Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport will this week open 'two-way' transits between six countries, expanding upon the one-way journeys which commenced on June 11.
From Tuesday June 23, travellers from Australia and New Zealand will be able to jet their way to and from a handful of destinations in China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, using special transfer lanes and lounges during their stopover at Singapore's Changi Airport.
As before, passengers can travel only on flights operated by Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot, and book their full journey on the one ticket and itinerary.
While travel continues to be permitted in one direction – such as Sydney to Copenhagen via Singapore – return journeys are only possible if your destination is on the list of cities approved for transit flights, and those cities are:
- Adelaide (Singapore Airlines)
- Brisbane (Singapore Airlines)
- Melbourne (Singapore Airlines)
- Perth (Scoot)
- Sydney (Singapore Airlines)
- Auckland (Singapore Airlines)
- Christchurch (Singapore Airlines)
- Chongqing (SilkAir)
- Guangzhou (Scoot)
- Shanghai (Singapore Airlines)
- Hong Kong (Singapore Airlines, Scoot)
- Osaka (Singapore Airlines)
- Tokyo (Singapore Airlines)
- Seoul (Singapore Airlines)
Philip Goh, Singapore Airlines' Regional Vice President South West Pacific, says the introduction of two-way transits channels "are not about booking an overseas holiday as Australia and New Zealand’s borders remain closed to non-citizens,” but "allow those that have an urgent need to travel, to do so."
This includes Australians and New Zealanders "who are currently overseas in the approved markets in China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, to travel with the Singapore Airlines Group transiting through Changi Airport and return home in a Covid-safe manner."
As previously reported, the transit process at Changi will be a very different one to that which travellers remember, and for which the airport itself is famed.
Separating transit, non-transit passengers
On all flights, transit passengers will be separated from non-transit passengers. This includes the outbound flights from Australia and New Zealand, as well as the onwards flights from Changi to your final destination.
Passengers who are flying point-to-point – such as from Sydney to Singapore, or Singapore to London – will board and disembark separately to transit passengers. Each group will be seated in different sections of the airplane, use different washrooms and have their own assigned cabin crew.
As a result, Singapore Airlines advises that "flights may have limited or no seat selection available during the booking phase. Advance pre-paid seat selection has also been temporarily suspended for new bookings."
"To adhere to regulatory requirements, some customers may have their seats reassigned closer to the departure date. Those who purchased prepaid seats and have been reassigned to a different seat will have their payment refunded."
Travellers will be able to view their assigned seats when checking in online but won't be able to select seats or make any changes 48 hours before their flight.
New transit lounges
On arrival at Changi all transit passengers will be welcomed by ground staff, issued with a wristband to identify them as in-transit and escorted to a special 'transit holding area'.
These transit lounges have been set up with food kiosks, vending machines, restrooms, a smoking room and a snooze corner, plus free WiFi.
First class and business class transit passengers, along with high-flying PPS Club members (but not KrisFlyer Gold tiers) will have access to a 'premium waiting area' with complimentary food and drink.
The transit lounge for passengers flying out on Singapore Airlines is located near the start of the A gates zone at Changi Terminal 3. The SilkAir transit lounge is at the start of Terminal 1's C gates area, with a seperate Scoot transit lounge at the start of T1's D gates area.
However, if you're keen for some duty-free shopping, a concierge service will take orders via WhatsApp for products sold by Shilla Cosmetics and Perfumes, and Gift by Changi Airport, and deliver these to the transit area.
The upshot is that once you're in these transit lounges, that's where you will stay until your flight is called for boarding some 75 minutes before departure, and then be escorted to the departure gate (if on arrival at Changi your transit time is less than 75 minutes, you'll be taken straight to the relevant boarding gate).
Transit passengers will board the aircraft first, followed by non-transit passengers. When the flight reaches its destination, non-transit passengers will disembark first, followed by transit passengers.
Note that connections between flights must be no longer than 48 hours – but this won't be much of an issue, considering that visitors can't enter Singapore and that Changi's own in-airport transit hotels are closed.