For myriad of travellers today, their first impressions on a country starts at the airport they land at. People develop strong opinions about whether they like a city or not based on how they were treated when they first arrived either in transit or as a first time visitor.
First impressions leave lasting imprints on the human psyche and no one understands this better than the island nation of Singapore. The result is the creation and the continuous evolution of the fabulous Changi Airport.
Changi Airport is a great example of extreme ‘customer delighting’. Meticulous landscaping and tireless effort to research and execute small luxuries to ease fatigue of the modern traveller has made this airport not just an envy of airports worldwide but a darling of the travelling masses.
Regardless of whether a traveller is on business class or budget class, this magnificent airport provides comfort by pampering without discrimination. Amenities such as movies, latest video gaming, gardens to soothe, nature trails, themed playgrounds, foot massage stations and internet facilities etc are offered to the masses at absolutely no cost. The airport is also filled with other luxuries and indulgences at reasonable and affordable pricing.
Here’s a brief list of what travellers can do when on transit at Changi Airport, Singapore:
Die-hard movie fans can visit the Movie Theatre sand catch the latest blockbusters for free, 24 hours daily. Travellers can also enjoy movies of different genres at Terminal 3 or the latest movie screenings at HBO’s Star Movies at Terminal 2.
Location: Terminal 2 and 3, Departure Transit Mall
This one-stop integrated entertainment zone facility is located on the third level of Terminal 2’s Depature Transit Mall. It features a free LAN gaming room, Xbox 360 and Playstation game consoles, cosy music corners and a free movie theatre.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall
The Xperience Zone is the latest entertainment facility at Changi. It includes interactive photo kiosks, Internet Voice Chat Terminals (Skype) and experiential zones where passengers can catch some rest watching TV or play some games.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall
Surfing in Transit
To meet the connectivity needs of travellers, Changi Airport offers seamless Internet access for those carrying laptops and iPads via free Ethernet LAN points. For those without laptops or iPads, travellers can enjoy free surfing at more than 500 Internet terminals located throughout the airport’s terminals.
The iConnect Lounge in Terminal 2 offers a more private and comfortable option in surfing the net. Staying connected via smart phones or other devices is easy. Passengers can select Wireless@SG as their network ID (SSID), register for a new account (if they don’t already have one), receive passwords via their mobile handset and immediately log on to the broadband network.
Location: Terminal 1, 2 and 3
Nature lovers can experience peace and tranquillity at the various themed gardens in the Departure Transit Malls. Here are a glimpse of a few of them:
The Cactus Garden showcases more than 40 species of cacti and succulents found mostly in the American and African regions. This garden also acts as a smoking area as well as a outdoor setting to grab a drink.
Location: Terminal 1, Departure Transit West, Level 3 (Outdoor)
The Orchid Garden offers more than 15 species of orchids which are displayed on different natural structures, including a number of them tied on natural driftwood overhanging the Koi Pond.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall, Level 2 (Indoor)
Be greeted by more than 500 sunflowers in the day and be enchanted by firefly-like bulbs at night. The garden also gives travellers a vantage view of Changi Airport’s airfield. The garden lights up from 7pm to 7am daily.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall (Outdoor)
“Nishikogi” or Koi, is the most colourful and expensive freshwater fish. Its beauty lies in its dramatic colour that changes as it matures. Admire these fishes and let the flowing water soothe your mind.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall, Level 2 and Terminal 3, Depatrue Transit Mall, North and South Level 2 (Indoor)
This 330sqm, two-storey open-air garden, designed as a tropical nature retreat, is home to more than 1000 free roaming butterflies that are native to Singapore and Malaysia. Passengers can also observe the life cycle of butterflies at close range. This unique attraction is designed to complement Terminal 3’s nature theme and Singapore’s tropical garden image.
Location: Terminal 3, Departure Transit Mall North, Levels 2 and 3
The ‘Enchanted Garden’ comprises of four giant glass bouquet sculptures, carefully decorated with a mosaic of reflective and shimmering stained-glass. Nestled within these glass bouquets are a dazzling variety of freshly-cut flowers and soft ferns. An interactive and immersive experience, the Enchanted Garden “magically” comes to life with sight and sound, captivating visitors as they weave through the garden. Motion sensors trigger sounds of nature and blooming flowers while fibre-optic and LED lighting, embedded in the flooring, form a fascinating carpet of sparkling lights.
Location: Terminal 2, Departure Transit Mall
The Social Tree
At close to nine metres tall, The Social Tree allows travellers to share their photo and video memories instantly and to retrieve them on subsequent visits to the airport. Surrounded by eight touch-screen photo booths, travellers can ‘attach’ their photos onto the colourful and animated crown of the structure, which is made up of 64 giant 42-inch high-definition screens, offering a 360-degree display of various animated backgrounds including a mystical forest and the Singapore skyline.
Location: Terminal 1
Travellers can indulge in one of Singapore’s greatest passions – shopping – without leaving the airport! There are more than 360 retail shops featuring items ranging from the traditional duty-free goods such as liquor and tobacco, cosmetics and fashion wear to electronics, jewellery and luxury items. Changi Airport is also a haven for those looking to pamper themselves with brands such a Hermes, Gucci, Tiffiny’s etc. The prices for cosmetics and alcoholic beverages are regulated by the Government of Singapore hence pricing changes occur based on foreign exchange rates prevalent at the time of purchase.
Purchases within the transit areas are exempted from Singapore’s 7% Goods and Services Tax. Under the “Price Guarantee Scheme”, shoppers get a refund of twice the price difference for any product purchased at a higher price at the airport. Changi Airport also offers a “No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee” on all items, valid up to 30 days from purchase.
Location: Terminal 1, 2 and 3 Departure Transit Mall
For the discerning gourmet, Changi Airport serves a wide selection of gastronomic delights with more than 130 food and beverage outlets throughout the three terminals. Singapore has a fine reputation for cosmopolitan menus and the airport offers a representative sample of the best there is. Local and international fare at the airport range from Chinese, Japanese and Indian cuisine from the East to fast food and fine dining from the West.
Location: Terminal 1, 2 and 3, Departure Transit Mall
Foot Reflexology and Fish Spa
Travellers can indulge in some pampering with either a massage or choose to experience tiny little fishes nibbling away the dead skin cells on their feet to reveal baby smooth skin at the Fish Spa. This spa also provides passengers with full body massages as well as treatments for hands and feet with manicures and pedicures. Charges apply.
Location: Terminal 1, Departure Transit Mall, Level 2
For the Discerning Singaporean
Singaporeans are world travellers but not many seem to be aware of the bounty in their own backyard. Locals, more often than not will find themselves checking in just in the nick of time to make it through immigration, shop a little and head off to boarding. However, an early check-in at Changi Airport ensures a perfect beginning to any journey.
Think a leisure meal at world class restaurants before hopping on the plane or shopping among wide alleys in comfort and style at tax free prices. Perhaps simply strolling around nature amidst butterflies and sunflowers is your thing. Early check-in’s are a great way to avoid unnecessary stress that normally arises when you’re trying to hurry. A relaxed demeanour is always a positive start to a fruitful business trip or holiday.
The airport is a great place to hang out and one thing is for certain – the longer you explore Changi Airport, the prouder you will feel that this place is probably the greatest representation of all that is Singapore.
Travellers who have at least 5 hours to spare before their connecting flight can register for a free 2.5 hour sightseeing tour to catch a glimpse of what Singapore is all about. There are many more other things travellers can do while on transit. For a detailed list, visit their official website or click HERE for recommended transfer experiences.
*Check-in timings may vary for each airline. Click HERE for the various airlines operating hours.
**Disclaimer: We thank Changi Airport Group for inviting Travel and Beyond to spend an afternoon in the airport. However, as always all opinions expressed are exclusively that of the author.