The coronavirus situation over the past month has been shocking, saddening, and indeed has affected me quite a bit. I’ve been refraining from commenting on the current situation for a few reasons:
- I’ve been busy figuring out my own arrangements in the meantime, especially since Imperial College has completely moved to remote operations (exams included)
- I’ve also been emotionally affected – I learnt overnight that many friendships, including a relationship, would move to long-distance; even the prospect of writing about coronavirus got painful, especially when it started to expand in Europe
- I can’t really add anything to what’s already being reported out there
While I’m devastated about the effect the virus has had on many countries in Europe, the best thing I can do right now is focus on how I can stay out of the vicious cycle of infection.
I’m in London right now, having stayed put so far, considering that as the best option. But the sad reality is creeping up that I don’t know how long I’ll be here for. With being in student halls alone fighting for food as the only other option, the best thing to do for me is to go home.
My advice to those that can stay put for now
This video by Kurzgesagt explains coronavirus better than anything I’ve seen in the media so far:
TL;DR: if you don’t have to be in close contact with anyone, don’t.
How I’ll be getting home
As an overseas student, the advice to “stay home/social distance” and “don’t travel” is conflicting to me. Air travel comes with its own risks; I’m not too worried about getting the virus, but I surely don’t want to transmit it to others. That being said, the burden on healthcare in Singapore and Hong Kong so far is much less than the burden on the NHS here in London.
Originally the plan was to fly Air France in premium economy and back in business class for around £1,220 roundtrip. I cancelled this back in February when the coronavirus outbreak was spreading in Hong Kong, and when the situation became slightly more worrying here I booked a roundtrip ticket in British Airways Club World/premium economy for £1,500. Unfortunately, after a lockdown scare, I had to move that forward as well.
I’m so, so lucky to have the luxury of purchasing power, which means that I’m willing to pay for a safer, better option over a cheaper option of getting home. This is a good time to try out a single seat in a 1-2-1 business class product where I’m least likely to infect others on the plane.
Singapore Airlines happened to be charging £2,978 for business class one-way from London to Hong Kong through Singapore this coming Tuesday (as opposed to the prices of £4,500+ that they were charging for all other dates); considering the hefty £2,000+ prices for a one-way in economy direct to Hong Kong, I saw this as a good opportunity to try Singapore Airlines in business class. I’ll be spending the night in a lounge in Singapore and connecting from an old A380 to an A350, which will be exciting (the new A380 is also operating between London and Singapore, but they’re charging a hefty premium for the morning flight, unfortunately). As of a couple of hours ago Singapore stopped taking in transit passengers, so looks like I’m flying British Airways Club World straight home tomorrow.
British Airways Boeing 777 Business Class
Let’s not get carried away – my roundtrip ticket in Qatar Airways’ unarguably better business class cost under £2,100 roundtrip last year. But there’s a huge difference between paying for a leisure flight 6+ months in advance, and paying for a high-demand repatriation flight a few days in advance. I’m really trying to show how grateful and blessed I am here.
Future plans for the blog and the YouTube channel
I’ve been terrible with catching up with flight reports. Imperial College is continuing to host exams remotely in May, which means that this blog won’t be my only priority. I also need to stay sane, which means I’ll need to interact with family, my relationship, and my friends.
I’m still in the process of reporting my flights in Cathay Pacific first class and British Airways World Traveller Plus, and promise to finish doing so by the end of next week. I’ll also start reporting on my experience on Singapore Airlines shortly after that. Meanwhile, I realise that my YouTube channel activity has taken a hit since I’ve been in university, and will definitely upload my video on QSuites by the end of week 1 in quarantine.
I still haven’t uploaded my footage from my QSuites flight last year…nor my Emirates flights to London…etc….
Thanks for staying with me during my emotional ups and downs, and for being supportive as I’ve been busy. I hope to be more active as I face more alone time staying put in halls here, and in quarantine back home. The harsh reality is that the worldwide effects of coronavirus are only just starting, and I extend my prayers to those who are far more affected by this virus that I am. I fully realise that I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in, safe in halls in London and about to return home.
If you need help looking for, or booking a flight home, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glad you can return home and ride out this with those you love.
Safe travels and hope you remain healthy, Alvin.
Singapore is banning all transits from Monday. Have a safe trip home.
Safe trip home!
First year uni is particularly tough, let alone having to deal with this pandemic. Tough luck, Alvin, but wishing you all the best for your journey back. Now, when you get back here in Hong Kong, DON’T go out potentially spreading your germs – please stay under home quarantine for at least 21 days. And for goodness’ sake, wear a mask at all times.
@ TC – Noted with thanks, brother. I’ve got a supply of masks and will be quarantined at a hotel for 14 days. Afterwards I’ll get myself tested and won’t be out and about until I test negative. You stay safe too – some of our fellow compatriots don’t quite seem to be following this advice!