Changi Airport Terminal 4 – Redefining Your Travel Experience

Terminal 4 (T4) is Changi Airport’s newest passenger terminal to be opened some time at the end of 2017. Built on the site of the former Budget Terminal, T4 is about half the size of Terminal 3 but has a capacity that is two-thirds. T4 will redefine passengers’ travel experience through the Fast and Seamless Travel at Changi (FAST@Changi) concept at check-in, bag-drop, departure immigration and boarding, ensuring a fuss-free and faster departure process.

RailTravel Station had a fantastic opportunity to preview the upcoming T4 last week, before it opens to the public during the T4 Open House from 7 to 20 August 2017.

While built on the site of the former Budget Terminal, T4 is a far cry from anything budget. On first impression, the facade is somewhat similar to Terminal 3. And with separate arrival and departure levels as compared to the Budget Terminal, that means there’s at least twice the space now.

The first thing that you’ll notice as you arrive at the T4 departure driveway are the petal motifs on the roof. And of course the ever-available trolleys.

Inside the Departure Check-in Hall, the high ceiling and clearly signposted check-in row numbers are a welcome sight.

Out of the 7 check-in rows, Rows 1 to 3 are for conventional check-in with airlines that are not FAST-ready.

If you’re a tourist getting your GST refund, there are also kiosks for you to process your claims. Remember to do this BEFORE checking-in.

Rows 4 to 7 are for airlines that are FAST-ready, which currently includes AirAsia and Cathay Pacific.

For FAST@Changi with AirAsia, the check-in procedure at this kiosk is no different from the existing one, with the exception of the rounded shape of the kiosk.

A new addition though, is the self-tagging of your bag. But not to worry, if you really have no idea how to peel off a sticky part of the tag and wrapping it around your handle in two seconds, some rovers will be around to assist you.

But of course, if you have already checked-in online and have no check-in baggage, just head straight to the gate.

Next, head to the baggage drop ahead.

Follow the instructions on the screen, place your bags one by one on to the conveyor belt, and that’s it.

After check-in, if you would like to lounge around with family and friends first instead of heading into the departure transit hall, there are also pockets of seats to relax in before immigration.

The dining area in the public area are at the end of Row 7.

Immigration at T4 is also mainly automated for eligible travellers ie. Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass Holders or Visitors whose fingerprints are registered with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and are at least six years old.

One thing missing here at T4 is the presence of the Auxiliary Police officers checking your boarding pass – because there’s now no need to. As your boarding pass is already registered in the FAST system, there’s just one new additional step after you scan your passport, which is to scan your boarding pass.

To know that you are actually you, the FAST automated lanes also have facial recognition technology based on your passport photo to authenticate your identity.

The slot for your passport (for ICA and FAST) and the scanner for your boarding pass (for FAST).

The thumbprint scanner ahead as usual (for ICA).

If you are not eligible for automated immigration, there are also manual counters beside this area, with the usual security officer checking your boarding pass.

T4 adopts centralised security screening just after immigration, instead of having individual screening at each gate.

And since queuing for security is stressful and annoying enough, T4 has an Immersive Wall at the centralised security area to entertain you while you wait at the security screening queues. This 70m by 5m LED display showcases Singapore’s skyline and Changi’s connectivity to ASEAN destinations.

Just remember to proceed for security clearance when it’s your turn.

The centralised security screening at T4 uses CT technology so that your laptops and tablets need not be removed for separate screening. Yes, this CT technology is similar to the CT scans you get in a hospital, except that this time, the scan is for your bags. The machines will create some sort of a 3D model of your bag so that the security staff can look at and isolate each item individually. To call them x-ray machines would now be technically incorrect.

Tray delivery is also now automated, and can accommodate two passengers at once. No more getting pissed at the person in front of you who didn’t know he had to remove all his bling-blings before walking through the body scanner.

After walking past the body scanner, bags will also be segregated into those that are good to go, which you can pick up immediately, and those which have a cause for concern.

The outer lane will be where your bag end up if it’s fine. If you have a knife or any other prohibited object with you, your bag will end up on the inner lane into the hands of the security team.

Once you have picked up your stuff, return the tray back into the in-built bin, and the system will deliver it back to the starting point for the next passengers.

After immigration, it’s shopping time. The flagship duty-free outlets are beside the path towards the gates, but unlike Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport, there’s actually a clear path to walk through here, and a choice to head to the gates immediately after this walk.

After the anchor tenants, the actual transit lounge with ample seating and other individual shops and lounges can be found.

The Travelling Family is an aluminum sculpture by renowned Swiss artist, Kurt Lawrence Metzler, and the main art piece within the departure transit lounge.

Located within the departure transit lounge is an event space, which in this case will be used for the upcoming T4 Open House to introduce the airlines that will operate from Terminal 4.

The nine airlines which will operate from Terminal 4 are:

  • AirAsia (AK, FD, QZ and Z2)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Cebu Pacific
  • Korean Air
  • Spring Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines

In line with the facilities and the current 3 main terminals, about half the seats will have direct access to a side table along with USB and universal wall charging ports.

Ahead of the event space is a mezzanine level where there will be dining options, airline and paid lounges, a smoking room and a prayer room.

And since this is Changi Airport after all, T4 will also feature a garden with a koi pond.

The most prominent and local feature T4 would be the Heritage Zone, inspired by Peranakan shophouses nestled around Singapore.

Four types of shophouses, namely Baroque, Rococo, Peranakan and Modern Decor, are featured in this zone. These “shophouses” will also house local brands of Bee Cheng Hiang, Bengawan Solo, Curry Times, Eu Yan Sang and Heavenly Wang.

The blue and pink shophouses in the middle, however, are somewhat more interesting because they aren’t what they seem right now.

Fitting with the heritage theme, Peranakan Love Story is a tale of two young adults set in Singapore in the 1930s. This musical features local talents such as Dick Lee, Adrian Pang, Benjamin Kheng and Koh Cheng Mun.

Video courtesy of FlightTravels.

Below the facade of the shophouses, probably lies Changi’s best interior touches of all time.

In line with the Peranakan facade, the toilets here are also Peranakan-themed from the lights to the flooring.

And of course, the Changi standard is for each cubicle to be big enough to fit the airport trolley in.

Changi Airport: showing you how airports are done since 1981.

Some funky seating before the last access to the gates. Sitting on these pieces of art are most welcome.

There are 21 contact gates in Terminal 4, all with the prefix “G”. Gates G1 to G17 are for narrow body aircraft, and Gates G18 to G21 can be used by both single-aisle & wide-bodied aircraft, with the Multiple Aircraft Receiving Stands (MARS). That also means the four Gates G18 to G21 can form 8 gates of Gates G18L to G21R.

In addition, there are 8 “H Gates” in the terminal, which are actually bus boarding gates to aircraft at the remote stands across Airport Boulevard, south of Terminal 3. There are 17 narrow-body and 9 wide-body aircraft stands on the other side.

The entire row of boarding gates have a variation of seats so if you have a long layover or an early check-in, you can seat in each area for 5 minutes or so to figure out which seat you like best, and it would be time to board your flight already. Or you might have missed it while enjoying yourself.

Something lacking at Terminal 4 are free internet kiosks. Only one or two seems to available outside every gate. But then again, since everyone has a smartphone and with free WiFi throughout the airport, the demand for these internet kiosks have dropped, as seen from the other terminals.

The FAST journey ends here, at boarding. With your face and boarding pass captured at check-in and immigration, the same data is used here to match if you are the right passenger boarding the aircraft.

With a simple scan of your boarding pass and another photo of your face, you’re on your way out of the best airport in the world. Boo hoo.

The aerobridge level is on the lower arrival level, so you have to walk down a ramp to access it.

Unfortunately, my preview didn’t include a walkthrough of the arrivals level, so it’s back to the driveway via the departure transit lounge and the departure hall.

Just like T1’s Kinetic Rain and T3’s Daisy, T4 has a centrepiece of its own as well.

Petalclouds consists of six structures suspended 200m across the Central Galleria and it can be seen from the Departure Check-in Hall, Transit Area and Arrival Hall. Its movement is synchronised to animated lighting and music. Petalclouds is a complex amalgamation of art, music and science and delivers an enthralling and magical experience to its audience.

Back in the, an updated map shows an airside bus transfer from Terminal 2 Gate F51 to Terminal 4. I’m not sure if this is only for transiting passengers through either terminals or for all passengers as an extended transit lounge. One thing that may be for sure though, since T4 adopts centralised security screening, screening will be done at Gate F51 too before boarding the bus to T4.

There will be the usual free shuttle bus services between Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 on the landside once T4 ready for operations.

Overall, Terminal 4 is a great improvement from the Budget Terminal (though it’s not meant to be that but is mainly perceived by the public as such), and while compact, is spacious, comfortable and very efficient for all sorts of passengers from business to leisure.

One of Changi’s best projects to date – but of course there’s still Jewel Changi Airport and Terminal 5 to look forward to.