Update: 29th September 2022
Malaysia and the UAE removed their mask mandates for international air travellers on 28th September 2022. Germany and Canada will follow suit from 1st October 2022.
See the table below for up-to-date details.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore Airlines has strictly enforced mask wearing for passengers aged six and above on its flights since mid-2020, except when eating or drinking, in accordance with prevailing regulations in the city-state.
In welcome, it has been confirmed that SIA will now become the first Asian airline to join the likes of British Airways, Qantas, United and KLM, by removing this largely unpopular restriction on many of its services.
However, mask-wearing will still be mandatory when flying on almost half of Singapore Airlines flights, because they operate to or from countries still requiring the use of masks on board, including South Korea and the Philippines.
While this exemption from mask freedom includes most South East Asian countries, perhaps most notably mandatory masking does not apply on flights to and from Thailand, as you’ll see in the full list below.
The new policy, which took effect from 29th August 2022, comes about thanks to a general relaxation of mask restrictions by the Singapore Government, which no longer requires face coverings to be worn indoors from the same date, except on public transport and in medical settings.
Of course it’s important not to confuse a removal of the mask requirement with your own personal choice to wear a mask on board if you want to, which is certainly not being removed as a result of this policy shift.
Summary of new requirements
Here’s a summary of mask-wearing requirements on the Singapore Airlines network, with the following icons used to identify the latest policy.
Singapore Airlines Flights
(updated 29 Sep 2022)
Flying from Singapore
Flying to Singapore
|Germany||Since 1 Oct||Since 1 Oct|
|Canada||Since 1 Oct||Since 1 Oct|
|South East Asia|
|Brunei||Since 16 Sep||Since 16 Sep|
|Indonesia||Since 1 Sep|
|Malaysia||Since 28 Sep||Since 28 Sep|
|South West Pacific|
|Australia||Since 9 Sep|
|New Zealand||Since 13 Sep|
|West Asia & Africa|
|UAE||Since 28 Sep||Since 28 Sep|
Europe and North America are largely mask-mandate-free, but closer to home in South East Asia it’s only Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand that don’t have this requirement (though the latter will be music to the ears of many Bangkok and Phuket regulars!).
In some cases, like for Indonesia, masks must be worn when flying to those countries, but not on the way back to Singapore.
However, the world’s longest non-stop passenger flights between Singapore and New York will be exempt in both directions – good news for those taking the mammoth 19-hour journey!
“Fifth freedom” routes
|Frankfurt – New York
|Since 1 Oct|
|New York – Frankfurt
|Since 1 Oct|
|Manchester – Houston
|Houston – Manchester
|Milan – Barcelona
|Barcelona – Milan
|Tokyo – Los Angeles
|Los Angeles – Tokyo
In Europe, only flights to and from Spain still require masks to be worn, which unfortunately means that passengers on SQ378/377 between Milan and Barcelona face compulsory mask-wearing instructions.
However, this only applies on these intra-Europe sections of the journey, not on the longer legs to and from Singapore (which count as “to/from Italy” flights).
Confused as to which mask restrictions will apply to your flight?
Don’t worry – Singapore Airlines will be sure to make you aware before boarding.
Do be sure to check SIA’s updated mask requirements by destination country here for the latest reference.
How many SIA flights benefit?
Unfortunately – just over half is the answer.
We looked at SIA’s schedule for the week of 10th-16th October 2022, and found that out of 1,586 passenger flights planned by the airline 1,005 (63.4%) would have no mask wearing requirement.
That leaves 36.6% of the carrier’s services still mandating that all those on board aged six and above must wear a mask, except when eating or drinking.
That said, this is an improvement since the mask-wearing mandate in Singapore first came to an end, when around 60% of SIA flights still required a face covering to be worn.
Remember that if you’re a transit passenger with Singapore Airlines, you may face a different mask requirement across the two stages of your journey.
For example a traveller flying from London to Manila via Singapore is not required to wear a mask on the first leg (LHR-SIN), but will be required to don one for the second leg (SIN-MNL).
Changi Airport has dropped its mask mandate
Mask wearing at Singapore Changi Airport has also become optional since 29th August 2022, though if like us you’ve passed through the transit area in early August, you’d have be mistaken for thinking this already applied anyway, with many passengers simply not observing the rule!
The good news is as part of this policy you’re now free from mandatory mask-wearing in the terminal, including in the KrisFlyer lounges, even if the flight you are boarding still falls under a “mask-up” edict, due to its routing.
In common with SIA, Changi Airport is still encouraging those who wish to wear a mask to continue to do so.
What about other carriers?
Airlines flying in and out of Changi Airport that have removed mandatory mask-wearing when travelling to or from countries that don’t require it have followed SIA’s lead, and also removed the edict from their Singapore services.
This includes KLM, Swiss, British Airways and Qantas on all flights to and from Changi.
Remember that some airlines have not relaxed their onboard mask requirements at the moment, including for example Japan Airlines and ANA, despite Japan itself not imposing a blanket requirement on inbound or outbound international passengers.
Airlines can still maintain requirements over and above those of their home countries if they wish, and you must abide by those if you choose to travel with those particular carriers, even to and from Singapore.
Some airports in mask-optional countries still require masks
In a slightly confusing stance, some countries still enforce mask-wearing at their airports, even though they don’t necessarily require passengers to wear them on flights to or from their country.
If you’re heading to the following countries, you’ll find this stricter requirement applies straight after you disembark, despite not having been in force during the flight itself:
Similarly when departing these countries for Singapore it’s “masks on” in the terminal, but “masks optional” once you’re on the plane.
Crew are still required to wear masks
If you’re looking forward to boarding your Singapore Airlines flight and seeing the beaming smile of the cabin crew once again, do bear in mind that the relaxation of mask-wearing requirements for passengers does not extend to crew members on these mask-optional flights.
We understand that Singapore Airlines cabin crew are still required to wear masks on board all services, but can choose whether to wear them or not in the terminal at mask-optional airports, like Changi.
In line with new government relaxations, Singapore Airlines removed its mandatory mask-wearing policy on board flights from 29th August 2022.
However, this does not change the requirements of foreign countries for international air passengers to wear masks on flights, just as Singapore has been mandating the same to them until now, regardless of their own national policy.
As a result, only 4 in 10 SIA flights pushed back on the first day of the relaxation without mask requirements for passengers, meaning the majority of travellers didn’t benefit initially.
Thankfully with progressive relaxations since then, around 63% of SIA flights are now mask-optional.
In general, with rules changing regularly and various policies in force around the world, we’d strongly recommend travelling with a mask or two in your hand luggage, even when you don’t expect to need one for the flight itself.
Will you continue to wear a mask on board Singapore Airlines flights, when flying on mask-optional routes? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)