Thursday, 20 February 2014

SATS manager put up tourists in her own flat, paid for their flight home

She was stranded Polish family's 'angel'
By David Ee, The Straits Times, 19 Feb 2014

SHE put them up in her own home, showed them Sentosa and even footed the more than $5,000 bill for their air tickets back to England when they had to return urgently but missed their flight.

You would think that Madam Tan Beng Luan, 59, a duty manager at flight services company SATS, was helping her family or friends.

But she was, in fact, going beyond the call of duty to help a Polish family stranded at Changi Airport last May.

Her generosity won her the Service Personality of the Year, the top individual award at Changi Airport's Annual Airport Celebration at the Raffles City Convention Centre last night.

She was one of 23 staff of the airport and its partner agencies who won awards as the airport recognised the people who have helped it achieve record customer satisfaction levels.

Changi Airport's 85.5 points in last year's Customer Satisfaction Index Singapore made history as the highest attained in any sector.

It was a jump of nearly 13 points from 2012, an increase the airport attributed to the upgrading of Terminal 1 and the closure of the Budget Terminal.

The three Polish tourists had been trying to get from Britain to the Philippines via Abu Dhabi, but found their connecting flight overbooked. They flew to Singapore to try for a flight to the Philippines but to no avail. To make matters worse, their luggage got lost en route.

Madam Tan spotted them looking helpless at Changi Terminal 2's lost and found counter and resolved to help them. "I always tell myself, what if it was my own family that needed help?"

She called her husband to prepare the spare room in their four-room HDB flat in Woodlands. The next day, she took leave to sightsee with them.

The tourists then decided to holiday in Malaysia instead of the Philippines. But when it was time to return to England, they found all flights from Changi Airport again full. One of them risked losing her job if she returned late.

Madam Tan finally found them seats on a flight and used her annual company bonus to pay for them as the family had painstakingly saved up for their Asia trip.

Asked why she went so far to help the strangers, she said: "Not many people are crazy like me. If (Sats) doesn't give me a bonus, I still have to work. Since it gave it to me and I can help this family, why not?"

At last night's awards ceremony, she was rewarded with $5,000 worth of Changi Airport vouchers - and a surprise. The airport flew the Polish family - Mrs Maria Ciazela, 53, and her daughters, Ms Agnieszka Ciazela, 31, and Ms Malgorzata Ciazela, 18 - to Singapore to reunite them on stage.

"She was our angel here," said the elder daughter. "Someone sent her from the sky just for us."

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said in his address at the ceremony that Changi Airport could focus on developing its staff's traits, rather than just their skills, to make their service even better.

"Traits such as compassion... take a lot longer to nurture. But (they) will leave a lasting and much more profound impact," he said.

Madam Tan, who has worked at Changi Airport since it opened in 1981, said: "I try to influence the younger staff... I want them to take pride in service and feel that it is important."

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