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The first and last people that travellers meet: Changi Airport front liner has to remove his PPE every time he visits the toilet

The global pandemic has innumerable detrimental effects across industries including the world’s best airport, Changi Airport, which nowadays is filled with employees clad in personal protective equipment that they are struggling to wear every time they are taking a break.

Sky Tan (28), who currently works in the Changi Airport has to leave behind his family in Malaysia and it’s been almost two years since he last saw them. Even though the Vaccinated Travel Lane which will connect Singapore and Kuala Lumpur that has been recently announced and will open on November 29, his plans to visit his family in Penang has to be put on hold.

Sky currently works at Changi Airport in Singapore as a Supervisor for Changi Experience, which is a customer service position that mostly requires him to answer inquiries of passengers in the terminal.

Even though excited that he can now go home with his wife and the airline industry is slowly recovering, their plans have to be put on hold until the pandemic has fully receded. We at Straits Times talked with Sky about his experiences working at Changi Airport.

Changi Airport then and now

Ever since the pandemic began, Changi Airport has changed a lot when it comes to the volume of passengers every day and air traffic. The once-thriving airport has lost its touch due to the restrictions in travel that were caused by the coronavirus.

He lamented the stark comparison between the situation of the airport pre-pandemic and what it is now. He said that last time, two employees manned the information counter and they usually entertained two to three passengers at the same time. 

Nowadays, the number of passengers per day is a far cry from what it used to be, with busy periods now mostly concentrated to a few hours in the morning and evenings.

He also mentioned that the airport was divided into different zones to prevent cross-infection between employees. He currently supervises Zone 1 which he describes the employees there as the first and last contact of passengers before departure and after arrival.

He described his work as more than aiding the passengers with their requests and inquiries but also making sure that the passengers are adhering to the safety protocols and wearing their masks within the airport premises.

PPE on and off

When we asked about what it is like working in Changi Airport right now during the pandemic didn’t hold back. 

He shared that all of the staff members especially in Zone 1 have to be fully vaccinated and they are required to wear personal protective equipment or PPE, which is complete with a gown, an N95 mask, gloves, and a face shield.

He also said that the most uncomfortable part of wearing this equipment is that they have to remove them when they are going to the toilet or taking their breaks in the staff lounge, which is a complete hassle every time.

Struggle with downtime periods

However, aside from the physical struggles of wearing a PPE all the time during work hours, the most challenging part is the lull periods during the day and night when there are few or no passengers at all. 

During these times, especially in the ungodly hours in the morning, the work could be quite boring when the time that passes by feels so excruciatingly slow. They are forced to make their time more productive by looking for passengers that need assistance.

Final thoughts

The sky is one of those people who are severely affected by the effects of the pandemic and his story is very common during these times. It may be an isolated case but we generally feel the difference between the times before the pandemic and what is happening right now. 

For more Covid-19 updates and Asiaone news, please visit Straits Times for more information.