A New Zealand couple have demanded a refund after a dog caused ‘discomfort’ throughout their long-haul flight. Gill and Warren Press had booked premium economy seats during their 13-hour Singapore Airlines flight from Paris back to Singapore in June.
But their journey took an unexpected turn when they found themselves seated next to the dog in their row, Stuff reported. Recalling the moment, Gill said: “I heard this noise – a heavy snorting.” She initially thought it was her husband’s phone, but soon realised it was the dog breathing.
The dog’s owner explained to another passenger that the dog was accompanying him due to anxiety issues, but Gill noted that it appeared to be the dog itself that was distressed. When they raised their concerns with a flight attendant, they were informed that the only alternative seats available were in the back row of economy.
Despite their discomfort, the couple decided to stay put. However, as the flight progressed, the situation became unbearable due to the smell as it was farting, as well as the space it was occupying in her husband’s legroom, as it was too large for its owner’s seat space.
She said: “(The passenger) couldn’t have the dog out in the aisle because they couldn’t get the trolleys through, so it had to come in further, which meant his head was under my husband’s feet. My husband was in shorts, and was getting the dog’s saliva goo on his leg.”
Again, they approached a flight attendant who offered seats in the front of the economy cabin that were initially reserved for staff. As they moved seats, they were assured that an incident report had been filed, and they could expect to hear from the airline regarding the matter.
However, a week passed with no communication from the airline. Gill decided to email the airline’s customer service team to voice her complaint. It took two weeks for Singapore Airlines to respond, she said, offering each of them a NZ$125 (£59) gift voucher for the airline’s KrisShop website.
Dissatisfied with such a response, Gill said the compensation did not adequately address the significant difference in value between their premium economy seats and the economy seats they ended up in. Over three weeks later, the airline responded with an offer of a travel voucher worth NZ$200 (£94.50) per person.
Still unsatisfied, Gill sought a full refund for the leg of the journey that they had booked through Air New Zealand, and more than two months had passed without a satisfactory resolution from Singapore Airlines.
The couple also stressed that their concern was not about disliking dogs, as they themselves owned one. Rather, they felt that they should have been informed of the dog’s presence in advance and were disappointed with the airline’s handling of the situation.
In response, Singapore Airlines apologised for the incident. A spokesperson said: “Singapore Airlines endeavours to notify customers who may be seated next to an assistance dog prior to boarding the flight.
“We sincerely apologise that this did not occur in this case, and will work with our airport teams to ensure that this lapse does not occur in future.
“In circumstances where customers seated next to an assistance dog request to be moved, Singapore Airlines will assist to re-seat customers within the same cabin where space permits.”
As of April 1, Singapore Airlines no longer allows “emotional support dogs” onboard its flights, however, it was still honouring travel for customers and their dogs who had made a request and submitted the required documentation prior to this date.
The airline would continue to accept approved assistance dogs – dogs trained to assist passengers with disabilities, such as guide dogs – onboard its flights.