Emirates Etihad Qatar Airways VTL

Your VTL flight options with Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad

The 'Middle East 3' have revealed their designated VTL flight schedules to Singapore, but sadly there's no Qsuite to look forward to.

Important Update: Singapore will indefinitely defer its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) launch for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates until further notice.

Flights listed below will not be VTL services until further advised.

Ever since it was announced that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates would be joining Singapore’s quarantine-free VTL list on 6th December 2021, we’ve been eagerly awaiting details of the designated flight schedules for the big “Middle East 3” carriers on the route.

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It’s taken a little time, but Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have now all confirmed their VTL flights, which will allow quarantine-free travel on routes like Paris – Doha – Singapore or New York – Abu Dhabi – Singapore at potentially lower costs or miles rates than you may face when flying Singapore Airlines or European carriers.

No Qsuite on Qatar

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

As we reported in September, Qatar Airways teased the Singapore route with its ‘halfway house’ Business Suite on the Boeing 787-9 in October 2021, but the Qsuite is now missing from the route, provisionally until at least April 2022.

Instead the airline now operates one of its Airbus A350-900s with the older Collins Super Diamond product installed, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The Collins Super Diamond seat on Qatar’s Airbus A350-900s (Photo: Qatar Airways)

Though there’s nothing particularly wrong with the seat, there’s nothing all that special about it either these days, and privacy in particular is lacking compared to the Qsuite.

We reviewed the product in September 2019 on an A350-900 flight from Athens to Doha.

It’s disappointing news for those who were hoping the carrier’s VTL flights would be an opportunity to experience the Qsuite (see our review), which now doesn’t seem likely unless Qatar upgrades the aircraft type later.

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You can potentially still score a Qsuite on the leg between Doha and your final destination, for example on the Doha – London and Doha – Boston routes, while retaining VTL eligibility for your journey between Doha and Singapore, since these are also VTL countries.

You might not get it on the Doha – Singapore leg, but the Qsuite is still flying to and from other VTL countries. (Photo: Qatar Airways)

There are also opportunities to fly on Qatar’s Airbus A380 on routes like London and Paris, which include a bar in Business Class but otherwise have the Collins seat installed.

Qatar Airways VTL flights

Qatar Airways is increasing its Doha – Singapore flights to daily operation from December, however only five of these flights will join the designated VTL list from 6th December 2021. Tuesday and Friday departures from Doha will continue to serve those not eligible for the VTL.

Qatar Airways is using its Airbus A350-900 without Qsuites on its Singapore flights. (Photo: Qatar Airways)

Do be careful when booking to ensure you’re departing Doha on an eligible VTL day, since Qatar Airways does not currently label its VTL flights and you will probably be in transit having departed Europe the previous day.

This is a designated VTL flight, but Qatar Airways doesn’t tell you that (yet)

7 days SHN at home awaits if you travel on a non-VTL service.

Doha – Singapore
VTL Flights

“From 05 Dec 2021, 2359hrs SIN time, Singapore has extended the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to Qatar. We will be operating designated DOH-SIN VTL flights (QR946) on Mon/Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun only, whereby passengers have to meet specific VTL requirements before they are allowed to board.

“For the rest of the non-VTL flights (QR946 on Tue/Fri), prevailing entry requirements apply.”

Qatar Airways, in response to a request from Mainly Miles

Important Update: Singapore will indefinitely defer its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) launch for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates until further notice.

Flights listed below will not be VTL services until further advised.

6th December 2021 – 26th March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= QR946
A350-900
DOH
02:20
SIN

14:55

Doha Singapore
Non-VTL

  • QR946 (Tue & Fri) are not designated VTL flights.

At this stage, Qatar Airways appears to have wiped award space on its VTL flights (but there are seats on the non-VTL Tuesday and Friday services from Doha, surprise surprise!).

All that’s available is the airline’s own unattractive ‘Flexi’ award rate, which costs double the usual miles.

Hopefully some award space on the VTL services will come up later, but for now it seems like you’ll need to be looking at a cash fare.

Etihad requires a PCR test

One important point to note is that all Etihad passengers must have a negative PCR test conducted at least 72 hours before departure (48 hours if your destination is Abu Dhabi), regardless of your vaccination status and regardless of your destination country’s requirements.

Etihad Airways has a ‘no test, no fly’ policy for all its passengers. (Photo: Etihad)

If you’re taking a pre-departure PCR test anyway there’s little impact here, but if your destination accepts a cheaper pre-departure ART (Antigen) test, or doesn’t require pre-departure testing at all for fully vaccinated travellers, this will be a significant added expense when taking an Etihad flight.

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For the latest rundown of the cheapest pre-departure PCR tests in Singapore, starting at S$107 for in-clinic and S$128-S$138 for home visit tests, see our guide here.

Etihad Airways VTL flights

Etihad Airways currently operates three times weekly on the Abu Dhabi – Singapore route. From 7th December 2021, all three of these flights join the VTL, using Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Etihad features the ‘Business Studio’ on its Boeing 787-9, with direct aisle access for all passengers in this cabin. (Photo: Upgraded Points)

Abu Dhabi – Singapore
VTL Flights

Source: Etihad

Important Update: Singapore will indefinitely defer its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) launch for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates until further notice.

Flights listed below will not be VTL services until further advised.

7th December 2021 – 26th March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= EY470
787-9
AUH
01:05
SIN

12:20

Abu Dhabi Singapore
Non-VTL

  • None

Emirates sticks to its older products

Emirates is deploying its Boeing 777-300ERs on the Singapore route, but unfortunately its latest products including the most recent fully enclosed First Class suite is not planned for these flights.

Emirates is using its older Boeing 777 cabins on the Singapore route, though this still includes Suites with closing doors in First Class. (Photo: Emirates)

Dubai – Singapore
VTL Flights

Source: Emirates

Important Update: Singapore will indefinitely defer its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) launch for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates until further notice.

Flights listed below will not be VTL services until further advised.

7th December 2021 – 25th March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= EK352
777-300ER
DXB
10:00
SIN

21:25

Dubai Singapore
Non-VTL

  • EK354 (Wed, Thu, Sat) are not designated VTL flights.
  • EK352 (Sat) is not a designated VTL flight.

Note that Singapore Airlines will also offer a daily Dubai – Singapore designated VTL flight from 6th December 2021. See our full list of all VTL flights for details.



 


 

Summary

Finally we have confirmation of the VTL flight schedules for the big three Middle East carriers from early December, with a total of 11 weekly options from (or through) the major Middle East hubs to Changi.

Provided you’re departing from a VTL country, like Spain or the USA, you can tag these VTL flights to the end of your itinerary and have a quarantine-free arrival in Singapore under the VTL programme, if you meet all the other eligibility criteria.

This should provide you with a range of more flexible options (additional cities) and competitive fares on your VTL trip, plus hopefully in time some more award redemption options too.

(Cover Photo: Qatar Airways)

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