Posted October 20, 2015
By MARCUS LIM
SINGAPORE — Flying to a different country can be exhausting and stressful. Yet for those traveling to Singapore, they can take comfort that they are in the hands of the six-time World’s Best Airport award winning Changi International Airport.
Officially opened in 1981, the Lion City’s three-terminal airport has been raking in awards, being named the best airport three years in a row. Its innovation, first-rate service and beautiful features has ensured it is head and shoulders above other airports around the world.
Serving more than 100 airlines, each week sees about 6,700 flights landing or departing from Changi with more than 54.1 million passengers passing through the airport a year.
“An airport like Changi that sits in the middle of Southeast Asia is in a good position to tap on the growing demand for inter-regional travel which provides many opportunities for flight connections,” Mark Clarkson, Official Airline Guide‘s Asia-Pacific business development director, said to Singapore’s English-language newspaper, The Straits Times. “The rise of low-cost carriers has helped Asian airports including Changi boost their air-hub status.”
Apart from being a hub for many stopovers, the airport strives to be a second home for many travelers and with amenities that ranges from movies at the airport theater to a walk through the butterfly garden or relaxing at the massage chairs, comfort is a definite.
Usually when departing from an airport, people would arrive at the airport at the absolute last minute that they have to, which on average is two hours before their flight. However, for those departing from Changi, people wouldn’t mind going as early as possible as there are numerous activities to do.
“If I was departing from Miami airport or Los Angeles, I would start checking in an hour or so before my flight,” 22-year-old Keenan Romani, who studies abroad in Singapore, said. “Yet, when I am in Singapore, I usually go six hours before my flight. I don’t visit Changi airport regularly, so I need to ensure I have a lot of time to spend here. There are so many things it offers.”
The first of its kind to be featured in an airport, the butterfly garden is an incredibly popular place. Past immigration, the orchard houses more than a 1,000 butterflies of 47 species, these beautiful creatures are accustomed to visitors and love resting on them. For those interested in learning about the life cycles of butterflies, there are educational corners. And for those lucky ones, they may get the chance to see a newly transformed butterfly emerging from its cocoon.
For passengers with plenty of time to spare, usually those on connecting flights, there are opportunities to learn plenty about the country they are in. The airport has a free city tour, which is two-hours long. The heritage tour gives passengers the chance to learn more about Singapore and explore its historical sights and famous attractions. This includes Chinatown, Marina Bay Sands and many other areas. Departing in the evening, Singapore’s magnificence is shown to the weary passengers.
“I was flying to Perth, Australia and my connecting flight was from Singapore,” Paul Hancox, a tourist in Singapore that traveled from France, said. “I had six hours and I wanted to learn about Singapore. Everyone kept saying good things about it, and I didn’t want to be holed up in the airport. So I took the tour and it was incredible. Fantastic sights, and a rich diverse culture.”
For those who want to just relax in the airport, there is a free cinema that is open 24 hours a day. With up to date films and comfortable couches, people go to laze there or catch the latest blockbusters.
For passengers who want media entertainment and have the energy, they can go to the Entertainment Deck, which is right next to the theater, and play from the assortments of consoles presented. There is the PS4 and the Xbox 360 with all the updated games, it is a nice place for gamers to unwind.
And for those sport lovers, there is an area in the deck that has the latest and live sporting events displayed on large screens. With plushy, comfortable couches, sport buffs can melt into the couch with their own personal set of speakers on it for a surround sound experience.
A potion for ailing travelers suffering from jet lag is the Balinese swimming pool. Free for passengers staying at the Ambassador Transit Hotel, it costs $13.91 for others.
“I just needed to relax after flying 18 hours from Los Angeles,” Hideko Ono, a tourist who once used Singapore as a pit stop before flying to Tokyo, Japan, said. “I had three hours, so I went to the pool. It was beautiful. Open-aired, you can watch planes fly by and you get lost in the tranquil, relaxing warm waters.”
Changi also won Best Airport for Leisure Amenities for the seventh time, which had all the aforementioned facilities being a strong factor in the airport’s winnings. Changi loves pampering its passengers and there are massage chairs littered everywhere in the airport for travelers to rest their legs. If they need something more to help with more painful aches, there is a reflexology center, a Thai yoga massage, a hot stone massage and even a fish spa.
“Rather than dwell on earlier success, the airport continues to innovate and concentrate on making the customer experience in the airport environment the most enjoyable,” Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax, organizers of the World Best Airport awards, said to The Straits Times.
Lauded internationally, the airport has also been an Asian juggernaut, reaping the Best Airport in Asia for the 28th consecutive year by the Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards.
The airport isn’t a place only for travelers as many Singaporean locals will still go to the airport to indulge themselves in one of the many restaurants. The airport serves different cuisine of Chinese, Malay, French, Indian to many other international dishes. There are fast food options like the typical McDonalds, Burger King and Subway. Cheap and expensive, fast and posh, there are options for anyone.
A place for tourists to try the local food and a chance for the locals who want high class, five-star dining services, the airport has everything.
Services offered by Changi is what makes it the best airport in the world. And one recipe for its continuous success is that it’s always hungry to improve. Announced in July was that Changi airport will open a new terminal – Terminal 4 – amid their ranks by 2017 and a future Terminal 5, which will be 10 times as big as Singapore’s largest shopping mall, VivoCity.
The multi-billion-dollar project will see the new terminal be five-story-high, 10 million square feet and be the product of Singapore’s largest man-made-structure.
“The fact is that the government knows that the airport is such an important part of the country’s economy,” Changi Airport Group’s chairman Liew Mun Leong said to The Straits Times. “All over the world, big airports are building big terminals. So if you want to compete, you cannot not build T5.”
With an aim to please the passengers going to and from the airport, travelers can be at peace to know that their weary bodies are in good hands. And for those visiting Singapore for the first time, being in the world’s best airport is a great first impression that the country has much more to offer.