Flying in times of Covid: a guide for families returning to Malaysia

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After being abroad for six weeks, we were happy to get back last month to our home in KL. Malaysia was still in lockdown and my teenage kids would go back to online lessons, but we couldn’t wait to get back to our life in the tropics. 

So… Just bring your passport and board the plane? Nope, unfortunately, coming back to Malaysia requires a few more steps than in normal times. Here we go!

A few preparations…

  • Request immigration permission to exit and return, before you fly out of Malaysia. More info here in our post about departing from Malaysia. You need to do this before leaving Malaysia. If you have a non-Malaysian passport, you could exit without approval, but it is not advisable.
  • A week before you return to KL, you can request the Ministry of Health here for home quarantine, which will be granted under certain conditions for adults 18 years and older who are fully vaccinated. Children of 17 years and younger, can accompany the parents.
  • Book a PCR test for the whole family 72 hours before the departure time of your flight. 
  • Print out all necessary documents: your approval to enter Malaysia, the result of your PCR test, your approval for home quarantine if you managed to get that and the confirmation letter for the hotel.
  • Download the latest version of the MySejahtera app on your phone.
  • If you haven’t received approval for home quarantine, prepare yourself for the hotel; bring lots of snacks and other goodies you won’t be able to survive without, games for the kids, the right kind of power adaptors. Pack laundry powder, dishwashing liquid, a sponge and a tea towel. Think ahead and schedule in a few activities, in case the kids don’t have online classes.
    It might be worthwhile to book ahead for a Premium Package to organise connecting rooms. If you don’t book ahead, you will be assigned to random hotels and you may not be able to get connecting rooms. 
  • You can’t leave the airport with a normal Grab car and also friends or family members are not allowed to pick you up. Make sure to arrange a NADMA approved car. Lots of options here on this FB page. 

Ready for take off?

Just three hours before our flight would take off, I got the long-awaited email that our home quarantine was approved! I quickly called the hotel in KL to cancel our booking and asked them if we could hold on to the NADMA approved driver and car which we also had booked ahead, and that was fine.

After checking in at Amsterdam, we had to go through an additional ‘covid’ document check before we could board the plane. They checked all our papers including approval to enter Malaysia, PCR tests and our residence permits. It’s best to go there first straight after immigration if you want to avoid the queues.

During the flight we were requested to wear our face masks at all times, even when asleep. Make sure to bring a few extra, especially when you’re on a long-haul flight. 

At the moment, there are no direct flights from Europe to Kuala Lumpur and we made a stopover in Singapore. At Changi airport we got a blue wrist band, and our passports and boarding passes were reviewed by four (!) different teams, before we were allowed back on board for our last leg of the trip. 

Arrival at KLIA

After arrival at KLIA, we scanned a special QR code with the MySejahtera apps. We were sad to see that everything was deserted and a few businesses had even closed for good.

At immigration, we attended eight different stations, before we were allowed to leave. At the first station, the team checks all your papers for approval of home quarantine and the permission letter to enter the country.

At the next station, I was fitted with a beautiful bracelet the size of a ‘Rolex’ watch (it comes with a ‘black box’), while the kids got a pink plastic tag. Next up was the PCR test, payment station and immigration. At the last station, there are ushers who take you to your transport outside the airport. Here they spray all your bags first with a sanitiser. If you’re worried about your Hermes bag, make sure to hide it! The whole experience after arriving at immigration took 90 minutes only.

Malaysia
Closed for good?

Quarantine at home

Back home, I placed the ‘black box’ which is linked to my ‘Rolex’ in the middle of the house. We spent 14 days inside, and even though it was boring at times, we were not complaining. Everything better than being cooped up in a hotel room without any fresh air!

Our PCR test on day 10 went smooth (we had someone coming to the house for that purpose) and our bracelets were removed on the 14th day. We received instructions at KLIA about the ‘where’ and ‘how’.

The Malaysia Quarantine Support group on FB can be very helpful for questions related to quarantine, which is still 14 days for most countries. Please keep in mind that it is still not possible for people to enter Malaysia on a tourist visa.

Tagged.

Tips

  • At KLIA you need to deal with a lot of docs, passports, and the portable device for your ‘Rolex’: make sure to carry a handy bag for all this.
  • Notify the team at the first table if you’re approved for home quarantine. If you don’t mention it, they will start to fill in forms for hotel quarantine.
  • There is a special lane at KLIA for families with small children, please don’t miss it since it will speed up the process.
  • Still, chances are that the process at KLIA can take a long time, especially when a few flights arrive at the same time. Make sure to bring snacks and drinks for very young kids.

Relaxed and stress-free overseas travel is still a very distant dream. But at least, if you’re fully vaccinated, we can explore domestically, like the beautiful island of Langkawi. More destinations are to follow soon hopefully!

Note: rules and SOPs change regularly. Please do check for the latest changes with airlines and immigrations before you decide to book flights.

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