Singapore Airlines (SIA) has deployed additional resources to support its customer service agents in Singapore and around the world to cope with the surge in enquiries. The national carrier has been investing on its customer service front, as it unveiled that there has been an extraordinarily high volume of customer enquiries at its customer services centres, reservation and sales offices, and social media channels.
The airline has been reducing flights to several parts of the world, due to weak demand. In a bid to aid impacted travellers at this point in time, SIA will be waiving all rebooking fees for tickets issued on or before 15 March 2020, for travel up to 31 May 2020. This also comes following several countries issuing a self isolation requirement for all international arrivals. According to SIA, customers can cancel their existing flight itineraries, retain the value of their tickets and rebook their travel at a later date. The national carrier added that this new policy will allow customers the flexibility to defer their travel plans and applies to all bookings for travel up to 31 May 2020. The media statement read that SIA will continue to review its waiver policy and retains the flexibility to extend the cut-off date of 31 May 2020 as it assesses the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on global air travel in the coming weeks.
SIA previously confirmed to Marketing that it will be implementing a recruitment freeze due to the current COVID-19 situation. The company, however, did not disclose which departments will take a hit. "We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will be decisive in implementing any additional measures that may be needed. However, we will not do anything that compromises the SIA Group’s long-term competitiveness," the spokesperson said then.
In addition, the airline is also seeking understanding from customers amidst a high volume of customer enquiries at its customer services centres, reservation and sales offices, and social media channels. Due to the high volume of incoming requests, SIA encouraged customers to only contact the team if their flight is departing in next 72 hours.
Similarly, online homestay marketplace Airbnb will also be allowing hosts and guests to cancel eligible reservations with no charge or penalty. In response to the events and global disruption to travel caused by COVID-19, Airbnb updated its coverage and the new policy will apply to existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before 14 March 2020.
According to Airbnb, the new policy applies to bookings of places to stay and Airbnb Experiences in every country and region around the world, with the exception of domestic travel in mainland China which is scheduled to return to normal rules on 1 April. In addition, the company will be working to identify tools and initiatives to support hosts during these challenging times.