I don’t generally like wrist watches, but have grown to love my Apple Watch. Yesterday I nearly lost it, then nearly lost it again.
I left my Apple Watch in the pocket of my robe at the Andaz Singapore. Sadly, I did not notice this until I had cleared immigration at Singapore Changi Airport. My phone rang and I’m usually alerted to a phone call via my watch, not the phone itself. Only then did I realize my watch was missing.
My heart sank. I knew where I had left…in the pocket of my robe in the bathroom. But I wasn’t worried…that would come later.
I called the hotel and they promised to look immediately and call me back. Five minutes later they did call back, confirming they had found the watch. I asked them to put in on a cab and take it to the airport, where I would meet them.
Instead, the hotel promised to send an associate in a hotel car to personally deliver it to me (we’ll see how much I get charged for that…). I had arrived at the airport early to review the Qantas and British Airways lounges, so had plenty of time.
Trapped in SIN
About 30 minutes later, I attempted to pass through immigration to meet the driver on the curb.
I explained the situation to an immigration agent and she shook her head and said it was impossible to leave the airport. She referred me to her duty officer at an adjacent desk.
He was likewise unsympathetic, stating that it was “illegal” to exit. I asked him how I was supposed to get my watch and he said I would need to go the airline, cancel my ticket, exit, then rebook.
I’m not kidding. This, in many ways, is a perfect picture of the Singaporean bureaucracy that has made the city-state a tightly-controlled, but powerful nation. But we’re just getting started.
I was speaking to the Andaz worker on my cell, who had just arrived. I walked upstairs to the immigration exit control (where you are stamped out of the country just past check-in) and found him there. We were a hundred feet away from each other, waiving at one another…but immigration would not let him hand me the watch or take it from him and hand it to me.
He was instructed to go to an airport information desk. I was too. The two information desk agents started speaking to on another. A report had to be filed. Pictures had to be taken. But someone would bring me my watch…in about 15 minutes.
I took a seat and waited. Finally, my watch arrived in a sealed plastic bag. I had to “identify” it and fill out a claims report. My passport was photographed.
The lesson is always the same: ensure you have all personal items before departing your hotel. That would have saved me a lot of hassle.
The secondary lesson is that it appears you cannot leave Singapore Changi Airport once you pass through the immigration checkpoint.
There’s something endearing about the process of returning my watch, but it just seemed like a bit much when we were just standing 100 feet apart. Even so, I’m wearing it once again. The “system” worked.
I’m from Singapore and while I’m sympathetic to your experience, sometimes systems and procedures are in place for a reason. Many people enter a country with proof of confirmed onward travel. Imagine someone who had designs on illegal immigration who entered on that premise, and then did what you did. Or got a courier to deliver stolen goods to him once he cleared immigration. Immigrations officials are in a usually tight spot and do not usually have a lot of discretion.
I fail to see the danger in your imagine logic – seeing how Matthew already was admitted to the country earlier and could have accomplished many dirty deeds.
What kind of dirty deeds are you talking about?
Dirt cheap ones.
Whatever GL means by ‘designs on illegal immigration’.
Same story with Hong Kong, Bangkok etc. Major international hubs will prevent you from exiting the secure area once inside. It’s not a “revolving door” like most of the old airports.
You got your watch after going through the hoops and left enough time to do it. That’s important. Security is also very important.
Informative post! Now I know that it may be possible for the information desk to pass a lost item.
I have a system to reduce the chance of lost items in the hotel. Towards the end of my stay, all things are either on the desk (or open drawer if too many things) or the suitcase. Bathroom counter, bedside table, closet, bed not allowed. Even shoes are placed near the desk or an open drawer.
You and I could seriously write a novel about items left behind in hotels…
BTW, that’s some seriously impressive service on the part of the Andaz. Hopefully they don’t charge you whatever you paid for the room for the privilege. lol
Derek Your system is the one I use. It works!!!!!! unless I’m traveling with my beloved husband who takes things from the pile without telling me and puts them in OTHER places where we supposedly won’t forget them. For example a small black plastic bag on top of the black safe. Just one example. Despite that quirk, he’s my favourite travel companion.
Rumor has it, you have an Apple watch Hermès. Can you confirm?
Yes, I had a situation like that in a domestic travel in China where the Yichang Crown Plaza hotel returned an IPAD. It took for the kindness of the hotel just twenty minutes to come to the airport with the lost+found goods but it took an hour for the airport security formalities. The lesson here is you forget something then forget being treated well as you will be in the suspect’s list of one imagination or the other….however genuine it could be. Blame not anyone as there are a lot of bad things that happen and nobody could be given a benefit of doubt. One has to go through and endure, unfortunately in such occasions.
I live in Singapore. While it has been reported, many do not know that Changi began a crackdown on people legally entering the secure departures area to enjoy the benefits, only to exit without flying. Some did this for fun, others to use lounges, and others to purchase goods duty free such as the iPhone X when it first came out. As of a few weeks ago, there were still placards at the departure immigration self service kiosks reminding people that it is illegal to enter the departure area and not fly anywhere. There must be an exception process such as when a flight is cancelled or an emergency develops. I’m not sure how the authorities would accept a story that a business meeting was postponed. In any of these cases, I believe that a duty officer can authorize an exception. Considering how frequently bonafide passengers must leave a personal item in the public area of Changi, it seems that the airport should have a more well-known process for handling a situation like yours. My take from your story was that there wasn’t really a well-known process but eventually a staff member put the process in motion.
That was my thought as well!
Your whining tone is so hilarious I can’t bear it. You made a mistake. You blame the country for you not being able to get the item back. And you don’t care about any procedures. You believe you are the most important person in the world. You are not. I kinda hoped you wouldn’t get it back, just to make it more painful for you. Truly, a typical entitled American who thinks that the world belongs to you.
I don’t detect any whining tone. I do detect a jealous tone from you Casper.
Love, I would never be jealous of such stupidity as not to check whether I have taken my belongings with me x
DEL in India is much stricter, Once you enter into the airport even before checkin, you are not allowed to leave under any circumstance other then on a plane. We were transiting from a remote terminal and entered the main terminal to drop off luggage and then spend the day in town and weren’t allowed to leave…instead spent 8 hours in the lobby as they wouldn’t let us check in and go through security (too early) and wouldn’t let us leave…
I can attest to this. I went into the DEL airport to drop off my friends, and even though my flight was 2 weeks away they wouldn’t let me leave the main terminal. I was stuck in the lobby for 2 weeks, eating junk food and sleeping on a dirty floor.
The GOVERNMENT Bureauracy at work!!!
Matthew, How about a review on the Andaz hotel? I’m going to Singapore next month and I’m trying to figure out where to stay.
@Dan, review coming by the end of the week.