Any day now I shall be released

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I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

– Bob Dylan, I Shall be Released

Finally, ten months to the day since I last travelled internationally, I am back on the road. In around 130 minutes BA32 will taxi down the runway here at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and set off for London Heathrow.

I’m writing this, my final Hong Kong Blog for a while, from the Premium Plaza Lounge (the only lounge that is open tonight) and having a nicely chilled glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (it may not be my last) served by the very pleasant and professional Sukian (below) to celebrate my return to international travel.

It’s a very different experience, of course, from any other of the many journeys I have taken from this great airport over recent years. While my flight seems to have a reasonable passenger load based on the scene at check-in, the airport is still a pretty quiet place tonight and almost all the stores and restaurants are closed. But I’m going to focus on the soon-to-be-opened rather than the temporarily shuttered here as I think the real story is now one of future renaissance not bleak recent past.

Fortnum & Mason is one of the many new offers that will entice Hong Kong International Airport passengers as the post-COVID recovery kicks in
I always liked this brilliantly positioned Estée Lauder advertising position at the foot of the escalator into the main retail zone and hopefully it will be seen by many more passengers in the relatively near future

As I documented in a recent blog after a tour here a few weeks back with Airport Authority Hong Kong General Manager Retail Portfolio Alby Tsang there is a palpable sense of rebirth at HKIA. My subsequent detailed report on the extraordinarily ambitious transformation of this airport (including a fantastic transformation of the luxury zone) that is taking place against the backdrop of the pandemic has so far generated an extraordinary 22,342 views on LinkedIn, besides very heavy direct traffic on our own website.

I think that underlines the widespread industry appreciation of what Airport Authority Hong Kong is setting out to do here as well as a genuine boost of confidence that such a story delivers.

Getting back on the road has been made immensely easier by the superb offer from (and team at) Collinson, who I wrote about in my last blog. My wife and I duly booked our pre-departure PCR test in Hong Kong, delivered it to Collinson’s testing partner Prenetics at what looked like a Street Food van but who did the job super-efficiently and delivered the (thankfully) negative COVID reading less than 24 hours later.

We’ve followed the Collinson protocol to the letter, opting not only for the two PCR Tests-on-Arrival (TOA) on days 2 and 8 but also the optional Test-to-Release (TTR) on day 5. Day 5 is 4 June. The procedure has been simple and surprisingly hassle-free. So much so that, without any headaches at all, any day now, yes any day now, I shall be released.

And now… ten months on, it is time to fly. London calling.