Singapore Airlines backtracks on automatic inclusion of travel insurance

Airline no longer charging people for travel insurance without consent, but what has everyone really learned?

Well, that didn’t take long. Following the furore that arose over the decision to automatically charge passengers out of Singapore for travel insurance, Singapore Airlines has removed the automatic inclusion of travel insurance from its website effective January 30, the airline has confirmed.

“We have taken customer feedback into account, however, and have amended the booking flow on our website to offer travel insurance as an ‘opt-in’, rather than ‘opt out’, feature,” an SIA spokesman said in response to queries on Thursday (Feb 1).

There were several paths SQ might have gone down but I’m glad they went with the full U-turn in the end.

For example, it wouldn’t have been hard for SQ to tweak the interface of the website so that the “more details” section, which shows the automatically included travel insurance, is expanded by default on the final payment page.

Or they could have tweaked their color palette so that the “remove” button was more prominent and eye-catching rather than grey.

Let’s be clear, though, that neither of these changes would be sufficient to make the case for what SQ was originally trying to do. I still believe that in principle it’s wrong to opt people in for travel insurance without their consent, and the design and UX choices of the SQ website merely reinforce that “wrongness”.

Anyway it’s a moot point because automatically included travel insurance is now gone, and people can once again click through their Singapore Airlines bookings without fear of gotchas.

What have we learned?

If there’s one important lesson that comes out of this, it’s the need to check everything carefully before you press the “make payment” button. Yes, you should have a reasonable expectation that companies in general won’t throw in additional items in a sneaky attempt to upsell you, but unfortunately that’s the world we live in. It only takes an additional minute to make sure everything is in order, and that might save you many hours on the phone down the line.

What has SQ learned?

In this TodayOnline article, the SIA CEO was quoted saying the following:

SIA chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong addressed the credit-card service fee fiasco briefly on Monday, saying: “We have to accept that some things may not work … and we have to show that if it doesn’t work, that we learn quickly, and move on.”

I hope this doesn’t suggest a cavalier attitude towards trying out new, ill-conceived ideas because it seems like SQ’s mentality in recent months has been to just try everything and see what sticks.

Credit card fees didn’t stick, nor did automatically including travel insurance, so those two “features” are gone. It seems that charging for seat selection on certain economy class seats has stuck, however, so that looks like it’s here to stay (it did help that they also increased the mileage accrual rates for the cheapest economy tickets).

But it’s not the right mentality that we should just try everything out and if something doesn’t work, reverse it quickly and move on. That assumes there is no cost to trying. The fact remains that SQ has unnecessarily lost a lot of goodwill over these past few months, which is surprising for a management team that has historically been very conservative about brand management.

So I’m glad that SQ has reversed course, but time will tell what the transformation team has truly learned from all this. Stay tuned.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Give credit to them for acting decisively! Give it to them now!


Pretty sure throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks isn’t acting decisively. To their credit, they were quite decisive in switching into damage control mode though


Nah it’s cool. I ain’t Lin Suling. This is yet another flip-flop.


Hmm, they didn’t use your award winning cartoon to illustrate the point though.




I got a feeling 10 abreast Y seats for the 77W is coming. They tried to add ancillaries to the pricing mechanism but didn’t turn out well, next they will target capacity to cover costs. Many dumb consumers (especially those who are not avid readers of this site) doesn’t care if the physical product changes as long as the price is lowered or stay they same. SQ will not be the same again.

Aaron Wong

As much as I hate to say it, the average consumer doesn’t bother to check if economy is 9 or 10abreast before booking a ticket. So I think that airlines doing 9 abreast don’t really do themselves any favours from a financial point of view- not that any of them have tried to market this though


They won’t have to go for 10 abreast if they replace the majority of their 777s with 787-10 and A350s which have industry standard narrow seats to start with. But yes, completely agree here. Hence the continued popularity of airlines like Emirates.

Zhi Wan

Typo in “cavalier”. Hopefully I’m not a caviler for pointing that out.

Aaron Wong

No, you are saving me from public embarrassment

Sambal Sotong

An idea. You could monetise public opinion by offering focus group feedback to sq next time, before they launch on an unsuspecting public. They can pay your readers in kfm so it wouldn’t even cost them any cash.

Aaron Wong

Haha if only…



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