Game Plan: Singapore to Munich (and back) on the inaugural VTL

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I'm booked on the inaugural VTL flight from Munich. Here's the game plan for my first trip in almost 18 months.

At long last, SHN-free travel has become a realistic option for Singapore residents with the upcoming Vaccinated Travel Lanes (or VTL; I need to keep reminding myself not to type VPL).

From 8 September 2021, fully vaccinated passengers arriving from Germany will be exempt from SHN, provided they have spent the last 21 days in Singapore and/or Germany. They will instead undergo a series of PCR tests:

  • Within 48 hours before departure in Germany
  • On arrival in Singapore
  • On Day 3 in Singapore
  • On Day 7 in Singapore

Singapore residents are already exempt from quarantine in Germany, so this represents the first truly quarantine-free arrangement ever since Singapore closed its borders in March 2020. 

No prizes for guessing who booked his tickets within 15 minutes of the announcement.

Munich Game Plan

I want to be on one of the inaugural VTL flights from Germany (remember: there’s no such thing as a VTL flight to Germany; the scheme is for people entering Singapore), which means I have to head over before the 8 September commencement. 

Inaugural VTL flights
From FrankfurtFrom Munich
SQ 325
7 September 2021 (Tue)
Depart: 2200
Arrive: 1625 (+1)
SQ 331
8 September 2021 (Wed)
Depart: 1315
Arrive: 0705 (+1)

As it stands I’ll be leaving Singapore for Munich on 5 September 0030 and returning to Singapore on 9 September 0705. Deduct the flight time, and I’ll have just under 80 hours there. 

I know that’s short, but at the end of the day it’s basically a work trip and I’m flying solo. My goals are to experience the VTL process, investigate the situation in Germany, and write all about it. The holiday can come later. 

In any case, I have prior obligations. 1 & 2 September is blocked for the opening of Oasia Resort Sentosa, 3 September is set aside for cell group (when you’re doing Habakkuk, missing one session means a third of the book), there’s no flight to Munich on 4 September, so the earliest really is 5 September. 

Think of me as the advance party. I’m going to recce and report, and in that vein, I need your input on what you’d be most interested to read about. 

I’ll of course be doing all the usual trip report stuff: reviews of the airport lounges & flights (even if I’ve done it all before, the post-COVID experience will surely be different), hotels and whatnot. 

Beyond that however, the VTL and COVID in general present some unique aspects. Some things I’ll be addressing in my series of articles include: 

  • What are COVID-19 restrictions in Germany like (rules on mask wearing, maximum group sizes, testing, entertainment, vaccine passes)?
  • What is the impact on tourist attractions and restaurants?
  • How do you get a PCR test done in Germany?
  • What is the VTL post-arrival process in Singapore like?

I realise that restrictions differ by state, which is why I’m low-key toying with the idea of flying into Frankfurt instead and then traveling over to Munich- this would have the added advantage of being able to review the domestic travel situation in Germany.

I’m on the fence, but if that’s something you’d find useful do let me know. 

Booking VTL flights from Munich

Once again, there’s no such thing as a VTL flight “to” Munich; the VTL scheme refers to passengers coming to Singapore. You can take any flight you wish from Singapore to Germany; so long as you’re fully vaccinated, it won’t impact your eligibility for quarantine-free travel (unless you pass through an area with variants of concern- an empty list as of today).

There’s no reason not to fly direct though, since getting to Munich isn’t that big an issue. Singapore Airlines has a good amount of Business Saver space available from September to December on SQ328, the sole flight between the two cities. 

It’s the return leg that’s slightly trickier. You can find Business Saver space from Munich to Singapore…if you don’t take the VTL flight. Remember, SQ331 is only a VTL flight on Mondays and Wednesdays. Notice below how Friday and Sunday awards cost 92,000 miles, while Monday and Wednesday awards cost 120,000 miles. 

From what I can see, Singapore Airlines is blocking Saver space on VTL flights for everyone except PPS/Solitaire PPS Club members. I’m just a lowly Elite Silver, but my dad managed to book a Saver ticket on my behalf using the redemption nominee feature, thereby saving 28,000 miles (too bad I’m too old for family pooling!)

The total cost, therefore, was 184,000 KrisFlyer miles +S$188.90 of taxes. You don’t reckon Munich will appear on Spontaneous Escapes anytime soon, do you?

If you don’t have the miles, the good news is that ticket prices to Germany haven’t spiked the way they did with the Hong Kong ATB. I don’t know if it’s because Germany doesn’t lend itself to short trips, or is more expensive than Hong Kong (is it?), or if fewer people have relatives there, but sub-S$1,000 return fares are very much available still. 

I realise I haven’t even addressed the question of why Munich over Frankfurt. No particular reason, honestly. I’ve been to both, and my sense is that Munich is more for tourists while Frankfurt is more of a business city. 

I know that the Frankfurt VTL flight is operated by a B777-300ER with First Class, but that cabin is not open for award redemptions anyway. If/when that changes, I might do a separate trip to Frankfurt. 

Munich Hotels

Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

I’ve got a good-sized chunk of Accor, Hilton and Marriott points to burn, which means plenty of accommodation options in Munich.

Unfortunately, I don’t see too much to get me excited- it’s mostly Novotels, Ibis, Mercure, and garden-variety Hiltons and Marriotts. The highest-end chain option is the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost (~S$380/night). 

So maybe it’s time to venture elsewhere, in which case the following caught my eye (based on nothing more than TripAdvisor reviews mind):

  • Design Hotel Stadt Rosenheim (S$216/night)
  • Hotel Munchen Palace (S$316/night)
  • Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor (S$383/night)
  • Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski (S$600/night)

I’ll also be checking out HoteLux rates and if any seasoned travellers have Munich hotel recommendations, I’m all ears.

More research to come…

Safety

COVID testing in Germany

The biggest safety precaution that anyone can take for a trip like this is to be vaccinated, and it’s anyways a pre-requisite for VTL travel.

Beyond that, I’ll be purchasing travel insurance with specific coverage for COVID-19 related medical expenses. I’ve also learned that Great Eastern is offering a complimentary post-vaccination protection plan that provides up to S$2,000 of hospitalisation coverage in Singapore and overseas, which can’t hurt to have (that said, this shouldn’t be your only coverage for overseas COVID-19 related medical expenses). 

I’m aware of the reports that Germany is now entering a fourth wave fuelled by the Delta variant, and while that’s concerning, we need to remember it’s about outcomes rather than cases per se. 64% of the German population has received at least one vaccination dose, and hospital admissions are currently at a low level. I’ll be monitoring the news in any case, and trust that the Singapore authorities will act as needed if the risk becomes unacceptably high. 

While I’m in Germany, the plan is to be in the hotel or outdoors as much as possible, dining al-fresco instead of indoors, avoiding crowds and perhaps opting for taxis over public transport. Ultimately, however, vaccination is still the best defence. I’m actually more concerned about the inconvenience involved with testing positive, rather than serious illness per se. 

I suppose we also need to address the elephant in the room: anti-Asian sentiment. It’s no secret that Chinese-looking individuals have been targeted for racial abuse and violence during this period, and well, I’m a Chinese-looking individual.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried at all, but it’s also good to put things into context: 99.999% of the people you meet will either be friendly or indifferent towards you. And of the small number who are antipathetic, an even smaller percentage will actually translate that into violence or abuse. It can (and does) happen, but I’m not going to let that turn me into a recluse. 

So the usual precautions apply: don’t attract attention, and safety in numbers. On that note, if any Milelioners happen to be in Munich at the time, I’d be glad to grab a drink or something. 

Conclusion

In the weeks to come I’ll be getting more pre-departure research done, particularly regarding COVID-19 restrictions in Germany and testing options over there. 

Once again, if there’s anything you’d be interested in reading about, do let me know and I’ll see if it can be worked into the itinerary. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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anon

Can you also help to review the lounges? (whatever is open lol)

RailTravel Station

If you’re catching local public transport (not regional or long-distance), it would be great if you could advise on your experience with the regulation of FFP2 masks. There’s conflicting information online if N95 masks are equally recognized, and if regular disposable surgical masks are allowed. Thank you!

Anon

Oh? On paper masks are compulsory in Germany?

anon

wow.. this is useful.. and some of the rules look similar to sg too

1) clubs and bars closed
2) masks on except eating or drinking
3) indoor events restricted

MaoShanWang

I think would be helpful to share how to register for VTL flight from Singapore to Germany

Freddy

There’s no such thing as a VTL flight from Singapore to Germany. It’s only for Germany to Singapore.

MaoShanWang

I want VTL with no SHN, thanks

Bean

This is a sad state of reading comprehension. Let us all get spoons to help with feeding.

MaoShanWang

Not helpful if you don’t know the answer too

Freddy

What I meant is that VTL restrictions are for Germany to Singapore only, not the other way round. If you are talking about Germany to Singapore, you only need to buy a ticket for the designated flights and follow the test procedures. “Registration” is only required for non-citizen/PR. The details are not available yet.

MaoShanWang

Thanks Freaddy, i means i am in the Singapore now and I want to go Germany with VTL. How to get the VTL for departure from Singapore?

Freddy

The restrictions are minimal.

MaoShanWang

Yes the restrictions very less now so may i know how to register please

Michael

Just book a flight. Nothing to register.

MaoShanWang

i want the VTL flight, not just any flight

d24 durian

please do not feed the troll

Adam

Just take any direct flight will do. Any restrictions are on the part of Germany (currently nil) or your insurer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam
john

it’s obvious maoshanwang is a troll. best to ignore him.

MaoShanWang

You would resort to namecalling just because I don’t know something? Do you know everything? Maybe you should just help with the question if you know it..

Richard

People have already answered very directly and clearly but you either cannot understand simple English or are too dense to get it. If you need to be spoon-fed, ask your mummy.

Justin

Hi Aaron, I will be flying into FRA on 11 Sep and out of MUC on 22 Sep, just a few days after you return.

Would like to know if the major tourist attractions and dining places allow only vaccinated people to enter and whether our vaccination certs are recognised at these venues. If not, may not be worth going and this will give me just enough time to cancel the trip.

Also, which travel insurance are you buying? Don’t need anything fancy, but preferably one that does not require a PCR test. Thanks!

Last edited 1 year ago by Justin
toomuchfriedchicken

As of 23rd Aug, you have to produce a vaccination cert, a negative test result, or proof that you recovered from COVID, to enter most places except for shops.
iamexpat.de/expat-info/german-expat-news/3g-rule-comes-force-across-germany-what-you-need-to-know

Rick

could you please cover the tests that you need to do when you return to Singapore?

Freddy

I’ve been thinking what are the potential big risks for a trip to Germany. One thing is what if the pre-departure test is positive. It’ll be a nightmare to rebook the flight, book a hotel for isolation (if that’s allowed) and possibly seek medical assistance… Are these things covered by insurance nowadays?

R0 = 8

Seems the problems can be:- test positive in Germany and not be able to fly back. Or test positive on arrival and then be put into a hospital/isolation. Or test positive on day 3 or 7 and pass it to immediate family and others and also be put into a hospital/isolation. Even if catching delta doesn’t seriously impact your health – and it seems easy for vaccinated individuals to catch it – it will cause all sorts of logistical nightmares.

bluepanda

Yes, what are your backup plans? You could test positive in Germany, even false positive is going to be a problem. You might need ART tests too at various locations (and I don’t know which, so it would be good you could cover). Thanks!

Sunshine

I’m also curious to know what happens if we test positive during the pre-departure test! Do we need to seek treatment in Germany and be disallowed from flying home to Singapore? Or perhaps fly back on a non-VTL flight and SHN for 7 days 🤔

Boozingbob

Hi Aaron
It will be great if you could share information on how to book the pcr tests in Munich or Frankfurt or wherever there will be VTL flights.

Franck

Please cover if you travel to France secretly during the trip and return to Singapore after Germany, will the authorities find out?

Cara

Don’t be daft. You are asking Aaron to break the law and then publicize it here for your benefit? Why don’t YOU do it and share the outcome?

Tim Leon

No, they won’t find out. You may travel now.

sw123

This is the type of mentality that resulted in the KTV cluster. Please be civic minded and considerate. I am seriously appalled that you are just thinking of ways to beat the system. Your role in society now is to contain the spread however you can. Please exercise responsibility. Seriously. Wtf.

JW19

Hey Aaron, Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly has a pretty brief but good take on mask wearing and Covid precautions while he was in Germany a month or 2 ago.
https://liveandletsfly.com/covid-19-observations-germanic-world/
check-it out, could be useful.

Anony

VPL works too – Vaccinated Passenger Lines. They could have easily thought of that. :). FKK coverage would be nice. Thanks!

TanKH

This is so gonna mess with Aaron’s SEO lol

Mike

VPL = Visible Panty Line. Would definitely attract different audience.

TanKH

Aaron can you help check out what’s the VPL arrangements like in Economy too for those of us flying economy. And maybe share how much more this holiday will cost due to the additional incidentals ? 🙂

TanKH

Oh! I mean rather is Economy seating 1 “row” per person like during the peak of our covid outbreak , or if that’s has changed.

Dave

Seatmap on my booking did not indicate any empty seats. Also transport minister Iswaran mentioned “7 flights per week cover 2,000 passengers”. That’s pretty much the capacity limit condidering a mix of A340/350/B777 in use. .

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave
Lila

Seating is based on demand for the flight and right now, with loosening of restrictions, many flights are not as empty as they were. And of course there will be high demand for VTL flights.

If it helps, on my last flight, the plane was almost full. More or less like pre-covid.

Onur

Aloft Munich is a solid (if not exactly luxury) choice, with the added bonus of earning Marriott points. Deutsches Museum is an excellent way to spend a rainy day. FFP2 masks are mandatory on public trains, although I’ve seen people travelling with cheap surgical masks.

SQ Flyer

Since nobody has mentioned hotels, I thought I’d point out that Munich actually has relatively poor offerings in terms of both redemption and $ value. Of the properties you briefly floated, the Sofitel Bayerpost (and Le Meridien) is located by the main train station which itself is a slight distance away from the city centre and caters primarily to business travel involving intercity rail. Hotel Munchen Palace is across the river and the Andaz is even further off the centre in another business district. In terms of luxury offerings, the MO (contemporary luxury) is right at the top of the… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by SQ Flyer
micong

I would like to find out if you might review Beyond by Geisel

Jeff

Dear Aaron,
I will be departing from Munich to Spore. If you could help me on which accreditated clinics (name, address. opening days/hrs and need advance booking?) to do the pcr test in munich, it will be good. Some current info are in German and I cannot make much from it.
If the flight departs wed 1315, it must be done from Monday 1315 onwards, correct? 48 hrs.
Tk u v much.

B.C

You can try here for the PCR test.

https://covidzentrum.de/en/

Jeff

Thk u v much. Is this 1 recognised as 1 of the accreditated clinics?

Jimmy

https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/statistics/accreditation-bodies-for-covid-19-testing

Sorry didn’t notice the links it leads to are in German language that is same problem you are facing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jimmy
B.C

Not too sure where to find this list. But my recent trip back (not from Munich) with PCR test from them had no problems.
There’s only one location in Munich though, looking at the information.

Spark joy

Suggest to get some gifts from Germany as special gift away to loyal milelioners. Sparks joy in the dimmest of times, esp during the covid period.

Spark joy

Good suggestion

Santiago

Why did i ever get the impression i had to be in germany for 21d before returning to Singapore? Hmmm

Edmond

Hi Aaron,
Was wondering if we needed to download some app for “check in” to restaurants or malls in germany…

Thanks

Jim

Inter germany / domestic travel details would definitely be useful!

Joyong

Hey Aaron, it would be great if you can over both experiences in Frankfurt and Munich, instead of just purely Munich. Thanks!

Lila

Frankfurt is the most boring city in Germany! Nobody goes there for tourism. But the area around Frankfurt has many beautiful and interesting sights, and the travel connections are very good.

Adam

have a mask that clearly marks Singapore…

Jeff

Dear Aaron,
VTL : Upon arrival to the airport, a PCR test will be conducted. How many days to factor for booking a SHA accomodation (while waiting for the test results to be out)? Is there a “typical duration”? Thank you.

BatedBreath

Looking at all the tips, suggestions, article ideas makes me feel like i’m travelling heh. Anticipating all your upcoming articles Aaron!

KennethO

Hey Aaron!
thank you for paving the way for Milelioners!

Would be great if you could cover the VAT refund process at whichever German Airport you’re flying out from!

BeerDrinker

With the end of summer weather and plenty of outdoor dining/drinking options, you must do a review of the beer gardens!!

Check out some of our favourites – bring a picnic basket or order snacks from the local vendors hawker style
– Löwenbräukeller – lots of locals
– Augustiner Keller – in the middle of city
– Chinesischer Turm – Chinese tower

Andrew

Hi Aaron,
All Design Hotels fully participates in Bonvoy. They are part of Marriott.
Good luck with VTL to Germany.

Krys

Hi Aaron, I would like to find out more about what happens if the pre-departure swab in Germany is positive, but one is asymptomatic/ not sick enough to go to the hospital. Will the German government send us to a quarantine facility? If so, any charges for this and is there Wifi/ meals provided in a German government quarantine facility? If one is not sent to a quarantine facility and just told to isolate at home, which hotels/ accommodations (AirBnB?) will allow a COVID positive person to self-isolate? Since one has to isolate for at least 14 days if the… Read more »

Krys

Thanks Aaron! Looking forward to more details about this in your next post.
Hope you have a fun and fruitful trip, stay safe!

LANY

I’d like to know who’s doing this trip, like are your fellow passengers SG tourists, business people, who’s flying and why? Really would like to know.

toomuchfriedchicken

I’m a Singaporean living in Germany, and tbh I have not experienced any anti-Asian sentiment either related to covid or not. I don’t think it’s something you need to worry about and I’m actually surprised you mentioned it.

Sam

The news that we see here are people being beaten up on the streets just for being ethnically Chinese in several countries (especially in Europe, though none in Germany yet), hence there is some fear.

Steve

Hi Aaron, I’m planning on doing the same next week to Munich if I can get the VTP. Did you decide where to go for your pre-departure PCR test?

Gina

An update on the mask rules. Apparently, surgical masks are acceptable now (from today onwards), in Bavarian area, ie Munich.

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