Short reprieve for Hong Kong-bound passengers in Singapore

When The Straits Times went to Changi Airport on Aug 13, most travellers had been re-booked on the first few morning flights for Hong Kong.
When The Straits Times went to Changi Airport on Aug 13, most travellers had been re-booked on the first few morning flights for Hong Kong.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A family of five from Hong Kong, including a Filipino maid and two young children, were stranded for about 16 hours in Singapore after their evening flight on Monday was cancelled.

They departed from Changi Airport only yesterday afternoon.

Following the cancellation of six flights from Singapore to Hong Kong on Monday - three by Cathay Pacific, two by Singapore Airlines and one by Scoot, according to Changi Airport Group - the family was among thousands of travellers affected when protesters continued to stage a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport that day.

When The Straits Times visited Changi Airport yesterday morning, most travellers had been re-booked on the first few morning flights. Business at the various terminals was back to normal and there was no commotion at the check-in counters.

Filipino maid Flores Feball Castaneda, 34, as well as her employers and their children aged two and four, were waiting at Terminal 4 for their afternoon flight to Hong Kong after their Cathay Pacific evening flight was cancelled on Monday.

The family had been vacationing in Singapore for a week.

She said: "We found out about our flight being cancelled on Monday afternoon and we went down to the airport to confirm. We had to book a room at a hotel for an extra night. We came early this morning to see if we could get on an earlier flight, but it was full."

They eventually managed to get on a flight that left at 12.55pm.

Mr Granon Cheung Kwan Long, 17, a college student from Hong Kong who was visiting Singapore with his mother and grandparents, was also affected by the mass cancellation of flights.

The family was scheduled to depart on Cathay Pacific Flight CX636 at 8.10pm on Monday.

 
 
 
 

"Luckily for me, I don't have to go to school because it is the holiday period in Hong Kong. We are not too worried because we have insurance," he said.

His family also managed to get on the 12.55pm flight.

Besides returning Hong Kong citizens, many travellers who were supposed to transit in Hong Kong were also affected.

A 13-year-old female student, who did not want to be named, and her father from Beijing were scheduled to depart for Hong Kong early yesterday morning.

Due to the cancellation of their flight, they were unable to catch their connecting flights from Hong Kong to Beijing, as well as from Beijing to Nanzhou, where she goes to school.

"We are waiting to see if we can get a straight flight to Beijing now, but we are unsure if we can get a seat because a lot of flights are already full. We are just waiting for the airline to get back to us," she said.

After the brief respite early yesterday during which flight operations resumed, the airport authority announced that check-in services for departing flights were suspended as of 4.30 pm.

Departing flights that had completed the process would continue to operate. It said that it did not expect arriving flights to be affected, though dozens had already been cancelled.

In an updated travel advisory on its website yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said protests which were meant to be peaceful could potentially turn violent with little or no notice. Singaporeans were advised to avoid any reported locations of upcoming protest rallies and other large public gatherings.

Singaporeans travelling through Hong Kong were advised to check with their airlines or the airport for the latest flight updates.

Those already in Hong Kong should take all necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety, the advisory said. Singaporeans in Hong Kong were also encouraged to register online with MFA at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'Short reprieve for stranded passengers in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe