Because of the evolving pandemic situation that’s worsening globally, my friends and I made the decision to fly back home instead of remaining in Adelaide. What a turn of events indeed – just in February, I changed my flight at the last minute and flew 2 weeks in advance from Sg to Australia so that my studies would not be disrupted should the situation worsen. And now, just barely a month later, I’m taking yet another last minute flight back to Sg to escape the worsening situation here in Australia. Seems like I’m destined to keep flying here, there, everywhere. Since December, I’ve been flying at least once per month wow that’s a whole new record being made.
I thought I’d share the whole experience of how flying amidst a pandemic is like, so here goes!
Tuesday 24 March 2020
Our flight time is at 10:35AM, but we decided to head to the airport early and reach 3 hours prior just in case there are snaking queues and long custom times (which was the case when I first arrived).
Thankfully, we had friends who could drive us down to the airport so we saved a bit on cab fare. Before heading off to the airport, we made a quick stop at the Uni office to drop our room keys off – not sure when will be the next time that we get to go back to our rooms 😦
Reached the airport and just before alighting, all of us put on on our masks. We look like a gang especially since we were walking as a group haha. Surprisingly there were not many other people wearing masks in the airport though, so we kinda stood out a little. But no matter, safety comes first.
Went to the check in counter first, and thankfully there was no queue at all. We decided to check in as a group since some people had baggage weight which exceeded the limits (ME) while some others had extra weight which they didn’t need. In the end, my 34kg baggage cleared check in thanks to the group check in we did and I was able to escape paying for additional baggage which is so ridiculously expensive!
Cleared the first round of customs (domestic side). Was a hectic time because I had so many items to take out – my laptop, ipad, camera, umbrella. That made me so confused that I walked through the scanner machine with my backpack still on and of course the machine started beeping. The guy manning the machine was smiling at the whole scenario that unfolded HAHA he probably was very amused at my silliness.
My friends got some coffee and food, and the whole group of us sat down to chat and pass time since there was still ample time before we had to go through the second customs (international side). What’s cool about Adelaide airport is that even those who are not intending to fly can clear domestic customs and enter the area with shops and food to send off those who are flying.
Said goodbye to our friends who came to send us off, cleared international customs, did a last trip to the toilet and it was time to board the plane.
There weren’t many passengers from what I could tell in the waiting area. Usually, it takes a bit of time for everyone to board the plane and boarding is done in groups, but this time round the whole process was so fast there was barely any waiting.
We entered the cabin, and initially I was meant to sit in the same row as one of my friends in the middle of the plane. However, the flight was so empty that the cabin crew suggested that we each take 1 whole row of 3 seats to ourselves. So, I ended up choosing a window seat where it’d be all cozy and snug. It’s amazing how when I flew to Adelaide, I was blessed with a whole empty row and now taking the return flight back, I got the same treatment too :”)
Lunch was served! Had to break my intermittent fast streak of a month (there was 30 minutes left before I was supposed to eat). Felt a little sad, but then realised that regardless I would have to break the streak due to the 2.5 hour time difference between Adelaide and Singapore.
Because I opted for the vegetarian Western meal, I was one of the first to be served. Somehow, I feel like all food on Australian flights taste amazing – the selection of food offered is truly suited to my tastebuds. This flight back, the lunch set consisted of: toasted bread roll, hummus with vegetables ( I polished off the entire container of hummus by dipping the small packet of crackers given with it – since hummus and dips in general are really pricey in Singapore), caramelised bananas in coconut milk and topped with coconut flakes, quinoa with dried apricots and cooked peas and tomato vegetable stew, mango ice cream.
Watched ‘Parasite’ while I had my lunch. Thought I wouldn’t be sleeping on the flight since it was a day flight, but the meal was good and my tummy was satisfied so not long after, I began nodding off. Since I had the whole 3 seats to myself, I sprawled out and had a good long 2h nap.
Woke up to the smell of food once more – it’s time for a snack! The vegetarian option offered was a box of 4 italian arancini – 2 were spinach filled, and the other 2 were a mix of cheese and mushrooms. It was so GOOD I really love it so so much.
Perhaps because there were so little passengers, and hence extra food, the cabin crew started asking if we would like second servings. I was in the middle of watching an emotional scene, tears in my eyes when this happened, and I was embarrassed HAHA. They offered us a second round of ice cream, and toasted sandwiches and loads of water/drinks, but at that point I was really stuffed so I declined.
After finishing my snack, I opened up the window shades and the view just took my breath away. The skies were so blue, dotted with many puffy white clouds. And when I looked down, oh wow, the sea was so clear and beautiful and dreamy with boats dotting the vast blue ocean here and there. Spent many minutes trying to take different shots and angles – I wanted to capture as much of the beauty and save if for future use. Seeing the world from so high up made me realise just how tiny I am as a person, and how all my insecurities and worries seem so insignificant when there are much larger global problems affecting the masses. I want to remember that memory forever – and let it serve as an encouragement when times get tough.
There was a slight turbulence as we were descending – a particularly large lurch made my stomach drop, it was almost as if I was riding a roller coaster in an amusement park. As the plane descended lower and lower, and I could just make out my country grounds, I started feeling slightly emotional – a mixture of relief that I’m finally home in my country and a sense of safety that I’m finally back on familiar territory :’)
We landed earlier than expected; since there weren’t many people on the flight, it was pretty efficient at the customs area. There was some queueing involved, because we had to register for the 14 day stay home notice and fill up our personal details and particulars but other than that collecting the luggages went really smoothly and quickly.
Met up with some of the parents and they brought us down to the basement carpark where we’d spend the next 30 minutes going through a very thorough cleansing and sanitising process. We used hospital grade disinfectant, wet wipes, gloves and masks to wipe down everything from our baggages to our own clothes, hair and skin. Slightly amused at the whole process because some people were staring at our little group while we were cleansing, but overall am really glad that the parents are taking this seriously and protecting themselves from us higher risk individuals.