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

Oct 21, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

“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

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 Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.