Full details of Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB): Flights, cost, award space, insurance and more

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Air travel bubble flights between Singapore and Hong Kong will start on 22 November 2020. Here's everything you need to know.

A couple of weeks ago, some exciting news broke that Singapore and Hong Kong were looking to form a travel bubble. This would cover all types of travel, including leisure, with no need for quarantine on either side of the bubble. 

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport

We now have more details about exactly how the air travel bubble (ATB) will work, which flights will be “bubble approved”, and testing requirements. 

Singapore-Hong Kong ATB website (ICA)
Hong Kong-Singapore ATB website (HKTB)

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for travel between Singapore and Hong Kong under the ATB, you must:

  • Have remained in Singapore or Hong Kong for the past 14 consecutive days prior to travel
  • Present a negative COVID-19 PCR test with specimen submitted within 72 hours of departure
  • Travel on an approved ATB flight (see next section)

Holders of work permits or S Passes in the construction, marine shipyard or process sectors are excluded from the ATB. 

When will ATB flights commence?

ATB flights between Singapore and Hong Kong will commence from 22 November 2020, with one flight per day in each direction. This will be increased to two flights per day from 7 December 2020, assuming all goes well.

Here’s the initial schedule for Singapore Airlines:

Singapore to Hong Kong
DateFlightDepart/Arrive
22 Nov 20SQ8901000/1400
23 Nov 20SQ8900800/1145
25 Nov 20SQ8900735/1120
27 Nov 20SQ8900735/1120
29 Nov 20SQ8900735/1120
30 Nov 20SQ8900735/1120
2 Dec 20SQ8900735/1120
4 Dec 20SQ8900735/1120
7 Dec 20 onwards (daily)SQ8900735/1120
All flights operated by A350-900 (Long Haul Config)
Hong Kong to Singapore
DateFlightDepart/Arrive
23 Nov 20SQ8911255/1655
25 Nov 20SQ8911230/1630
27 Nov 20SQ8911230/1630
29 Nov 20SQ8911230/1630
30 Nov 20SQ8911230/1630
2 Dec 20SQ8911230/1630
4 Dec 20SQ8911230/1630
7 Dec 20 onwards (daily)SQ8911230/1630
All flights operated by A350-900 (Long Haul Config)

And here’s the initial schedule for Cathay Pacific:

Singapore to Hong Kong
DateFlightDepart/Arrive
24 Nov 20CX7341500/1900
26 Nov 20CX7341500/1900
28 Nov 20CX7341500/1900
1 Dec 20CX7341500/1900
3 Dec 20CX7341500/1900
5 Dec 20 onwardsCX7341500/1900
All flights operated by A350-900
Hong Kong to Singapore
DateFlightDepart/Arrive
22 Nov 20CX7590910/1300
24 Nov 20CX7590910/1300
26 Nov 20CX7590910/1300
28 Nov 20CX7590910/1300
1 Dec 20CX7590910/1300
3 Dec 20CX7590910/1300
5 Dec 20 onwards (daily)CX7590910/1300
All flights operated by A350-900

Passengers are perfectly at liberty to book an itinerary that mixes carriers in each direction (e.g SQ to HKG, CX to SIN), but since award space isn’t available (see below) this will likely be expensive as you have to buy 2X one-way tickets. 

Inventory has been loaded on the Cathay Pacific website already, with a special “travel bubble” tag to indicate bubble-eligible flights. 

Singapore Airlines is still showing the regularly scheduled timing for the inaugural flight on 22 Nov 20 (should be 1000 departure instead of 0735), but otherwise you can go ahead and book flights already. 

An initial quota of 200 passengers on a single flight per day will be set. Singapore Airlines’ long-haul configured A350-900 aircraft can seat 253 passengers, so this represents about an 80% load. 

The ATB is currently set to run till 31 December 2020, and will be extended depending on prevailing circumstances. 

How much do flights cost, and is there award space?

Economy Class flights on the Singapore Hong Kong route from now till the end of the year start from S$570, but I’ve seen them go as high as $1,000-ish on certain days. Cathay Pacific starts slightly lower at S$510, but you’ll need to check exact dates to be sure. 

Business Class flights cost upwards of S$2,000 for Singapore Airlines, and around S$1,500 for Cathay Pacific. 

Update (17/11): Singapore Airlines has opened up award space on the ATB flights. Read this post for more details.

You might be hoping to snag a seat with frequent flyer miles, but sadly it appears Singapore Airlines has zeroed out award space on the SIN-HKG route for the rest of 2020. Cathay Pacific does have a handful of more expensive Choice or Tailored awards available for Premium Economy or Business Class, but I don’t think it’s worth the cost. 

If you’re determined to use miles on this route, try looking at flights from January 2021 onwards. Here’s a sample of the award cost in miles. 

One-way pricesEconomyBusiness
KrisFlyer15,000 miles30,500 miles
Asia Miles10,000 miles25,000 miles

Neither KrisFlyer nor Asia Miles will impose fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines/Cathay Pacific flights, and taxes will be just under S$90 on a round-trip itinerary. 

What does the ATB process entail?

Travel from Singapore to Hong Kong

Pre-Departure

Before departure, travelers must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Apply for visa (not required for Singapore passport holders)
  2. Purchase ticket for a designated ATB flight
  3. Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test
  4. Submit a Health Declaration
  5. Book a post-arrival COVID-19 test (website not yet live)

COVID-19 PCR tests must be taken within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your flight from Singapore to Hong Kong, at one of the clinics or testing centres designated by the Singapore government. Approval is required to take a pre-departure test (until 1 December 2020), and tests will cost ~S$200.

On arrival in Hong Kong, a second test will need to be done, which will cost HKD499 (~S$87). You can register and pay for this test in advance online via this link (you’ll need to create an account first). 

Book Hong Kong Airport COVID-19 Test

Day of departure

On check-in, travelers must present the following:

  • Valid travel document
  • Valid visa (if needed)
  • QR code of health declaration form
  • Negative COVID-19 PCR test (electronic or printed copy)
  • QR code of booking and payment for post-arrival COVID-19 test at Hong Kong airport
  • For non-Singapore citizens: identity card, long-term pass, or approval letter of entry

On arrival in Hong Kong

Travelers will undergo a temperature screening and need to present the same documents as in the previous section. 

A second COVID-19 PCR test will be conducted upon arrival, and if the result shows negative, travelers may leave the airport and carry out their activities as per normal.

Travel from Hong Kong to Singapore

There is no need for Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders to apply for an Air Travel Pass to enter Singapore, and no need to serve an SHN upon arrival in Singapore. Do note that long-term pass holders will still have to seek entry approval from the relevant Singapore Government agencies before travelling to Singapore.

All travelers must take a third COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the scheduled time of departure of the flight from Hong Kong to Singapore. This will cost between HKD700-2,000 (~S$122-347), although the price could come down to HKD240 (~S$42) once Hong Kong opens up its community testing centers.

The exception is if your return flight is within 72 hours of your most recent test (i.e the one administered on arrival)- in which case a pre-departure test will not be required before leaving Hong Kong. 

On arrival in Singapore, a fourth COVID-19 PCR test will be required. 

So all in all, a Singapore resident can expect to do three to four COVID-19 PCR tests:

TestLocationPrice
#1Pre-departure in SingaporeS$170-200
#2Post-arrival in Hong KongHK$499 
#3Pre-departure in Hong Kong*HK$700-2,000
#4Post-arrival in SingaporeS$196
  S$573-S$828
*Children under the age of 12 are exempt from this test. This test is also not required if your return flight from Hong Kong is within 72 hours of your second test

Full details of the process can be found on the ICA website

What about travel insurance?

The CAAS has said that travelers who contract COVID-19 will need to bear the full cost of any medical treatment, subject to prevailing medical and healthcare policies. 

Singapore Airlines’ AIG travel insurance provides coverage for COVID-19

On the other hand, we’ve recently seen some travel insurance providers incorporate coverage for COVID-19 into their plans. Scoot has added this to their plan underwritten by AXA, likewise Singapore Airlines to their plan underwritten by AIG. 

These plans do not cover travel against official government advisories, but will cover travel under pre-agreed official agreements. Here’s an excerpt from the Singapore Airlines travel insurance FAQ

If a passenger travels to a destination for which Singapore’s Ministry of Health has already established a Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement (RGL) and he/she meets the condition of the RGL, is he/she covered?

Yes. The passenger will be covered for COVID-19 if he/she is travelling under a pre-agreed official arrangement, for example, the Reciprocal Green Lane which facilitates short-term essential business and official travel between Singapore and Malaysia. Please review Terms and Conditions carefully for a full description of the coverage.

In terms of coverage, here’s how much you can expect:

 Singapore AirlinesScoot
UnderwriterAIGAXA
Medical Expenses while OverseasS$350,000S$10,000
Overseas Hospitalisation AllowanceN/AS$50 per day, up to S$1,000
Trip CancellationS$7,000S$800, with S$100 excess
Trip CurtailmentS$7,000S$800, with S$100 excess
Quarantine (at destination)S$150 per day, up to 14 daysS$100 per day, up to 10 days
Policy WordingLinkLink

To give an idea of cost, Singapore Airlines’ travel insurance for a 4-day trip to Hong Kong costs S$57. 

What else do I need to know?

The ATB will be suspended if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases in either Hong Kong or Singapore. According to the CAAS, the ATB will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked COVID-19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.

If the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked COVID-19 cases on the last day of the suspension period is five or less, the ATB arrangement will resume.

Conclusion

Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There’s a lot to digest here, and no doubt more information yet to come. But what we do know is that before the month is out, the first planeload of Singapore tourists to Hong Kong will be departing from Changi Airport, and that’s fantastic news. 

The main barrier now is the cost of testing. You’ll need to pay at least S$287 for testing in Singapore upon arrival in Hong Kong, and if your stay is longer than 72 hours, another S$122-347 for a COVID-19 test before leaving Hong Kong. Imagine this outlay multiplied by a family of four, and you start to see how urgent the need for low-cost testing is. 

Expect award space to be highly restricted on this route, given how strong the demand for cash tickets is likely to be. If you really want to go, now’s the time to use all those travel credits you may have. 

I’ve booked myself on the inaugural flight, and will be writing a separate report about the experience- stay tuned!

Anyone else joining me?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Happy Camper

In which cabin, Aaron?

Btw, awesome details! 🙏🏻🙏🏻

Happy Camper

Ahhhh… I thought you’d maybe pull the trigger in support of SQ going back online… haha..

Actually, even revenue seats are fast disappearing… in all classes…

I can’t see myself being in HKG for two weeks, else I’d be tempted too…

Nicholas

It’s this going to be called the Roast Goose run?

Anon

How many days will you be staying? Will you go for more than less than 3 days so you dont need to test a third time? or more than 3?

Happy Camper

Am I reading it wrongly? Doesn’t one have to be in one place for at least 14 days prior to being able to fly?

bluepanda

I think previous (technical) wording was indeed not clear, or “too clear” on 14 days stay before flight. But they’ve revised it to “No travel history ….. other than Hong Kong and Singapore in the last 14 days prior”.

Happy Camper

Ah! That’s ok then! Thanks for the clarity!

Alvin

Wonder how they track when the specimen is taken given you have to take the specimen yourself. HKIA website mentioned “specimen collected within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure…”. If I go in Dec where SQ’s arrival time in HK is 11.20am and stay for 3 days, but the schedule time of departure is 12.30pm, does it mean I can delay taking the specimen on arrival at HKIA till after 12.30pm to be within the 72 hours? Would be helpful if you can find out when you’re at HKIA if they record the time the test kit is… Read more »

BSLTW

Welcome to HK ! PM me if you need any assistance.

I booked my flight back to Sg for Christmas/New Year. ~900sgd yesterday morning, double the price in the afternoon, sold out by night time for my dates. Phew !!

Louis

Woah have fun in hk ! Darn I in healthcare not allowed to travel at this point hope that changes soon.

Sam

What if i booked the non-ATB flight?

jpatokal

Children under 12 are exempt from PCR tests, which reduces the family costs somewhat. On the other hand, if you’re living in Singapore but not citizen/PR, you will need to apply for MOM Entry Approval before you can come back — and potentially get stuck in HK indefinitely if it’s denied for any reason.

JW19

They are only exempted on Singapore side. HK needs all travellers to take the test.

Ahmed

Are you sure about the approval thing? I thought its waived, otherwise whats the point?

Caleb

There are two Travel from Singapore to Hong Kong header.

Traveler

Do u have to take a PCR test upon your arrival back in Singapore?

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