Countries around the world have been progressively removing their mask-wearing requirements in recent months, and both Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates have joined the fold this week, scrapping their stipulation for people to wear face coverings on board aircraft from 28th September 2022.
The latest policy changes mean that Malaysia Airlines, Emirates, Etihad and flydubai have ditched their mask mandates, while Singapore-based carriers flying to and from these countries will also now make their services mask-optional.
This comes as both Germany and Canada announced an end to their mask mandates on flights, effective from this Saturday (1st October).
Malaysia removes mask-wearing on aircraft
Three weeks after removing indoor mask requirements across the country, Malaysia has now confirmed that masks are no longer required on flights to and from the country, effective from 28th September 2022.
This will remove the last remaining COVID-related restriction for Malaysian international air travel, with the country having already ditched its Traveller’s Card and all quarantine and testing requirements, including for unvaccinated travellers, on 1st August 2022.
Masks are also optional at Malaysian airports, in common with other indoor and outdoor spaces.
Malaysia Airlines has required all its passengers to wear masks on board since 23rd April 2020, however the carrier has now confirmed that masks are now optional on all its flights, except those to or from countries still mandating their use.
Update: AirAsia Malaysia (AK) has confirmed it no longer required face masks to be worn on its flights to and from mask-optional countries.
Singapore-based airlines SIA, Scoot and Jetstar will also remove their mask requirements on Malaysia flights, since all three carriers only base mandatory mask-wearing for passenger on the requirements of the origin / destination country.
Neighbouring Thailand will also dissolve all its COVID-19 entry restrictions from 1st October 2022, putting both countries ahead of Singapore in their return to pre-pandemic travel normality.
The Lion City still clings on to a pre-departure testing requirement for unvaccinated travellers, and insists on completion of its online arrival card and health declaration by all passengers entering the country by air, including returning citizens and residents.
UAE also ditches mask-wearing, including Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has also ended its mask requirement on flights, effective from 28th September 2022, and the great news there is that this will benefit those transiting through Abu Dhabi and Dubai on longer routings – for example between Singapore and Europe.
Both Emirates and Etihad, which have previously been maintaining mask-wearing policies on all routes, have now confirmed that this requirement has been removed.
Singapore Airlines has already updated its mask guidance to state that its flights to and from the UAE are now mask-optional.
It wasn’t too long ago that Etihad required all its passengers to have a pre-departure PCR test, regardless of their destination country’s requirement (or lack thereof), showing just how significantly things have changed in just a few months when it comes to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Singapore Airlines mask requirements
The good news for Singapore Airlines passengers is that with all Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Dubai flights now mask-optional in both directions, and the upcoming relaxation for both Germany and Canada routes, 63% of SIA flights will be mask-optional from 1st October.
Here’s how SIA’s mask requirements will look, based on the latest relaxations in Malaysia and the UAE, plus those coming up in both Germany and Canada.
Singapore Airlines Flights
(updated 29th 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|
|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|
* Mask-wearing only required between Milan and Barcelona
As you can see from the list, there are now very few countries requiring passengers to wear masks on flights, however the inclusion of places like India, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam means that over a third of SIA flights unfortunately do still face this restriction.
The longest Singapore Airlines flights requiring masks to be worn from 1st October 2022 will be:
- Singapore – Seoul: 6h 35m
- Chongqing – Singapore: 6h 20m
- Seoul – Singapore: 6h 15m
It’s great news for everyone that mandatory mask-wearing on board flights is now being progressively dropped, with both Malaysia and the USA being the latest countries to do so, even ahead of Germany and Canada, who will follow suit this weekend.
For Malaysia, it’s a true return to pre-pandemic air travel, with the country having already ditched all quarantine, testing and vaccination requirements since 1st August.
There will now be no SIA or Scoot flights exceeding 6.5 hours on the network with a mask-wearing requirement in place from 1st October 2022, thanks to these relaxations.
Other mask-optional airlines like Jetstar and Scoot will also be advising passengers on their Malaysia-bound flights that they are no longer required to wear a mask if they don’t wish to, while national carrier Malaysia Airlines will also shift to an SIA-style policy, where masks are only required when the origin or destination country says so.
(Cover Photo: Emirates)