Qantas’ Singapore VTL flights set for take-off

In which the Roo makes a return to the Red Dot...

By David Flynn, November 19 2021
Qantas’ Singapore VTL flights set for take-off

Qantas will return to Singapore next week with the launch of designated VTL flights from Sydney and Melbourne.

The airline has confirmed that "all Qantas flights from Australia to Singapore are designated as Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) services."

However, there's a caveat for some non-vax'd travellers: "in line with Singapore Government requirements, only fully vaccinated passengers can travel on these flights and medical exemptions are not accepted."

And while Australians can enter and return from Singapore without quarantine, the need for Covid PCR tests on arrival at Changi and before flying back to Australia – an impost of around $300 per passenger – plus Singapore's strict Covid policies on dining and nightlife have put a dampener on Qantas' schedule.

As of November 22 there's just a single Qantas return flight to Singapore each day, split between Sydney and Melbourne:

  • the Melbourne-Singapore (QF36/QF36) flight runs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday
  • the Sydney-Singapore (QF81/QF82) flight runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday

That's a far cry from 2019's double-daily services out of Sydney, which also saw the mighty Airbus A380 making a Singapore stopover on the way to and from London.

(Singapore Airlines is maintaining its double-daily schedule from both Sydney and Melbourne, with the flagship Airbus A380 taking on Sydney-Singapore duties as of December 1.)

Qantas lounges in Singapore

Qantas now intends to open its spacious Singapore Business Lounge in "early December", as this lounge's expansive space and 550+ passenger capacity is better suited to Singapore's strict social distancing rules than the smaller Singapore First Lounge.

Executive Traveller understands the Singapore First Lounge is expected to reopen in early 2022, as demand increases.

In the meantime, Qantas says passengers will be directed to the SATS Premier T1 Lounge until its Singapore Business Lounge opens next month.

Under the Vaccinated Travel Lane program, entry to Singapore is available only to full-vaccinated flyers who must also

  • apply no fewer than seven days ahead of their flight for a Vaccinated Travel Pass
  • present a negative result from Covid-19 PCR test or a "professionally-administered Antigen Rapid Test" taken within 48 hours of the departure of their flight to Singapore
  • undergo a Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Singapore's Changi Airport, and isolate until a negative result is returned (typically in 6-12 hours)
  • hold travel insurance with a minimum coverage of SGD$30,000 for Covid-related medical expenses in Singapore

Also read: What it's like to fly with Singapore Airlines during Covid-19

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 653

Wish Qantas would get rid of the concrete and carpet it. It's somewhat cold and uninviting as you enter, as well amplifying the noisiness of the lounge when busy(think kids running around). Just makes it feel like a cafeteria more than a relaxing calming place to be before a flight. Otherwise I think it's an amazing uplifting lounge.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

It isn't a great lounge being both noisy and, historically, very crowded during the evening peak.  The staff also appear quite cold and indifferent.  It was never anywhere near the standard of the now sadly departed HKG lounge.

Definitely used to get very crowded before it was expanded and the First lounge opened. I visited it in December 2019, just before Covid started to hit demand around Asia. after the First lounge opened and it was a lot better in terms of not being too crowded. I also thought that staff were always great. A lot of them moved to the First lounge of course but come on, Shirley, Faith, Lydia, Mo and bartender 'Ronaldo' were always super friendly and knew a lot of the lounge visitors by face and even name.

Back when this lounge first opened I think I read a report saying that it had to have the concrete instead of carpet around a lot of areas due to Changi fire & safety regulations. There's still carpet in a lot of areas around the main seating wing.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

 medical exemptions are not accepted”

At least that is made clear.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

Seems like small steps in reopening, I wonder how long it will be before people don't need a PCR test to travel and travel goes back to the days when people squirmed when the person sitting next to them had a cold.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 70

I'm finding it difficult to find information on whether we can use VTL flights when we're transiting through SIN, and (if so) what the requirements are. Assuming that we still need to be fully vaccinated, is the Vaccinated Travel Pass and insurance necessary if we're transiting in the airport for a few hours before catching a flight out of Singapore?

Let's face it: beautiful as Singapore is, most of us use SIN as a transit airport rather than a final destination.

Try https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/transit/overview, this covers transits at Singapore as well as the site having other pages dedicated to the VTL system.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

My understanding is you can use VTL flights if you have only been in other VTL countries in the past 14 days.  This can be tricky coming from Europe where some countries are VTL whilst others aren't.  Malaysia becomes a VTL country before the end of the month and Thailand should also be covered by Christmas.  

It can be complicated and it makes it understandable why QF didn't send QF1/2 through SIN as it would have been difficult making it a VTL compliant service given people could connect onto them from all sorts of places.

That's correct, you MUST be in a VTL country for 14 days before doing a VTL flight. Makes it very important to plan well ahead compared to the 'old days'.

19 May 2021

Total posts 1

Pax using VTL as transit flights, rules are different. Still need to be vaxxed, but don't need to comply with the strict documentation measures or the travel history if you are not entering SIN. I do believe that transits need to be on single itinerary with airside transfers. I don't think airside transfers at the Changi transfer desks will count. In any case, you would need to prove at check in that your final destination is not SIN and you do not require entry to SIN to be able to board a VTL flight if you are vaxxed and transitting but don't meet the travel history requirements.

Refer https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/vtl/faq, particularly:

10. Can transfer/transit passengers travel on designated VTL flights?

Transfer/transit passengers who are fully vaccinated with WHO EUL vaccines may travel on designated VTL flights, regardless of where they were issued their vaccination certificate and regardless of their travel history, as long as they are able to show proof of vaccination.

At this point in time, travellers will only be able to transfer through Singapore Changi Airport if they are travelling with an airline whose transfer routes have been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). They are required to be through-checked to their onward destination, as they will not be allowed to clear arrival immigration. Travellers should confirm with their airline on their eligibility to transfer.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

I would guess that the alternative lounge that will be offered until the J Lounge opens next month will be the SATS Lounge right next door which was, historically, often used for overflow during peak times though less so since the F lounge opened.  

BA also continues to direct its passengers to the SATS Lounge whilst its lounge remains shuttered.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

Sorry, correction....apparently BA are using the Marhaba Lounge rather than SATS Lounge whilst its lounge is closed.

Probably either SATS or Maharba. But if the Qatar Airways lounge is open that would be the smarter choice for business class, Platinums and Golds!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 205

BA has also just halved their scheduled due to lack of demand, down to 3 /4 days a week.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 19

I had Melbourne to Singapore booked on Qantas Monday’s 6th December. Was looking forward to getting back on Qantas. Flight cancelled so on Singapore Airlines now.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jun 2018

Total posts 3

I really don't get this. We are stuck here in Singapore still in semi lockdown here. Couples with a baby can't even sit together at restaurants, yet they want to open it for tourists. 100,000 people from Johor who didn't make it back to their families in Malaysia since March last year, then there's the 300,000  Malaysian's who use to cross the border for work each day and still can't.

Can I have advice on Pre departure Covid testing please.

I booked next week for QF flight SYD to SIN taking advantage of the VTL.  Qantas have a list of the labs that can do PCR test for between $100 to $150 which seem straight forward to book for 48 hours before departure.

There is a Histopath location in Sydney airport which promise Swab PCR result within 1 hr, any feed back on their service please? https://www.histopath.com.au/traveltesting/

Singapore VTL also will accept Rapid Antigen Test as well which is much cheaper for $50 again with Histopath at SYD and MEL airports.  Would this be sufficient for Qantas?

"Singapore VTL also will accept Rapid Antigen Test as well which is much cheaper for $50 again with Histopath at SYD and MEL airports.  Would this be sufficient for Qantas?" It's not Qantas which requires the test, it's the destination you are flying with Qantas to. If that destination requires no test, Qantas requires no test from the passenger; if that destination requires a PCR or Antigen test before departure, then this is what Qantas needs to see before you can be checked in.

The Covid test centre at Sydney International Airport does one hour turnaround, I have a friend who used it last week for a morning flight and because the centre wasn't busy he got his result back in 40 minutes. I would rather get my test done locally instead of having to wait around the airport for an hour. Most pathology services offer a 24 hr turnaround which is ample as long as you don't leave this for the afternoon before your flight.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 496

"Medical exemptions not accepted". Clear evidence that Singapore is a tyrannical dictatorship.

For Aussies going there, remember that mask wearing is mandatory at all times in all public settings. There are no exceptions for children or for medical reasons. You will be arrested and likely brought before court if you walk around without a mask on. A British expat who didn't wear a mask on public transport went through this experience a few months back.

NSW and Victoria may have removed mask mandates, but Singapore is like a different world. I don't see them lifting mask mandates there for a long time, possibly ever.

Yes, masks must be worn at all times in Singapore except in a private resident, in your hotel room etc or when you're eating or drinking. You have to wear them outdoors, in the heat and humidity. Not comfortable at all!

"You will be arrested and likely brought before court if you walk around without a mask on. A British expat who didn't wear a mask on public transport went through this experience a few months back." That expat was asking for trouble, but if you aren't wearing a mask outdoors for example you are NOT automatically arrested, Singapore has these roving 'ambassadors' in red T shirts who are always checking on people and reminding them to put on their mask but they don't straight out arrest you unless you make things difficult.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

One step at a time. First good thing is to open up. I shall be returning again in 2 weeks having been there twice in the last year. Thankfully this time no quarantine required. Wearing a mask is a small price to pay as we get back to better travel times.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 496

It is my understanding that arrivals into Singapore can't just walk out of the airport once they arrive. I believe they have to travel to their accommodation (must be a hotel for foreigners) and quarantine there until the test result comes back as negative. Do read the fine print and don't assume it works the same as in Australia. It doesn't.

Yes, ET covered this in its article on the AU-SIN bubble at https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/review-singapore-airlines-sydney-singapore-australian-vtl-flight

Once you've passed through immigration & security you head to a Covid testing centre just outside the terminal where you do a PCR test, cost is $150 and it can be booked in advance to reduce the waiting time, then you have to go to your hotel room and stay there until you receive a 'negative' test result, usually takes around 6-8 hours I'm told. I can see some hotels doing very well out of room service dinners that first night!


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