter, and one-year-old son during the June holidays.
Joining them were also their parents in their sixties, an aunt in her sixties, and their wheelchair-bound 85-year-old grandmother.
On 12 June, the family arrived at the airport at 10:50 AM. The original flight was scheduled to depart at 1:50 PM and arrive in Macau at 6:05 PM.
However, when they checked in at the counter, the staff informed them that their daughter’s passport had less than six months of validity, and the staff returned all the passports.
Ms. Lin then proposed that they could check in the other five family members first while she and her husband took their daughter to the immigration office to deal with the passport issue and purchase tickets for the next flight.
However, they were told that the family had purchased all the tickets as a group, so everyone had to check in together.
However, she was told that the family had purchased all the tickets as a group, so everyone had to check in together.
Ms Lin rushed to the ICA office to renew her daughter’s passport
Concerned that their holiday plans would fall through, Ms. Lin, her husband, and their daughter rushed to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) building at Kallang Road to try and get an emergency renewal for their daughter’s passport.
Ms. Lin also contacted Scoot Airlines through Facebook private messages and their hotline and was informed that the other five people could board first.
However, her mother allegedly repeatedly refused by the staff at the counter to let them board.
When Ms. Lin, her husband, and her daughter returned to Changi Airport at around 1:30 PM with their daughter’s passport renewed, it was too late to check in for the 1:50 PM flight.
They had no choice but to purchase tickets for the next day (13th) at 6 AM to Hong Kong and then take a ferry to Macau.
Ms. Lin had to spend approximately S$2,100 to buy new one-way tickets. Fortunately, their return tickets were not affected. To ensure they could board the early morning flight, the family had to stay overnight in a hotel near the airport and book two rooms.
On 16 June, Ms. Lin received a reply from Scoot Airlines on Facebook, stating that the check-in counter closes one hour prior to departure, and their check-in kiosks accept individual self-check-in under the same booking.
Ms Lin shared this unfortunate experience with the local Chinese media outlet Shin Min Daily News, hoping that Scoot Airlines would provide a reasonable explanation and compensate them for the “unfair money” they spent.
Scoot clarified that passengers for group booking can check in individually
According to The Straits Times, Scoot clarified that for flight bookings with multiple passengers, the carrier does not require all passengers to check in together.
It added that its check-in counters open three hours before departure. On the day of the incident, Ms. Lin and her family were not able to check in on time for their flight.
The spokesman said: “Scoot is sorry to know about Ms Lin and her family’s experience on 12 June. We have since reached out to Ms Lin to offer further assistance and extend a resolution out of goodwill.”
“Our staff also assisted Ms Lin and her family members to secure the booking of their return flight from Macau to Singapore on 17 June, which would have been cancelled as per our conditions of carriage if Ms Lin did not contact our call centre within 48 hours of departure time of the flight that had been missed.”
Questions raised over the airline’s handling of group booking
Commenting on Ms. Lin’s story in a post by The Straits Times on Facebook, a netizen reminded that it is one’s responsibility to check the validity of their passport before traveling, and airline staff were simply doing their job.
However, other comments expressed concern about why the counter staff prevented the other five passengers with valid passports from boarding.
Examples were given, questioning whether the entire tour group would be affected if just one member could not board due to health or emergency issues.
Another netizen commented that he had never encountered issues checking in separately within a group booking or flying without a passenger who didn’t travel. He acknowledged the need for enforcing rules but suggested that Scoot should improve staff training.
Netizens commend ICA’s prompt and efficient handling
While other netizens praised the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) with the hashtag #ICA, commending their prompt and efficient handling of emergency passport renewal, which brought a lot of convenience for travelers.