When an airline route cut hits home

We journalists often have to relay bad news and of late the bad news on the economic front has been piling up. Generally though, we don’t feel the effects of, say, an airline route cut – or spend even a moment to consider its real-life impact on those affected.

That changed for me this weekend as my wife and I were preparing to fly back to Singapore from a brief visit to Vancouver, Canada. We fly to Vancouver around one time per year to visit our parents and typically take a Singapore Airlines flight that operates via Seoul in South Korea. Even though we fly the route so rarely, the SIA ground staff in Vancouver always remember us and greet us warmly on check-in and on departure from the gate. We got the same warm greeting this past Saturday but it was a sad occasion, as the staff had been informed just a day earlier that SIA will be dropping services to Vancouver in April.

I was saddened by the news when I received the press release for selfish reasons, as SIA is my preferred airline and I love the timing of the Vancouver service. On arrival at the airport, however, I realised for the first time what an airline service suspension means: in the case of SIA and Vancouver, employees will be losing their jobs and those same employees are the ones who have been so great to me and my wife over the years.

Our favourite member of the SIA ground staff in Vancouver even gave us a hug before we boarded the aircraft as she fought back tears, knowing it will probably be the last time we see her while she is working for the airline. I have been a journalist for nearly 20 years but the experience taught me a good lesson: whenever I write about a simple route cut from now on I will spare a moment to think about what it means to those who work for the airline.

Leave a Reply