SINGAPORE - Budget carrier Scoot apologised to its customers on Tuesday (Aug 25) for sending out a mass e-mail in which it asked passengers to take a Covid-19 test to confirm that they are virus-free before they can travel to China.
Singapore Airlines' low-cost arm clarified that the e-mail was meant only for passengers who had booked a flight onboard TR100, which will depart from Singapore to Guangzhou at 5.15am on Sunday.
Instead, the e-mail was sent to other customers who have travelled with Scoot in the past, or have future bookings with the carrier.
Scoot explained in an update that the incident arose due to human error, and was not a data security or hacking incident.
“Scoot takes this incident very seriously and will conduct an internal review looking into how to further strengthen our internal processes,” said the budget carrier, adding that it has informed the Personal Data Protection Commission of the matter and contacted all affected customers with an explanation of what happened.
The e-mail titled “Urgent: Negative Covid-19 certificate required for your flight to Guangzhou” went out shortly after 2pm on Tuesday, causing alarm and concern among recipients, many of whom took to social media wondering if there had been a data breach or if their personal information had been leaked.
The airline did not say how many passengers the e-mail went out to, but some past passengers reported receiving multiple e-mails with booking reference numbers of previous Scoot flights they had travelled on over the past year, or earlier.
The airline said: “Scoot understands the worry and concerns customers would have over the use of their personal information. We have established that no new booking was created.
“There was also no leak of sensitive personal information; the personal information that was included in the erroneous e-mail was limited to first name and booking confirmation ID, and the erroneous e-mail was sent to the e-mail address associated with the original booking.”
The airline also assured customers that no third party was sent an e-mail with their personal information. “However, if they previously made a booking on another party’s behalf, they may see the other party’s first name in the e-mail instead. No current bookings can be accessed with this information.”
The travel requirements mentioned in Scoot's e-mail said that passengers departing from Singapore to China must take a nucleic acid test to confirm that they are negative for Covid-19 within five days before their flight.
As this requirement kicks in from Friday, it would apply to flight TR100.
Passengers on board this flight must take the test by Wednesday between 9am and 10.30am at a regional screening centre at the former Shuqun Secondary School in Jurong East.
As the nucleic acid test results have a turnaround time of 48 hours, Scoot reminded TR100 passengers that they must adhere to this time slot so as to receive their test results before their flight.
Those taking the nucleic acid test must have their passport and copy of their flight itinerary with them, as well as a valid e-mail address when they register.
Failure to do so would result in them being unable to be tested.
Scoot added that this test was only for passengers without an existing nucleic acid test appointment, and that those who are already scheduled for such tests can proceed as planned.
Passengers must make payment for the test, which costs $186, before their results can be released to them.