Really leaving on a jet plane

Wow this has been some journey to leave Singapore but the day finally arrived.

The morning was interrupted with a huge thunderstorm between 3-5am and interrupted sleep is not the best way to start a long day but it did mean I got to know that England beat the Ukraine 4-0 in Euros and we’re through to the semi finals. Might actually be able to watch a game now – so that’ll jinx it!

We packed the suitcases. Weighed. Re packed them. Weighed them again. Emptied part of one case into hand luggage. Weighed again. We were good to go. 2 suitcases each, 1 carry on bag each, 1 laptop bag each and a handbag. It’s a lot of luggage to carry when there are restrictions on what can be shipped in a container and what can be put in the hold and what has to be carry on baggage.

We ditched the food in the fridge (due to COVID-19 restrictions it can’t be donated), stripped the beds and put all the towels in the bath. Did the dishes and collected all the remotes into one place, with a tip. I know it’s serviced accommodation but we do like to help the staff when we leave somewhere as they usually have a lot to do in a very short period of time and it takes no time at all for us to do that before we leave. It’s a habit we’ve got into over the years and it’s automatic now.

We had to check out by midday and we were bang on time. This left us with hours to kill before the flight but due to the restriction of two in restaurants we couldn’t go out for dinner. We also didn’t want to take up very kind offers from friends to camp out at their place as this would mean yet another very emotional goodbye and we were all at our limit emotionally and mentally and couldn’t face it. So we decided to head off to the airport and check in super early so we could get rid of the suitcases at least.

The first taxi we called didn’t turn up and magically turned into a normal cab from a 7 seater part way through getting to us, then just disappeared completely. Useful (use a sarcastic tone when reading that). The second booking was for a 9 seater and turned up within 3 minutes and was a much better size. We’re easily fitted in all our suitcases and baggage.

At the airport there was only one door open to enter Terminal 3. We later discovered it was because the terminal was completely closed to members of the public. To gain entrance to the terminal we had to show passports and flight tickets and also rots of documentation before we were allowed to proceed. The terminal was deserted and very eerie. We got to the equally deserted check in desk and proceeded to provide passports, tickets, COVID test results, visas and other documentation as we were leaving the country for good. Once they were satisfied with the documents we could then proceed to put our bags. On the conveyor for weighing. We were spot on with our allowance and there were no issues at all.

We made our way through to immigration security with about 10 members of staff and no passengers. It look like they were taking the opportunity to train new staff. The automatic barriers would not work for us as our passes had been cancelled so we had to proceed to person to person immigration security, separately. As a mother, watching your teenage daughter being escorted to a separate immigration officer was somewhat alarming. Passport and visas checked, face scanned, photo taken, thumbprints taken, confirmation questions about departure and I was free to proceed. I immediately headed over to where Zahra was being questioned to give her some reassurance. We were all finally cleared and headed immediately to the lounge to drop our luggage, have some lunch and relax for a while before the trauma of the security screening of hand luggage, laptops, liquids, and gadgets at the gate before we board the plane. It is such a pain in the arse unpacking stuff to repack it all again when there must be technology available by now that makes that unnecessary.

We headed straight up to the lounge and settled in for a very long wait as we were so early for the flight. We couldn’t eat together as a family due to the restrictive rule of two in restaurants and the shops were mostly closed (one coffee shop, duty free and Gucci was open) so we settled into the lounge. Due to COVID-19 restrictions we selected seat in a row next to each other in the lounge so we could be near each other and relax. In addition, rather than the usual self service buffet style food and drink it was an online app ordering system, which the teenager took full advantage of!

The gate for boarding was finally displayed on the screen and we headed down to the gate , which turned out to be quite a decent walk to the other end of the terminal. All along the way was taped off on one side to separate out passengers from different flights. All staff were in full PPE so we couldn’t distinguish between flight crew and border control staff. Boarding cards were checked before we could enter the zone with the boarding gate. At the gate we had to stand to one side whilst staff escorted transfer passengers from Australia, wearing green wristbands, on to the plane. Once they were all boarded and separated on the plane then we were allowed to board, after final ticket and passport checks and baggage scanning.

The flight crew were pleasant and greeted us cheerfully behind their masks. We settled into our seats and the plane pushed back almost immediately – it was super quick from sitting down to taxiing. First class and the front portion of business class was closed off for crew usuals, as were the accompanying toilets. This was to protect the crew from Covid-19 by having separate facilities, even though everyone on the flight had to have a negative COVID-19 test to board.

Time to sit back, relax and sleep for an uneventful flight and walk up in a cold country we call home. More on that in the next blog.

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