The 'new normal' life of Changi's trolley service officers

With most of the world still unable to travel internationally due to Covid-19, fewer passengers at Changi also means that some of our services, like trolleys, are needed less frequently.

So what is life like these days for the Trolley Service Officers (TSO) at Changi?

Changi Journeys (CJs) speaks with Mr Chiang Sin Leong, a TSO Team Leader from Smarte Carte at Terminal 3, to find out more. 

Mr Chia Sin Leong  at work in Terminal 3

 

1.   CJs: Uncle Chiang, how long have you been with Smarte Carte, and what are your job responsibilities?

Chiang: I joined Smarte Carte in 2015. After my retirement, I felt bored staying at home every day. One day, as I was walking around Changi Airport, I saw some workers who were handling the trolleys chatting happily with one another as they re-arranged the trolleys, and I thought that this was a job that would keep me meaningfully occupied, so I applied for this job too.

As Team Leader, I oversee a team of TSOs and ensure that everyone is working in the right locations that they have been assigned to. I also rove around the terminal to check that all the trolleys are stocked in the right places.

 

2.  CJs: Is a work day different for you now compared to before Covid-19? If yes, what are the main differences?

Chiang: Besides taking care of trolleys, selected TSOs are also deployed as taxi coordinators at the airport now, to coordinate and manage the taxi queue and assist passengers in getting their cabs.  While there are fewer passengers now, more than 170 flights still take off and land on a daily basis in Terminals 1 and 3.

So nowadays in addition to checking on trolleys, I need to keep my eye on the taxi queue as well, to ensure that the flow is smooth when flights land.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, I also go around reminding my team to take their temperature daily, and for them to monitor their own health, and practice good personal hygiene.

 

3.  CJs: I understand that you received a compliment from a passenger recently, can you share more on that with us?

Chiang: On one of my rounds, I saw this passenger at the arrival hall with a trolley piled high with four large pieces of luggage, and a haversack on her back. She was having problems at the taxi queue, as her luggage could not fit into one normal-sized taxi. I immediately went over to her to help her get a larger taxi at the Ground Transport Concierge (GTC), so that she didn’t have to walk over to the GTC herself. Being tired from her long journey, she was very appreciative of my effort and thanked me many times. Being able to help travellers warms my heart and gives me a lot of motivation for my job.

 

4.  CJs: Is your company providing you with more training during this period?

Chiang: Yes. Smarte Carte is providing us with more training during this period, to help us to improve on our Customer Service standards. The company has also planned various digital courses for us, like how to use smart phones to retrieve flight information and how to use the various functions in Whatsapp, etc.

With such training, my colleagues and I are now less afraid of new technology and more open to using either the phone or other digital equipment to check and get information. In this way, when travel resumes later, we can be more comfortable using technology for some of our work, such as planning the duty roster for our teams. 

Smarte Carte employees attending a training course on “Safety Management Measures”

 

5.  CJs: I hear that previously, a TSO can walk up to more than 10,000 steps per day on average, in the course of your work. Do you still keep track of the number of steps you clock now?

Chiang: Yes I do! In fact, as a Team Leader, I averaged around 28,000 steps a day when I was working in T4. Nowadays, since we are doing job sharing and rostered for shorter working hours, I clock slightly less, at around 25,000 steps on average. I really like it that my job allows me to stay active.

 

Uncle Chiang concludes: “I am very happy to be working in Smarte Carte. The company really takes good care of us older workers and pays close attention to our training and benefits. For most of us, this is a post-retirement job. Although I am already 73 years old this year, I want to continue working as a TSO for as long as I can. I am grateful that I am healthy and mobile, and I feel proud to be able to continue contributing to society, and to work at Changi Airport.”

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