Cathay Pacific Singapore Airlines Travel Bubbles

Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble: Everything you need to know

The Singapore - Hong Kong ATB is finally set to get underway on 26th May.

Here's all you need to know about the process.

Note: The launch date for the ATB has been postponed, with the next update due by early July 2021.

Recently we wrote about the new proposed launch for the long-awaited Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB), which suffered a six-month delay on its original planned debut due to a wave of COVID-19 cases on the Hong Kong side.

The arrangement is now scheduled to commence on 26th May 2021, with both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines operating inaugural ‘bubble flights’ on the same day, followed by alternating flights between the two carriers each day, before both carriers ramp up to daily service from 10th June 2021.

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If the bubble goes well, other carriers like Scoot, Jetstar and HK Express may also be permitted to begin operating designated flights on the route in due course.

Singapore – Hong Kong ATB

Key Features

  • Travel on designated ‘bubble flights’
  • No restrictions on travel purpose or itineraries
  • COVID-19 testing replaces quarantine / Stay-Home Notice
  • Adult Hong Kong passport holders need to be vaccinated to fly to Singapore
  • ATB can be suspended with 48h notice if unlinked COVID-19 cases spike in either city

Eligibility

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

  • Currently be in Singapore or Hong Kong, irrespective of your nationality*
  • Have no travel history to any place other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to departure (any compulsory quarantine / Stay-Home Notice period spent in Hong Kong or Singapore arising from your last visit outside Hong Kong or Singapore does not count towards that 14-day period)
  • Have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a recognised testing institution within 72 hours prior to departure
  • Have another COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in either city
  • Be travelling on designated flights, as listed below
  • Adult (16+) Hong Kong citizens who have spent the last 90+ days in Hong Kong must have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for 14+ days to depart from Hong Kong to Singapore

* 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.

Common question: Does a Singapore ‘cruise to nowhere’ in the last 14-days count as travel history?

No, since you do not visit another country this is not a problem, prior to a Singapore – Hong Kong ATB trip. However, cruise companies may consider your arrival from Hong Kong (even under the ATB) as recent overseas travel.

Hong Kong vaccination rule

Note that 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 – that means 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, while children are also not prevented from travelling.

ATB designated flights

The ATB will require you to travel on designated ‘bubble’ flights. These services will only carry passengers who are travelling point-to-point between the two cities and fulfil all the ATB requirements. Transit passengers are not permitted.

Both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will be operating the initial ATB flights. You can book a return flight with the same airline in both directions (e.g. Singapore Airlines both ways) or you can mix between the two carriers in each direction (e.g. Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong then SIA back to Singapore).

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will be operating initial ‘designated flights’ for the ATB

Provided both flights you are booked on are designated ATB flights, you will be able to follow the ‘travel bubble’ procedures and avoid any quarantine or SHN period at either end of your journey.

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.

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 the schedule looks.

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 – 30 Sep
SIN
08:40
HKG
12:40
CX734
A350-900
  • May: 27, 29
  • Jun: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
    Then daily from 10 Jun – 30 Jun
SIN
14:45
HKG
19:00
SIN
16:05
HKG
20:20
  • Daily from 1 Jul – 30 Sep
    (timing change)

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 – 30 Sep
HKG
14:25
SIN
18:20
CX759
A350-900
  • May: 26, 27, 29
  • Jun: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
    Then daily from 10 Jun – 30 Jun
HKG
09:10
SIN
13:05
HKG
08:30
SIN
12:25
  • Daily from 1 Jul – 30 Sep
    (timing change)

ATB flight schedules are valid until 30th September 2021, after which the programme is subject to further government approval.

ATB flights are marked in search results

Like last year, Cathay Pacific is marking which flights are available to those wishing to use the Air Travel Bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong, for bookings either via its own website or the Asia Miles platform, with a ‘Travel bubble’ icon.

This time Singapore Airlines is also showing an ‘Air Travel Bubble’ marker on ATB flights too.

Which aircraft?

Singapore Airlines is deploying its three-class long-haul Airbus A350-900 on the first four Hong Kong ATB flights, before switching to the larger four-class Boeing 777-300ER from June. Cathay Pacific is using its A350-900s, which all have the same three-class configuration.

Here’s how the aircraft configurations compare:

Singapore – Hong Kong ATB
Aircraft Types

  Singapore Airlines Cathay Pacific
A350-900
A350-900
777-300ER
First
4

Business 42
48
38
Premium
Economy
24
28
28
Economy 187
184
214
Total 253 264 280

With each ATB flight limited to 200 passengers, that represents a 79% load on Singapore Airlines’ A350, a 75% load on its 777-300ER and a 71% load on Cathay Pacific.

Singapore Airlines will operate its larger Boeing 777-300ER on the Hong Kong ATB from June 2021. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

Note that the Singapore Airlines flight schedules are only published with accurate aircraft types until 30th June 2021, so they currently show the ATB service reverting to a three-class Airbus A350 from 1st July 2021.

This will be updated to the Boeing 777-300ER in due course.

First Class is available from 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 is 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. Availability has not yet been loaded from 1st July 2021 onwards, pending official aircraft type switch to the Boeing 777-300ER beyond June 2021.

If you haven’t experienced it before, don’t miss our full review of SIA’s Boeing 777-300ER First Class.

Pricing is of course not cheap, at around S$3,000 one-way from Singapore to Hong Kong or S$4,700 for a round-trip in this cabin.

In the other direction it’s even more expensive, from Hong Kong to Singapore starting at S$3,300 one-way or S$5,000 for a round-trip.

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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.

Hopefully as SIA’s ATB flights are confirmed as Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from July onwards there may be some additional availability and potentially some Saver award space in store.

Other seat types

On Singapore Airlines flights, it’s the popular long-haul 2013 Business Class seat in a 1-2-1 configuration to look forward to on ATB flights.

Singapore Airlines 2013 Business Class on the Airbus A350. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Good news on the Boeing 777-300ER for those using the ATB from 2nd June is that this is a slightly more spacious version of the same seat found on the A350 Long Haul.

A bit more room to stretch out in the Boeing 777-300ER Business Class seats. (Photo: Matt@PEK via Flickr)

Opting for a bulkhead seat will give you even more legroom, as follows:

Airbus A350

  • 11A & 11K (window)
  • 11D & 11F (middle pair)
  • 19A & 19K (window)
  • 19D & 19F (middle pair)

Boeing 777

  • 11A & 11K (window)
  • 11D & 11F (middle pair)
  • 15A & 15K (window)
  • 15D & 15F (middle pair)
It’s worth trying to secure a bulkhead row seat in Business Class, for additional legroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In Premium Economy it’s a small three or four-row cabin in a 2-4-2 configuration, so the window pairs here are good for couples.

Singapore Airlines A350 Premium Economy. (Photo: View from the wing)

Good news again on the Boeing 777-300ER for those using the ATB in June – these seats are 19.5 inches wide (one inch wider than on the Airbus A350).

In Economy Class it’s the 2013 seat on the Boeing 777-300ER and most A350 Long-Haul aircraft (80% of that fleet), or the newer 2017 seat if you’re on board a more recently delivered A350 LH.

On board Cathay Pacific’s A350-900s you’ll get the latest generation ‘Cirrus’ Business Class seat, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class. (Photo: The Points Guy)

Cathay’s Premium Economy cabin is somewhat similar to SIA’s, with a 2-4-2 layout, and Economy is… well… Economy!