I’d been traveling for approximately 31 hours. I had an eight hour layover and another six hours to fly before reaching my destination. Luckily, my layover was at Changi Airport in Singapore.
I don’t think I’ve ever used the words “lucky” and “layover” in the same sentence. It was to be a layover of firsts.
For me (and for many travelers, I believe), airports are just way-stations; a means to an end; a necessary evil. Airports are a place to keep airplanes until they whisk you off to your destination. The most I hope for in an airport is a seat that doesn’t have Cheerios ground into the cushion, a bar with at least one beer on tap (Budweiser doesn’t count) and free wi-fi. I’ve purposefully cultivated low standards so that I’m often pleased (whoo hoo! No Cheerios!) and rarely despondent (darn you sneaky not-really-free wi-fi).
Changi (SIN) seemed no exception to my expectations. It was 2 a.m. when I arrived and all I wanted was a place to curl up and take a nap as I had been kept up on the flight over by the jerk sitting behind me. I wandered around, noting where a few others had elected to curl up under a stairwell or stretched out on a row of seats. Now, I’m no stranger to sleeping in an airport, but I definitely wasn’t going to settle for just any old piece of linoleum.
And then, rounding a corner, I saw it. The napping area. I think I heard a choir of angels break into song. The napping area had snooze chairs made of leather with head and leg rests so you could stretch out. Oh, and it’s free.
But wait: it gets better.
After a four hour nap, I awoke surprisingly refreshed and decided to see if Changi could get any better. It could.
Here are six more reasons that I love Changi Airport in Singapore:
- The “Entertainment Deck.” Located in Terminal 2, this area has an XBox Kinect Room, an area of seats where music is piped directly into the headrest and a free movie theater. Not in Terminal 2? There’s another free movie theater in Terminal 3.
- Changi is home to the world’s tallest slide in an airport, the Slide@T3. It’s almost 40 ft (12 meters) high and you can reach speeds of up to 13 mph.
- The swimming pool. Yep. There’s a Balinese-themed swimming pool and a jacuzzi that’s open to the public in Terminal 1 for a small fee (free if you’re staying at the Ambassador Transit Hotel).
- Get out and see the sights: Changi Airport offers free two-hour tours of Singapore if you have at least a five hour layover. Choose from the Heritage Tour or the City Lights Tour; each tour departs at specific times during the day from both Terminal 1 and 2.
- Get some fresh air: follow the Nature Trail through the airport and enjoy the open air sunflower and cactus gardens, meditate at the koi pond or in the bamboo garden and experience the world’s first butterfly garden in an airport.
- Not only is there free wi-fi, but there are also 550 Internet stations scattered around the terminal. They’re free, too.
Now, I’m not going to fib and say that I was disappointed when I left SIN to head to Kathmandu. However, the knowledge that I would be connecting through Changi at least two more times during my trip made the prospect of hanging out in an airport a lot more pleasant.
I made a mental note to pack my bathing suit in my carry-on bag.