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Travelling during the time of corona ...

Travelling during the time of corona ...

Old May 7, 20, 9:31 pm
  #1  
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Travelling during the time of corona ...

Here I am sat in a 5-star hotel that I would never normally consider staying in… and not allowed to leave my room...

How did this happen? Yes... that's right ... I'm experiencing my 2-week isolation period after travelling.

Some background

I was back in London for work in mid-December. This was a secondment that would take a few months and I would make my return journey to Singapore in April.

This was before the words COVID-19, pandemic, lockdowns had come into our vernacular,

In fact, London – Singapore is such a common trip not just for me, but for many on FT, that I didn’t even think about writing a trip report or making any videos.

In any case while I was in London, I decided to go to France for Christmas. When I got back to the UK in early January, news of this virus was only just beginning surface, but little did I realise 3 months later so many people around the world would have sadly passed on.

As I and my local colleagues continued to work in the first couple of months of the year slowly business restrictions started being imposed. First there was advisories for people who had travelled to possible virus zones to stay isolate for 14 days. Then came travel bans to and from Asia, then to and from the rest of the world. After this, came intensive work from home testing. What was quite remarkable was from the international travel ban, to forcing everyone to work remote, it couldn’t have been more than 2 weeks. This was the beginning of March and everything in the UK was shutting down. People were panic buying. Mainly loo roll. I mean loo roll of all things?

On 23 March, the UK was put into “lockdown”

This is my story of getting to Singapore during the time of corona – detailing my travails with dealing with flight cancellations, taking a “ghost” flight, and serving out my isolation period.



There are going to be some of you might find this an inappropriate "trip report", but I think it might prove to be an interesting record of what it was like to travel during the unfortunate situation.

Unless there are any objections, I will continue to add this.

Trip Index
Planning my trip to Singapore

Last edited by SQTraveller; May 8, 20 at 8:19 pm
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Old May 7, 20, 10:32 pm
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I think this would be very interesting. I’m curious how the process worked for you. Thank you for sharing.
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Old May 7, 20, 10:47 pm
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Please continue. To me, this is more interesting than the typical "inspirational for free" trip report.
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Old May 8, 20, 2:40 am
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Please do keep going - it sounds like it will be an interesting read! If people think the topic is inappropriate during these times, they really need to take a good hard look at how overly sensitive they are being
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Old May 8, 20, 3:34 am
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Ditto all the above comments.
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Old May 8, 20, 10:01 am
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Should be an interesting read. Thank you in advance.
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Old May 8, 20, 11:32 am
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I'm in. Looking forward to the read.
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Old May 8, 20, 2:01 pm
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I agree! please post your trip report. This will be an interesting read. It won't be like TPG's crappy trip reports. To be honest, that is one of the few things that usually pops into my feedback on Facebook that I do not like and do not open. I liked looking/browsing at FT's trip reports when they were created/posted from normal people traveling. When you start doing those for a living, that changes everything. So under the new world/circumstances, I would like to read/see your trip report. I have had to take a couple flights from WN due to me needing to be in other states inside the US, and I have had both, full flights (not counting middle seats) and ghost flights with just 10 passengers including crew in the last couple days.
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Old May 8, 20, 5:53 pm
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Post away. I would judge a mileage run right now but certainly not someone repatriating.
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Old May 8, 20, 8:18 pm
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Planning my trip to Singapore

Iím now over half way through my isolation or as they call it in Singapore, the Stay at Home Notice (SHN) and typing quickly as I can. I would also like to apologise if I repeat myself as I didnít get a chance to read through this and clean it up as much as Iíd like to.

When Singapore Airlines announced the first of its capacity cuts on 17 March, I thought I would still take my original flight at the end of April as it wasnít apparent which flights had been removed from the schedule. However, later that day SQ sent me an email telling me the original flight had been cancelled and I asked my travel agent was to do and they said that there were no SQ flights at all in April. Wait, what?! No flights at all!?!? I checked on the SQís website and there were flights which confused both me and the travel agent. A couple of days later it became clear why.

On 19 March, SIA and Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it was putting together a program to bring back Singaporeans (citizens and PRs) back to Singapore. I was about to jump at the chance, but I read on and it was clear that they were going to prioritise students. I realised that I was lucky enough to have a place to stay in the UK. Given that universities, by the time, had almost completely shut, some international students were being turfed out of their accommodation and some just didnít have a lot of local support networks. And while SQ had already by the end of March put out its new schedule for April flights, I decided to wait it out for a few weeks so that students could get home first.

This might well have been the wrong choice. By the time it got to the end of March, it became clear the situation in the UK had become a lot worse. Not only were cases and deaths rising fast, the Prime Minister, first was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 27 March, but about a week later, he had then been admitted to ICU!

Fortunately, I was staying away from the urban centres and in a relatively quiet village so there was not a lot of opportunity bump into other people. Nevertheless, I felt I should try to get back to Singapore as close to my scheduled date as possible. Taking a look at the flight schedule it was apparent they had really pared back their services to Europe. They were going to be running a flight to London every two-to-four days.



So, I had to make a decision Ė take the earliest flight out or a flight later in the month. My concern was the UK was in the midst of a surge in cases. Bear in mind that 31 March was about a week after the first lockdown in the UK took place. Spreading of the virus could still be taking place with people who were asymptomatic (not showing symptoms). From looking at other countries it took months for them to get back under control after locking down. Therefore, the risk was that people would be getting on the flight who were infected and I could also be infected. The other side of this argument was that there was unlikely to be a lot of demand for these flights and there was a risk that the flights might be cancelled again! In the end I just decided since my original flight date of 27 April was still on the schedule, I would take that flight. Simple.

Originally the plane was supposed to be a 777 (possibly an ER), but when I went to select my seats about 2 weeks before the flight, it had chanced to a A350. I guess it made sense; the 777 has a first class, and has more business class rows, while the A350 has the same number of economy rows. It seems logical that during the crisis there would be almost no business travel (let alone first class).
And this is what greeted me when selecting a seat for the flight. I had never ever seen a seat map so empty before. It shouldn't have been a surprise but it was still enough to take your breath away. Including me, according to the map, there were only 3 other people travelling in business. There were probably other passengers and they simply hadn't selected their seats.



So, I was now booked, seat selected Ö the big question was Ö would my flight be cancelled?



While I will try to be as swift as possible writing up, it will be slightly delayed. In the meantime, you can see a more live version of my journey on Inst-spam [Feel free to look and not follow, Iím not sponsored or anything] https://www.instagram.com/gl0betrekka/
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Old May 8, 20, 9:43 pm
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If anyone wants any particular insights, please let me know... I will try to integrate it into the report.
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Old May 8, 20, 9:46 pm
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Were there any obvious service and meal reductions on the SQ flight?
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Old May 8, 20, 9:53 pm
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Glad you were able to get back home safely!
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Old May 9, 20, 7:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Flywriter View Post
I think this would be very interesting. Iím curious how the process worked for you. Thank you for sharing.
Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Please continue. To me, this is more interesting than the typical "inspirational for free" trip report.
Originally Posted by SKT-DK View Post
Please do keep going - it sounds like it will be an interesting read! If people think the topic is inappropriate during these times, they really need to take a good hard look at how overly sensitive they are being
Originally Posted by wtcmor View Post
Ditto all the above comments.
Originally Posted by zip10001 View Post
Should be an interesting read. Thank you in advance.
Originally Posted by wakesetter93 View Post
I'm in. Looking forward to the read.
Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I agree! please post your trip report. This will be an interesting read. It won't be like TPG's crappy trip reports. To be honest, that is one of the few things that usually pops into my feedback on Facebook that I do not like and do not open. I liked looking/browsing at FT's trip reports when they were created/posted from normal people traveling. When you start doing those for a living, that changes everything. So under the new world/circumstances, I would like to read/see your trip report. I have had to take a couple flights from WN due to me needing to be in other states inside the US, and I have had both, full flights (not counting middle seats) and ghost flights with just 10 passengers including crew in the last couple days.
Originally Posted by Zeeb View Post
Post away. I would judge a mileage run right now but certainly not someone repatriating.
Thanks a lot Flywriter, MSPeconomist, SKT-DK, wtcmor, zip10001, wakesetter93 and carlitos.
I will continue to post as fast as I can.


Originally Posted by Slipless View Post
Glad you were able to get back home safely!
Thank you Slipless. Back in Singapore but not quite out of isolation yet!!!
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Old May 9, 20, 7:35 pm
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Originally Posted by wtcmor View Post
Were there any obvious service and meal reductions on the SQ flight?
Thank you wtcmor for asking. I'm still writing but so that you donít have to wait or have to read all my posts, the big changes were the fact there was no business class meal service. Also, according to a note on the check in desk, there were no alcoholic beverages available at all Ė so I never asked. They were fully crewed on the plane so you got the normal SQ attentive cabin service.
Off the plane, there was no SilverKris lounge.
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