Artist's impression of RTS Link Woodlands North station and CIQ building. Credit: LTA
Beginning steps have been taken for the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, a rail shuttle service that will connect travellers to/from Singapore and Malaysia. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on 22 November, and proper construction is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2021.
Construction of the RTS Link is expected to be completed by the end of 2026, where travellers can easily shuttle between Singapore’s Woodlands North Station and Johor Bahru’s Bukit Chagar Station. To further smoothen traffic to/from Malaysia, there will be Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities co-located at both Singapore and Malaysian terminals, requiring passengers to only clear immigrations once at the point of departure, according to Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA). Passengers alighting at the Singapore terminus can also easily transfer to the TEL Woodlands North Station, conveniently connecting them to other regions of the city.
It will soon be mandatory for Qantas passengers to get a COVID-19 vaccination before they are permitted to travel with the carrier. Qantas is the first major airline to express its intent of having vaccinations as a prerequisite for travel.
This news comes in line with the International Air Transport Association creating a standardized “digital passport” for travellers worldwide, called the IATA Travel Pass. In its final stages of development, the IATA Travel Pass is set out to be a contactless travel app that will allow airlines to collect and standardize passenger COVID-19 data including vaccination statuses and test results.
AirAsia passengers can now undergo safety clearance procedures online, before their flights. The air carrier has recently gone live with Scan2Fly, a cloud-hosted technology where passengers can upload their medical documents, including valid COVID-19 Negative Certificates, during online self-check in. Passengers flying between Singapore/Surabaya and Malaysia’s KLIA2 airport can already utilize the Scan2Fly system. The system is the latest in a lineup of safety enhancements AirAsia has made to their check-in procedures. Apart from Scan2Fly, automated bag drop services, roving technology for temperature checks and biometric facial recognition are also available for passenger use.
AirAsia is not the only carrier innovating for the age of COVID-19. Etihad airways has also announced a new facial biometrics system they intend to test out for cabin crew check-ins. Facial recognition technology will be used for identification and authorization, allowing cabin crew to complete mandatory pre-flight safety procedures and security questions through their mobile devices.
Emirates has re-launched Dubai Connect, a service that offers complimentary hotel stay for Emirates passengers doing layovers in Dubai. The layovers must be between 10 and 24 hours. Customers get to enjoy a night stay in either a 4- or 5-star hotel, as well as free transport to and from the airport, complimentary hotel meals and UAE Visa on arrival where required. For passengers who are not able to leave the airport, you can enjoy free access to the Dubai Connect airport lounge. The service commences on 1 December 2020, terms and conditions apply.
Emirates will also be rolling out a new travel insurance scheme from 1 December. The first of its kind in the airline and travel insurance industry, Emirates is offering free multi-risk travel insurance – supported by AIG travel – on top of their already existing COVID-19 insurance. The insurance automatically applies to all Emirates tickets purchased after 1 December, and applies to flights by partnered airlines as well, for ticket numbers that begin with 176.
Other Emirates news includes the airline’s recent announcement to reopen Emirates lounges internationally. Beginning with the lounge in Cairo International Airport, Egypt, the airline also has plans to open up lounges in Manchester Airport as well as New York’s JFK International Airport. Singapore’s Changi Airport has an Emirates lounge as well, the Marhaba Lounge. There is no news on the lounge reopening yet.
Credit: British Airways
British Airways has launched a project that allows customers and aviation enthusiasts the chance to recreate an aircraft experience at home. Just in time for Christmas, the airline has begun sales on unique British Airways merchandise specific to first-class, business class and general aircraft-specific artefacts. Customers were given the chance to purchase crockery, bread baskets, socks, towels and more, at affordable prices. For those who want to recreate a first-class experience, you can purchase William Edwards crockery from the airline. The business-class merchandise are items curated by Club World.
British Airways is also selling one-of-a-kind equipment trolleys, equipment boxes and oven racks from the airline’s discontinued Boeing 747 planes. Most of the items are selling out fast – you can check out what is available and make your purchases at this site.