Happy reunions at klia2 as first VTL flight lands, but some teething problems for swab test process
KUALA LUMPUR: "It's wonderful to be back and I am not able to express the happiness," Singaporean Selvan said, beaming, after he hugged his family members at the arrival hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) on Monday (Nov 29) morning.
The 67-year-old, who only wished to be known by his first name, was among around 170 passengers on Jetstar’s inaugural vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flight from Singapore to Malaysia. Flight 3K683, the first VTL flight to depart Singapore on Monday, had touched down at 8.13am.
Selvan was greeted by his wife and three sons. He told CNA he last saw them in February last year, and had only seen his first grandchild, an eight-month-old baby girl, via the handphone screen.
His son S Sundar said his family had never expected the prolonged separation to happen. Borders between the two countries were closed last year when the pandemic struck, and international travel was made more difficult by strict health protocols and quarantine rules until the VTL was announced.
"We have been waiting for this moment for the longest time. I really wanted to be here and wanted him to see that his family is waiting for him. That his sons are there," Sundar told CNA.
At the arrival hall, family members and loved ones could be seen embracing one another tightly to mark the reunion.
Marissa Wambeck, 30, hid behind a pillar to surprise her boyfriend Jonathan Vincent, 32, as he pushed his luggage down the ramp.
They hugged for a few minutes, big smiles coming up on their faces.
"No words, just happiness," said Marissa when asked how she felt to be reunited with Jonathan, a Malaysian working in Singapore. The couple last saw each other before the pandemic.
Jonathan, who is a teacher, and his cousin had travelled to Malaysia for his brother's wedding.
"It is so amazing. I had booked the first row seats on the first flight out so that I could come back as soon as possible," he said while holding Marissa's hand.
Razib Manap and Jami Ramat, both 61, were eager to catch a taxi from klia2 to Port Dickson upon arrival.
Razib is Malaysian while Jani is Singaporean.
Razib said that they were looking forward to reuniting with his four children and six grandchildren.
"I've only seen them on the telephone screen for a long time," he said, adding that he used to come home once a month before the pandemic.
TEETHING PROBLEMS FOR SWAB TESTS
As part of the standard operating procedures, travellers arriving in Malaysia via the air VTL have to take on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before they are allowed to leave the airport.
They can choose between a swab test with results made available in three hours and a pricier test with results out in an hour.
On Monday, the first passenger from the Jetstar VTL flight to emerge at the arrival hall showed up just before 11am, about two-and-a-half hours after the plane had landed.
Some passengers said there were delays and mix-ups in the test process.
One of them, who only wanted to be known as Chan, was unhappy that she had to wait for more than an hour for her result despite paying for the more expensive test.
"I hope they can improve the system so that those using the VTL in the future do not have to go through these difficulties," she said.
Selvan, who noted the cost of testing involved on both sides of the border, said that teething problems were to be expected. He advised travellers to be more patient.
Jonathan, who also paid for the one-hour test but had to wait beyond the stipulated time, added: “Their capacity for testing was good, just that they mixed up the one-hour and three-hour tests.”