Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with India got off to a slightly rocky start in late November 2021, when the Omicron COVID-19 variant began to surface and India imposed mandatory arrival quarantine for those landing from “at-risk” countries, which at the time included Singapore.
It meant that two-way quarantine-free travel between the countries was initially only available for a few days, but luckily by early December India removed Singapore from its list of “at-risk” countries, once again opening the borders with no isolation periods in both directions.
India tightens restrictions
Nothing seems to stay the same for long as far as international border measures are concerned at the moment, with India now updating its arrival requirements, effective from 11th January 2022.
While Singapore is still clear of India’s “at-risk” list, seven days of quarantine will now be imposed on international travellers arriving from any country, effective for those touching down from 00.01am on 11th January 2022.
India entry process
From now until 10th January 2022, those arriving from Singapore may still be subject to randomised arrival PCR testing, but provided they are either not selected or test negative, no self-isolation period is imposed.
With effect for arrivals from 11th January 2022, the entry process for those travelling from Singapore to India will be as follows:
- PCR test within 72 hours of flight departure time for those 5 years or older (find the cheapest here)
- Complete Self-Declaration Form (SDF)
- Random 2% of travellers (aged 5+) will undergo a PCR test on arrival
- Self-isolation for 7 days (at home / hotel room), whether you are randomly selected for on-arrival testing and return a negative result, or you are not selected.
- PCR test on Day 8 (upload results to the Air Suvidha portal)
- If negative, free from self-isolation (monitor health for 7 further days)
All testing costs are borne by the passenger, except for the random arrival testing, which is free of charge.
These new rules are obviously a significant deterrent for those travelling as tourists, who are unlikely to be willing to quarantine for a week at the start of their trip.
Furthermore, delays in the processing of PCR tests in India’s major cities currently mean waiting 24-48 hours for a result, which could therefore add another day or two to your self-isolation period.
SIA A380 flights deferred
In a case of pretty awful timing, Singapore Airlines was due to reinstate its Airbus A380s on flights to and from Mumbai from 10th January 2022, just one day ahead of these new quarantine restrictions taking effect!
Delhi was also due to follow suit on 14th February 2022, for twice daily total A380 operation to and from India.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the airline has deferred planned introduction of the superjumbos on its Mumbai route to 7th February 2022, a four week delay, though the plan for Delhi to switch across to the A380 remains intact for 14th February 2022 at the time of writing.
If a quarantine requirement for those arriving in India remains in force next month, it’s reasonable to expect there may be further slippage of these A380 start dates.
In the meantime Airbus A350 Regionals (Mumbai) and Boeing 787-10s (Delhi) continue to serve these two cities.
These are the one-way KrisFlyer miles redemption rates for flights between Singapore and India on SIA.
|KrisFlyer Redemption Rates
India to/from Singapore
|First / Suites||53,000
All VTL flights India – Singapore
Designated VTL flights from India to Singapore are being operated by Air India, IndiGo, Singapore Airlines and Vistara.
Here’s a list of the VTL flights from India, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore, assuming you are also returning from India (click to expand):
What about VTL flights to India?
As with most VTLs (Malaysia is the exception), there are no VTL flights from Singapore to India. If you are fully vaccinated, you can already travel to India as a tourist since 15th November 2021.
You can take any available non-stop flight, or transit in another country when flying to India, and still take a VTL flight back to Singapore at the end of your trip, though do note that if you transit in a non-VTL country on Singapore’s Category 2-4 list, your stay in India would have to be 14+ days to use the VTL on your return.
Singapore only considers your travel history in the last 14 consecutive days when you check in for your VTL flight. This travel history must be solely within VTL countries and/or Category 1 countries, excluding transits.
A variety of non-stop passenger flights from Singapore to India are being operated by Singapore Airlines and Scoot, including to cities not included on the VTL list, like Hyderabad and Kolkata.
Testing costs in Singapore
You’ll require a pre-departure PCR test in Singapore before embarking on a trip to India, so here’s our latest rundown of the cheapest locations to get a test suitable for travel.
Remember, ART tests are not valid for travel to India at the time of writing – it must be a PCR test.
Based on our recent analysis, pre-departure test costs in Singapore are around:
- PCR: S$105 (cheapest) – S$135 (average)
- Home PCR: S$128 (cheapest) – S$167 (average)
Rapid turnaround tests (typically taking 6-8 hours) cost from S$214 each at a clinic and from S$238 each at home.
Total testing costs
There are up to 11 COVID-19 tests on a roundtrip from Singapore to India. Here’s how the approximate total testing costs for the journey look.
|Singapore pre-departure (PCR)*||From S$105|
|India on-arrival (random 2%)||Free|
|India Day 8 (PCR)*||~S$13|
|India pre-departure (ART)*||~S$5|
|Singapore arrival (PCR)||S$125|
* Prices vary between providers and locations.
You’re looking at over S$300 per traveller in addition to flight and hotel expenses, for a round-trip from Singapore to India.
Bad news for those heading to India with an arrival date from 11th January 2022 onwards, with a reinstatement of the seven-day quarantine requirement regardless of origin country, and therefore once again including those travelling from Singapore.
Unfortunately India is one of Singapore’s one-way (unilateral) VTL arrangements, so we are always at the mercy of their own arrival requirements when making trips, regardless of the fact that Singapore has not made any changes to quarantine-free travel in the opposite direction.
Singapore Airlines has deferred the introduction of its Airbus A380 on the Mumbai route by four weeks, now planning to reinstate the superjumbos to and from the country in mid-February.
(Cover Photo: Sylwia Bartyzel)