BEING stranded at an airport for 18 hours certainly makes you think about life and the world around us.
My ordeal at Changi Airport last week was interesting not because of the massive delays from a runway closure due to a small plane crash, but because of the entire experience throughout my wait.
Runway 1 of the airport was shut down after an air force jet crashed and caught fire during the Singapore Airshow. I’m glad the pilot was unharmed — it goes to show the risks some people have to go through for others.
Although it took 18 hours to get my flight, the “waiting” was a calm and comforting experience — from the time I arrived at the airport to the time I left.
After my flight was rescheduled, I realised that it would be best to find accommodation. Normally, a traveller is not allowed out of the airport once he has checked-in his luggage and passed the security and immigration gates.
Yet, in this case, the immigration made an exception. It was clear to them that overcrowding at an airport with flight delays overruled standard operating procedures.
My taxi ride to the hotel was also a comforting one. The driver understood what was going on, and the 2am check-in at the hotel was smooth and rapid.
The next day was another “smooth” wait, albeit with more delays. Eventually, I was on my way.
It simply goes to show how strong customer-oriented fundamentals are key to a successful handling of a crisis.
If everyone understands the principles and objectives of his or her profession, and plays his or her role without hesitation, it creates a series of events that lead to a great customer experience despite the difficulties faced.
What I realised most of all was how unfettered I was throughout the whole ordeal. Despite my unscheduled absence, I was able to work with my team members, who were communicating with me online at the headquarters. I was also able to play my role with my superiors at the ministry and counterparts in the industry.
New technologies can never replace the human factor. And because of that, human compassion can never be substituted with even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence.
This Chinese New Year, let us remember that although we may meet once a year, the connection on this very day will impact our daily lives through unspoken bonds, friendship and love.
The stories you share at the reunion dinner are not just for the sake of sharing, but they add to the experience of the listeners. Each anecdote, advice or joke adds value to the listeners, and when the right time comes, those stories will guide them in their decision-making.
So use this opportunity wisely, for wisdom shared will multiply into a world that is enriched with wisdom.
Gong Xi Fa Cai to all celebrating the Chinese New Year, and a safe journey to you who are returning to your loved ones! May the Chinese New Year bring prosperity and further enhance our lives for years to come.
And because of that, human compassion can never be substituted with even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence.