S'pore to South Korea VTL flight: A step-by-step guide to the travel process

What we personally experienced.

Karen Lui | November 18, 2021, 11:45 AM

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On Oct. 8, the Ministry of Transport (MTO) announced the jointly-launched Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between South Korea and Singapore.

The very first Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flight from Singapore to South Korea operated by Korean Air departed at 1:30am on Monday (Nov. 15).

If you're curious about what to expect, here's our door-to-door travel experience from Singapore to Incheon.


In addition to our passports, we had to show the check-in counter staff the following documents in hard copy:

  1. K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation)
  2. Vaccination certificate from Notarise
  3. Travel insurance policy
  4. Negative pre-departure PCR test result
  5. On-arrival PCR test booking confirmation

Pro tip: Print multiple copies of each document and highlight the "Negative" word on your pre-departure PCR test result.

A queue was inevitable due to the manual checks, which underlines the importance of giving yourself ample time to queue and check-in.

After returning us our documents and checking in our baggage, each of us received a blue VTL tag that looks like this:

Photo by Karen Lui.

We were instructed to keep the tag safe and wear it upon arrival at Incheon Airport.

Next, we entered the departure hall and cleared immigration as per normal.

The airport lacked the pre-pandemic hustle and hustle and many stores in the departure hall were shut.

Photo by Karen Lui.

The water coolers were not functioning, either.

At the boarding gate, we had to show our negative pre-departure PCR test (again) and verify our passports before the security checks.

The security check and boarding process were conducted the same way as before the pandemic.

The waiting area at the boarding gate. Photo by Karen Lui.

During the flight

The air stewardesses were around to greet and assist passengers with storing their hand-carry bags during boarding.

Photo by Karen Lui.

However, the frequency of their walks down the aisles were significantly reduced due to the pandemic.

In-flight entertainment is still available so you can still watch your favourite movies or television shows.

Masks have to be worn at all times, even when you sleep, and can only be removed during the mealtime, which in our case was breakfast.

We were offered a choice between beef stew and Korean-style chicken rice.

Three forms were given out during the flight that need to be completed and submitted at the immigrations counter:

  • Health declaration form (white)
  • Travel record declaration form (yellow)
  • Traveler declaration form

If you do not have a K-ETA, there is a fourth form that you will receive.

If you were asleep or weren't around when the forms are being distributed, you can approach the air stewardesses for them.

Arrival at Incheon Airport

Were we being too idealistic by assuming that being on a VTL flight meant that we could get through immigrations quickly?

Here's a picture of the long queue upon disembarking from the plane:

We couldn't see the front of the queue when we first joined it at this point. Photo by Karen Lui.

We were told that such long queues are not the norm, and we experienced  it due to another flight's delayed arrival that coincided with our own arrival.

It took us almost an hour before we reached our first checkpoint.

There were five checkpoints in total that we had to go through before we could go to our hotel.

First checkpoint

Signs informed us of what to prepare for this checkpoint:

  1. Health Declaration Form
  2. Travel Record Declaration
  3. Passport
  4. Pre-departure PCR Test Result
  5. Vaccination Certificate

The entrance to the first checkpoint. Photo by Karen Lui.

They kept a copy of our vaccination certificate and pre-departure PCR test result at this checkpoint (which was why we recommended printing multiple hard copies of your documents).

Photo by Karen Lui.

Second checkpoint

At this checkpoint, they asked to see more documents, including our K-ETA and passport.

Photo by Karen Lui.

The waiting time for our turn at this checkpoint was around 20 minutes.

Third and fourth checkpoint

The third checkpoint is the same immigration process that many people would be familiar with from their pre-pandemic travels.

The fourth checkpoint is collecting our baggage at the assigned belt.

Photo by Karen Lui.

Fifth checkpoint

Upon exiting through the arrival gates, we took the escalator down to the fifth and final checkpoint — Incheon Airport's Covid-19 Testing Centre.

If you see this sign on your way there, you're on the right path. Photo by Karen Lui.

Making an online booking for your test before your departure is required.

The testing centre. Photo by Karen Lui.

After parking our trolleys at one side, we were instructed to approach a staff member in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), who handed us a pair of disposable gloves after sanitising our hands.

Photo by Karen Lui.

Then, we were given a queue number and waited in line for our turn.

Photo by Karen Lui.

It is important to check your particulars, especially your email, at the counter as your test results will be sent via email.

If you've already paid for your test during the online booking, no payment is required during registration.

Photo by Karen Lui.

The PCR test is conducted through a screen, with the staff giving your instructions through a microphone. Photo by Karen Lui.

We were prompted to discard our gloves and blue VTL tag (the one you received at the Changi Airport check-in desk) after the test was completed.

The time we spent waiting for our turn at this checkpoint was around 20 to 30 minutes.

The testing centre is actually set up outside the airport, under a sheltered area.

Photo by Karen Lui.

It might get a little chilly if you arrive during the colder months so remember to bring a jacket or coat with you.

After the test, we went to our hotel immediately and remained in our room until our test results came in around four hours later.

Once you receive your negative on-arrival PCR test result via email, congratulations, you are free to wander around South Korea. Whoop.

Check out our video for more information:

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Top images by Karen Lui.