Changi International Airport Singapore: One man's fun turns into hundreds' trouble

A baggage handler at Changi International Airport of Singapore has been swapping tags of passenger baggage for several months, leading to hundreds losing their possessions and being subjected to anxiety.

Changi International Airport
A family eats at a restaurant overlooking the transit area of Terminal 3 of Singapore's Changi Airport. Reuters

The pain of losing treasured possessions is real. A favourite teddy bear, maybe, or a cherished gift from a loved one – perhaps father's old watch or grandmother's old scarf. What if you come to know that all your worry, panic, and sadness, on losing your luggage at the airport, was just for a man's own amusement?

Something similar happened at Singapore's Changi International Airport. A man, perhaps bored of his job, decided to have some fun at the expense of hundreds of passengers. Though his motives remain unknown, his deeds have got the attention of people all around the world.

Tay Boon Keh, a baggage handler working for a sub-contractor of the Changi Airport Group, has been accused in court of 286 counts of mischief, reported The Straits Times. He is reportedly planning to plead guilty to the charges, although the reason for his actions is not known yet. At his next hearing on October 17, he faces the possibility of getting jail time for up to one year, apart from being fined separately for each charge against him.

Court documents state that luggage bound for various places like Frankfurt, Manila, London, San Francisco, and Perth, were rerouted by the man, who has reportedly been doing this "mischief" almost every day from November 2016 to February 2017. The airlines that became the victim are Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, and SilkAir. However, a spokesman for Changi International Airport said this was not a result of a security breach.

Funny as this incident may seem, it is a fact that close to 60 million passengers in the past year used Changi Airport, the world's sixth busiest airport for international travel. Its website says that 70,000 bags are handled there every day. Looking at the numbers, it indeed looks like a dear price to pay for one man's fun.

It is also interesting to note that Changi International Airport got the title of World's Best Airport in March 2017 for the fifth time in five consecutive years. The honour was awarded by travellers at the Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2017, held at Passenger Terminal EXPO.