There’s another new airline to join the eclectic mix of tails at Singapore Changi Airport this month, with South Korean low-cost carrier T’way Air eager to pick up a slice of the Singapore – South Korea travel market, which now boasts its simplest testing and entry requirements since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
The 11-year-old Korean airline, which has established itself as a domestic, short-haul and regional operator using Boeing 737-800s over the last decade or so, has recently picked up the keys to three wide-body Airbus A330-300 aircraft, and its got Singapore in its sights for their first international deployment.
New non-stop Singapore – Seoul flights
T’way has been busy flying its A330s on domestic flights between Seoul and Jeju recently, up to six times per day for crew training and familiarity.
The aircraft will finally pick up their first long route later this week, however, with twice weekly non-stop Seoul – Singapore service from 28th May 2022.
Singapore ⇄ Seoul
From 28th May 2022
* Next day
Unfortunately in both directions T’way’s timings aren’t too attractive, though the late Seoul – Singapore departure does at least allow you to maximise the final day of your trip in the city, or allow ample time to make same-day domestic connections from elsewhere in the country.
T’way will be the first South Korean low-cost carrier to serve Singapore, and the only budget airline offering flat-bed Business Class on the lucrative Seoul route.
The airline will operate to and from Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport.
Flat-bed Business Class
The interesting thing about these new T’way flights is that in the A330’s two-row Business Class cabin the carrier offers 12 seats that convert to angle-flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration.
In bed mode the seats recline to a 165-degree angle – almost flat but not quite!
Still this is a very nice option when flying on a low-cost carrier, with T’way offering these seats from S$830 plus taxes and fuel surcharges one-way from Singapore to Seoul (S$932 total), or from S$777 one-way from Seoul to Singapore (S$890 including taxes and fees).
Business Class fares on T’way include a 30kg checked baggage allowance, plus 20kg carry-on baggage, and one complimentary meal.
T’way does not offer lounge access for passengers departing in Business Class, so you’ll have to rely on a Priority Pass visit or paid access to one of the available third-party lounges, for a more complete experience.
You may actually recognise T’way’s Business Class seats already. That’s because the airline’s first trio of A330s were inherited from Thai Air Asia X.
While the cabins have had a refresh, including new leather upholstery, the seats themselves are effectively identical.
In Economy Class, T’way A330s have a standard 2-4-2 configuration, which makes them a decent option for couples who can snag the window pairs.
Round-trip Economy Class fares from Singapore to Seoul on T’way start at S$443 in June, a significant discount compared to other airlines.
Scoot has increased to 4x weekly
As you my recall in November last year, SIA’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot launched non-stop Seoul flights, becoming the first budget carrier on the route since flights restarted post-COVID, during the early VTL days.
Initially these were just once weekly services, but the airline has since ramped up to four times weekly operation:
Until 5th June 2022
- TR840 SIN-ICN (Mon, Thu, Sat, Sun)
- TR841 ICN-SIN (Mon, Thu, Sat, Sun)
From 6th June 2022
- TR840 SIN-ICN (Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun)
- TR841 ICN-SIN (Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun)
Combined with these new T’way flights, that gives travellers a total of six times weekly low-cost options on this popular route.
Scoot uses its 375-seat Boeing 787-9 on these flights, including 35 ScootPlus seats, though these do not convert to bed mode and are more like a Premium Economy product.
Scoot will also launch a new non-stop Singapore – Jeju route from mid-June 2022, using Airbus A321neo aircraft three times per week.
Other carriers are also ramping up
T’way’s new flights from Singapore to Seoul and Scoot’s recent hike to four times weekly service don’t represent the only increase in frequencies on this route, with the three other carriers all programming additional capacity in the coming months.
Singapore – Seoul
Despite the increases by July 2022 the Singapore – Seoul route is still short of capacity compared to pre-COVID.
SIA’s 14 services per week only represent 50% of its January 2020 total (28 flights per week), while Asiana and Korean Air were flying 10 times weekly and 18 times weekly respectively before the pandemic hit.
Singapore – South Korea process
Just this week South Korea has relaxed its pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers heading to the country, with a cheaper ART test taken at a clinic (but not via a Tele-ART service) now accepted as an alternative to more expensive PCR testing.
Our latest analysis of costs shows that the cheapest clinic ART test with a certificate for travel costs just S$18 in Singapore, compared to at least S$75 for a PCR test, so there’s a decent saving here, especially for families.
On-arrival and post-arrival testing in South Korea itself is also being relaxed slightly from 1st June 2022.
Here’s the latest process for those travelling from Singapore (and other countries) quarantine-free to South Korea.
Eligibility & Process
Singapore South Korea
- Must be fully vaccinated with a WHO vaccine if arriving 15-180 days from the final dose in the primary vaccination series
- Must have also received a WHO vaccine booster dose if arriving 181+ days from the final dose in your primary vaccination series (not applicable to those aged 12-17 arriving from 1 June 2022)
- Unvaccinated children aged 6+ are not eligible (relaxation to those aged 12+ for arrivals from 1 June 2022)
- Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation at least 24 hours in advance*
- Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test up to 2 days before departure or a clinic-based ART test up to 1 day before departure (cheapest options here)
- Upload proof of vaccination to obtain a Q-code, which must be presented upon arrival
- Take a COVID-19 PCR test on the day of arrival (within 3 days of arrival from 1 June 2022)
- Self-isolate until the on-arrival test result is available (not applicable from 1 June 2022)
- Take a COVID-19 self-ART test on either Day 6 or 7 of your trip, with the arrival day as Day 1, if staying for 8+ days (not applicable from 1 June 2022)
* Not applicable for South Korean citizens or permanent residents
T’way’s Business Class seat isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s rare to see flat-bed products offered by low-cost carriers (even these angle-flat ones that recline to 165-degrees).
It’s certainly a step up from Economy Class or the likes of ‘ScootPlus’ if you’re keen to get some sleep on the six-hour flights to or from Seoul, but don’t expect fine Champagne or plush lounges!
The new flights are a nice option for those travelling on a budget, and will also coincide with not only a more relaxed testing regime for South Korea trips, but also increased capacity from other airlines too.
(Cover Photo: T’way Air)