Time flies and I have been back for slightly more than a week now in Singapore! Can’t say that life has been the greatest these days since it is always nicer overseas for me! Glad to announce as well that I have just completed my 7 days testing regime from returning via the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) which allows quarantine free travel to Singapore from various countries! I would like to share my experience returning via the VTL from Europe and in particular Spain! Being an avid traveller and with Singapore famous Changi Airport just minutes away from where I live, there have been countless times that I travelled from Changi Airport amid even more times where I was there for dining and recreation. However, since the start of the pandemic, I can clearly count the number of times I was in Changi Airport Terminal 3, once for shopping, once for travel. I am curious to see how would things have changed! Is it no longer the world best airport? Will the no wait, no queue kind of experience be gone? I am used to not waiting for more than 5 minutes for immigration and security here, but will this be a thing of the past? Follow me in checking out how are things like now and what is the process like when you are arriving at Changi Airport!
I arrived off SQ379 from Barcelona, after a brief stop in Milan, we landed in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at around 8am in the morning. Everything was as per normal, you land, hear the depressing voice of the pilots and crew that thank you for flying with Singapore Airlines and hope to see you again. By no fault of them, it literally translates into your holiday just ended in plain English! Then you go thru the mundane process of standing up when you are not supposed to and waiting for the cabin doors to be disarmed and open.
The only difference I felt came when you arrive at the immigration hall. Full PPE and N95 were in full force, replacing the welcoming smiles of ICA officers. Here, you can see rows of chairs, placed apart to ensure gaps adhere to social distancing. Signs are shown for travellers to submit their SG Arrival Card before clearing immigrations and this applies to all travellers, Singaporeans or not! You can do these 3 days before your arrival. Singaporeans can then make use of the automated lanes for clearance as well as the manned lanes.
Weirdly, the manned lanes are faster and we met a helpful officer. Clearing customs clearly took much longer than pre-covid but was still smooth. It took perhaps 5 mins for the both of us. I did not have to show anything in addition to our passports. Everything will be in the system and being Singaporeans who are vaccinated in Singapore our records are all in the system as well and we did not even have to present a vaccine or testing certificate. Thankfully, facial recognition replaced fingerprint authenticaton which is very much welcome these days to not touch anything! We were told to take off our mask for a brief 5 seconds before putting it back on. The officer then provide us with a green sticker and all travellers are coded and separated into groups. He inform us that we will need a PCR test after arrival. With my best guess, VTL travellers proceed in one group for their swabs while the others are filtered out into another lane to prevent cross contamination. Well, I could not think of another word.
You then proceed as per normal to collect your checked-in bags from the luggage belt and this is the frustrating part! I will put it down to bad luck though. It is super crowded at baggage collection and it took a long time for my bags to arrive which is apparently due to a fault. It was almost 45 mins before the first flight arrived. After that, you exit the arrival hall and turn left, there are clear instructions and personnel on hand to guide you. From here it is a straight dash to the testing tent outside the terminal for your swabs test. In a stark contrast to what I was expecting, there is no wait here literally, you are in and out in less than 5 mins. There might be close to 20 to 30 counters for registration and similarly swabbers. Hand over your passport, register, head to get swab and off you go.
Swabs are as usual and it did not hurt for my swabber. The PCR test uses a combination of throat and nose swabs. It was deep but not painful.
You can then head out back to level 1 and from here you are to head home or your place of accommodation to self-isolate yourself till your results are out. Once your negative results are out you are free to go about your business. You can only take a Taxi, Private Hire Vehicle or a family can pick you up. You can’t take a bus or train. Surprising, there is a long wait for a taxi and it was another good 30 mins! To sum it up, I landed at 8am, went for my swab at 10am and my results were out at 2pm. The notification came later than the status change at TraceTogether. Any regrets for travelling in a pandemic and via VTL! No! Doublemask, N95, Faceshield, these are little inconveniences for travelling safe!
This article is just meant to be a guide and those who are travelling on the VTL should check the government website for the latest regulations as they are constantly changing