I travel quite frequently and as a result I’ve seen a good number of airports, but I’ve always been a religious championer of how Singapore’s Changi Airport is the best airport in the world. This is something I often think of: damn, I love the airport, and as I was at the airport earlier today waiting to catch my flight back to Taipei I looked around and thought, again: Damn, I love the airport!! I was momentarily so overwhelmed with pride for the airport that I began listing all the reasons I loved it to my boyfriend, who had come to send me off, and he gently indicated that he was more interested in discussing what we should have for lunch instead. So here I am writing a blogpost about it, where no one can tell me to be quiet. Woohoo!
I do a lot of travel guides for the outbound singaporean, but this one is more like an ode to the inbound tourist, I guess. Many people have already written articles about why the Singapore airport is so awesome (HUGE DOUBLE STOREY LOUIS VUITTON STORE! BUTTERFLY GARDEN! FREE MOVIE THEATER!), but while those things are awesome, they’re not the main reason why I love the airport. I love the airport because it makes the travelling experience so damned wondrous. For all of you coming to Singapore, we have a deadass awesome airport!!!!1!!1!1!1 And here’s why!!!!
1. THE AIRPORT DOESNT MAKE YOU PANIC
Seoul’s Incheon Airport frequently competes with us for the title of best airport, and it does have gorgeous architecture. It’s a beauty to look at, and super clean and shiny. But I freaking hate travelling through Incheon, because it makes me panic. It’s always crowded, and the crowd is amplified through the insanely noisy echos of the clickityclack of people rushing to and fro with their luggages, which not only triggers my claustrophobia, it also makes me panic like hell because everyone sounds like theyre rushing everywhere and am I going to miss my flight?!
Singapore’s Changi Airport will not make you panic because it does not sound like all hell broke loose and is bustling around your panicky travelling self. This is down to smart design – the airport is partially carpeted, and also built to absorb sound. No matter how many people are running around trying to get pre-flight stuff, the airport is always audibly chill. So yes the airport will not make you panic. DONT UNDERRATE THIS! Because it is awesome.
Many of the major travel hubs I travel to require like, an unreasonable amount of time you need to factor in as a buffer for things like a security check and what not. And when you’re stuck in a mad long line, you’re always thinking, am I gonna miss my flight?! See above, re: Panic. Ugh.
It’s gotten kind of mad. I’ve been stuck in Seoul (again!)’s immigration queue for an hour, same for London and Japan, and my American friend told me to always be at the airport for international departures 4 hours before your flight because that’s how long it can take to get past security. I’ve actually been stuck in a security line in LAX for close to an hour and a half before, and that was the business class line (Press trip to Los Angeles last year end). People were going nuts, I tell you. I cant imagine how long it must have taken if I’d been in the economy line.
But for Singapore, this is never the case. You pass a boarding pass check from public to transit areas, and then youre free to roam about the super awesome transit section before your flight. The security check comes right before you board – there’s two or three security points to a boarding gate, and the only people fighting with you in line are the people getting on the same flight as you, vs the entire damned airport’s worth of people going to 287201 different countires.
This means that if youre a traveller in Singapore, you can spend more time in the city itself before heading to the airport for your flight on your last day, or still be at the airport early enough to check in and explore!
You’d think this is basic, I mean, cmon, it’s 2017. But I’m looking at you, America!!! The first time I landed in New York’s JFK and realised that you have to pay FIVE AMERICAN BUCKS to use a cart, I was like, what the heck?! Get out. I flat out refused to pay for it, and being a solo traveller, that meant an 18 year old me balancing two big bags and one hand carry and trying not to fall over. Having no free airport cart can also be especially painful if your hand carry is like, a duffel bag, and you’ve stuffed it to it’s 7kg handcarry max.
Most countries do have the carts for free, but I’ve learnt not to take that for granted. The KLIA2 airport, for example, has free carts, but they’re located so far away that you have to carry your bags from the aircraft out for a really long distance before you locate a cart nearer to immigration, at which point you have to give it up anyway. Lol.
Singapore’s airport has two types of carts – the big luggage one you get at arrival, and the cute little ones you get at departure. I LOVE THE DEPARTURE CARTS because theyre so small and run so smoothly that you can wheel them around with one hand!! This might be a weird thing to obsess over but yeah, I love the hand carry cart. They’re also located right where you need them – the minute you pass the boarding pass check, and you drop them off right at your boarding gate. EFFICIENCY!
The airport has lots of great places to sit down and use your laptop or just chill before your flight, and most of these seats come with a charging port of sorts for your laptop or phone. Most airports require you to find a cafe or something if you want somewhere decent to sit, but not Singapore! Singapore is basically the equivalent of your over acheiving multi tasking all rounded cousin. WHATEVER YOU WANT IT WILL DELIVER! If you want something to drink, there are A ZILLION options – sports bars, swanky bars, cafes, coffee shops, fast food joints – but if you just wanna sit for free without buying a drink, that’s totally possible too.
5. SINGAPORE IS SMALL!!!
Ha ha ha. Singapore’s small size means that the airport is MEGA well connected to the rest of the city, there are public trains servicing the city, and despite how complainy Singaporeans get, our public transport system is pretty legit. I mean, if youre coming from London or America, prepare to be mindblown is what I’m saying!
The practical application of our small size is that the airport is very accessible to the rest of Singapore. I hate the fact that for many places, your last day of your trip is basically a discounted half day because of all the time and hassle it takes to get to the airport. It’s also very costly – a city cab to the airport in New York is a flat 59USD before tip, the train to Heathrow in London costs about 25pounds. But for Singapore, a grab or uber will set you back about twenty plus SGD, and theyre always running discounts because it’s a competitive world! And if you rather take the train? FIFTY CENTS! No la, two dollars forty. But that’s still mad cheap, right?
6. FREE WIFI
Yes there’s free wifi everywhere. It’s solid wifi too, not the dodgy sort you get at some airports where you’re not sure if it’s official free wifi or like, a hacker’s server. Haha. You just gotta have a phone number to receive a verification code, or approach a service desk to get a temporary login code. So when you land you can message your parents to be like, yo im in singapore safe!
7. THERES ALWAYS FOOD
You dont think this is a big deal until it’s a big deal. I dont normally eat at airports when I travel, I much prefer eating my last meal in the city center because it’s normally cheaper and better. But there’s always food in Changi, no matter what time you land/depart, and this means that if youre stuck in the airport at like 4am, you wont go hungry. There’s always a starbucks open, or a Ya Kun/Killiney (traditional singaporean food) still buzzing. I was once stuck in Seoul’s Incheon at 1130pm and EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED. I had been in Seoul for shoot, and hadnt had the chance to eat since lunch, and I was starving! But i thought, nevermind, I’ll just grab a bite at the airport. nOPE.
Seriously, that’s the third time I’ve brought Incheon up. Why are they competing with us for best airport again? I mean they’re great and all but still!!!!
8. SUPER CLEAN TOILETS
Having clean toilets is the best thing ever, period. Singapore’s Changi toilets are always clean and smell nice, and there’s a little electronic signboard where you can rate your satisfaction level with the cleanliness of the toilet after. How great was your pee? Very good thank you! Ha-ha, Singapore is really an alien city.
Okay I could go on, but everything else is more along the lines of the SUPER WEIRD BUTTERFLY GARDEN or AMAZING SUNFLOWER GARDEN ON THE ROOF. This post is more about how the airport takes the processes we all need to go through as travellers, and makes it so much more pleasant and efficient. And I really have strong feelings about our airport because I live in the East of Singapore, so I basically grew up in the airport! See point 5: Singapore Is Small. That means that if you grew up in the East, you’re always hanging out at the airport to either have meals or overnight study sessions. I have my own office now, as of last year, but up till then I was perpetually doing work out of the cafes in the airport then heading home.
I dont really see this in any other airport, where as a traveller you see the locals hanging out in the airport and kids playing in the indoor playground (yes, it’s a thing) while the adults go look at the tax-absorbed cotton wipes in Watsons (yes, it’s a thing). It really does contribute to the unique vibe of the airport – Changi feels less cold and transitory, and more like youre gently phasing from your holiday in Singapore to your flight out. The bottom line is, Changi is awesome. I love it! This is not a paid post! Yeah, I just thought I’d better clarify that cos nowadays whenever I rave about something people want to know if I’ve been given money to do so or not -.- Lame. Anyway. CHANGI IS AWESOME COME TO SINGAPORE. The end!
*This post was not written in collaboration with anything except my own feelings thank you*