This Baggage Handler Deliberately Sent Passengers' Luggage to the Wrong City 286 Times. Here's Why He Did It

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

We travel in hope. 

Our carry-on is the expectation that something may go wrong. 

We pray that it’s not something that completely, totally disrupts our trip. For example, our luggage not arriving.

They can never account, though, for people like Tay Boon Keh. 

A baggage handler at what many regard as the world’s best airport, Singapore’s Changi, Tay decided to change the luggage tags on a bag.

And then on another bag. 

He kept going until 286 bags had been sent to the wrong destination.

This seems so thoroughly mean-spirited. What had these passengers done to deserve such inconvenience? 

In 2016, he began working at the airport and was stationed at an Explosives Detection System X-Ray machine.

The machine kept breaking down.

Which meant Tay would have to lug passengers’ luggage to another machine. He’s 65 and this he found strenuous.

His bosses at Lian Cheng Contracting, he claimed, did nothing about it.

Changing the luggage tags was Tay’s way of expressing his frustrations.

Logicians might observe that he was taking it out on the wrong people. It seems, though, that Tay thought this was the best way of bringing his bosses’ attention to the machine issue.

Which, in a way, he finally did when he was caught.

He managed to re-direct so many bags, over a four-month period, because he performed his swaps out of the view of CCTV.

Ultimately, however, his tampering was spotted by employees of Singapore Airlines and its regional carrier, Silk Air.

Today, Tay pleaded guilty to 20 counts of mischief. When he’s sentenced, the other 266 instances will be considered. I fear I know the direction in which Tay may be sent.

Naturally, one shouldn’t condone Tay’s actions, which cost the airline more than $30,000 in compensation paid to passengers.

It’s always worth listening, though, to employees’ complaints. 

Many bosses find them easy to tune out or imagine someone else will deal with them.

Until, that is, the employee quits or something a little more untoward occurs.

And then the bosses shriek: “But how could this have happened?”

Tay eventually stopped his misdirection in February because it didn’t work.

His bosses still didn’t dedicate extra manpower to help him out.

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