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Singapore Airport Changi


Singapore's International Airport - Changi


Review of Singapore's International Airport - Changi

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Singapore Airport has been voted by many different magazines and organisations for many consecutive years as the best airport in the world, and to be honest it is not surprising why. Singapore International Airport, or Changi as it is known, is somewhere you do not mind arriving an hour, two or even three before your time of departure. For once Changi offers you an airport that you can actually enjoy, and look forward to going to.

The planning behind Changi is exceptional by airport standards, nothing is really very far from anywhere, there are electric people carriers (walkways) scattered everywhere and in each direction. The shopping facilities are better than some shopping malls, the toilets clean, and accommodating, and many different food and beverage outlets ensure that you never go hungry. If there is one airport in the world where you do not mind being stranded for a few hours than Changi would be many peoples first option.

Changi is presently split into three terminals, with arrivals and departures on two separate levels, arrivals being the lower and departures the upper level. The terminals are connected by people carriers so you can walk between them if you so desired, this would take approximately 25 minutes, or you can use the miniature train service that runs from 6 am to midnight every day.

The real enjoyment of Changi comes after you have passed through immigration, before immigration however there are also numerous food and beverage outlets, such as Burger King, Deli France, a few other restaurants serving Asian and International dishes, and even a supermarket in the basement of Terminal 3. After immigration though you have an amazing assortment of Duty Free shops, high quality airport lounges, some food and beverage outlets from fast food to food court style cuisine, some nice pubs, and in Terminal two even some entertaining amusement style parks themed along Science and such.

Terminal 1 is the older of the three terminals, but still offers you almost identical 'activities' as T2 and the newer terminal 3. There are computer slots, where you can plug in your laptop and connect to the internet using your own account free of charge for as long as you like. Book shops with an excellent assortment of books, four electronic shops selling everything from televisions, digital cameras to your basic battery, jewellery shops, watch shops, a post office, a silver shop, exchange counters, and of course the standard perfume, alcohol and tobacco shops, and even a small supermarket. This may surprise many people, as you are not allowed to even carry cigarettes into Singapore, but the Duty Free prices for tobacco are one of the cheapest in the world. The alcohol (especially the wine) is also very well priced, especially compared to other Asian airports, so make sure that you check your Duty Free allowance of the country that you are travelling to and make the most of it. You cannot buy cigarettes on the way into Singapore though, only on the way out, in fact it is officially illegal to bring cigarettes into Singapore that were bought anywhere. If caught you may well be fined. 

The airport lounges at Terminal 1 are all on the second level, and are all of pretty good quality. For smokers though there are comfortable smoking lounges which allow you to puff away legally. The smoking rooms are both internal and external, allowing you get a suntan if you like while breathing in airplane fuel, instead of just nicotine. There is only one smoking room, although it is very large in each terminal, and they are situated pretty much straight in the middle and against the airport side wall. As mentioned  you can sit and smoke outside and inside, but there is always pretty much enough room, either way.

The terminals offer viewing screens throughout with many televisions set up to different channels such as HBO, BBC, CNN, Discovery, the choice is yours.

If you are arriving at Singapore Airport, the procedure is the same as at any other airport, immigration, baggage claim and customs. The only major difference from most airports and something that I personally believe to be a bit of an annoyance is that when you arrive at the baggage reclaim/customs area the screens between you and the waiting crowds of friends and relatives, waiting to greet the incoming are transparent. This means that you can see your friends and loved ones, as you wait for the baggage so the excitement of turning the corner and seeing them is all but lost as you tend to get all excited waving and smiling, and then 10 minutes later when your baggage still has not come out, the smiling and waving is a lot less enthusiastic. It also means that if customs do want to search your bags then they do it pretty much in front of the awaiting crowd ! Make sure you pack clean underwear!

And while we are on the subject of security, Singapore Airport frequently scans incoming persons and hand luggage on random flights. It does not take long as the airport thankfully puts enough manpower behind this but it is something you may want to be aware of. 

Once you are through immigration and customs, you have the choice of buses, taxis, and private limousines. Taxis are very regular, and well organised. The taxi queue at terminal one however has TWO ends to it, well in actual fact there are two queues that face each other. It is often worth remembering this, as more often than not one queue will be very busy, and the other relatively quiet, it is always worth checking which of the queues is the longest, before standing in line. A taxi from the airport will charge you a surcharge, and if you take the taxi between midnight and 6 in the morning there will be the 50% surcharge on the surchard. Taxis also charge extra for peak hours, CBD, and ERP, but all these charges are outlined on an official form in the taxi that explains the charges.

Quick Guide to most of the major services :

 Business Centre : Located in the transit hotels. The centre is open daily from 7 am to 11 pm and offers workstations with Internet access, photocopiers, fax, telex, facilities and meeting rooms. Secretarial and language services are also available upon request.

Cactus Garden : Level 3 of terminal one departure /transit lounge this unique garden houses 20 varieties of cacti native to North and South America.

Electronic Luggage Lockers : Are available in both Terminals 1 and 2.

Free Gadget Chargers: Located in all terminals see: Recharge at Singapore Airport.

Fitness Centre : Located in the transit hotel in Terminal 1, the gym offers you use of gym and exercise equipment, for Sin $ 10. A shower is included in the price with towel, shower gel and shampoo, are provided.

Free Singapore Tour : If you have five hours to spare between connecting flights, you can register for the free 2 hour Singapore tour, which will take you around the river area, and includes a 20 minute bumboat ride. Available from 10am to 7pm with the last booking available at 6:30pm. Seats are limited.

Hairdressing Salons : Located in the transit hotels, the unisex salons are open from 11am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sundays in Terminal 1 and from 11am to 9pm Monday to Saturday in Terminal 2.

Lost and Found : If you have lost something at the airport and not on an airline please call Singapore (1800 toll free within Singapore)  6542 9792.

Medical Services : These centres can be found in both Terminals, and are open from 8am to 12 midnight. The centre in Terminal 2 located at the basement is open 24 hours.

Shower and Sauna : Hot showers are available for only Sin $ 5.15 or you may wish to enjoy a steamy sauna. The sauna which includes shower is Sin $ 10.30.

Swimming Pool and Jacuzzi : Open from 7am to 11pm daily the shower and jacuzzi can be found in Terminal 1. Sin $ 10.30.

See also: Singapore Changi Airport testing biometrics based check-in and immigration system

Pictures of Singapore International Airport can be seen here

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