- 28th August
Lufthansa VTL services commence on 16th September 2021. First Class will not be available until at least November 2021.
- 25th August
36 designated clinics for post-arrival (Day 3 and Day 7) tests have been announced
Singapore Airlines is now offering Book The Cook on its VTL flights from Frankfurt to Singapore
- 23rd August
Singapore Airlines is now offering First Class on its VTL flights from Frankfurt to Singapore
As Singapore moves into ‘endemic COVID’ phase, with around 80% full vaccination among its 5.7 million resident population, a gradual relaxation of border restrictions is finally starting to take effect, leading to the announcement of the first Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs).
This pilot programme will allow testing to replace quarantine / Stay-Home Notice (SHN) periods on arrival in Singapore for those visiting as tourists or for residents returning from an overseas trip.
Germany and Brunei made the initial list, effective from 8th September 2021, and there are no prizes for guessing which of the two most of our readers are eyeing for a trip!
Here’s our detailed rundown of the process for vaccinated travellers heading to and from Germany from next month.
- What about children?
- Can you travel to other countries?
- VTL designated flights
- Which aircraft?
- First Class
- Lufthansa’s ‘Sleeper Row’
- Other seat types
- Cash fares
- Award rates
- The VTL process
- Your VTL departure checklist
- Singapore pass holders and visitors
- Testing costs & clinics
- Pre-departure test timing
- What if you test positive?
- What if the VTL is suspended?
- Consider the ‘Category II’ lane
- Other resources
Singapore – Germany VTL
- Must have stayed in Germany and/or Singapore for 21 days
- Travel from Germany to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
- No restrictions on travel purpose or itineraries
- Must be fully vaccinated in Singapore or Germany
- Children under 12 are not eligible
- Visitors and Singapore pass holders must apply for a VTP in advance
- COVID-19 PCR testing replaces quarantine / Stay-Home Notice in Singapore
To be eligible to travel from Germany to Singapore via the VTL from 8th September 2021, you must fulfil the following criteria:
- Have no travel history to any place other than Singapore or Germany in the last consecutive 21 days prior to departure from Germany to Singapore
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in either Germany or Singapore, with the final dose completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in Singapore
- Apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) between 7 and 30 days before your intended date of entry into Singapore (visitors and LTP holders only)*
- Have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a recognised testing institution within 48 hours prior to departure from Germany
- Travel on designated VTL flights, as listed below
- Have another COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Singapore
- Have two further COVID-19 PCR tests on day 3 and day 7 after arriving in Singapore
* Returning Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are fully vaccinated will automatically qualify and will not need to apply for the VTP in order to travel under the VTL.
Fully vaccinated status relates to having passed 14 days after your full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech / Comirnaty, Moderna or a WHO EUL vaccine, which must have been administered in Singapore or Germany.
Overall, four COVID-19 PCR tests will be required in place of the regular two tests for those arriving in Singapore from Germany via the ‘Category II’ travel lane.
In turn, the usual 7 days of SHN at home will not be required for VTL travellers.
Germany has had no entry restrictions for Singapore residents since October 2020, regardless of your nationality or the purpose of your journey.
What about children under 12?
Since travel on the VTL requires full vaccination, which is not yet available for children under the age of 12 in either Germany or Singapore, it will not be possible for younger children to use the scheme at this stage.
- Families in Singapore with children under 12 can travel to Germany, but will have to use the ‘Category II’ travel lane on their return (7 days home SHN).
- Families in Germany with children under 12 will not be able to travel to Singapore.
This is disappointing news for many, and errs very much on the side of caution from Singapore’s perspective. Hopefully we will see some relaxation here as the pilot scheme progresses.
Meanwhile it looks likely that vaccines will be approved for children under 12 in the months ahead.
Can you travel to other countries?
Yes – sort of. If you wish to travel to other European countries for example, this is possible, and you don’t even need to fly from Singapore to Germany in the first place to use the VTL on your return.
The 21-day travel history restriction will still be enforced, however, so you’ll have to finish your trip in Germany for at least three weeks before taking your VTL flight home, if you have visited another country.
Otherwise you will have to take a non-VTL flight home, with arrival restrictions imposed for the highest risk country in your 21-day consecutive travel history applicable.
While the Schengen zone in Europe is ‘borderless’, remember you will have to make a health declaration prior to using the VTL stating that you have only been in Singapore and/or Germany for the last 21 consecutive days.
False declarations can result in enforcement under the Infectious Diseases Act.Pro Tip: You can take domestic flights within Germany without affecting your return VTL eligibility.
VTL designated flights
To qualify for SHN-free arrival in Singapore, the VTL will require you to travel on designated flights from Germany to Singapore, operated by Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
These flights will only carry VTL passengers (no transit passengers or unvaccinated travellers are allowed). Masks will still have to be worn except while eating and drinking, and SIA crew will continue to offer a simplified meal service to reduce interaction.
SIA will operate its inaugural VTL services from Germany to Singapore on 7th and 8th September 2021, with Lufthansa following on 16th September 2021, as shown below.
|7 Sep 2021|
|8 Sep 2021|
|16 Sep 2021|
Remember, since Singapore’s entry restrictions for VTL travellers take effect on 8th September 2021, the overnight SQ325 flight departing Frankfurt on 7th September 2021 is the first eligible service, landing into Changi the following afternoon.
Initially, five Germany – Singapore services per week will qualify for the VTL process, three from Frankfurt and two from Munich, operated by Singapore Airlines.
Germany to Singapore
(7th – 15th September 2021)
* Next day (e.g. if you depart on Monday, the local day when you arrive will be Tuesday)
Once Lufthansa joins the VTL on 16th September 2021, there will be daily service with seven designated Germany – Singapore services per week, five from Frankfurt and two from Munich.
Germany to Singapore
(from 16th September 2021)
* Next day (e.g. if you depart on Monday, the local day when you arrive will be Tuesday)
There are some minor timing adjustments to these services in the northern winter schedule from November 2021, however flight numbers and days of operation remain the same.
There are no designated VTL services from Singapore to Germany.
The VTL only applies for your return to Singapore, therefore travel from Singapore to Germany can be on any non-stop flight, without impacting your 21-day travel history for the Germany – Singapore (VTL) leg.
VTL flights are marked
Singapore Airlines is marking which flights are available to those wishing to use the Vaccinated Travel Lane between Germany and Singapore, for bookings on its website or mobile app.
Be careful not to book other Singapore Airlines flights, like SQ25 from Frankfurt to Singapore. These are non-VTL services, including transit passengers, and even though you are fully vaccinated you will not be allowed to follow the VTL process on arrival if you travel on one of these flights.
Lufthansa isn’t making it quite so clear unfortunately, only warning you that your flight is operating as a VTL service after you have selected it and proceeded to the ‘Configure Your Trip’ page, with a small advisory then appearing.
It is important to note that any transits (e.g. Singapore – Doha – Frankfurt) will reset your 21-day travel history ‘clock’ when it comes to using the VTL for your return trip.
For example if you take an indirect routing to Germany, you’ll then have to spend at least 21 clear days there on arrival before being eligible to take a VTL flight to Singapore.
If you take the Scoot flight to Berlin via Athens, you will also need to spend 21-days in Germany before using the VTL to fly to Singapore.
Those who want to make shorter trips of three weeks or less, which is likely to be most of our readers, must therefore take a non-stop flight to Germany in order to use the VTL on the way home.
Singapore Airlines is deploying its four-class Boeing 777-300ER on designated VTL flights from Frankfurt to Singapore (SQ325), and its three-class Airbus A350 Long Haul from Munich to Singapore (SQ331).
Lufthansa is using its three-class Airbus A340-300s from Frankfurt to Singapore (LH778) during September and October 2021, upgauging to the four-class Boeing 747-8 from
October 2021 November 2021.
Here’s how the aircraft configurations compare:
Germany – Singapore VTL
Singapore Airlines is now offering its 4-seat First Class cabin on VTL flights operated by its Boeing 777-300ER, having originally excluded the option when the scheme was first announced.
If you haven’t experienced it before, don’t miss our full review of SIA’s Boeing 777-300ER First Class.
Lufthansa is making First Class on its Boeing 747-8 available on its Thursday and Saturday VTL flights from
2nd October 2021 4th November 2021.
Pricing is of course not cheap, at around S$8,200 one-way from Singapore to Frankfurt or S$11,500 for a round-trip in this cabin.
In the other direction it’s even more expensive, from Frankfurt to Singapore starting at S$11,600 one-way or S$13,500 for a round-trip.
Economy ‘Sleeper Row’
On Lufthansa flights between Singapore and Frankfurt Economy Class passengers now have the option of paying extra at check-in for a row of three or four seats to themselves, including a mattress topper, pillow and blanket, from an additional S$255.
That’s great value for a long overnight flight, but there’s a catch! You can’t secure these rows in advance – they are based on availability and you won’t find out if the option is available until you check in.
Other seat types
On Singapore Airlines flights, it’s the popular long-haul 2013 Business Class seat in a 1-2-1 configuration to look forward to on VTL flights.
Those flying to or from Frankfurt on the Boeing 777-300ER get a slightly more spacious version of the same seat found on the A350 Long Haul.
Opting for a bulkhead seat will give you even more legroom, as follows:
- 11A & 11K (window)
- 11D & 11F (middle pair)
- 19A & 19K (window)
- 19D & 19F (middle pair)
- 11A & 11K (window)
- 11D & 11F (middle pair)
- 15A & 15K (window)
- 15D & 15F (middle pair)
In Premium Economy it’s a small three or four-row cabin in a 2-4-2 configuration, so the window pairs here are good for couples.
Good news again on the Boeing 777-300ER for those flying to or from Frankfurt – these seats are 19.5 inches wide (half an inch wider than on the Airbus A350).
In Economy Class it’s the 2013 seat on the Boeing 777-300ER and most A350 Long-Haul aircraft (80% of that fleet), or the newer 2017 seat if you’re on board a more recently delivered A350 LH.
Lufthansa’s Business Class seat is in a 2-2-2 configuration, unless you can snag the upper deck on the Boeing 747-8 where it’s a more intimate 2-2 layout.
The seats don’t have much privacy, but work quite nicely for couples since they are angled slightly towards one another.
Here’s how current cash fares look on the Singapore – Frankfurt route during September and October 2021, based on a round-trip SIN-FRA-SIN booking, at the time of writing.
September & October 2021
Fares on SIA’s Munich route are similar to the airline’s Frankfurt rates.
Singapore Airlines is currently offering only Advantage redemption rates in First Class and Business Class on its VTL flights, with some additional Saver space available for PPS Club members, as usual.
In Economy Class and Premium Economy Saver awards are on offer for all members.
Redemption rates are as follows.
|Class / Route|
|Economy||SIN > FRA||38,000
|FRA > SIN||38,000
|Premium Economy||SIN > FRA||64,500
|FRA > SIN||64,500
|Business||SIN > FRA||92,000
|FRA > SIN||92,000
|First||SIN > FRA||125,000
|FRA > SIN||125,000
* Taxes from Munich are slightly lower, at around S$145.
Note that you can’t currently redeem Singapore Airlines flights using miles or points in partner programmes (e.g. Lifemiles), due to COVID-19 complications.
Lufthansa awards will set you back much more in taxes and fees compared to a Singapore Airlines redemption, due to the airline’s high fuel surcharge.
|Class / Route|
|SIN > FRA||45,000
|FRA > SIN||45,000
|Business||SIN > FRA||92,000
|FRA > SIN||92,000
|First||SIN > FRA||140,500
|FRA > SIN||140,500
Despite the higher taxes, an identical Business Class award rate for Lufthansa flights is worth considering from Frankfurt to Singapore if you can find award space and SIA still only has Advantage seats available.
This could be combined with a one-way SIA Saver redemption from Singapore to Germany, which are more widely available since any flight can be taken.
Lufthansa typically only offers its First Class cabin for redemption using partner frequent flyer programmes like KrisFlyer 14 days before departure.
The VTL process
Here’s how the process works, assuming travel from Singapore to Germany and back again via the ATL.
Pre-departure process (Singapore to Germany)
Ensure you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before departure, enabling you to use the VTL on your return
Book any non-stop flight to Germany, if your stay there will be less than 21 days. For longer stays, you can take a connecting flight and still use the VTL on your return
Pre-departure process (Germany to Singapore)
Ensure you are have received both doses of an eligible COVID-19 vaccine 14+ days prior to departure date
Apply for a VTP approval (for Singapore long-term pass holders and visitors only)
Prepay for Day 3 and Day 7 post-arrival COVID-19 PCR tests
Book a designated VTL flight
Submit your online SG Arrival Card
Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test
Bring a mobile device with the TraceTogether app downloaded and registered, your vaccination certificate and VTP
Bring proof of COVID-19 insurance (not required for Singapore passport holders or long-term pass holders)
Post-arrival process (Germany to Singapore)
Take an arrival COVID-19 PCR test (Day 1)
Activate your TraceTogether app (short-term visitors only)
Take private transport (e.g. taxi or Grab) to your self-isolation location, which can be your own home for Singapore residents, or a designated hotel. Remain there until you receive a negative result. This may take six to eight hours.
Make an appointment for your Day 3 and Day 7 COVID-19 PCR tests
Take a COVID-19 PCR test at a designated clinic* by 3pm (Day 3 is 2 days after your arrival day. There is no need to self-isolate awaiting results)
Take a COVID-19 PCR test at a designated clinic* by 3pm (Day 7 is 6 days after your arrival day. There is no need to self-isolate awaiting results)
* The list of 36 designated clinics in Singapore has now been released. You do not need to visit the same designated clinic for your Day 3 and Day 7 swab tests.
Your VTL departure checklist
Here’s your checklist of items you’ll need to have with you before you head to the airport to check in for your VTL flight.
VTL Departure checklist
|COVID-19 vaccination certificate|
|Valid visa / VTP (if required)|
|Negative COVID-19 PCR test result (within 48h)|
|QR code receipt of Health Declaration|
|Mobile device with the TraceTogether app|
Singapore pass holders and visitors
If you’re in Singapore on an Employment Pass, S Pass or Work Permit, or you are flying in from Germany as a short-term visitor, there’s an extra step if you want to use the Vaccinated Travel Lane, which is to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP).
Applications for the VTP will open on 1st September 2021, 0001 hours (Singapore time).
You must apply for the VTP must be made between seven and thirty calendar days prior to the intended date of entry into Singapore.
Once issued, the VTP is valid for single entry up to six calendar days from the intended day of entry to Singapore, giving you some flexibility if you need to take a later VTL flight than originally planned.
Returning Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are fully vaccinated will automatically qualify and will not need to apply for the VTP in order to travel under the VTL.
Testing costs & clinics
The VTL for travel from Germany to Singapore requires four COVID-19 tests, with a total cost of around S$460 to S$550 per person, as outlined below.
Germany – Singapore VTL
|Germany pre-departure*||S$110 – S$200|
|Day 3 test||S$94|
|Day 7 test||S$94|
|Total||S$458 – S$548|
* Prices vary between providers and locations.
This high cost per traveller will remain a deterrent for many, especially families, who will be forking out significant additional testing expenses in addition to flight and hotel costs.
Here is the latest list of approved clinics performing pre-departure PCR tests for VTL passengers:
After arrival in Singapore, Day 3 and Day 7 tests must be conducted at one of 36 designated Raffles Medical clinics.
Day 1 is your arrival day, so you are actually taking these tests 2 days and 6 days after arrival in Singapore (e.g. land Monday, Day 3 test on Wednesday, Day 7 test on Sunday).
Pre-departure test timing
According to CAAS, you must take your pre-departure test within 48 hours of your VTL flight departure time when travelling from Germany to Singapore.
“Travellers must undergo this test within 48 hours before the scheduled departure time of their designated VTL flight to Singapore and obtain a negative test result certificate in English.”Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
That would mean, for example, that if you are departing from Frankfurt on SQ325 at 22:00 on Tuesday 7th September 2021, you must not take the test earlier than 22:00 on Sunday 5th September 2021.
The ICA also gives a similar example in its FAQs.
Singapore Airlines has a slightly different take on the requirement, suggesting the 48 hours applies before the scheduled departure day of the VTL flight.
“The pre-departure Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is valid for 48 hours for Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) customers, prior to the scheduled departure day of the flight.
“For example, in the case of 48 hours, if the flight is scheduled to depart on 15 October 2021, the COVID-19 PCR test must be taken no earlier than 13 October 2021.”Singapore Airlines
If this is the case, you could take the pre-departure test from 00:00 on Sunday 5th September 2021, for a 22:00 departure on Tuesday 7th September 2021, giving you 10 additional hours to do so.
We are dubious about SIA’s statement here, which does not chime with the authorities. Until this inconsistency is clarified, we strongly suggest planning for the more restrictive (CAAS/ICA) requirement.
Luckily in Germany, COVID-19 PCR testing clinics generate results within 24 hours or even as short as 2-4 hours if you’re willing to pay a little extra.
What if you test positive?
With four COVID-19 tests on the journey between Germany and Singapore under the VTL programme, it’s a reasonable query to ask what will happen if you test positive for COVID-19!
If you test positive for COVID-19, Singapore Airlines says you may request for a refund for the unused portion of your ticket, with cancellation fees waived.
Overseas visitors who test positive for COVID-19 in Singapore will be sent to a government hospital for medical treatment.
Singapore residents overseas who test positive for COVID-19 will have to arrange treatment at their own expense.
If you test positive in Germany from a PCR test, the test provider is required to notify the local health office (Gesundheitsamt), which is responsible for monitoring self-isolation and will provide further guidance in individual cases.
You must then self-isolate in your home or where you are staying locally, or in another appropriate location enabling self-isolation. You may only leave your self-isolation location to carry out PCR tests.
Germany does not operate a system of managed quarantine in government facilities.
Mandatory self-isolation ceases once you record a negative PCR test. Otherwise self-isolation lasts for 14 days, or until the local health office confirms release.
Short-term visitors travelling to Singapore on a VTL flight must purchase travel insurance, with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 for COVID-19 related medical treatments and hospitalisation costs, prior to travel to Singapore
Even for Singapore residents, it’s a very good idea to have travel insurance that also covers COVID-19 before your trip.
Options for Singapore residents visiting Germany include SIA’s own coverage (from AIG), now including enhanced COVID-19 clauses.
It’s also possible to get travel insurance from a third-party provider as usual, several of which include COVID-19 cover, including:
What if the VTL is suspended?
Unlike the now-defunct Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble, where a specific set of criteria was outlined for suspension of quarantine-free travel, operation of the VTL is at the discretion of the Singapore Government.
“Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the relevant authorities in Singapore may, at their own discretion, introduce new measures or requirements to safeguard public health. This may include changes to the VTL conditions or cancellation of the VTP at short notice. Travellers will be notified of changes to the VTL conditions or cancellation of their VTP.”Singapore ICA
If your Singapore Airlines flight is cancelled or reverted to a non-VTL flight, you will be eligible for a refund, with a waiver of any applicable cancellation fees, including for non-refundable fare types and award tickets.
We are clarifying Lufthansa’s policy at the time of writing and will update this section with their response.
If you are unable to return to your Singapore before a suspension or cancellation of the VTL takes effect, you will have to either wait for the VTL to resume (assuming that’s proposed), or complete the prevailing SHN period for arrivals from Germany in force at the time.
Here’s how it currently looks, with Germany as a ‘Category II’ country:
Return to Singapore
- No pre-departure test required
- COVID-19 PCR test on-arrival
- Seven-day SHN at self-sourced accommodation, including place of residence and COVID-19 PCR test at the end of SHN
Bear in mind, however, that if the VTL is suspended or cancelled, Germany’s status will probably have become more restrictive (Category III or IV).
Consider the ‘Category II’ lane
If you can work from home and live alone, or everyone in your household travels with you on the same itinerary, it’s arguably much easier to follow the ‘Category II’ travel lane from Germany to Singapore and then self-isolate in your residence for 7 days.
This allows you to take any flight, including those with transits in Category I and II countries (e.g. Hong Kong).
Since vaccination is not required, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers can use these arrival procedures, also meaning you can travel with children under 12.
With two fewer PCR tests, costs are also reduced, and there’s no hassle arranging a test while you’re in Germany.
There’s also the opportunity to more easily snag a Saver award rate, rather than an Advantage one, or transit in Hong Kong if you wish, plus you can travel straight away – no need to time your return date for 8th September onwards.
The VTL on the other hand could be costing you more miles and more money – while involving additional testing and less travel flexibility – for 7 days of freedom in return.
Please also refer to these official resources for details of the latest VTL process, which may be updated periodically.
Singapore is starting small and cautiously with its first major Vaccinated Travel Lane country – Germany.
It’s not the simplest travel process, and the testing is expensive, but with the recent death of the Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble this does represent the first real two-way quarantine-free leisure travel opportunity for most of us in over 18 months.
Let’s hope the arrangement goes ahead smoothly, and proves that high vaccination levels and testing are our keys to unlocking future travel arrangements like this one.
We’ve hopefully covered most if not all of the VTL’s detailed aspects here, but if we missed anything, made a mistake or you have any other questions, let us know in the comments section below.