There’s more good news for fewer mask-wearing requirements on board flights this week, with both Germany and Canada ending their mandates for passengers to wear a face covering on board both domestic and international flights to and from their countries, effective from 1st October 2022.
This follows recent relaxations by Australia and Brunei, plus a new mask-optional policy for passengers departing from Indonesia, and means that from next month the majority of Singapore Airlines flights (56%) will be mask-optional.
Germany allows mask-free flights
Back in May 2022, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) removed their recommendation that mask-wearing at airports and on board flights should be mandatory.
Almost all EU states then followed suit (well, several had already done so!), dropping their mask-wearing edicts for air travel, but there were two notable holdouts – Germany and Spain.
These countries opted to retain their mask requirements on board flights (though, strangely, not in airport terminal buildings and lounges), leading to significant confusion among travellers flying within Europe.
The situation became so unworkable that Lufthansa told the German Government the airline’s crew would not be required to enforce the policy on international flights, saying it “can no longer be implemented”.
Mainly Miles understands that since late May this year, the airline has only required its crews to insist on mask-wearing when operating domestic flights, and must merely make an announcement about the policy on international services, leaving enforcement at the discretion of the crew.
Thankfully, after significant pressure from Lufthansa, Germany’s federal legislative body the Bundesrat has approved a new COVID-19 Infection Protection Act, which means that masks will no longer need to be worn on flights within, to or from Germany between 1st October 2022 and at least 7th April 2023.
One caveat is that the government could reintroduce the policy this winter, if COVID cases spike.
Canada will also relax its mask mandate
As part of a broader relaxation, including the removal of vaccination requirements, the scrapping of a pre-travel online health declaration, and removal of random on-arrival testing, Canada has announced that it will no longer require travellers to wear masks on either domestic or international flights.
Passengers travelling from Vancouver to Singapore via SQ47 on Saturday 1st October 2022 will be the first to benefit from the mask-optional policy.
In the opposite direction though, it’s those boarding SQ48 from Singapore to Vancouver on 4th October 2022 who will begin to take advantage, since the same flight on 1st October 2022 actually departs on 30th September local time in Canada, before the relaxation has kicked in.
SIA does not operate Vancouver flights on Sundays and Mondays, so there are no SQ48 SIN-YVR services on 2nd or 3rd October.
Like Germany, Canada has said it may reimpose restrictions if necessary, based on the COVID-19 situation there this winter.
What it means for Singapore Airlines
SIA recently relaxed its mask mandate, applying the rule only based on the requirements of the destination country, which meant around 40% of its passenger flights no longer imposed mandatory mask wearing from late August 2022, though cabin crew are still required to wear masks on all services.
These new relaxations will mean 62 additional weekly services, which currently require masks to be worn by all passengers, will become mask-optional, and they are some of the longest on the network.
The latest change will mean that no Singapore Airlines flights in excess of 7 hours 30 minutes will enforce mandatory mask-wearing for passengers on board.
The most significant beneficiaries of this latest announcement will be passengers travelling to or from New York on SQ25/26 services.
This Airbus A380 flight transits through Frankfurt in both directions of the trip, and has therefore been scuppered by Germany’s mask mandate on both flights in both directions since SIA’s original mask relaxation a month go.
From 1st October 2022, these flights will become mask-optional, music to the ears of those making the long journey all the way through from Singapore to New York on this service, which clocks in at 23 hours 15 minutes gate-to-gate.
The longest Singapore Airlines flights still requiring masks to be worn from 1st October 2022 will be:
- Dubai – Singapore: 7h 30m
- Singapore – Dubai: 7h 15m
- Singapore – Seoul: 6h 35m
- Chongqing – Singapore: 6h 20m
- Seoul – Singapore: 6h 15m
What about Barcelona, you might ask. Since Spain still mandates mask-wearing on board both inbound and outbound international flights, aren’t these “mask-on” flights too?
Well luckily (in this case) SIA’s Barcelona services operate via Milan in both directions, and with no mask mandate imposed by Italy it’s only the short 1.5 hour flights between the two European cities that require masks to be worn.
For the 12-hour Singapore – Milan and Milan – Singapore legs of the journey, masks thankfully remain optional.
The relaxation in Germany also means that Scoot’s three times weekly 13-hour flights to and from Berlin will become mask-optional from next month, making 6-hour Seoul and Jeju flights the longest on the budget carrier’s network with a mask mandate still in place.
Singapore Airlines mask requirements
Here’s how SIA’s mask requirements will look from 1st October 2022, with relaxations in both Germany and Canada.
Singapore Airlines Flights
(updated 27 Sep 2022)
Flying from Singapore
Flying to Singapore
|Germany||From 1 Oct||From 1 Oct|
|Canada||From 1 Oct||From 1 Oct|
|South East Asia|
|Brunei||Since 16 Sep||Since 16 Sep|
|Indonesia||Since 1 Sep|
|South West Pacific|
|Australia||Since 9 Sep|
|New Zealand||Since 13 Sep|
|West Asia & Africa|
* Mask-wearing only required between Milan and Barcelona
As you can see from the list, both Germany and Canada follow the USA, UK and most EU countries in removing mask restrictions on board flights.
That means from 1st October 2022, the following SIA flights will become mask-optional:
- SQ25 JFK-FRA-SIN
- SQ26 SIN-FRA-JFK
- SQ325 FRA-SIN
- SQ326 SIN-FRA
- SQ327 MUC-SIN
- SQ326 SIN-MUC
- SQ47 YVR-SIN
- SQ48 SIN-YVR
It means just over 56% of SIA passenger flights will be mask-optional from October, up from 50% now.
These latest relaxations should also apply to other international carriers flying to Germany and Canada that don’t impose their own mask-wearing mandate.
However, do note that several airlines, including Qatar Airways and Emirates, still enforce mask-wearing on board all their flights, regardless of the origin or destination regulations.
Like testing and vaccination before them, mask-wearing mandates on flights are gradually falling away across the Singapore Airlines network, and the majority of the carrier’s flights now don’t require you don a face covering on board, if you don’t wish to.
Crucially, there will be no SIA or Scoot flights exceeding 7.5 hours on the network with a mask-wearing requirement in place from 1st October 2022, thanks to Germany and Canada’s upcoming relaxations, which is great news for those dreading some pretty epically-long periods of mask-wearing on Europe and North America-bound services.
Other mask-optional airlines like Lufthansa and Air Canada will also be advising passengers on their Germany and Canada-bound flights that they are no longer required to wear a mask from 1st October, if they don’t wish to.
Do remember though that some airlines are still maintaining a blanket mask mandate (well, for now at least!), including Emirates, Qatar Airways, JAL and ANA, so don’t assume that any trip to or from these countries will be mask-optional once you step on board.
(Cover Photo: Mike Fuchslocher / Shutterstock)