Following the expansion of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program to Canadian residents, Singapore Airlines has announced the resumption of direct flights to Vancouver.
Flights SQ27, SQ28, and SQ29 will operate between Vancouver and Seattle on a seasonal basis from December 2, 2021 until February 15, 2022, with a continuation flight that serves Seattle as well.
Singapore Airlines Will Fly Singapore–Vancouver–Seattle
The new Singapore Airlines flights are scheduled to fly to and from Seattle with a stop in Vancouver. The carrier sells tickets departing or arriving into either city, but not between the two cities.
There are four services per week in both directions.
Singapore Airlines Flight 27 operates on Tuesdays and Fridays, and is not part of the VTL:
- SQ27 Seattle to Vancouver, departing 11am and arriving 11:45am
- SQ27 Vancouver to Singapore, departing 1:15pm and arriving, 10:05pm the next day
Singapore Airlines Flight 29 operates on Thursdays and Saturdays, and is part of the VTL:
- SQ29 Seattle to Vancouver, departing 11am and arriving 11:45am
- SQ29 Vancouver to Singapore, departing 1:15pm and arriving, 10:05pm the next day
Meanwhile, in the reverse direction, Singapore Airlines Flight 28 operates on all four aforementioned days of the week:
- SQ28 Singapore to Vancouver, departing 9:15am and arriving 7:30am
- SQ28 Vancouver to Seattle, departing 8:40am and arriving 9:30am
Under this flight schedule, only two of the four Singapore-bound flights every week are operated under the Vaccinated Travel Lane. The Singapore Airlines website and mobile app clearly denote VTL flights with a blue banner.
What’s the Motivation for This New Route?
The last time Singapore Airlines operated a direct flight to Vancouver was in 2009. The world was recovering from a financial crisis, demand for travel was still low, and the combination of fuel prices with lower jet engine efficiency at the time prompted the airline to cancel the route.
Before COVID-19 hit, the only way for Canadians to fly with Singapore’s flag carrier was to connect in the United States.
Those living on the East Coast could hop on New York–Singapore, the world’s longest passenger flight, clocking just shy of 19 hours of non-stop time in the air. Meanwhile, West Coasters could either drive down to Seattle or fly via San Francisco or Los Angeles.
During the pandemic, Singapore’s stringent entry, testing, and quarantine requirements didn’t help with the passenger volume. Hence, Singapore Airlines stopped flying to Seattle in favour of their larger hubs.
The new Singapore–Vancouver–Seattle route focuses on two cities at once. In a pandemic scenario, flying separately to either one of them may not be profitable.
Furthermore, at the time of the city-state’s announcement, Canada was the only country that did not have a designated direct airline route to Singapore for Vaccinated Travel Lane flights. That left Canadians with the sole option of connecting in the US or another VTL country en route to Singapore.
Singapore Airlines’s new seasonal service to Vancouver and Seattle has been announced shortly after last week’s expansion of the VTL program to Canada and the United States, offering a convenient new option for fully vaccinated residents of the two countries to avoid quarantine in favour of testing before the flight and upon arrival.
Prices and Award Availability
Singapore Airlines operates their new Pacific Northwest service using an Airbus A350-900. This plane features three classes of service, with 187 seats in economy, 24 in premium economy, and 42 in business class.
Round-trip cash fares range between about $1,000–1,250 (CAD) for economy, $2,500 for premium economy, and $5,000–7,000 in business class.
On a 14-hour flight, even Singapore’s award-winning economy class could get quite cramped, so going for a premium cabin – complete with lie-flat seats and Book the Cook service – would be a prudent decision.
Historically, Singapore Airlines has largely restricted its premium cabin award space to members of its own KrisFlyer loyalty program, rather than offering award space to partner programs like Aeroplan (with very few exceptions here and there).
That’s exactly the case with the new flights to Vancouver and Seattle. Award space via KrisFlyer is available when departing from Seattle in the “Business Advantage” fare bucket for 125,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way.
Compared to “Advantage” award space, “Saver” award space via KrisFlyer can be cheaper but less plentiful. However, there was no Saver award space in business class on this route at the time of writing this article – only in premium economy or economy class.
Strangely, the same flights shows no seats in any class of service when departing from Vancouver. If Singapore Airlines chooses not to release any award space on the direct route, Canadians would need to make an extra trip to Seattle or another US gateway airport to book a VTL flight to Singapore using KrisFlyer miles.
Singapore Airlines’s other US gateway airports include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York JFK. Travellers can book a connecting flight that has an Air Canada or United segment by calling KrisFlyer, as the website is not very good with displaying itineraries on Star Alliance partners.
Again, note that only a subset of Singapore Airlines’s flights from North America are not eligible for the Vaccinated Travel Lane. The few flights that run under the program are clearly designated on the KrisFlyer website.
It is imperative to book a VTL flight if planning to enter Singapore quarantine-free, as travellers who make a mistake may be denied boarding, turned away at border control, or be required to quarantine on arrival.
More than a decade on from their last flight to Canada, Singapore Airlines will finally be resuming service to Vancouver in conjunction with a tag-on flight to Seattle for the Winter 2021 season.
Two of the four weekly westbound services will operate as part of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), allowing fully vaccinated Canadian and US travellers to enter Singapore without quarantine.
I’m hoping that we’ll see some award availability come online for the direct Vancouver–Singapore route, so that Canadians may take advantage of Singapore’s VTL arrangement while travelling in style using Singapore KrisFlyer miles.
I’m also curious whether the route will be sustainable for Singapore Airlines following February 2022. As Asia-bound travel resumes to normal in the coming years, it would certainly be useful to have a new year-round direct flight from Canada that we can aim to book, especially on an illustrious product like the Singapore Airlines A350.