Flight Review: AirAsia VTL Flight AK711 from Kuala Lumpur klia2 to Singapore by Airbus A321neo
With the sole AirAsia VTL flight to Singapore in the morning, the last day of my 10-day Revenge Travel Semenanjung trip felt extremely short as I needed to be at klia2 by 8am, 2 hours before the scheduled departure time of AirAsia VTL Flight AK711 at 10.05am. And alas, it’s time to bid goodbye to Malaysia once again. Hopefully this won’t be another 2 years apart.
Alighting from the KLIA Ekspres Combined Service, I headed straight to the departure hall to check-in for my flight.
Scan MySejahtera and walk through the temperature check lane to enter the klia2 Departure Hall.
Check-in for AirAsia VTL Flight AK711 was at Row X.
The self check-in kiosks requires a mobile or online check-in to be done, which is not possible as AirAsia insists that I upload a SafeTravel Pass, which Singaporeans do not need.
Nevertheless, the full Row X is for AirAsia VTL Flight AK711 only, ready for all passengers.
11 check-in counters are open for AirAsia VTL Flight AK711.
The check-in staff did ask if I did an online check-in before, but I explained that I was not able to proceed because of the document upload issue. If you are eligible for online check-in, the existing counter check-in fee of RM30 will still apply, so make sure you do try to perform an online check-in.
As I had the document upload issue during online check-in, the counter check-in fee of RM30 was waived. The check-in staff also did the document check similar to Singapore, but behind the check-in counter instead of a separate pre-check-in queue.
Documents Required for Singaporeans under the VTL:
- Vaccination Certificate
- Pre-Travel COVID-19 Test
- Arrival COVID-19 Test
- SG Arrival Card & Health Declaration
- TraceTogether App
Out of the 5 items to have, AirAsia only checked for 2 which is the Vaccination Certificate from Notαrise and my Pre-Travel COVID-19 Test which I did on the CLEA app.
The Arrival COVID-19 Test booking, SG Arrival Card & Health Declaration, and TraceTogether App will be checked for in Singapore. These can also be done on-arrival but will add extra time in your exit from Changi Airport.
After the document checks and removing 3kg of stuff from my check-in to fit my 20kg baggage purchase (sigh), I got my boarding pass at around 9.05am, which means I need to head straight to gate.
The unfortunately sight of goodbye. See you again, Malaysia.
Being still in a pandemic, there was no queues for immigration and security checks, and I was through in less than 2 minutes.
The L pier is on the main terminal building side, which makes for a short walk.
The stores in the transit area are closed.
Heading down for security screening after security screening. Welcome to klia2.
Stores were closed in the pier as well.
Gate L10 wasn’t too far of a walk from security screening, and I headed into the gate hold room in good time.
Heading down the ramp to the gate hold room. The international L pier is shared with the domestic K pier, sharing the same gate hold room based on door locking position.
Inside the gate hold room of Gate L10.
9M-VAB will once again be flying me, this time back to Singapore.
Boarding for Zone 2 in the middle of the plane was done first, before all remaining passengers.
Heading down the aerobridge.
Leaving Malaysia land once again.
The interior of AirAsia’s Airbus A321neo.
Just like my onward AK710 flight, this is a full VTL flight to Singapore.
I got an auto seat assignment of an aisle seat this time, so no window pictures.
The conveniently-designed tray table on board AirAsia’s Airbus A321neo.
This phone and tablet holder on the tray table would come in useful for a longer flight.
While cruising, the cabin crew came around to give out arrival cards for Singapore, which is very strange as physical Singapore arrival cards (or ‘white card’) are no longer in use.
This has been replaced with the electronic SG Arrival Card with electronic Health Declaration (“SG Arrival Card”).
The toilet on board AirAsia’s Airbus A321neo was compact but clean.
Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak
Business was booming for pre-booked meals on board this flight, and I still hadn’t got my meal even as we started our descend into Singapore. The cabin crew were really rushing to send out everyone’s orders just before the crew have to be seated for landing.
I guess this is a mark of how popular Santan meals are that almost everyone is buying it.
My meal was served in a bag which can only be consumed off the plane, as tray tables already had to be stowed about 5 minutes before I got my meal.
Disembarking from my VTL flight to Singapore.
Changi Airport Terminal 1
My flight was parked at Gate C16.
Heading down to immigration with the travellators. There wasn’t a “transit platoon” for this VTL flight, and passengers could walk to immigration by ourselves without being guided by staff in PPE.
The arrival process is advertised throughout the path from landing all the way till you leave the airport.
Those that have not filled up the SG Arrival Card with electronic Health Declaration (“SG Arrival Card”) can do so on the spot with a link from the QR code.
Singapore Local SIM Card at Changi Recommends
Before immigration, there is a Changi Recommends counter to purchase local SIM cards.
This is the only point where visitors can purchase a Singapore local SIM card until after receiving the negative COVID-19 PCR test result.
If you require mobile data in Singapore and do not already have a local SIM card yet, buy it here at the Changi Recommends counter before immigration.
Once done, or if you don’t require one, head down to immigration.
You will be reminded here to fill up the SG Arrival Card with electronic Health Declaration (“SG Arrival Card”). As I had already filled it up 2 days before arrival to Singapore, I followed the “YES” sign to the Enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) gate.
No checks were made for my SG Arrival Card at the eIACS gate. Perhaps it had already been loaded into the system for auto verification.
After immigration, I was issued a green circle sticker as a VTL passenger. Stick it on your shirt throughout the arrival process to ensure a quarantine-free exit.
Do not lose this sticker at all costs.
For such an important identifier for Category I, VTL, Category II, Category III, and Category IV passengers, I’m surprised that Singapore is using a simple sticker on a shirt that can easily be slipped off by backpacks, instead of something more secure like a wristband like what Malaysia is doing.
The arrival Lotte Duty Free concession was closed.
A huge sign at baggage reclaim reminds all travellers that departure from Changi Airport must be done by private transport, private hire, or taxi.
For VTL passengers, no Stay Home Notice (SHN) is issued, but passengers must remain in their declared place of accommodation until receiving the negative On Arrival COVID-19 PCR Test result by email, HealthHub, or TraceTogether.
Baggage reclaim is also the last toilet available for arriving passengers. No further toilets are available until you arrive at your declared place of accommodation.
Despite the non-existent immigration queue, clearing immigration in 30 seconds, my bags were already on the belt when I arrived. Changi efficiency is still here.
On Arrival COVID-19 PCR Test
The path then leads on to queuing to register for the On Arrival COVID-19 PCR Test.
I had already purchased by On Arrival COVID-19 PCR Test from the Safe Travel Concierge before my trip. All I had to do was show the QR code to the staff on hand to be registered.
The staff at the counter will give you a strip of stickers with your details. Hand this strip of stickers to the tester later on.
Once done with customs, head out the marked path to the testing area.
1 row of booths were in use for my VTL flight, but 2 extra rows are ready to cater for more flights if necessary.
The On Arrival COVID-19 PCR Test was painful.
The swab was thicker than the PCR tests I get at clinics in Singapore. First, the swabber took a sample from my throat, using an ice cream stick to push my tongue out while I said “aaaaaaa”.
In reality it was “aaaaaaaaaghulphq*coughcough*INHALE*sorry”.
After recovering from gagging, the same swab went very deep into my left nostril and right nostril. Usually, I would be able to feel a small swab enter while I exhale, but this swab felt like it took up the space in my entire nasal cavity like a tunnel boring machine.
I could feel my entire nasal cavity as a whole when the swabber twirled the swab in my nasal cavity way more than 5 times. It felt like it was an eyeball swab.
It was the first time I teared up after a PCR test.
Depart by Grab
tunnel boring PCR swab test, I was allowed to leave the airport, but I continued to tear up as I walked, even after wiping away the initial tears.
If a member of public saw me there and then, they would think I’m heartbroken to be back in Singapore (but which is not untrue anyway).
The route from the arrival hall to meeting point and taxi stand or pick-up point is completely sealed from the actual public area where the public roams.
The path only leads to the taxi stand or pick-up point. I booked a Grab ride before descending, just in case I needed to change path to the taxi stand in case Grab surges too much.
The arrival pick-up point is for arriving passengers only. The non-travelling public can only use JEWEL’s pick-up point.
On the Grab ride home, I was issued a COVID-19 Testing Order for travellers arriving via Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) from ICA Airport Command Post (ICA) by email, reminding me that if I fail to comply with the requirements set out in the attached document(s), I may “be prosecuted for an offence(s) under Singapore law, including the Infectious Diseases Act and/or the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020, liable to a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.”.
What a great welcome home, and a stark contrast from the friendly verbiage used in the Safe Travel Concierge before departure.
My negative result came in by email, HealthHub, and TraceTogether about 5 hours after my test. After which, I was free to leave my house.
Overall, the AirAsia VTL Flight AK711 was less enjoyable than regular AirAsia flights. As the flight time was very short, arriving in Singapore 15 minutes ahead of schedule, service had to be done very quickly, and with a bigger aircraft of an Airbus A321neo, that means more passengers to serve.
I guess it’s a happy problem now that more people are ordering Santan meals on board, but that also means I did not receive my meal in time to actually eat it on board.
Just like my onward AK710 flight from Singapore, I did not get an automated Hot Seat assignment for Platinum members, and there was no separate check-in queue like the previous AirAsia Red Carpet Service as indicated in my itinerary as “Airport Priority Service”. It seems like the perks for Platinum members with SSR “Airport Priority Service” is gone.
And of course, now that I’m back, I’ll miss riding trains in Malaysia once again.