Changi Airport baggage handler jailed for swapping luggage tags

File photo of a baggage handler. Photo: Bonnie Henderson
File photo of a baggage handler. Photo: Bonnie Henderson

A Singaporean baggage handler has been jailed for 20 days for swapping tags on nearly 300 suitcases at the city-state’s airport, causing them to be sent to the wrong destinations around the world.

Tay Boon Keh, 66, had pleaded guilty to charges of swapping the tags on 286 bags at Changi Airport, one of the world’s busiest hubs.

He made the swaps between November 2016 and February 2017 out of “frustration and anger” after his request for additional staff at his work section was ignored, a district court heard.

Suitcases originally bound for various parts of the world such as Perth, Manila, Frankfurt, London and San Francisco were affected, according to court documents.

The bags belonged to passengers transiting through Changi and using Singapore Airlines and its regional wing SilkAir.

Tay was suffering from a major depressive disorder when he committed the offenses, the court heard.

But state prosecutors said evidence presented at a hearing showed his condition “did not contribute significantly to his commission of the offences” as he continued to have control over his actions.

Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min said the swapping could have caused “potentially, even serious or fatal, consequences” as some passengers could have been left without medications.

Changi handled nearly 65.6 million passengers last year.

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