Earlier this month we reported on the curious (and no doubt Omicron-related) addition of four VTL countries to the high-risk categorisation for transit passenger travel history through Changi Airport, with four European countries joining Category 4 countries on that list.
Since early December 2021, those with a 14-day travel history including France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have been relegated to Changi Airport’s Transit Holding Areas (THAs) during their layover.
Effective from 23rd December 2021, two more countries have joined the ‘naughty list’:
Previously, only those with a 14-day travel history including a Category 4 country were relegated to one of the THAs, though this list now also includes six VTL countries, as shown below.
- Transiting travellers from Category 1, 2 and 3 countries (except for France, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).
Passengers can experience facilities in the central transit area including shopping and dining options, and access lounges.
Transit Holding Area
- Transiting travellers from Category 4 countries, plus France, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Passengers will be required to stay within a designated Transit Holding Area, where amenities are restricted. Those with longer layovers have the option to book a transit hotel, where they must remain until departure time.
Both the Changi Airport transit page linked above and the latest Singapore Airlines travel update now reflect the addition of these two countries to the list.
This [restriction] will apply to transfer passengers from Denmark and Switzerland arriving in Singapore from 23 December 2021.Singapore Airlines
En-route stops count towards your travel history
Remember that if you’re flying to Changi on a flight that stops in one of the six high-risk countries en-route, you’ll also be directed into the ‘holding pen’ during your layover in Singapore.
For example, flying from New York JFK to Phuket on SQ23 (non-stop to Singapore) then SQ728 will give you transit freedom at Changi, while flying the same overall routing but taking SQ25 to Singapore (with a stop in Frankfurt) then SQ728 to Phuket will land you in the ‘holding pen’ during your layover.
Similarly passengers from Rome to Singapore (with a stop in Copenhagen) and from Houston to Singapore (with a stop in Manchester) are affected.
Transit passengers arriving into Changi on the following flights are now restricted to the Transit Holding Area prior to their onward departure.
|Origin (Boarding) City||Airline||Flight Numbers|
(flight originates in Berlin)
(operates via Manchester)
(operates via Frankfurt)
(operates via Copenhagen)
In addition, anyone with a declared 14-day travel history including a Category 4 country but arriving on other flights will also be directed to the THA while in transit.
Transit Holding Areas
For those with Category 4 travel history, plus those originating in France, Denmark Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, there’s no eligibility to shop and dine with freedom during transit at Changi.
Instead it’s an escorted march to and from one of the airport’s Transit Holding Areas in store once your touch down in the Lion City.
Here you can purchase snacks and drinks from vending machines, or use an app for food delivery from selected airport F&B outlets.
There is also premium transit holding area for “participating airlines’ premium passengers”, including SIA First and Business Class customers and PPS Club members (note – not for KrisFlyer Elite Gold or Star Alliance Gold status holders), but by all accounts the experience is less than impressive!
Transit testing requirements
All passengers transiting through Changi with Category 1, 2 or 3 travel history in the last 14 days (or originating in one of those countries) must have a negative COVID-19 PCR or ART test conducted within two days of the departure day of their flight to Singapore, regardless of vaccination status.
For example, if flying on a London – Singapore – Phuket routing with a departure at 10.55am on Thursday 13th January, the pre-departure test must be taken on or after 00.00am on Tuesday 11th January.
This requirement does not apply to travellers aged two and below in the current calendar year.
Those with 14-day travel history including any Category 4 countries must take a pre-departure PCR test to transit through Changi. ART tests are not allowed in this case.
Note that this does not apply to the six European countries ‘lumped in’ with Category 4 countries for the purposes of transit restrictions. Passengers from those locations (e.g. France) can still take either a PCR or ART test to satisfy the requirement.Pro Tip: Don’t forget the pre-departure test requirements of your final destination take precedence over the Changi Airport transit requirements if they are stricter.
Those in transit through Changi with longer connections are still able to book a stay in a private room at one of two airport hotels, regardless of their original country of origin (and therefore including those coming from France, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).
The difference is that those with travel history in Category 4 countries or these six European countries will be escorted to and from the transit hotel, and will not be allowed to shop or dine en-route in either direction.
Those with travel history in Category 1, 2 or 3 countries, meanwhile, can proceed to and from the transit hotel freely.
Which airlines offer transits through Changi?
At the time of writing, 19 airlines operating at Changi have approval to carry transit passengers to and from the networks of partner carriers, as shown in the following table.
Note that transit itineraries are not currently permitted on VTL flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, or to and from India on any flights.
With the rise of Omicron, especially in Europe and potentially the USA in the coming weeks, there are likely to be more countries added to the list of those not eligible to enjoy the lounges, shops and other facilities at Changi Airport during their layover.
Denmark and Switzerland are the latest to be restricted, also affecting passengers originating in Rome on Singapore Airlines flights.
With the Transit Holding Areas offering far from an ideal experience, especially for those with long connections, it may be a good time to consider routing through other hubs like those in the Middle East, for a more comfortable journey, or booking a transit hotel for your time at Changi.
(Cover Photo: Changi Airport)