On 11 February 2021, SIA Group airlines introduced its first flights with vaccinated pilots and cabin crew on board – making Singapore Airlines (SIA) among the first airlines to operate with a full complement of vaccinated crew. The flights are Singapore Airlines’ SQ956 to Jakarta, Scoot’s TR606 to Bangkok and MI608 to Phnom Penh . This news follows the vaccination exercise for frontline staff that began in mid-January 2021. The Covid-19 vaccination is made available to all Singapore-based SIA Group staff, and while participation in the vaccination exercise is voluntary, all eligible staff are encouraged to register. More than 90 per cent of cabin crew and pilots have signed up for the vaccine to date.
“We are very encouraged by the strong take-up rate for the vaccine from our colleagues,” says Mr Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer of SIA. “Vaccinations will be key to the reopening of borders and to enhancing travel confidence, in tandem with robust testing regimes and the wide-ranging safe management measures that are in place on the ground and in the air. They offer greater protection for our people and provide an added layer of assurance to our customers,” he adds.
Leading Steward (LS) Kevin Keeran Kumar, Flight Stewardess (FS) Goh Yi Ling and Senior First Officer (SFO) Adrian Pillay – all of whom have received their vaccinations – tell us more about their experience and share with us their thoughts about the future of travel.
How has being vaccinated impacted your confidence in the future of travel?
LS Keeran: Being vaccinated has increased my confidence as I feel I am better protected against Covid-19. I also feel more comfortable about my future travels, as herd immunity can be attained once the vaccines has been made available to all.
FSS Yi Ling: Being vaccinated has certainly boosted my morale. With the vaccine, all cabin crew will be able to operate safely across international borders, and also provide more assurance to our passengers when interacting with them on board.
SFO Adrian: It is still early days but as more people get vaccinated we will get closer to achieving herd immunity and I believe people will start traveling again.
How will your routine as an SIA crew member be impacted by being vaccinated?
FSS Yi Ling: Although many of us have been vaccinated, we still have to remain vigilant at all times to protect our loved ones. Precautions on board to ensure social distancing are still in place, with crew doing their best to delight our passengers through non-verbal communication.
SFO Adrian: We cannot afford to let our guard down, so we will still be exercising the same care when we fly like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the cabin and sanitising our hands and cabin surfaces frequently.
What other safety precautions are you following to make sure that all passengers are safe?
LS Keeran: Besides getting vaccinated, I will continue to stay closely updated with the latest safety and service-related developments communicated to crew and share them with my fellow colleagues. I will also continue to maintain good social responsibility and good personal hygiene practices, and to instil these habits in others.
SFO Adrian: I think SIA and the regulators have already put in place robust and comprehensive measures to protect our passengers, staff, families and communities. As long as we play our part, we can help to minimise any spread of infection.
What would you say to people who may have concerns about getting vaccinated?
LS Keeran: For those who are eligible to be vaccinated, I would say “Go for it!” as getting the vaccine not only protects yourself, but your loved ones too. Vaccines will work with our immune system to ensure it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The combination of getting vaccinated and following Covid-19 precautions will offer us the best protection.
FSS Yi Ling: It is normal to feel hesitant, but getting vaccinated not only protects ourselves but also our family members, loved ones and our community from the virus. We should take this opportunity to be vaccinated so that we can stay safe and healthy.
SFO Adrian: I would recommend them to do their research and find out as much as they can about the data and science behind the vaccine. Have a chat with a trusted medical professional and let them address your concerns. Personally I believe the vaccine is safe and getting vaccinated is the little part I can play to protect my loved ones and the community at large.
What has it been like to be a crew member for SIA during these difficult times?
LS Keeran: Cabin crew have always had unique occupational hazards, from managing passengers on board to balancing perpetual jet lag. The pandemic has brought even more (and tougher) challenges, such as flight cuts. Nevertheless, I have been staying positive and have been doing my best to welcome the new normal with open arms. After all, change is the only constant.
SFO Adrian: It has been difficult as this pandemic has decimated air travel. A lot of things that we used to take for granted have disappeared overnight. There was a lot of uncertainty, especially in the early days, but I am hopeful that the worst is behind us. It has been inspiring to see colleagues who have come forward to serve on the frontline in various capacities. Their indomitable spirit and ready smiles give me confidence that we will get through this and emerge stronger eventually.
What thoughts go through your mind on these flights?
FSS Yi Ling: Before going for every flight, I think about how I can ensure the safety of my passengers and fellow crew members by taking the necessary precautions. I also review the changes to the inflight safety and service procedures on board to ensure I am up to date.
SFO Adrian: I feel even more grateful now whenever I get to fly. Flying helps to take my mind off the pandemic somewhat and provides a glimmer of normalcy that we all yearn for.