Ahhhh – I can finally smell the cabin at altitude after 22 months of being grounded! How VTL finally allowed me to scratch my flying itch after so long. Covid-19 has changed the way we know about international travel with the biggest bane being the Covid-19 swab and post-travel quarantine. Although we still can’t run away from the pre & post travel swab, we at least can avoid post-travel quarantine that can potentially eat into our annual leave entitlement.
The Booking Process
Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) was first launched in September with routes from Germany (Frankfurt and Munich) and Brunei. How VTL became a traveling game-changer is that flying back to Singapore on the designated VTL flight will allow us to avoid the need for 7 to 14 days of post-travel quarantine. More info on VTL on Singapore Airlines website.
I was initially hesitant to fly as I anticipate there will be a surge in demand and securing a ticket will be difficult. Moreover, getting away from work was not easy during this period. By mid-October, the itch got unbearable, and I decided to make the plunge. After looking around at both Munich and Frankfurt, I decided on Frankfurt as their availability was better and more importantly, SQ 325 has First Class. I was initially booked on SQ26(still on A350-900) in Business Class and SQ 325 in First Class. Not long after, more VTL routes were announced including New York (JFK). After 24 hours of consideration, I changed my booking.
At 237,000 miles for First Class on SQ 26, this represent a very very hefty redemption since it is just to scratch my flying itch! My 3 previous redemptions on this route were 93,500 (my first SQ26), 93,500 (my second SQ26) and 120,000 (SQ25). . After almost 2 years of not flying, the brain is no longer rational … and TADA! To come back, I cannot take SQ 25 as it is not a designated VTL flight (yet). My only choice was to fly back on SQ 23 on the A350-900 ULR (which is another flight that I would love to try) and this flight cost me 140,000 miles (vs. 135,000 which I paid for SQ 21 back in 2018).
Booking myself on the SQ 26 was a risky gamble as I am technically not allowed to enter USA via Germany at the time of booking. There were however talks on USA loosening its border and I was counting on it. That announcement finally came in which the border will open on 8 November for vaccinated travelers (Yippie!) otherwise I will have to change my booking to SQ 24 instead.