Flying (again) during the pandemic

Flying (again) during the pandemic

Having flown to Taipei earlier in August on China Airlines, here’s a short update on my flight back to Singapore on Scoot just last week.

The journey back on Scoot was a fairly smooth one. I booked the flight a month before my date of travel and was delighted to find out that Scoot resumed flights between Taipei and Singapore (previously, only China Airlines, EVA, Singapore Airlines, and Jetstar provided flights). The addition of Scoot flights gave me the option to fly back to Singapore on a Monday while the rest of the airlines flew later in the week.

Online check-in was as per usual, with me filling in my personal information and declaring if I had check-in baggage. However, I was also informed by the airline to fill in the Singapore Arrival Card, a travel requirement where all travelers to Singapore had to submit our arrival details to the ICA for immigration clearance within three days before our arrival.

Besides, Scoot also had their health declaration form which had to be submitted 24 hours before the flight.

Counter check-in at Taoyuan International Airport was also very smooth, and I was informed that there were around 20 passengers on the same flight as me from Taipei to Singapore. As we waited to board the plane at the gate, the ground staff constantly reminded passengers to keep their masks on at all times via the PA system.

On-board the flight, our seats had a ‘care-pack’ consisting of a bottle of hand sanitizer, a mask, and alcohol wipes which we could use during our flight. It was very thoughtful, considering that it’s a budget airline. Compared to China Airlines, I’ve to admit that Scoot’s care pack was a better one.

The return flight to Singapore was an uneventful one, with most passengers choosing to stay in their seats and barely anyone used the washroom or moved around during the flight.

Upon landing, all the passengers had to proceed to the immigration area where we took our COVID-19 test before clearing immigration. I pre-paid for my COVID-19 test earlier and only had to wait a short while before the test was administered (I got my test results back within eight hours!).

Immigration clearance and luggage clearance were also a breeze, which I was thankful for!

All in all, the flight back was an uneventful one. It is indeed sad to see airports so empty but I could get used to the empty seats around me on the plane!

If you’re flying in/out/through Singapore Changi International Airport, I highly suggest checking the Changi Airport website for the latest updates – it really helped me as I planned my journey back.

How flying has been made harder due to COVID-19

How flying has been made harder due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has thrown the aviation industry into chaos and travelling during this period has changed a lot. Here’s my personal experience on just how hard flying is during this pandemic.

A very quiet Changi International Airport

Purchasing airplane tickets is a lot more difficult. A usual search on Skyscanner and Google Flights (prior to the pandemic) always showed many results – from direct flights or multi-stop flights with many options to choose from. However, for my flight to Taipei, only a single direct flight was available from Singapore on my specified date. This was never the case prior to COVID-19 – and even after the purchase, there was a chance that my flight could be cancelled at the last minute as well (I’ve seen many cases of cancelled flights during this period!)

Stricter border restrictions have also made flying a lot harder – especially if you’re going to a location where you are not a citizen. For me, I had obtained a special visa to enter Taiwan, and this visa had a validity of three months from the date of issue. In addition, separate entry documentation was also required at the check-in counter. I was surprised when the check-in staff told me that they were not able to proceed with the check-in till they received a confirmation from their Taiwan counterparts that my name was under the “approved-for-entry” list.

Quarantine, stay-home notice, increased health-screening at airports and more… if you’re travelling internationally, you are highly likely to face some of these measures. Before I could clear immigration in Taipei, I had to purchase a local SIM card and register my arrival online before proceeding further.

To date (on my fifth day of quarantine), I have had to record my temperature on LINE (messaging app) daily as well as respond to the SMS they send periodically – if you fail to respond to it, they will call you up to check on you!

All these health safety measures, while helpful in ensuring that COVID-19 cases are well-detected, are a huge deterrent for travellers. Fourteen days in quarantine is tough as it is both time-consuming and can be very costly, besides being claustrophobic.

Travelling is indeed challenging during this period, but if there’s one thing I enjoy, it is the amount of space each traveller has on flights now. With fewer travellers, coupled with the fact that safe-distancing measures have to be implemented within flights, there is really a lot of space an individual has during the flight. The nearest passenger to me was two rows in front of me, with the majority of rows of seats behind me left empty.

Each airline has its health safety policy. The airline I took, China Airlines, limited the number of passengers within each zone. It also gave each of us a disposable mask with a case upon boarding (I thought that was a very nice gesture!). All food served were in dedicated trays, and there was only one option they had for every passenger.

Travel will not be the same any time soon, but till then, let’s travel only if absolutely necessary. Let’s stay home, stay safe and stay healthy together!

SafeEntry made easy

Simple and convenient visitor registration

For those in Singapore who do not have the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app, now’s a good time to do so. It will help greatly in facilitating entry into more than 40,000 malls and buildings using the SafeEntry app.

Developed by Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) during the COVID-19 period, SafeEntry has been in use for visitor registration to assist in contact tracing.

The original version required the scanning of a QR code, followed by checking in and filling in personal and contact details. This is already much faster compared to the filling in of paper forms.

An enhanced version has been rolled out that simplifies this process further. With the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app (on both Android and iOS), all it takes is to activate the app and click on SafeEntry check-in in the opening screen. A list of buildings in the proximity will appear. Select the right one and check in.

Those who have enjoyed using the Parking SG app will notice the similarity. It’s easy to use and makes checking in really convenient.

Zumba-ing the calories away!

COVID-19 has driven almost everyone indoors – but other than work, and probably binge-watching Netflix, how can one keep active during this period? Just before our country went into circuit-breaker mode, my family and I purchased a Nintendo Switch (review on a later date), and the first game we bought was Zumba Burn it Up!

Out of the four members of our family, only one person had ever gone for a Zumba class – maybe it’s because of the excessive movements, or the idea of semi-dancing outdoors, Zumba wasn’t an activity we’d easily consider doing while out in public – however, it’s a totally different story when you’re in the comfort of your own home!

This game comes with 30 songs, and each song comes with various intensity levels – low, medium and high. The low-intensity ones have fewer jumping movements and are less aggressive. The high intensity ones really get your heart pumping with the fast movements and jumps. One can choose to do a single song at a time or take part in the classes available.

There are three kinds of classes – short, medium and long. A short class, consisting of four songs, lasts around 15 minutes. A medium class has eight songs and lasts around 30 min. The long class has 16 songs and last almost an hour. Let’s put it this way – a short class can already give one a good sweat!

While playing, each player will hold a controller in his/her right hand. The controller vibrates a little with each beat of the song (this helps you get a quick grasp of the beat of the song). Other than being able to move along to the beat, a fun part of this game is that it tracks your accuracy level as well – this is tracked by the movement of the right hand that is holding the controller. Your accuracy and movement streak also help determine your overall score.

Each class can be tracked with up to four players holding a controller each. While my family only owns two controllers, our other two members will just move along, without their movements tracked.

The songs in this game are fun, allows a lot of different actions and movement, and are good in getting us to burn some calories. You can purchase the game from the Nintendo E-store here.