Stranded and clueless
They were waiting expectantly to board their 4.20pm flight for Jakarta yesterday.
But 20 minutes before their Tigerair flight was to leave Changi Airport Terminal 2, there was an announcement that led to groans from the roughly 70 passengers inside the boarding area.
Their flight was cancelled and no reason was given.
"We were left wondering why," said Mr Josh Lee, 23, who was heading to the Indonesian capital for a dance contest.
Unknown to them, Mount Kelud in Java had erupted, sending plumes of ash into the air.
Airports in Semarang, Solo, Surabaya and Yogyakarta were closed. Jakarta's main airport remained open.
Tigerair initially cancelled all their flights to Indonesia. Mr Lee said that the announcement was made only inside the boarding area.
"Those who were waiting outside could not hear the announcement, and no staff member explained the situation to them. The miscommunication caused some confusion," he said.
Mr Lee and the others were then taken to claim their luggage and then directed to Terminal 2's Departure Hall after clearing immigration.
Ms Siti Munawaroh Supadi, an Indonesian journalist on holiday in Singapore, described a scene of chaos as they were directed to return to Terminal 2.
The 34-year-old said: "The group of us were shuffled from the boarding gate to immigration and then back to the Departure Hall. I had to claim my bag from the lost-and-found counter.
"We had no idea what was going on and simply followed instructions as directed by the airport staff."
Mr Lee, a Singapore Management University undergraduate, said: "It was only when we arrived at the Departure Hall that we found out why the flight was cancelled."
Some 250 passengers from two affected Jakarta-bound Tigerair flights were still clueless about their next move, and had to queue outside the Tigerair check-in counters for more than two hours.
Ms Siti said that Tigerair gave passengers the option to get a refund or reschedule a flight for the next day.
Another passenger, Mr William Ng, said nobody had informed them about the airline's decision until they reached the counter.
"It would have been better to make regular announcements so that those waiting in line knew what was going on, instead of keeping us in the dark for two hours," said the 62-year-old, who had come from Malaysia and was supposed to attend a wedding in Jakarta tonight.
At about 6.20pm, the row of check-in counters opposite Tigerair's suddenly opened. There was some hesitation and confusion initially before the large group of passengers swarmed over to the other side.
It turned out that Tigerair had reinstated the 7.15pm flight to Jakarta, while the earlier 4.20pm one had been rescheduled for 8pm.
No announcement was made to inform the waiting passengers, causing a mad dash for a spot in the new queue.
Mr Willy Anto, 24, arrived at the airport at 4pm only to learn that his 7.15pm flight had been cancelled.
The Indonesian accountant said: "I did not receive an SMS about the flight cancellation, and no one said anything about the new counters being opened.
"Not surprisingly, I lost my place in the queue because, for a moment, the whole place was very chaotic, with people rushing while pushing their trolleys.
"I think Tigerair could have done more in terms of communicating information to passengers."
Mr Lee, who managed to board the rescheduled flight with his two friends at around 9pm, said: "It's been a long day, but I'm just glad we're finally on our way to the dance competition."
SilkAir, Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia and Valuair also cancelled their flights departing to the affected areas.
A total of 46 flights from Singapore to five Indonesian cities were cancelled as of 7.40pm yesterday, reported Channel NewsAsia.
Those who were waiting outside could not hear the announcement, and no staff member explained the situation to them. The miscommunication caused some confusion.
- Mr Josh Lee, 23, who was heading to Jakarta for a dance contest