276 DAYS! 9 MONTHS AND 2 DAYS! THAT IS HOW LONG I AM STUCK IN SINGAPORE!
SEEING THE WORLD IN STEPS IS FINALLY TRAVELLING AGAIN! I am finally heading on a trip, using my little red book and step on-board a plane after 276 days! If you are in Asia or perhaps reading the news in the world, for the past few weeks, one of the biggest news going around have been the establishment of an Air Travel Bubble. Between Singapore and Hong Kong, this would be the first of a kind in the world and in Singapore! An achievement, an experiment and a model for the rest of the world to follow! The success and data of this will hopefully lead to more agreements being form to help bring back pre pandemic travel. Being an avid traveller, I immediately jump upon the opportunity to snag one of the very first ticket out of Singapore. Of course, besides wanting to travel and fly badly, it would also be interesting to see how travel have change right now. How remarkably different in comparison to the past. To kick start this trip series (you got no idea how happy I am to say this), I will be sharing about the Air Travel Bubble briefly as well as an introduction to my upcoming trip to Hong Kong! My plans, flights and hotels will be shared below! With this, let me introduce you to my latest Trip Series, The Corona Way!
Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble
I will be doing a dedicated post next, regarding the Air Travel Bubble including more detail informations touching on COVID PCR Tests, their venues and the cost. I will also be sharing on Medical Expenses and Travel Insurance from a Singaporean perspective! Basically the idea of the ATB is to re-establish travel links between two or more countries with a similar rate of infection and risk in the countries community. Allowing safe travelling without the standard 14 days quarantine. ATB passengers will also be required to take up to 2-3 COVID-19 PCR test depending on their length of stay!
The air travel bubble currently start with a cap of 200 passengers a day into each city and roughly one daily flight on both Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. The cap and flight limit may be adjusted, depending on the pandemic situation and testing capacity. The Travel Bubble will also be suspended if unlink cases goes out of hand in either country! On these dedicated flights, ATB passengers will not be mixed with other transit passengers to prevent cross infection. For the Air Travel Bubble, there will not be any control over your purpose of travel as well as a controlled itinerary, no quarantine will be necessary as well.
Flight were in hot demand after the news of the bubble hit and in fact went up to almost S$1000 for an Economy Ticket. There were definitely more demand than supply given how travel deprived most of us are. I was lucky enough to hold a ticket before the news hit. Prices are much much higher than pre COVID days and together with the price of 2 to 3 PCR COVID test that you have to take. Hong Kong is no longer an affordable weekend getaway! You would also want to go on a longer trip given how much you will be paying for these admin stuff and getting swabbed. I hemmed and hawwed about it for almost a week before finally pulling the trigger. I am also very interested to be one of the first 200 passengers to be on the World & Singapore Inaugural Air Travel Bubble! This is in fact my very first Inaugural flight! What a milestone for Seeing The World In Steps! Can’t wait to be flying again on my favourite Singapore Airlines. You have been missed!
I decided on a 9 day trip. Flying out on SQ890 on the 22 Nov and returning on SQ891 on the 30 Nov. SQ will be using their A350 in a 3 class long haul configuration for the ATB flight. While commercial tickets are expensive for a Hong Kong trip, redemption ticket are a much softer touch on the wallet. This is still not going to be the most “worth it” use of your miles, but given how special the occasion is and how deprived I am of travelling. I am happy with it. I valued the total miles spent at a total of 438 SGD, with additional taxes of 99.50SGD. Much more than what I would pay for HKG but still a sweet deal with one way in PE and one way in J Class. I redeem 26,500 Miles and 41.50 SGD in tax for my outbound flight on Premium Economy. I would love to get business but they were sold out! Still, pretty looking forward to try out Premium Economy for the first time in my life and it will be nice to capture the on-board experience in a COVID era!
For my return flight, I will be on Business Class, where I redeem 36,500 miles and 58 SGD in tax. I issued the ticket as part of a journey to Perth with a stopover in Singapore for an extra 135 SGD, with me hopefully able to use the Perth sector sometime next year. This is a sweet spot, 36,500 for a HKG – SIN – PER business class ticket is a heck of a deal! Although I have tried business on-board Singapore Airlines. It would be nice to see how service and offering change after this pandemic. For the experience prior to COVID, you can check out this and this.
I have 8 nights in Hong Kong. Hotels deals in the city are a plenty, all sorts of properties and promotions going on right now. Some are in fact so amazing that you will believe that they made a typo! Marco Polo Hotel have a rate going for 1288 HKD a night that included 1300 HKD! Making it a free stay if you take the credit at face value. At the point of travelling, I am currently holding Hilton Diamond, Marriott Elite Platinum as well as Global Hotel Alliance Black status, giving me a huge dilemma on where to stay. I do not need any more Hilton nights this year as my status is practically valid till March 2023, but I do get very affordable rates for Hilton. I am unable to retain Marriott Platinum at all and GHA Black will be valid till Dec 2021. Given how much I am spending on the tests and tickets, I still decide to stay 6 nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok which doesn’t look too shabby anyway. Conrad was on my mind but way too expensive.
Then I decided to splurge out for one night at the world famous Ritz Carlton Hong Kong which is often said as the best in town and definitely the highest hotel in Hong Kong. Figuring it will be worthwhile for a review. Towering over the city with room starting at level 100 plus, the views are said to be excellent! It is a bucket list and I felt that there is no better time to do it given the depressed prices now and probably the only occasion that I will hold some sort of status with Marriott! Do stay tune for my review of their Deluxe Suite!
Then lastly, I will also be checking out Gateway Hotel, a Marco Polo and GHA property. They are offering a lucrative promotion right now, my one night stay that cost 988HKD, comes with 600HKD credit and given that it is a new brand for me, I will be earning a valuable Black Local Experience which I can usually extract value of 150 – 200 SGD.
This will probably be the most disappointing aspect of the entire trip. Most of the lounges are closed in the airports right now. I will probably not even get to check out the Silverkris Lounge given that the Hong Kong one is closed and on my outbound sector I am flying in Premium Economy. It seems that I will be visiting the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore as well as the Plaza Premium Lounge in Hong Kong. While I have been there, I guess it will be interesting to see the COVID changes now. Safety or Stingy? Let’s see!
As for my time in Hong Kong, besides satisfying my food cravings, I would like to check out some of the less touristy spots in the city and perhaps go for some hiking as well. I would love to check out Stanley Market and Sai Kung. An egg tart and roast meat journey is also definitely on the books. I will share more on this when I am writing about the city itself. To conclude, I am definitely very excited to be finally flying out this coming Sun, 22 Nov. Anyone wants to meet up in Hong Kong or will be on the same flight as me? Drop me a holla.