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'You can't Zoom your holiday': Singapore Airlines hopes 'green lane' could help restart US travel

Oct. 21, 2020
3 min read
'You can't Zoom your holiday': Singapore Airlines hopes 'green lane' could help restart US travel
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The world's longest nonstop route will return next month when Singapore Airlines Flight SQ24 lands at New York JFK on the morning of Nov. 9.

The Star Alliance carrier expects that first flight to be less than full, carrying a mix of holidaygoers and cargo to the U.S. East Coast, Singapore Airlines regional vice president for the Americas Joey Seow told TPG in an interview.The flight will complement service between Singapore (SIN) and Los Angeles (LAX) that have continued flying during the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, tourists on the flight will likely have Singaporean residency, because of travel restrictions currently in place by Singapore's government. But Singapore Airlines hopes that its Los Angeles and New York flights will be carrying more than just holidaygoers and cargo soon with the prospect of a possible COVID "green lane" between Singapore and the U.S. on the horizon.

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“I don’t think it will be before long that we will do something with the [U.S.] administration," Seow said about the possibility of a green lane. "We hope that one can be implemented shortly.”

The idea of a green lane, or travel bubble, would require all travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID test from a set period before they fly. In return, they could land and move around without quarantines or other restrictions in their destination.

Singapore recently announced a similar travel bubble with Hong Kong. The country is also allowing in visitors from Australia, Brunei, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Any discussions of a travel bubble are between Singaporean and U.S. authorities and not with the airline, Seow said.

Related: Singapore Airlines to restart world’s longest flight in November

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With U.S. COVID infection numbers rising, a bubble with pre-flight testing could reopen travel with Singapore. This would be good news for Singapore Airlines — which prior to the pandemic offered up to eight daily flights to six U.S. airports — and United Airlines who fly between the countries.

“I feel there is a little bit of pent up travel demand on the leisure front. You can’t Zoom your holiday," said Seow. He added that while Americans cannot enter Singapore currently, they can transit at Changi Airport to places like the Maldives.

In the meantime, Singapore is preparing for more leisure flyers on its U.S. flights for the foreseeable future. The decision to fly its standard Airbus A350-900, rather than the premium-configured long-range ULR variant, is seen as a better seating mix for "those who are a bit more budget conscious," said Seow.

And the restarted flight could play a key role in pushing back the pandemic. With a high concentration of pharmaceutical manufacturing in the New York area, Singapore could play a key role in helping distribute the eventual COVID vaccine between Asia and the U.S.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
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  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees