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.