Airport review: Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore - the world's best airport

IATA CODE

SIN

THE FLIGHT

SQ388 to Barcelona, economy

THE ARRIVAL

Although Changi is linked to Singapore's MRT rail network and is a simple one-hour train ride from the centre of the city, I'm opting for a taxi, which only costs SGD20 and takes about 25 minutes. Other transport options include a public bus service, or limousine hire.

THE LOOK

I'm flying out of Terminal 3, a SGD1.75 billion facility that opened in 2008 and is dazzling from the minute you step into it. That would be because of the ceiling, which has 919 computer-controlled skylights with butterfly-shaped reflectors to manage the amount of natural light pouring into the terminal. And that terminal, despite its popularity, always feels calm and airy.

CHECK-IN

"Look at the queue," I say to my partner, pointing towards the check-in counters. "What queue?" she replies. Exactly. There is no queue. There never seems to be a queue at Changi. We sail straight in, check our bags to Barcelona and proceed to security.

SECURITY

Again, a minimal wait here as our passports are stamped. There are no scanners to go through though; security at Changi is done at each individual gate.

FOOD AND DRINK

The impressive thing about the food at Changi is not so much that it's affordable and tasty, but that it so faithfully reflects the gastronomic traditions of the city it services. That's a simple concept, but not one that often applies to airports, which exist in their own cookie-cutter fast-food vacuums. Changi T3, meanwhile, has "Singapore Food Street", a recreation of one of the city's iconic hawker centres. Most dining here is landside, before passport control, where you'll find classic Malay coffee stands, Indian food, Chinese, American, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese … and a place called Heavenly Wang.

RETAIL THERAPY

Shoppers, strap in. T3 has almost 100 stores that sell everything from gifts to plane snacks, watches to haute couture, cosmetics to alcohol. You could spend your entire holiday wandering the halls of T3 and never grow bored.

PASSING TIME

It doesn't even feel like killing time in Changi. In fact you'll be hoping your flight is delayed once you discover all the facilities available, even just in T3. The terminal has six airline lounges, one of which operates on a pay-per-use basis. There's also a butterfly garden, numerous public artworks, a dedicated sleeping area,  movie theatre,  children's play area,  gym with shower facilities, a slippery slide, a transit hotel – and if you're bored with all of that, free tours of Singapore city are also offered.

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ONE MORE THING

Leave plenty of time to get to your gate at Changi: not only is bag scanning done just before boarding, which can cause delays, but some of the gates in T3 can be a 10 or 15-minute walk away, even with travellators.

THE VERDICT

Changi is almost universally regarded as the world's best airport, and rightly so. The facilities here are phenomenal, with so much to see and do,  eat and buy that you pretty much never want your flight to take off. The only tiny downside is the long hike to some of the gates.

OUR RATING OUT OF 5

4.5

See also: Airport review: Sydney international has two major problems

See also: Airport review: Melbourne T4 is modern, spacious, and infuriating

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