Mask mandates when flying in Europe have become something of a distant memory over the last year, with practically every country across the continent scrapping this requirement (if they even had one in the first place) in May 2022.
That marked the withdrawal of the European Union’s recommendation that member states impose compulsory mask wearing on flights, though many EU countries weren’t even bothering by then anyway!
Three major holdouts have been Germany, Spain and Portugal, with these countries clinging on to the edict far longer than any other in the region (as was their sovereign right, of course).
Among the trio, Portugal became the first to then axe the requirement, back in August 2022.
In Germany the mask mandate was eventually dropped in October 2022, which was great news for SIA’s Frankfurt (and New York via Frankfurt) services, and now there’s finally good news from Spain as well.
Spain drops in-flight mask mandate from 8th February
In a statement made on Tuesday, Spain’s Ministry of Health confirmed that it would remove the requirement to wear a mask on public transport, including on flights to, from and within the country, from Wednesday 8th February 2023.
The decision comes at “a time of great stability, in terms of COVID-19 cases, with a clear downward trend“, according to the Ministry, leading the government to conclude that there now only needs to be a mask mandate in healthcare settings, like hospitals and aged care facilities.
Spain already removed its mask mandate in both indoor and outdoor settings, including at airports, by April 2022.
The requirement to wear masks on all forms of transport in Spain has now been removed by Royal Decree 65/2023, which modifies the mandatory use of masks to only these more sensitive healthcare settings, specifically removing the mask mandate from all means of transport, including on flights.
Good news for SIA passengers
Currently the only Singapore Airlines flights to or from Europe that impose any mask-wearing restrictions are the carrier’s Barcelona services.
The good news is that these flights operate via Milan in both directions on their journey, and Italy has not been imposing a mask mandate for some time, so it has only been the short intra-Europe legs where mask-wearing has been a must.
Singapore Airlines also has “fifth freedom” traffic rights on Milan-Barcelona-Milan services, so it’s possible to buy a ticket or redeem miles solely for travel between these two cities.
The requirement to wear a mask on these short flights (and the short sector for those flying all the way through to or from Singapore) ceases from today, but there’s better news too.
On 3rd July 2023, Singapore Airlines will reinstate twice weekly non-stop services between Changi Airport and Barcelona, and these flights would have been subject to the mask-wearing requirement, had it remained in effect.
That means those travelling on the 13-hour non-stop flights thankfully won’t now face this annoying restriction after all, and will instead be free to choose whether to wear a face covering or not, in common with all the carrier’s other European flights.
SIA will continue to fly five times weekly to Barcelona via Milan, in addition to these new twice weekly non-stop services, from 3rd July.
Which SIA flights still require masking?
Here’s how SIA’s mask requirements now look, following the latest relaxation announced by Spain.
Singapore Airlines Flights
(updated 8 Feb 2022)
Flying from Singapore
Flying to Singapore
|South East Asia|
|South West Pacific|
|West Asia & Africa|
As you can see from the list, there are now relatively few countries requiring passengers to wear masks on flights, however the continued insistence of places like Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam means that 30% of SIA flights unfortunately do still impose this restriction.
The longest Singapore Airlines flights now requiring masks to be worn are:
- Chengdu – Singapore: 7h 30m
- Seoul – Singapore: 6h 45m
- Xiamen – Singapore: 6h 40m
- Beijing – Singapore: 6h 35m
- Singapore – Seoul: 6h 25m
Thankfully, non-stop 13-hour Singapore – Barcelona flights won’t be joining this list in July.
Spain is finally dropping its mask mandate on public transport and commercial flights to, from and within the country, leaving passengers to choose for themselves whether or not to wear a face covering during their journey.
It has become the last European country to do so, with most others scrapping this requirement close to a year ago, if they ever really enforced it in the first place!
This is good news for Singapore Airlines passengers flying to or from Barcelona, or on the intra-Europe Milan-Barcelona “fifth freedom” sectors, who will now no longer face a mask mandate in either directions between the two cities.
It’s even better news for those planning to use the carrier’s newly reinstated non-stop Barcelona flights from later this year, which were set to become the carrier’s longest mask-wearing routes, but will now thankfully enjoy freedom of choice in this matter.
From today, only Singapore Airlines passengers flying to or from China, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Nepal will be required to wear a mask, except while eating or drinking.
Let’s hope mask wearing can become optional on all SIA flights soon, though like Spain in Europe, we expect China is likely to be the long-term holdout in this part of the world!
Hat-tip to Paddle Your Own Kanoo
(Cover Photo: Sorbis / Shutterstock)