The world’s favorite airport?

Urinals with an amazing view

Bathrooms with runway views are one of many passenger friendly innovations at Singapore’s Changi Airport. (photo: Chris McGinnis)

Singapore’s Changi Airport is frequently recognized as the best in the world. On a recent trip to Singapore, I wanted to find out why, so I asked their communications team for a tour. We walked all over the massive facility, and even took a breezy ride in one of those beeping carts! Come on along for the ride and see why people love this place so much. (Slideshow starts below.)

Some interesting tidbits I picked up along the way:

>There is an outdoor pool, jacuzzi, patio and tiki bar that anyone can enter for a $14 fee. Nice! (See photos below)

>Airport security screening is done at each gate instead of a central security checkpoint– that means all you have to do is show your passport and ticket to get into the terminals. This decentralized approach eliminates any peak time lines. Smart!

>There’s an outdoor butterfly garden open to all passengers. Talk about peaceful…and beautiful!

>The airport has a full time staff of 10 horticulturalists and 100 gardeners and there’s not one fake plant anywhere.

>Changi is pronounced “Chawng-eee” with a soft g sound.

>The airport provides free internet access via wi-fi and 550 free terminals placed in pods throughout.

>What we call “moving sidewalks” they call “travelators.” (I like travelator and plan to incorporate that into my lexicon!)

>There is a basic by-the-hour hotel in each of its three terminals. There’s also a 280-room Crowne Plaza hotel in the middle of the airport, which mainly houses travelers on layovers from the “kangaroo route” between the UK and Australia. (However, QANTAS is switching its stopover point on the kangaroo route to Dubai next year.)

>Changi is the name of a local tree– a pleasant, eco-friendly change from other big airports named after politicians.

What’s your favorite airport in the world? Please leave your comments below. 

–Chris McGinnis

Use the arrow keys on each image to move forward or back. Be sure to read the captions for an explanation of each shot.

IMG_2587 IMG_2150 IMG_2204 IMG_2162 IMG_2209 IMG_2210 IMG_2590 IMG_2598 IMG_2198 IMG_2203 IMG_2202 IMG_2190 IMG_2193 IMG_2194 IMG_2172 IMG_2186 IMG_2177 IMG_2582 IMG_2164 IMG_2157 IMG_2147 IMG_1898
There are 550 free (seriously!), internet connected PCs throughout the airport
10 horticulturalists oversee 100 gardeners at Changi
Lush vertical gardens on every available wall
One of many floral displays throughout the airport-- no fake plants allowed!
Long layover? No probs. For $14, anyone can swim or take a jacuzzi at the outdoor pool
Cool your jets with an exotic tropical cocktail at the pool's bar
Singapore Airlines's business class lounge: one of the poshest in the world
Trolley service inside the lounge at tea time
Urinals with an amazing view
Excellent immediate feedback system helps keep bathrooms clean
Bathroom feedback system
By-the-hour hotels in each of three terminals
Airport hotels are basic, but clean and very quiet
First run movies in a free theater for those with long layovers
A butterfly garden! One of several outdoor gardens in terminals
Outdoor butterfly garden is just a few yards away from planes
When was the last time you saw a butterfly at the airport?
Changi is home base for Singapore Air's fleet of 19 big A380s
The enormous new Terminal 3 swallows crowds. And makes good use of natural light.
Changi's original Terminal 1 just emerged from a total re-do with a tropical feel.
I love an exotic old school departure board like this.
Now that's an immigration line anyone could love!
  • Veronica

    A couple of years ago during a long layover, I was able to take a tour of Singapore without collecting my bags or going through customs/passport controls. You board a special bus (that you cannot get off) and they drove around town and supplied guests with headsets that are language selectable. It was a great way to get a glimpse of the city and see some sights. Don’t know if that program is still in operation, however.

  • Kenny Pate

    My favorite international airport is Munich. It’s far better than Frankfurt or Heathrow for changing planes, has plenty of shops and restaurants, and several nice Lufthansa lounges.

    Domestically, I guess Id vote for T2 at SFO or the JetBlue terminal at JFK. But unfortunately our domestic airports can’t compare with non-US options.

  • John

    Beautiful Airport in Singapore….great pics. I’d like to see less grey at our SFO airport. T2 is a good example with vibrance and a little earth tone with the wood over the ticketing, so I agree with Carol. T2 at SFO was once known as the Central Terminal and it is the original structure at SFO after the name change from Mills Field. If anyone is interested in seeing an great action movie with SFO from 1969 in some major scenes, rent or buy the movie “Bullet” with Steve McQueen. He plays a SF detective, and chases a suspect under a Pan Am 707 just as it begins it’s take off roll after spotting him in the boarding processes on the plane itself. There is a climatic scene in T2′s baggage area (formerly Central Terminal and earlier International Terminal of the 80s). The scene is in what was the United baggage area, now American’s baggage area. There are also chase scenes on the tarmac near the United Jetways just before the final climatic scene. SFO was one of the first airports to have jetways. If the various districts of SF can be coloful, so can the City’s airport. Throw in some bogonvia here and there…..HA !
    It will be interesting to see what will happen with T1 after 2015 when it will get a new look. T3 will start looking vibrant with the re-opening of Boarding Area E (formerly American’s gates). United and Air Canada will share the 10 gates there beginning in November. I guess the remaining parts of T3 will get a makeover over time without disruption to United’s busy schedule. Even the International Terminal is looking a little dated already, and in time will need a waterfall or something to loosen up it’s business only look. The Bay Area and the natural surroundings are vacation destinations too. SFO reflects the coldness of high rise downtowns. The growing trees and plants in front and around the parking garage do help, but perhaps some golden poppies can be sprinkled about too to get some color going.

  • Carol Hough

    I love T2 at SFO, no lines, no crowds – better than most airline lounges….

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.