Over the decades, I’ve taken a lot of digital pictures. I was a bit haphazard in backing them up to CDs to random hard disks etc – meaning several copies. Over the years, bit rot has corrupted some copies, CDs from 20 years ago have started to go blank etc. Once I put together a ZFS 6 FreeNAS box, I thought it would be a good place to organize them, especially once I started playing with Picasa’s face recognition tool, which is awesome for reminding me who some of those people are in those old .jpgs staring back through the bit flip block defects of the ages.
I’ve tried a couple of face recognition tools – Microsoft’s, some other thing that really sucked, and Picasa, and Picasa’s is by far the best. Unfortunately Picasa suffers horribly from Google Hubris, that infuriating disease that renders otherwise excellent technologies almost unusable. An example many people have run into is Google’s idiotic threading model in gmail. They’ve decided that all messages are non-hierarchical blobs, that the meta information means nothing, and that we should trust the lucky feeling. If the messages Google chooses to show us aren’t what we were actually looking for, then we are doing it wrong.
Picasa is infected with the same disease, but has it even worse. Picasa has one uniquely good trick, it tags faces fairly well. It is not a particularly good tool, certainly not the best, for many other tasks people do with images. But since failing to recognize that the only right way to do any of these tasks is with Picasa, and really failing to understand that anything anyone would legitimately ever actually want to do with a digital image falls into the set of features Picasa has (or it is not legitimate), the fact that touching your images with any other program corrupts Picasa’s database and, entertainingly, wipes out any work that you’ve done with Picasa is, as reiterated over and over by Google’s reps in the Picasa forums, just proof that you’re doing it wrong.
And, of course, Google and Picasa will be with us forever, just like every image management and editing application that I was using back in 1990 when I started taking digital photos.
My little image collection, once fully deduplicated, is 52,000+ images and 122 GB of data, which I think crosses most predictable size fail thresholds, so if these tools work here, they should be pretty reliable for most people. If you don’t get it yet, and still fail to adhere to the Google Way, the following utilities aided my heresy.
Face Tagging (Fix Picasa with AvPicFaceXmpTagger)
If it wasn’t for the face tagging feature, I’d never use Picasa. I can’t wait until somebody competent writes a face tagging application that is as well written, straight forward, and standards compliant as Friedemann Schmidt’s GeoSetter – a gold standard in image utilities matched only by Irfan Skiljan’s IrfanView. Until then, there is, alas, only Picasa.
With a large collection of images, especially those with crowd shots, one quickly discovers that even Picasa’s devs haven’t through through the UI very well yet: there’s no way to reject large groups of pictures. It is also very tedious to work in manual mode: you can’t add faces in the “identify unknown faces” mode where you’d want to, for example. Another odd artifact is that to move a misidentified collection of faces to the right name, you have to select from a text-only popup list that quickly spans several 1200 pixel screens as you add names. If you type the first letter of the name, it jumps to it, but the scroll wheel doesn’t scroll the list and if you start typing the second letter of the name thinking you’ll get to the one you want (a standard UI reflex) you instead jump around to names beginning with that letter – but bonus feature – if you have only one person in the list who’s name begins with that letter, the reassignment executes automatically, which can make it hard to find where the pictures even went.
If it were me, I’d add an “indicate face” mode where I can indicate with just a click (not click, drag, name each time) where a face is and trigger a “look harder” iteration of the detection algo. It would also be useful to hint to the algo that a folder of images has more faces than already detected, try again. The algo should use meta information to aid in narrowing – for example certain faces tend to appear in different periods of one’s life. A good example might be taking a vacation with a friend: in that folder, everyone who kind of looks like the friend is more likely to be so. That is, look at frequency of appearance by metadata cluster and weight accordingly where metadata might be folder, file naming structure, GeoIP, date, time, etc.
But the huge problem with Picasa is that for reasons that could only make sense to a company that is absolutely, religiously certain they know the one and only true way to do anything correctly, Picasa writes the face ID information to a contacts.xml file, not using standards-compliant XMP face tagging. This means that when your picasa database gets corrupted (and it will, regularly) most of your face tagging efforts are lost if you don’t use a utility to write the face tag data to the EXIF meta information so it stays with the picture.
Fortunately, there is a tool to do just that: Andreas Vogel’s AvPicFaceXmpTagger. This utility will read the contacts.xml file and write the data into the image files as XMP compliant tags so the work will stay with your images. I ran it on my entire pre-deduplicated collection before deduplicating, and while it took about 20 hours, it did not barf.
What is particularly annoying is that the face detection algorithm is actually quite good, it is the database management that is beyond useless. Google has no excuse for being bad at information management. The meta information being attached to a picture couldn’t be easier – a name and coordinates. The contacts.xml file is intolerably fragile and completely tied to Picasa.
GeoTagging (Use GeoSetter)
Picasa used to be my geotag program, but then I found GeoSetter, and I completely abandoned Picasa’s inferior geotagging features and never looked back. It is now just a face recognition tool. It pretty much sucks at managing the data, and while AvPicFaceXmpTagger fixes the inexcusable shortcoming of not writing XMP tags with the face data, as soon as there’s a GeoSetter-quality, XMP-compliant face tagging solution, Picasa is so voted off the hard disk.
GeoSetter uses map integration to make tagging pictures easy, but it does The Right Thing, that is it puts as tags hierarchical place and altitude information as tags. Oddly, Picasa reps argue that geotags don’t do that any more, that is they only put the lat/lon into the picture assuming that the user will always be connected to Google’s servers and look up additional metadata from the lat/long as needed, arrogant, self-centered morons that they are. Real world users that don’t live on the Google campus still interact with their image data when their not connected to the interwebs, as difficult as this would be for Google to understand and as contrary to their plans for world domination as it is.
But Geosetter does it right, so don’t bother geotagging with Picasa. Geosetter will also look up the additional place name metadata based on lat/lon data in the picture and write that to the appropriate EXIF fields. It is powerful, easy to use, and very reliable.
Folder Organization (Organize folders by date with AmoK Exif Sorter)
Organizing pictures is highly subjective and there’s no right way – well except Picasa’s One True Way, but if your read this far, you’re probably not drinking that cool-aide. I, personally, like YYYY/YYYY-MO/YYYY-MO-DY/Image name folder structures. I, personally, don’t end up with more than 3-400 images in any single folder that way (and that very rarely) so OS’s don’t ever barf on a 20,000 image folder and it is fairly easy to find pictures. The tool I use to organize into year/month/day folders is AmoK Exif Sorter, which can read the EXIF create date and move images into my favorite folder structure automatically. It is a little slow on large folders of more than 2-3,000 images, but it didn’t fail on 20,000 images and sorted them all perfectly.
This works well because I use the same image organization with my EyeFi card, which transmits images directly from my camera to my laptop via wifi and sorts them as it goes. Everything prior to getting the card was randomly sorted until Exif Sorter fixed it, but now it should stay in sync. I really like my EyeFi card, but if upload is enabled when I am not in range of a discoverable network, the card sometimes crashes and I lose the last couple of pictures taken. I’m not happy about that, but I usually remember to turn upload off from the camera interface, and it has only made me really sad a few times so far.
If you’re as disorganized as I am then you’ll ultimately end up with quite a few extra copies of your images as the years go by. Some of my collections had more than 10 copies in the nearly two decades since I first took them. I actually use two tools for deduplication: AntiTwin and DupDetector; I tried Picasa’s deduplication tool but it sucks and it isn’t clear that it is actually removing duplicates, rather just faking you into doing work with it that will later be lost when you have to reinstall Picasa in a few days after the database gets corrupted again (see rotation, below).
I do first pass deduplication with AntiTwin and use the byte by byte comparison at 100% match to find bit-for-bit copies. This does not detect copies with different EXIF tags (which happens) or images that are scaled for email and cluttering up your disk along with their original resolution master images, but you can be confident you’re not going to lose anything. I directly delete the copies AntiTwin finds. AntiTwin also has an image compare function, but it is useless on a large image collection.
To find scaled copies, copies with exif info, copies with minor bit rot, etc that AntiTwin won’t find, I use Prismatic Software’s DupDetector. I’ve found an odd mix of versions on download sites, and the author site is very slow, but it isn’t too huge and it works very well and has been recently updated. I use it to move, not delete copies, into a dead storage folder. If I make a mistake, the copies are still there, but I don’t need to have them in my primary search path. I am fairly confident that everything detected as a duplicate with match at 99.9% was actually a duplicate, but at 99.7%, it turned up some icon sized scaled pictures along with a lot of false matches in very dark pictures. I suggest first running at 100% in fully automatic mode, then cautiously at 99.9% in fully automatic mode; I only had 420 detected duplicates at 99.7%, and about half of those were true duplicates, so I ran at 99.7% in semi-auto mode.
One of the last steps for me is orienting all of my pictures upright using a JPEG Lossless rotation. In yet another facepalm move, Picasa fakes you out with rotations – it does not actually rotate the image, it just stores your rotation specification in picasa.ini file in the folder, which only Picasa uses, and that’s only until that file gets hosed for some reason. So if you spent a couple of days scrolling through the giant list of all your images rotating them one by one in Picasa, you wasted your time. Sorry. Thank Google.
Fire up IrfanView, load a directory of images, or even all subdirectories, and you can autorotate a giant library according to EXIF information. If your pictures go back more than about 5 years, your camera probably didn’t have an orientation sensor, so auto-rotate wont work. But Irfan’s thumbnail mode lets you select a few thousand images that need to be rotated the same way on by one (but quickly) and batch rotate them all losslessly.
If you do this, Picasa will still apply the picasa.ini rotation you created and it will be wrong, which is a good reminder not to use Picasa for anything any other program does better.
Weird: I have yet to find a way to import an RSS feed into G+. This is one of those things that significantly undermines Google’s “your data” cred. Anyone know of a way to do it? I haven’t found an “import RSS feed into your feed” the way facebook kinda does and the wordpress/facebook plugin does.
I’m a very strong believer in “he who owns the hardware, owns the data,” so, for example, posting this on G+ means that this text is Google’s (note, this was originally published on G+, then I stole it back!). And since it didn’t originate on my personal wordpress installation (free as in speech, free as in beer) running on my server at home (free as in speech, not absurdly expensive as in cheap beer), it isn’t mine.
My server also runs my mail server, my file server, my web server etc. all from my garage meaning that’s my data and my hardware and fully protected by law, while any data on Google’s server is effectively shared with every good and bad government in the world and my only legal recourse if it gets hacked or stolen or sold or given away or simply deleted is to… write an angry post on my blog and swear never to trust a cloud service again.
This is, obviously, exactly the same at FaceBook and every other cloud service. I use Facebook as a syndication service: I post on my own servers and syndicate via RSS to FaceBook, which becomes, in effect, the most frequently used RSS reader should people who haven’t gotten around to blocking me in their streams might find and by which perhaps occasionally be amused. This means I still own my data and my data has no particular dependence on FaceBook’s survival.
This post is visible only as long as Google wants it to be. If Google changes the rules, I lose the data. OK, I can download it – as long as they choose to let me, but it isn’t my data. When I post on my server then give FaceBook permission to republish the data, I control my data and they get only what I decide to give them. When I post this on Google and then ask “please, sir, may I recover my post for another use?” the power relationship is reversed: Google owns and controls everything and my rights and usage are only what they deign to offer me.
That almost everyone trusts the billionaire playboys who put king sized beds in their 767 party plane as “do no evil” paragons of virtue is odd to me, but nothing better validates Erich Fromm’s thesis than the pseudo-religious idolatry of Google and Apple. Still, even the True Believers should realize that the founders of these Great Empires are not truly immortal and that even if Google is doing no evil now, it will change hands and those that inherit every search you’ve ever done, every web page you’ve ever visited, every email you’ve ever sent, every phone call you’ve ever made or received, the audio of every message ever left for you, the GPS traces of every step you’ve ever taken, every text and chat and tweet might think, say, that Doing Good means something different than you think it does. One should also remember the Socratic Paradox that renders tautological Google’s vaunted motto.
Unfortunately, at least so far, Google won’t let me use G+ to syndicate my data – they insist on owning it and dictating the terms by which I can access it. If I want to syndicate content through my G+ network, it seems I have to fully gift Google that content. I’m hoping there’s a tool to populate my “posts” from RSS so the canonical will remain on my server. Because it is the Right Thing To Do.
(Shhhh.. I’m going to copy and paste this into my own wordpress installation, even though I wrote it here on the G+ interface. They probably won’t send me a DMCA takedown, but I do run the risk that they’ll hit me with a “duplicate content penalty” and set my page rank to 0 thus ensuring nobody ever finds my site again. Ah, absolute power, so reassuring to remember that it is absolutely incorruptible.)
Sushi from the JFK RCC int 1st club before a transcon. Hmmm…
We had a visit to lovely Cinque Terre. A bit touristy and too many SF types in the crowd (including the owners of the Atlas Cafe) but otherwise quite cool.
An interesting artifact of the FB vs. G+ debate is the justification by a lot of tech-savvy people in moving to G+ from FB because they believe Google to be less evil. It is an odd comparison to make, both companies are in essentially the same business: putting out honey pots of desirable web properties, attracting users, harvesting them, and selling their data.
Distinguishing between grades of evil in companies that harvest and sell user data seems a little arbitrary. I’d think it would make more sense to use each resource for what it does well rather than arbitrarily announce that you’re one or the other.
However, if one is making the choice as to what service to call home on the basis of least “evil” and assuming that metric is derived in some way from the degree to which the company in question harvests your data and sells it, then it is somewhat illuminating to look at real numbers. One can assume that the more deeply one probes each user captured by the honey pot, the more data extracted, the more aggressively sold, the more money one makes. The company that makes the most money per user is probing the deepest and selling the hardest.
From Technology Review May/June 2011, annual revenue per monthly unique US visitor:
Facebook: $ 12.10
Google squeezes out and sells more than 13.5x the data per user. Google wins. But Facebook is gathering $12.10 worth of user data, why should Google allow Facebook to have it? If Google wins that last morsel of data to take to market and takes out Facebook, Google can increase their gross revenue by 7%.
I’ve also heard people argue that Zuckerberg seems more personally avaricious, mean, or evil than Google’s founders, comparing Google’s marketing spin to “The Social Network”
Zuckerberg’s only newsworthy purchase was a $7m house in Palo Alto. Google co-founders were in the news over a lawsuit between them over whether their 767 “party plane” (Eric Schmidt) could house Brin’s California king bed. This is in addition to their 757 and two Gulfstream Vs they talked NASA into letting them park at Moffet under the pretense that the planes would be retrofit with instruments for NASA. When they couldn’t do that (FAA regs, who knew?), they bought a Dornier Alpha, but still get to park their jumbo jets and gulfstreams inside NASA hangers for some reason. Suck on that, Ellison!
I was playing with long exposures with the NEX5. I got a cool picture with a shooting star in the background – it wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but showed up on the image (almost typed “film”). It was a 30 second exposure at ISO 6400, very cool that it resolved the color of the trees and tower by starlight.
The village was is an automatic HDR composition which reports 3.2 seconds at ISO 1600.
Singapore Airlines sucks… OMG. Not only do they seem to have real trouble handling bags, they have absolutely no customer service at all. None. Zilch.
I flew SFO-JFK on a UAL PS flight first class on the 1st; JFK-FRA on Singpore Air, first class on the 1st-2nd; FRA-FLR on Lufthansa business the 2nd. When I arrived in FLR, no luggage. I waited for the next FRA-FLR flight to arrive, no luggage. There had been 3 FRA-FLR flights before mine my luggage could have taken, no luggage.
I had a 3 hour layover in JFK, somehow Singapore did not get my luggage on my flight, despite flying first class and having one of those “priority” tags on my bag (as if). United’s scan showed they delivered the luggage to singapore on time, but that Singapore just hadn’t boarded it, and rather than find the fastest way to get it to me at my destination, put it on the same flight (SQ25) 24 hours later. They hadn’t bothered to try to contact me. At all.
Now that’s lame, lame for coach, pretty much intolerable for first, but to make matters worse:
Their online luggage check tool at http://www.worldtracer.aero/cgi-bin/fileframe.exe?tran=XXXsqXXXXXl1=enCB=Y does not have current information, but United has more recent information – FOR SINGAPORE. If they could give me some information, any information about the luggage, I’d be more confident, but that the only useful information I could get at all came from United, and from them only as a courtesy, is just astonishing.
I was given this number by united to call: 800 742 3333, it is a call center that could do nothing at all to help but sound vaguely apologetic and give me the Local airport number.
I called that number, 718 751 3832, and got voice mail. Of course I left a message, of course nobody called back.
I called their lost and found number at 1 800-2244243 and got fast busy every time (during daylight hours Singapore time, daylight hours EST, daylight Europe time… the number seems disconnected: WIN SQ!).
I wrote them at email@example.com, no answer so far. (update, 12 72 hours later, no response at all).
I found the JFK office number on the Singapore site, which is actually their “traffic number” at +1 (718) 751-3830 and called and got voice mail, no answer, no response. (update, no call back 12 hours later UPDATE again – still no contact at all from Singapore – 3 days).
I found the JFK baggage office email at JFK_LostNFound@singaporeair.com.sg and sent a note there, of course no response.
I filled out the form at https://www.singaporeair.com/baggageFeedBack.form and at https://www.singaporeair.com/customerServiceFeedBack.form, but of course got nothing back – so far not even an automated response (update: got an automated response, but no real response 12 72 hours later).
I called the 24 hour call center in singapore at +65 6223 8888 and their phone tree system had real trouble recognizing DTMF signals and they had no default to human operator. It’s a reservations system and has endless hold problems, but at least I eventually got hold music. No help, but hold music. Update – I did eventually get someone but they were as useless as the first number. I had serious trouble explaining that I needed to speak to a human being and that it wasn’t useful to give me a number to call where nobody answered.
I demanded that the operator connect me, and she finally connected me to someone who said “hello.” I said “hello.” He said “hello.” I said “hello.” Excuse me, who are you? No “can I help you?” No “I’m sorry we screwed up and didn’t get your luggage on the flight?” But finally, finally, someone at Singapore who could, if not entirely politely, at least look up the status. I had to correct him when he said “you lost your bag” to me: “No YOU lost my bag, you failed to board it on my flight. Where is it?”
People rave about Singapore Air and while the flight was comfortable enough and the food excellent… and the FAs the nicest and most attending I’ve experienced, their baggage handling and customer support is horrible. Unbelievably worse than even a discount airline in the US. And the thing that pisses me off most (and this is the same with UAL): they KNEW my luggage didn’t get on the plane before my flight took off – certainly long before I landed. Why wait until I get to my final destination to file a claim before fixing it? Flying first class on a transcon flight they should have had someone waiting for me at FRA with a toiletries kit and an apology and an update as to where my luggage was so I didn’t have to waste 90 minutes at the airport filing a claim and another hour or two following up to find out the status of their screw up (Update: 4 days later and Singapore has yet to take a single step to rectify their mistakes or apologize).
UPDATE 1: 12 hours after arrival, UAL is still the only airline that is willing to answer their phone or check on updates. I haven’t tried to track down Lufthansa, though they haven’t yet answered their email. UAL is at least polite and responsive on the phone and can track the bag for me, even though they didn’t lose it, Singapore did. Note that Singpore has known my bag wasn’t on my flight for almost 36 hours already and has not bothered to contact me (update: 4 days later and not a word from Singapore)
UPDATE 2: 24 hours after arrival, Singapore’s web site still says “Bag 1 Status TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER” But FINALLY got through to Singapore Air and spent some time teaching the bag guy there how luggage scanning works at different airports and why it is reasonable for him to be able to answer whether my bag had made it to FLR yet or not (shaming him a bit by explaining that if he couldn’t answer, I can call UAL and they DO know because their computer WORKS).
He kept telling me he was the one who “rushed” my bag to FLR. I’m sorry, using the word “rushed” for putting my bag on my same itinerary 24 hours late isn’t “rushing.” Just like making me call HIM to find out the status when he knew my bag was misplaced isn’t “customer service.” In a moment of honesty he said “I don’t know why your bag didn’t get on your flight.” SQ simply screwed up, but hasn’t done anything to fix it at all.
He finally managed to look it up after I basically explained how to do it over the phone and confirmed it was in Florence, but had made no arrangements for final delivery. At least he knows how to check on the status of a missing bag now, so if anyone else loses their bag out of JFK on Singapore and wants to find the status, call +1 (718) 751-3830 during regular daytime hours and if you’re lucky the same guy will be there and know how to look it up for you. You’re welcome. I forgot to ask him to add a local cell number to the record, but that was too painful, I’ll call UAL and ask them to do it, even though this is all SQ’s fault.
UPDATE 3: 36 hours after arrival, Singapore’s web site now says “Bag 1 Status ITEM LOCATED, PENDING CONFIRMATION” According to Singapore Air the bag was actually delivered to FLR last night. I called the airport and they were very polite but couldn’t give me any information other than to take my number and offer to call tonight. As it might be out for delivery, I won’t drive back to the airport yet. Singapore still has yet to call me, message me, or respond to any email. UPDATE – they were wrong, the bag had not made it to FLR. They were either lying or incompetent.
UPDATE 4: 48 hours after arrival, still can’t reach anyone at Singapore at any number. I’ve taken to calling sequentially all of their listed numbers in the entire world trying to reach someone, anyone, with 1/2 a clue… or who will even answer the phone. As that was complete FAIL I called UAL again. Of course they knew exactly what was going on. My luggage seems to have gone on SQ 25 from JFK a day late, and flown to FRA… but… it seems they FORGOT TO UNLOAD IT. WTF? OMFG.
So UAL tells me it is now actually on SQ 326 from SINGAPORE to FRA. It is supposed to connect tomorrow on LH308 arriving on the 5th. They lost it on the 1st. That’s 4 full days Singapore has known they screwed up, and two MAJOR screw ups, and not a single contact from them, not an email, not a phone call, not an SMS, not anything. I’ve written them maybe 6-8 emails and called every number I could find and actually talked to two people, including the guy in NY who insisted that he RUSHED to get my bag on the same flight 24 hours later (but didn’t bother to contact me or assist me in any way to either locate my luggage or offer to assist with the absence of luggage) and still not one single proactive step from them at all.
I finally got some poor guy at the LA office and gave him a bit of a chewing out for their corporate incompetence. He promised to tell his manager and try to get back to me. We’ll see, but what can they say? “Um, sorry we forgot to load your luggage. Sorry we didn’t bother to say anything at all about it. Sorry we forgot to unload it in Frankfurt and took it on a world tour instead… I guess we’re just incompetent morons?”
UPDATE 5: 60 hours after arrival. Still not a word by any means from Singapore Air. They have yet to even apologize for losing my luggage, not once, but twice on the same trip. That’s just inexcusable. I called FLR’s automated luggage line and they told me the luggage has been found and will go out for delivery as I arranged with them. No call yet to arrange delivery, but at least it is no longer in Singapore Air’s incompetent hands.
UPDATE 6: 72 hours after arrival. I got through to someone at FLR. Their automated line in English and Italian is at +39 055 3061 302. The information they provide has so far proven correct, so it is a fairly reliable system (unlike Singapore Air). They also have a direct line, though the people there are quite hassled and busy, but if you need to update your record, you can reach them at +39 055 3061 680. Still not a word, not an email, not an SMS, not a call from anyone at Singapore.
UPDATE 7: 84 hours after arrival. I finally got an email from Singapore Air – first contact from the company. It reads:
Dear Mr Gessel,
thank you for your e-mail sent to our baggage enquiry department in SIN.
According to your Missing Report FLRLH82547 raised in Florenz with LH, the bag was received in Florenz yesterday, on the 05th of July.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the status of the delivery as I´m at Frankfurt. But I´m confident that our colleagues from LH will arrange a fast delivery to your mentioned adress in Italy.
We apologize for any inconveniences caused to you because of this unfortunate incident.
SINGAPORE AIRLINES LTD.
Senior Customer Services Agent
SINGAPORE AIRLINES LTD.
Gebäude 201 HBK 277
I appreciate the apology, but it has been 5 days since Singapore first discovered they lost my luggage and this is the first they’ve bothered to say anything, and that thing is “OK, we’re done screwing it up, Lufthansa can sort it out.” Still no delivery advice. Perhaps he could have taken the time to find out what the delivery timing will be and let me know.
UPDATE 7: My luggage was just delivered, at 0710 ET July 6. Singapore Air first became aware they had failed to board it on SQ 25, presumably shortly after takeoff at 2125 ET July 1. It took them 100 hours to contact me at all, and then only after I sent them dozens of messages and called every number they had to try to track down my luggage, and my luggage finally go to me 92 hours late.
It has been all over the world since I checked it in at SFO 5 days ago. The Singapore reroute tags tell the tale: they start on the 2nd, and are crossed out and updated with 4th and then 5th. Nice work! Once it got to LH, it was delivered quickly.
Conclusion: Singapore Air gives a great front office experience, but their back office needs some serious work. With the amount I’ve flown, I’ve had my luggage misdirected plenty of times, but never twice on the same flight – never misdirected in the effort to get it to me. That is a special category of fail. I’m particularly annoyed by Singapore’s astonishing lack of responsiveness: they provide no functional way to track down luggage they’ve lost. None at all.
If you’re lucky and you’ve connected with another carrier, a responsible one, you can get updates and keep track of what is taking so long, but not through Singapore.
Singapore’s in-cabin reputation is well deserved, definitely one of the best in the business, but their back office is one of the worst. Discount airlines do a better job. I would not trust them with my luggage again.
For a decade a I filled out complaint forms every week at United Red Carpet Clubs explaining that they were being short-sighted charging for internet service, a service they could provision for a few hundred dollars a month and would have drawn customers to them. They finally got around to fixing their stupid contract about the time airports started giving away wifi for free in the concourse, making the lounge the tier 2 place to be for a business traveler.
Finally, Frankfurt has realized the same thing. Oddly, Munich has been giving away access cards for years now, but Frankfurt was always a dead zone for an international traveler. today I was very pleased to see this slightly oddly worded greeting.
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