News Travel Bubbles

Singapore – Hong Kong Travel Bubble confirmed from 26 May

Finally: The long-awaited Singapore - Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble will take flight on 26th May, with vaccination only a requirement for Hong Kong residents.

Finally, after a six-month postponement, quarantine-free, all-purpose travel between Singapore and Hong Kong is back on the cards, with the respective governments announcing the arrangement is now set to get up and running one month from now, on 26th May 2021.

The arrangement, which is the first of its kind in Asia, was abruptly postponed in November 2020, just hours before the first flights were set to take off, as Hong Kong began to record increasing COVID-19 case numbers.

A two-week postponement was initially made to the start date, however the situation then developed into a prolonged ‘fourth wave’ of infections in the city, putting the ATB with Singapore firmly on ice for several months.

Singapore – Hong Kong ATB


26 May Launch

The ATB will launch on 26th May 2021, over 6 months after it was first proposed


Vaccination Required for HK Residents

Hong Kong residents travelling on the ATB will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but not Singapore residents


Cathay Pacific & Singapore Airlines

Hong Kong and Singapore’s primary full-service carriers will operate up to two ‘bubble flights’ per day, each capped at 200 passengers


The Singapore – Hong Kong ATB will join Asia-Pacific’s only other all-purpose travel bubble including leisure travellers, currently operating between Australia and New Zealand.

Eligible travellers will not need to quarantine in either city, instead completing a COVID-19 testing regime both prior to and after travel in each direction.


Singapore residents will not need to be vaccinated

Although the Hong Kong government is imposing full vaccination as a requirement for its own residents using the ATB, with a few exceptions, Singapore does not require it as part of the arrangement and is not adding the condition for its own residents using the travel bubble.

That’s good news for those of us in Singapore who haven’t had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet, since fully vaccinated status only kicks in two weeks after the second vaccine dose, meaning it takes five to six weeks from the first dose to develop full immunity, at least as far as travelling is concerned.

That would have left many Singapore residents unable to use the ATB until later in the year, had the requirement been reciprocally applied.

Realistically the ATB will be open to only around 500,000 Hong Kong residents by 26th May 2021, given current vaccination rates shown below as of yesterday, however children and some other groups will also be able to use it.

The vaccination requirement is not applicable to the following Hong Kong residents:

  • Aged below 16
  • Not suitable for COVID- 19 vaccination due to medical grounds
  • With less than 90 days’ stay in Hong Kong before departure
  • Using non-Hong Kong travel documents for departure

Crucially – non-Hong Kong passport holders, including for example Singapore citizens resident in Hong Kong, can sidestep the requirement to be fully vaccinated.

Hong Kong citizens normally living in Singapore can also avoid it, by staying in Hong Kong for less than 90 days each time they visit on the ATB.


Inaugural flights

Both airlines will launch their inaugural travel bubble services on the morning of 26th May 2021.

Singapore Airlines will operate flight SQ882 from Singapore to Hong Kong, while Cathay Pacific will operate flight CX759 from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Singapore    Hong Kong

SQ882
A350-900
26 May 2021
SIN
08:40
HKG
12:40

Hong Kong    Singapore

CX759
A350-900
26 May 2021
HKG
09:10
SIN
13:05

These flights will return to their respective home airports as non-ATB services, so there is just a single flight in each direction on launch day, with no opportunity to take an afternoon timing.

Both airlines will use three-class Airbus A350s initially, though Singapore Airlines will upgauge its flights to Boeing 777-300ERs including a First Class cabin from 2nd June 2021.


Full schedule

As with the previous model of the ATB when it was first proposed, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will operate on alternate days for the first two weeks of the bubble arrangement, then each carrier steps up to daily service from 10th June 2021.

Here’s how it looks including the inaugural flights on 26th May listed above.

Singapore    Hong Kong

  Dates
SQ882
A350-900
  • May: 26, 28, 30, 31
SIN
08:40
HKG
12:40
SQ882
777-300ER
  • Jun: 2, 4, 7, 9
    Then daily from 10 Jun
SIN
08:40
HKG
12:40
CX734
A350-900
  • May: 27, 29
  • Jun: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
    Then daily from 10 Jun
SIN
14:45
HKG
19:00

Hong Kong    Singapore

  Dates
SQ883
A350-900
  • May: 28, 30, 31
HKG
14:25
SIN
18:20
SQ883
777-300ER
  • Jun: 2, 4, 7, 9
    Then daily from 10 Jun
HKG
14:25
SIN
18:20
CX759
A350-900
  • May: 26, 27, 29
  • Jun: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
    Then daily from 10 Jun
HKG
09:10
SIN
13:05

Note that flights between Singapore and Hong Kong not listed above, including those operated by Scoot, are non-ATB services for the time being, with passengers completing a quarantine period at the end of their journey.

If you are already booked on a non-ATB flight with Singapore Airlines between Singapore and Hong Kong, you can transfer to an ATB flight if you meet the ATB requirements. Those with existing bookings will be notified if their flight has been designated as an ATB flight.

Both Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are showing the above listed flights as ATB designated services until 30th September 2021 at this stage.


First Class is available from 2 June

Good news for those of you missing SIA’s most exclusive cabin, the single-row four-seat section on the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be available in both directions on designated ATB flights from 2nd June 2021.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER First Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

You’ll also have a chance to pick up this cabin on 4th and 7th June, then daily from 9th June, until at least the end of the month.

Pricing is of course not cheap, at around S$3,100 one-way from Singapore to Hong Kong or S$4,700 for a round-trip in this cabin.

For those wanting to burn through (a lot) of their KrisFlyer miles, Singapore Airlines is loading some Advantage awards on each of these flights, though sadly we couldn’t find any Saver space – even for waitlist – at the time of writing.

Advantage awards in this cabin will set you back 73,000 KrisFlyer miles.


Special in-flight menu

As part of the marketing for these new ATB flights, Singapore Airlines will provide a special in-flight menu featuring popular local dishes from both cities.

Passengers may look forward to local fare from Hong Kong such as a selection of Dim Sum, Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, and Lotus Leaf Rice with Chicken, while popular Singapore dishes include Carrot Cake and Nasi Lemak.

Singapore Airlines
Nasi Lemak on Singapore Airlines. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Passenger cap

In common with the ATB’s first planned launch, each designated flight is limited to 200 passengers, around two-thirds of usual capacity for the aircraft being used.


Four COVID-19 tests

As with the previous proposal, the ATB requires a total of four COVID-19 tests, with a total cost of up to S$770 per person for a return trip, frankly a huge price to pay if you’ve already been vaccinated, as outlined below.

Singapore – Hong Kong ATB
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
Singapore pre-departure S$154 – S$200
Hong Kong arrival S$85
Hong Kong pre-departure* S$41 – S$325
Singapore arrival S$160
Total S$440 – S$770

* Prices range from a community testing centre through to a private clinic, with other options in between at around the S$100 mark. Test not required if returning within 72 hours of arrival test, or for children under 12.


Travel eligibility

To be eligible to travel on the ATB, you must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Any person currently in Hong Kong and Singapore, irrespective of his/her nationality*
  • Any person with no travel history to any place other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to departure (not counting any SHN or quarantine period served after arrival from a third country)
  • Hong Kong residents can only take the designated flights to depart from Hong Kong to Singapore at least 14 days after they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Negative result of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nucleic acid test by recognised testing institutions with specimen collected within 72 hours prior to departure
  • Travel must be on designated ‘bubble flights’

* Exception: Holders of Work Permits or S Passes issued by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower working in the construction, marine shipyard, or process sectors are not eligible to travel to Hong Kong under the Air Travel Bubble arrangement.


Full details of the process

The ATB website will be updated later today with the latest full rules and process details. Of particular interest is how the system will work with condition for vaccination applied to Hong Kong residents but not to Singapore residents, plus the various exemptions, so we’ll be updating you all on this later.

So far we know that some additional measures will be in force this time round, compared to the ATB’s initial proposed launch in November 2020:

  • Singapore residents will have to download the LeaveHomeSafe (LHS) mobile app, and scan the LHS QR codes displayed at relevant premises during their stay in Hong Kong, as well as retain the app and its records for 31 days subsequent to departure from Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong residents will have to retain the TraceTogether app and its records for 14 days subsequent to departure from Singapore (previously, the app was required, but it did not have to be retained).
  • If the ATB is suspended for at least 14 days due to more than five unlinked local COVID-19 cases in either city, based on a 7-day average, there is a new criteria added for restarting the bubble, whereby:
    • There have to be three consecutive days with the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases for both Hong Kong and Singapore not exceeding three, and the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases on the third day in both places does not exceed five.

Summary

It’s fantastic to finally see Singapore’s first real opportunity for all-purpose overseas travel in well over a year, including for leisure trips, with this reboot of the much-anticipated ATB to and from Hong Kong.

Also good news is that Singapore residents won’t need to wait to be vaccinated, as had been feared when Hong Kong began talking about this as a new requirement for the bubble arrangement back in March.

As more details of the full process become available, including a relaunch of the official ATB website, we’ll be bringing you further updates.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

13 comments

  1. Hi, may I ask where you got your CX flight numbers from and whether the information is accurate? Because no other website has released this information yet… ST only has SQ flight numbers.

  2. Thanks Andrew, you’re the best!! You scooped the CX flight details only 7 minutes after HK press conference started (where they did not even announce the flight details) and way before anyone else started reporting the same!

  3. SGreans need not be fully vacced arriving into HKG, but what abt SGreans returning from HKG>SIN? Also no quarantine? Sorry if it was covered and I missed it!

    1. Correct no quarantine in either direction. On return to Singapore there is a short self-isolation period (at home) while you await the arrival test result SMS.

      1. Both good and bad news, to me, tbh… I’d personally prefer that pple in both directions ought to be fully vaccinated… oh well..

        But thanks for the info!

  4. I am holding multiple-entry short term visitor pass (STVP) in Singapore. For the record, I have completed my mandatory 14-day SHN in Singapore. Am I allowed to enter HK through this ATB and come back to SG without quarantine?

  5. Except, that there’s no demand.
    Singapore and Hong Kong was traditionally a business market route.

    VFR traffic is minimal, and leisure travel to Hong Kong was on the decline (Singapore Airliines was much, much cheaper to Guangzhou, China Southern typically averaging Scoot fares). Without Macau access, which provides more competitve hotel rates, II’m skeptical this will fly.

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