Singapore Airlines passengers travelling on long-haul flights will be able to breath easier, as Canada and Germany remove their mandatory mask requirements from 1 October 2022.
This latest development means that all Singapore Airlines flights longer than 7 hours are now mask-free. Passengers can continue to wear masks if they so please, of course, but it won’t be required.
Canada and Germany drop mask requirements
From 1 October 2022, Canada and Germany have dropped their mask mandates for all flights.
Canada announced the relaxation earlier this week, along with the cessation of all COVID-era travel restrictions such as proof of vaccination, randomised post-arrival testing, and the use of the ArriveCAN portal.
For Germany, the path here was much trickier. While the European authorities removed their recommendation for onboard masking in May 2022, Germany unilaterally decided to keep their requirement. At one point, the German government was even going to tighten the mask mandate by extending it till April 2023 and requiring N95-style masks. Never mind that the German chancellor and a whole bunch of politicians had been photographed just days earlier flying to Canada maskless on a crowded plane!
Following an uproar by the public and Lufthansa (who basically called the policy unenforceable), Germany U-turned on the decision and approved a new COVID-19 Infection Protection Act, which removes the need to wear masks on flights.
This is a particularly significant development for passengers flying on the marathon SQ25/26 flight between Singapore, Frankfurt and New York, as Germany’s rules meant the entire flight required masking, even though Singapore and the USA did not.
Which Singapore Airlines flights no longer require masks?
In addition to Canada and Germany, other countries like Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UAE have removed their mask requirement in recent weeks.
Below is a summary of the latest mask rules for Singapore Airlines flights by destination.
|😷 Mask Requirements for SIA Flights|
|West Asia, Africa, Middle East|
|United Arab Emirates||No||No||No|
The upshot is masks will not be required on any Singapore Airlines flight longer than 7 hours.
The current longest flight with mandatory masking is Singapore to Seoul, which clocks in at about 6.5 hours.
What about Spain?
Wait a minute, some of you might say. What about flights to Barcelona? Doesn’t Spain still require mask wearing?
Yes. Spain is the last remaining EU country to retain its mask mandate, but here’s the thing: Singapore Airlines’ flights to Barcelona operate via Milan. Since Italy does not have a mask requirement, passengers can go mask free for the first (or last) 13 hours, and only don a mask for the 90-minute MXP <> BCN leg.
It’s a mild inconvenience, but still better than spending the entire flight masked up I reckon.
My experience on maskless flights
I’ve taken two Singapore Airlines flights ever since the airline dropped its mask mandate on 29 August 2022.
The first was from Singapore to San Francisco, an ultra long-haul 15-hour journey. Since Changi Airport doesn’t have a mask requirement, most passengers boarded maskless, and others removed their masks when they realised they didn’t need to wear it on the plane. In Business Class, I only saw two passengers who wore their masks constantly throughout the flight.
The second was a 7-hour flight from Tokyo Narita to Singapore. Here the vast majority of passengers boarded with masks (Japan doesn’t actually have a mandatory mask requirement, but you could argue it’s de facto compulsory given the social practices), but by the end of the flight the only ~20% of the Premium Economy cabin remained masked. Seriously- you try sleeping with a mask on!
In both cases, the cabin crew never explicitly announced that masks were not required. I believe the SOP is to make an announcement only if masks are required, and stay mum otherwise.
Cabin crew still remain masked throughout the flight, as per SIA’s internal regulations.
From today onwards, all Singapore Airlines flights above 7 hours no longer require passengers to be masked.
If you’re travelling on a different carrier, do note that the airline may still impose a mask requirement regardless of the prevailing legislation. Also, if your flight involves a connection in a third country, the regulations of that country may determine masking requirements on the 1st and 2nd legs.