A flight attendant for Amsterdam-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines remains held in detention in the city-state of Singapore after breaking strict COVID-19 rules when he left his hotel room and was found wandering through the hotel lobby. The male flight attendant was arrested on November 14 and remains under arrest according to a spokesperson for the airline.
As part of its successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has imposed stringent rules on new arrivals entering the country including flight attendants and pilots. Before entering Singapore, aircrew must be tested for COVID-19 and even if the result is negative they are quarantined in their hotel rooms for the duration of their layover.
The measures have been in place for months and flight attendants should be under no misunderstanding that they are not allowed to leave their hotel room until their return flight home. Singapore’s civil aviation authority has even signed reciprocal deals with other countries to confine its cabin crew into hotel quarantine on international layovers, although monitoring isn’t as rigorously enforced as it is in Singapore.
Similar rules are in place in a number of Asian countries and territories, including China, Hong Kong and Thailand. In many cases, hotel room keys are programmed to only work once and in some countries armed guards stand at the end of corridors where quarantined crew and other travellers are staying. Doors can only be opened for food deliveries or when leaving the hotel.
KLM’s flight attendants are informed of the rules before flying to Singapore according to local news site NH Nieuws. The flight attendant was allegedly found wandering the lobby of the hotel, although it’s not known why he left his hotel room.
A spokesperson for the airline confirmed the arrest, saying: “On 14th November, a KLM crew member violated the local quarantine rules by temporarily leaving his hotel room without permission.” The airline declined to provide any further details.
The flight attendant remains in custody pending possible criminal charges.
In late September, a British Airways caused controversy when she compared a government-run quarantine facility in Hong Kong to “a concentration camp”. A group of flight attendants had been forced into quarantine after one of their colleagues tested positive for COVID-19, although the pilots were allowed to fly home.
The flight attendant was later suspended for breaching the airline’s social media policy after her comments caused outrage in Hong Kong and further afield.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.