Flying in Corona Times: Scoot TR981 – Hong Kong to Singapore (13 December 2020) by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Flight Review: Scoot TR981 – Hong Kong to Singapore (13 December 2020) by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Having completed my work obligations in Hong Kong, it was time for me to return to Singapore. While I was initially booked on a Cathay Pacific Asia Miles redemption ticket, a sudden change in quarantine restrictions meant that I had ended up buying a replacement ticket on Scoot TR981 in order for me to return just before the new restrictions came into effect. On the week that I flew, Scoot was flying daily flights into Singapore, making it cheap and convenient to secure a ticket even though I only bought it 2 days before my flight.

MTR Airport Express to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)

As frequencies of my preferred Cityflyer airport buses have been greatly reduced due to low passenger numbers at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), I opted to buy an MTR Airport Express ticket as it would give me a guaranteed timing out of Hong Kong MTR Station.

I took a taxi from Hotel Jen in the Kennedy Town area and it was clearly a difficult time even for Hong Kong taxi drivers. Knowing that I was about to take a train to the airport, he asked me if I had already bought my Airport Express ticket. I assumed that he wanted to offer to take me straight to the airport instead, but unfortunately, I had already bought my ticket beforehand.

Ridership on the Airport Express remain extremely low as in-town check-in is still suspended.

I bade a fond farewell to the city as I am not sure when I will return again, or be allowed to return again.

My evening trip on the MTR Airport Express allowed me to see the sunset and appreciate the varied scenery that Hong Kong is well known for.

Flying Out Of Hong Kong During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Please note that the information in this article was experienced on 13 December 2020. The information in this article including travel restrictions HAVE CHANGED since 14 December 2020. Always check the latest Government(s) and airline travel advisories for your own flight and nationality if you are flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced on 11 December 2020, “all travellers entering Singapore from 13 December 2020, 2359 hours, who have a travel history in the past 14 days to Hong Kong will now be required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities. All travellers (except Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs)) entering Singapore from 18 December 2020, 2359 hours, who have a travel history in the past 14 days to Hong Kong will be required to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before departure.” (Ministry of Health, 11 December 2020)

Checking-In For Scoot TR981 During COVID-19

My check-in row was at the new Terminal 1 Extension where Scoot had moved to following the closure of Terminal 2. I was flying on Scoot TR981 departing from Hong Kong at 7.15pm.

The airport remains eerily quiet with only a handful of departing and arriving flights. There were almost no shops opened except for the McDonald’s before immigration.

The quiet airport means that security and immigration procedures can be conducted very quickly and no extra time is needed at the airport.

Post-Immigration

In the transit area, the food situation was even more dire and the only place I could buy a drink from was at the Dean and Deluca outlet which had some hot drinks and microwaved food. I highly suggest that passengers bring something along with them if they wish to eat before their flight.

I had the option of visiting the Plaza Premium Lounge but as there was only 1 lounge opened, and it was a distance away from my gate, I opted not to make the long walk to and from the lounge.

The HKIA People Mover System is currently serving arriving passengers only, and is not available for use by departing passengers in the transit area.

Regular travellers on Scoot to and from Hong Kong are familiar with the departure gates at the Midfield Concourse. As the Midfield Concourse is being used for arrival COVID-19 testing, Scoot flights now depart from the main Terminal 1 building, although to remind you that you are still on a budget flight, my Scoot TR981 flight departed from Gate 32 about a 10-minute walk from immigration.

Tonight I was flying on 9V-OFJ “Bo Jio”, an ironic name considering that it is impossible to jio anyone to fly with you. Scoot has been using their Boeing 787 Dreamliners on at least some flights to Hong Kong, something that was not the case for at least the year before COVID-19 started. This meant that travellers to Hong Kong once again has the option of flying ScootPlus on their flight.

Boarding Scoot TR981 During COVID-19

During this downtime, HKIA has been renovating their departure gates as can be observed from the new screens and refurbished look, with automated gates for scanning boarding passes for self-boarding. The screens have reassuring pictures of clouds which was a nice improvement from the sterile look.

Be sure to take a selfie with the gate number sign and your destination for Instagram purposes as most Hong Kongers regularly do when they are about to fly out for a holiday.

Scoot’s Inflight Care Kit on Scoot TR981

I had received this generic Inflight Care Kit on my onward flight with Scoot to Hong Kong.

However, Scoot now uses the standard Inflight Care Kit as used by its parent company, Singapore Airlines, as described by RailTravel Station in Singapore Airlines Restaurant A380 @Changi experiences.

Unlike Singapore Airlines though, the Inflight Care Kit on Scoot was placed directly on my seat.

The Inflight Care Kit consists of one face mask, one Ki-ose 390 Disinfectant Hand & Surface Wipe, and one VitaminSpa Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer.

There were less than 15 passengers on my Scoot TR981 flight, many of whom were transiting through Singapore Changi Airport. However, for contact tracing purposes, passengers are not allowed to choose or change their seats during the flight. Regardless, every passenger definitely had a row of seats to themselves to stretch out and lie down if they wanted to.

With such a low passenger load, it certainly felt like every passenger had their own private Scootee on board.

A last fitting look back at Lantau Island with the bridge linking Route 8 to the artificial island housing the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF), which I saw develop since the time I first arrived in Hong Kong.

Scoot Café is Now Open

Before my flight took off, a Scootee approached me to confirm the meal I had pre-selected when I booked my flight. I was flying Scoot TR981 at dinner time and topped up for a hot meal from the meal selection screen.

My Chicken Briyani meal in the new SATS retort packaging was served with a Ritter Sport bar and a bottle of water.

Unfortunately, the meal was of a very small portion and contained very little chicken. There were hardly any choices in the meal selection screen with only 3 hot meals available for order and no other food was available for sale on board.

Arriving in to Singapore Changi Airport

The rest of the flight was uneventful. With the reduced traffic into Changi Airport, arriving aircraft no longer have to circle for an extended period of time and my Scoot TR981 flight from Hong Kong only took about 3 hours and 15 minutes.

On the approach to Singapore, the aircraft made a small loop around Changi Airport as there was to be a southerly approach.

I had a nice view flying past Changi Airport while the plane circled for approach.

Having arrived at Changi Airport, there was a short wait before disembarkation so as to ensure safe distancing. The Scootee ensured that passengers seated in front disembarked first before other passengers did to prevent crowding in the aisles.

Arrival Immigration and SHN Procedures (Outdated)

Arrivals into Changi Airport need to complete a health questionnaire form beforehand. A QR code will be sent to your email address which you will need to show to the officers at the immigration area. If you have not completed the questionnaire, a QR code is available for you to do so on the spot.

The immigration officer has been tasked with ensuring that the address you had given is correct and issuing you with your quarantine order and the items needed.

A bag is given to each passenger containing a wristband and gateway alongside some instructions as to how to activate these when you reach home.

After collecting these items, I was given a coloured sticker and proceeded to collect my baggage from the baggage carousel. Seeing my coloured sticker that allowed me to do my quarantine at home instead of an SHN-dedicated facility, I was allowed to exit the arrival hall freely and take my own private transport home.

Conclusion

It is unfortunate that travelling remains so difficult almost a year after COVID-19 was first detected. The aviation industry is clearly struggling with the lack of passengers and the inability to carry out more flights. Even so, one must be grateful to frontline personnel who continue to ensure that essential travelling is possible and safe, even putting their safety at risk to allow travellers to fly home.

While the restrictions mean that travelling continues to be a troublesome endeavour, we can hope that the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines will allow us to travel more freely again in the near future. In this way, the once-familiar sensations associated with travelling can be experienced regularly once again.

Please note that the information in this article was experienced on 13 December 2020. The information in this article including travel restrictions HAVE CHANGED since 13 December 2020, 2359 hours. Always check the latest Government(s) and airline travel advisories for your own flight and nationality if you are flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced on 11 December 2020, “all travellers entering Singapore from 13 December 2020, 2359 hours, who have a travel history in the past 14 days to Hong Kong will now be required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities. All travellers (except Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs)) entering Singapore from 18 December 2020, 2359 hours, who have a travel history in the past 14 days to Hong Kong will be required to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before departure.” (Ministry of Health, 11 December 2020)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.