Full details: Singapore – Hong Kong ATB to resume on 26 May

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The long-delayed Singapore - Hong Kong ATB will start on 26 May, and Singapore residents won't need vaccinations. Here's the full details.

Singapore and Hong Kong have officially announced the relaunch of the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) arrangement, which came so close to reality in November before getting scuttled just a day before the inaugural flight. 

The ATB will begin on 26 May 2021 with one designated flight per day in each direction. All travellers will be subject to pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 testing. While Hong Kong residents must be vaccinated against COVID-19, there is no such requirement for Singapore residents. 

✈️ Singapore- Hong Kong ATB 
Singapore – Hong Kong ATB (ICA)
Hong Kong- Singapore ATB (HKTB)
❓ More ATB questions? Refer to The Milelion’s FAQ!

ATB: Eligible travelers

To be eligible for ATB travel between Singapore and Hong Kong, travelers 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 a designated ATB flight
  • Be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19  (For Hong Kong residents only)

*The 14-day travel history should not include any time spent in quarantine or SHN in Singapore or Hong Kong due to previous travel

Those who hold work permits or S-Passes issued by the Singapore MOM working in the construction, marine shipyard or process sectors are excluded from traveling on the ATB. 

When ATB discussions resumed in March, the Hong Kong authorities suggested that vaccinations would be mandatory for Hong Kong residents travelling to Singapore. I wrote at the time that this would certainly mean the same requirement applying in reverse, but surprisingly, this isn’t the case. 

While Hong Kong residents departing Hong Kong must be fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 before they can travel on ATB flights, passengers departing Singapore on ATB flights do not need to be vaccinated. 

⚠️ Exceptions

The vaccination requirement does not apply to 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

I suppose this stems from the fact that vaccinations have been made available to the general public in Hong Kong, but the same has yet to happen in Singapore. As it stands, Singapore residents under the age of 45 will only have access to the vaccine from June, and the 35-42 day time lag between the first jab and full effectiveness would have ruled out ATB travel for most Singaporeans until July at least. 

Dose 1 Dose 1
▼ +21 days +28 days
Dose 2 Dose 2
+14 days +14 days
Fully Vaccinated Fully Vaccinated
Total time ≥ 35 days Total time ≥ 42 days

Regardless of vaccination status, travelers will still be required to undergo COVID-19 testing before departure and on arrival in Singapore/Hong Kong. 

ATB: Travel Process

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 

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. This will cost upwards of S$135, based on my latest survey of clinics. 

Children aged 6 or younger in the current calendar year are not required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test before departing Hong Kong for Singapore. They will also not need to take an on-arrival test upon arrival at Changi Airport

On arrival in Hong Kong, a second test will need to be done, which will cost HKD499 (~S$85).  The booking link is not yet live; I will update this section when it is. 

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

Singapore travelers will be required to download and install the LeaveHomeSafe (LHS) app on their mobile phones prior to leaving Singapore for Hong Kong. This is basically Hong Kong’s equivalent of TraceTogether.

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 are negative, travelers may leave the airport and carry out their activities as per normal. 

Travel from Hong Kong to Singapore

Pre-Departure

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.

However, all travelers will need to submit this health declaration form within 3 days of arrival in 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 HKD240-2,000 (~S$40-340), with the cheaper options available at Hong Kong’s community testing centres. 

⚠️ Exception
If your return flight is within 72 hours of your most recent test (i.e the one administered on arrival), a pre-departure test will not be required before leaving Hong Kong. 

On Arrival in Singapore

On arrival in Singapore, a fourth COVID-19 PCR test will be required. This will cost S$160, and must be booked and paid for before arriving in Singapore. After taking the test, the traveller must take private transportation, taxi or private hire car to their declared place of accommodation and remain isolated until test results are confirmed negative. 

Book Changi Airport COVID-19 Test

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

Test Location Price
#1 Pre-departure in Singapore S$135-200
#2 Post-arrival in Hong Kong HK$499 
#3 Pre-departure in Hong Kong* HK$240-2,000
#4 Post-arrival in Singapore S$160
    S$420-S$785
*This test is not required if your return flight from Hong Kong is within 72 hours of your second test

ATB: Eligible flights

ATB flights between Singapore and Hong Kong will commence from 26 May 2021, with one flight per day in each direction. Additional flights may be added after the first two weeks, assuming all goes well.

Singapore Airlines ATB page
Cathay Pacific ATB page

Singapore Airlines will operate SQ 882/883 from Singapore to Hong Kong, while Cathay Pacific will operate CX 759/734 from Hong Kong to Singapore. If you do not travel on one of these ATB designated flights, you will be subject to the regular quarantine rules. 

Singapore to Hong Kong
Date Flight Depart/Arrive
26 May 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
28 May 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
30 May 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
31 May 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
2 Jun 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
4 Jun 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
7 Jun 21 SQ882 0840/ 1240
9 Jun 21 onwards
(daily-tentative)
SQ882 0840/ 1240
Hong Kong to Singapore
Date Flight Depart/Arrive
28 May 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
30 May 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
31 May 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
2 Jun 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
4 Jun 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
7 Jun 21 SQ883 1425/ 1820
9 Jun 21 onwards
(daily-tentative)
SQ883 1425/ 1820

And here’s the initial schedule for Cathay Pacific:

Singapore to Hong Kong
Date Flight Depart/Arrive
27 May 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
29 May 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
1 Jun 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
3 Jun 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
5 Jun 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
6 Jun 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
8 Jun 21 CX734 1445/ 1900
10 Jun 21 onwards
(daily- tentative)
CX734 1445/ 1900
Hong Kong to Singapore
Date Flight Depart/Arrive
26 May 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
27 May 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
29 May 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
1 Jun 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
3 Jun 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
5 Jun 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
6 Jun 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
8 Jun 21 CX759 0910/ 1305
10 Jun 21 onwards
(daily- tentative)
CX759 0910/ 1305

Passengers are perfectly at liberty to book an itinerary that mixes carriers in each direction (e.g SQ to HKG, CX to SIN), but this will likely be more expensive as you have to buy 2X one-way tickets. 

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. From June, the aircraft configuration switches to a Boeing 777-300ER (with First Class!)

Customers with existing bookings will be notified if their flight has been designated an ATB flight. Singapore Airlines passengers who do not meet the ATB requirements, or are transit passengers departing from Hong Kong, may opt to be reaccommodated onto a non-ATB flight operated by Scoot instead. Customers rebooked onto Scoot flights will receive baggage allowance and meals onboard. 

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

Unsurprisingly, there’s a jump in the cost of flights to Hong Kong that just so happens to coincide with the ATB launch. As the rate calendar below shows, ticket prices are a very sedate S$276-286 in the runup, before jumping to S$557 on the launch date.

Part of that is because Economy Lite fares, which are available pre-ATB, have been withdrawn from 26 May onwards. Only the more pricey Economy Standard fares are available. 

Oh, and you can bet these won’t last long. Based on what we saw the last time round, airfares are liable to spike during the initial few weeks. 

High airfares are a sign you should consider redeeming awards instead, and surprisingly, there is still some award space on this route in the first month of operation (at least at the time of writing).

Economy Class has some Saver awards available, although it’s mostly Advantage. 

Economy Class awards to Hong Kong (one-way price)

For Business Class, only Advantage awards are available for immediate confirmation; 

If you’re determined to use miles on this route, here’s a reminder of how much it will cost.

One-way price Saver | Advantage
Economy 15,000 | 30,000 10,000
Premium Economy 24,500 | N/A 18,000
Business 30,500 | 50,000 25,000

ATB: 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. 

There are two possible scenarios that can happen:

  • You test positive for COVID-19 after returning to Singapore, in which case your regular medical insurance kicks in
  • You test positive for COVID-19 while in Hong Kong, in which case your travel insurance provides coverage

Let’s look at options for the latter. 

Airline coverage

Singapore Airlines passengers can opt to purchase the airline’s travel insurance (underwritten by AIG), which includes coverage for COVID-19 related medical expenses and emergency evacuation. This is provided the passenger is traveling under a pre-agreed official agreement like the ATB. 

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

The policy covers up to S$350,000 of medical expenses and evacuation, and provides a daily allowance of up to S$200 (S$100 for Hong Kong specifically) should you test positive for COVID-19 while overseas and be placed into mandatory quarantine. 

Alternatively, Cathay Pacific provides all passengers with free COVID-19 coverage (underwritten by AXA), provided their travel dates are on or before 31 May 2021. This has the potential to be further extended, so keep an eye out. 

Cathay Pacific offers all passengers free COVID-19 insurance
Cathay Pacific offers all passengers free COVID-19 insurance

Overseas medical expenses are covered up to US$200,000, while evacuation is covered at actual cost. An overseas quarantine allowance of US$100 per day is also payable. 

Third-party coverage

Alternatively, travelers can opt for third-party insurance policies from the following underwriters, which explicitly cover COVID-19:

You’ll want to read the policy wording of each carefully for coverage and exclusions. 

ATB: Suspension

The ATB will be suspended for at least 14 days if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases (excluding dormitory resident cases in Singapore) is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.

The suspension will take effect after two days (including the day on which the criteria was met) for a two-week period.

The ATB can resume on the next day when the following two criteria have been met:

  1. the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong and Singapore does not exceed five on the last day of the 14-day suspension period or any subsequent day; and
  2. after criterion (i) is met, subsequently there are three consecutive days where the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases does not exceed three in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases on the last day of the three consecutive days does not exceed five in both places.

Conclusion

While the first iteration of the Singapore – Hong Kong ATB didn’t quite work out the way it was envisioned, let’s hope the second bite at the cherry will be more, er, fruitful. 

The absence of a vaccination requirement for Singapore travelers removes one of the biggest potential hurdles, although the requirement to do up to four COVID-19 tests might make the journey cost prohibitive for families. 

I’ve got a ticket booked for the inaugural flight, and will be putting down some thoughts on trip planning soon. 

Anyone else making travel plans?

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

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ZYX

In light of recent new virus strains, would it be better to change 14-day holding time to 21 days?
HKers have trust issues with Sinovac that’s why HK gov imposes that. SG has not granted green light to Sinovac even months after receiving the first shipment.

Anon

At the rate the info (or lack thereof) with regards to sinovac, the approval will take even longer than usual.

ZYX

Actually WHO is about to decide the fate of Sinopharm today and Sinovac on 3 May. If WHO says yes SG will follow suit as it cannot afford the detained SAF vehicle incident again. Luckily, now we can choose which vaccine we get.

Last edited 8 months ago by ZYX
Mack

Aww look at all the virologists contributing to a miles forum, why don’t you guys write to MOH instead?

ZYX

Talk to your counsellor if you cannot control your mania.

Mack

But I’m sure someone at MOH needs to hear your valuable opinion that the holding period needs to be 21 days and not 14 days! What are their virologists and advisors doing?

JW19

Looking forward to the review. , I am not inspired with the limitations stipulated, though I had changed my mind on a few things ever since I read different reviews from your perspective.

John

We will have to manage our expectations, there certainly will be a new norm in Hong Kong, just as there is in Singapore.

Look forward to your report on how to get the necessary paperwork and tests done during the trip! That would be useful as a reference for readers how to efficiently prepare for travels. 🙂

Anon

At least i can explore HK with not much crowd :D. I can so imagine the peak being empty!

totalf1

The need for Work permit/EP/long term residents to seek MOM entry approval is both baffling and disappointing. It is no secret that this has been a bruising and painful experience for non-Citizen/PR’s, despite several of them (us) having lived here for years/decades.

I would’ve hoped/thought that for ATB flights this would be waived, else this becomes yet another hurdle before this can be leveraged.

Dave

It took my HR team some 10 minutes to apply and the approval came back a day later for the November version of the ATB. I reckon these requests are treated very differently from requests to re-enter from high risk countries.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
Juan

My company’s HR department already struggles with their day-to-day tasks. Sadly I know they will not even come close to entertaining such special requests.

Tom

I completely agree. Whether or not (as Dave suggests) his approval came back quickly there mere fact that a) it is not guaranteed, and b) you have to involve your company’s HR in the process will dissuade many from using this.

Seems borderline spiteful (to add to the long list over the past year) not to have exempted ATB flights from the need to apply for re-entry approval.

David

Impractical ATB with 4 covid tests costing hundreds of dollars per person for >72 hour stay? Jeez. Have fun getting your nasopharynx probed unless this kinda stuff turns you on 😂.

I suppose this ATB is ultimately more suited to people wanting to go home for an extended period of time to see family or for business, rather than for tourists on short city breaks.

Last edited 8 months ago by David
ZYX

It’s never designed for leisure travel.

SQ Flyer

What alternative arrangement would you suggest?

David

The Australia – New Zealand travel bubble requires no tests or quarantine and that is IMO the definition of a true air travel bubble. This still has alot of stringent and cumbersome requirements. I can understand that the confidence is not there yet and this will probably evolve with time as this ‘bubble’ is assessed with bi-directional arrivals. I suppose the implementation of affordable screening breathalyser and saliva tests (as Aaron mentioned above) would help. Make no mistake, we will be living with COVID forever, and expect booster shots like we have for the common flu. I thought countries were… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by David
Eli

The Australia New Zealand situation is indeed quite more ideal in terms of convenience, BUT they are completely different countries than Singapore and Hong Kong.

Singapore and Hong Kong are cosmopolitan hubs in nature, high traffic of peoples from different origins is inevitable. Whereas Australia and New Zealand have the luxury of living in their own corner of the world. Different precautions need to be taken to manage this risk.

David

Of course Australia and New Zealand are different countries with different geographical considerations. That’s not the point. The point is the duplication of tests revolving around the flight date. I do not need to take a pre departure test returning from Taiwan to Singapore although we are not in a bubble. Also as I mentioned, I understand that this will evolve with time, and it’s understandable that everyone is cautious initially. I guess the definition of an ‘air travel bubble’ is ambiguous. Is it a state of travel back to the old days without tests and quarantine? Or in this… Read more »

e j

What you spend on the tests may be saved from the hotel costs I guess? Quite cheap now I think.

Ortloc

Will delayed flights render PCR tests invalid if the results become >72 hours old at the new departure date/time?

Ortloc

Actually what I meant by my initial question was this: Assume the intended stay in HKG is >72hrs and the pre-departure HKG test was done say, 66 hours before the departure time. What happens if the HKG departure time is delayed by >6hrs 1) before check-in, 2) after check-in e.g. plane develops technical fault while passengers are at the gate? Depending on when the delay occurs, it may not be possible to take another test for scenario 1) to be in-time for the new flight time. and I’m not sure how they’re going to deny boarding for those with expired… Read more »

asprino

I recalled this question was answered by the authorities last time – they will count the sechuled departure time so a delay doesn’t matter. But may matter for a flight cancellation.

Cres

I was reading the AXA policy wording. Seems like flight cancellation / postponement due to ATB suspension is excluded under the policy.
Do other providers allow claims for ATB suspension?

Amy

Keen to know this too. Dropped an email to AXA but no response from them yet. If ATB does not proceed on 26 May, what happens to our bookings/reservations paid upfront?

BSLTW

I am finally able to use my tickets before they expire (hopefully) after multiple changes since last year. Home leave to Sg on 30 May. Looking forward to your advice after your trip. Feel free to email me if you like a drink with a fellow citizen in Fragrant Harbour.

Wee Lin

Quick correction: Cathay award space in PY is wide open and available at 18k. Is that a good deal when you can get J for 25k? No, but it’s available anyhow, haha.

Last edited 8 months ago by Wee Lin
Anon

How many days will u be staying in hk?

Darren

Which credit card will you be using to book the various COVID-19 PCR tests?

Last edited 8 months ago by Darren

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