A spokesperson from Singapore Airlines has confirmed to Marketing that both SQ247 operating from Melbourne to Wellington, and the return flight SQ248 on Saturday had been cancelled as the pilot was deemed "unfit" to fly, after failing a pre-flight alcohol test. The test was a random drug and alcohol test conducted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Melbourne of all crew prior to pre-flight checks.
The pilot deemed unfit was found to have a higher than suitable blood alcohol limit recorded. As such, SIA said the pilot was not able to undertake his duties and was asked to stand down effective immediately. In addition, the pilot has also been suspended from all operations until an investigation is undertaken.
While the airline has since apologised to the passengers affected by the cancellation, and is still working to arrange suitable alternate travel options for those affected, passengers took to social media to show their unhappiness. Sports enthusiasts also complained as they had purchased tickets for rugby matches held in Wellington.
@SingaporeAir care to try to explain why your captain (ie most experienced person on the aircraft) of SQ247 waits until boarding time to decide they’re too ill/drunk to fly? Will miss the 1st #allblacks #rugby match I bought tickets for and flew to WLG from NRT to see? #sad
— Muteki iikun (@M_iikun) September 15, 2018
Another passenger called this the "most frustrating experience" in an airport and said that the waiting took six hours and expressed that she has "low expectations" for the service claims for the affected passengers.
— Jorge Gil (@_gil_87) September 15, 2018
Another tweet in response to the cancellation of flight came from an affected passenger's family member who said his wife is "stranded" in a foreign country for over a day.
@SingaporeAir You assclowns stranded my wife in a foreign country when you could not complete her SQ247 flight yesterday and she is still sitting there in Melbourne a day and a half later! DISGRACEFUL!!!
— Nathan Tallack (@tallackn) September 16, 2018
Customer service has often been a high point for the airline which has for the fourth year running, been named this year’s ‘World’s Best Airline’ in Skytrax’s World Airline Awards. SIA also took the top spot in the ‘World’s Best First Class’, ‘Best Airline in Asia’ and ‘Best First Class Airline Seat’ categories in the 2018 rankings. The awards are based on surveys of more than 20 million travellers, who rated more than 335 airlines between August 2017 and May 2018.