SIA Converts HK Flights To Non-Air Travel Bubble, Customers Can Get Full Refund With No Fees

After all the hype over the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB), it must have been hugely disappointing for all involved when it was deferred before it even started.

The first flight was supposed to be today (22 Nov), but now instead of happy Singaporeans embarking on a long-awaited overseas holiday, we’ll now have dispirited travellers whose flights have been converted to non-Air Travel Bubble flights.

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That means they’re now faced with the choice to travel anyway, and be subject to likely quarantine measures, or cancel their trips for a full refund.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) broke the news in a Facebook post on Saturday (21 Nov).

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It also advised affected customers on how to request for refunds.

Travel bubble deferred due to HK situation

On Saturday (21 Nov), Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that the ATB had been deferred, just hours after the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it would proceed.

He said he fully understands the disappointment and frustration of travellers, but it was better to defer given the worsening Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong.

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He also added that it’s a “sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us”.

New travel bubble launch date not within next 2 weeks

CAAS subsequently said in a media release that the new launch date of the ATB is still undetermined, but it won’t be within the next 2 weeks.

That’s because the 2 cities will only be reviewing the situation and determining the new launch date in the next 2 weeks.

As you would imagine, that puts those who’ve booked the ATB flights from 22 Nov to 6 Dec in limbo.

Travellers on non-ATB flights subject to quarantine

According to CAAS, travellers may still continue their trips to Hong Kong if they wish to.

However, their flights won’t be designated as ATB flights any more.

That means they will be subject to the health requirements of Hong Kong. Currently, incoming travellers outside of China are subject to a compulsory quarantine of 14 days at a hotel.

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Additionally, CAAS said that Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong will be served a 7-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).

SQ890 & SQ891 now non-ATB flights

SIA, in a media release of its own, said the flights converted from ATB flights to non-ATB flights are SQ890 and SQ891 — basically all of them.

They will be between 22 Nov and 6 Dec, inclusive of both dates.

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They advised customers make sure that they meet Hong Kong’s entry requirements and follow quarantine measures upon arrival.

Full refunds available without fees

However, it’s possible for passengers to get a full refund of their air tickets if they understandably don’t want to go any more.

Refunds will be disbursed according to the payment mode. SIA will also waive the usual cancellation fees.

Those who booked their tickets directly with SIA can request for refunds here.

Considering the ATB flights from 22-30 Nov were sold out, SIA will be probably be having their hands full processing refunds for the next few weeks.

Those who booked flights through a travel agent should contact them.

Cathay offers rebooking & refunds

Let’s not forget that many people have also booked their ATB flights on Cathay Pacific.

The Hong Kong airline said on its website that its inaugural ATB flight-to-be, CX759 from Hong Kong on Sunday (22 Nov), has been cancelled.

Travellers on this flight have been offered free rebooking on non-ATB travel flights, but normal quarantine rules will apply.

They can also get a full refund on their ticket.

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Travellers on Cathay’s ATB flights from 24 Nov to 5 Dec have been automatically placed on non-ATB flights at the same date and time — i.e. their flights have been converted to non-ATB flights.

The airline has also offered them the option to rebook or get a refund on their flights, for free.

Best not to travel till HK situation improves

While we understand the frustration of having a trip cancelled so close to the day of departure, the escalating number of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong are no joke.

For the sake of the community, it might be better to play it safe and not travel to the city until the situation there has improved.

The trip won’t be too fun either, if you’ve to constantly worry about getting the virus when you’re there.

Thankfully, SIA and Cathay have offered refunds so travellers aren’t left in the lurch.

For those whose travel plans here been thwarted, perhaps it’s time to check out Singapore’s local attractions instead.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook.