If there’s ever an airport you are spending the night in for a layover, whether by choice or otherwise, you’d better hope that it’s Changi Airport. And no surprises that Changi Airport has been voted as the world’s best airport to sleep in for 20 consecutive years so far.
As for me, I did it this time by choice, with the knowledge of Changi’s best kept secret to date.
I flew Scoot on their second flight of the day from Singapore to Bangkok, departing Singapore at 6.45am. Not wanting to wake up at 3.30am for the flight, I chose to arrive earlier the night before and to spend the night in the transit area of Changi Airport. At least I could still wake up at 5am and have ample time to have breakfast.
As Scoot has a web check-in service which opens 72 hours before departure, I did an online check-in. Unfortunately, I still required to get my documents verified even though I have no check-in baggage, and even getting my boarding pass printed at the FAST check-in kiosks needed a verification. So here I am in the queue anyway, wondering why there’s a need to since I actually pre-purchased my seat and checked-in already.
While most shops will close at 1am, there’s still much to do in the transit area if you don’t feel like sleeping. All 3 terminals of Changi are inter-connected, so once you pass immigration, you are free to explore other terminals as well.
There are movie theatres in Terminals 2 and 3, but the one in Terminal 3 feels more like an actual cinema.
Unlike an actual cinema though, movies here are completely free of charge. There is ample space to push your trolley to your seat if there’s a need to.
Beside the movie theatre lies the Ambassador Transit Lounge should you wish to get a shower, nap or a more premium space to lounge around for your flight. These aren’t free of charge though.
Lounging chairs are abundant in Terminal 3, though these aren’t the most conducive for a lie-down sleep.
The ones that fill up fast are the recliner seats found in the Snooze Lounge. It’s quiet and dark enough, but even if you manage to find one clear recliner seat, you’ll be sharing the area with at least 10 others beside you.
You can also head to the end of Terminal 3 near Gates A16 to A21, however there were two departures at 2am to 3am on the day I was there, so it wasn’t the most conducive place to spend time. Furthermore, the seats here are mostly taken up already, and without charging points to boot.
I then got onto the Skytrain back to Terminal 2 where my actual Scoot flight will depart from the next day.
Do note that the Skytrain does not operate between 2.30am to 5.00am for maintenance. So get on the train between Terminals 2 and 3 fast before 2.30am, because it sure isn’t the most fun thing to walk an hour across via Terminal 1 in the wee hours of the morning.
Back at Terminal 2, there is a dedicated sleeping lounge called the Oasis Lounge located opposite Gate E11. And of course, the whole place was full by the time I got there.
But no worries, with Changi’s best freebie to date, I could sleep almost anywhere pretty comfortably.
I went to the F pier where I saw that there were no flights departing from, and I was probably the only one close to the furthest point of the pier, so it made for a good 3 hours rest with air-conditioning, power sockets, a side table, piped-in music and Changi’s warm, purple blanket.
That’s right, while most airports in the world frown upon budget travellers overnighting in some corner, the world’s best airport to overnight in for 20 years running provides you with free blankets with rows of comfortable seats with power sockets so you can spend your time waiting for your flight with comfort rivaling even some backpacker hostels.
If you’re lucky, staff will make their rounds at around 2am near the Oasis Lounge to distribute these blankets. If not, just head over to an open information counter to request for the free blanket. They’ll take down your particulars to make sure you are actually in need of the blanket for the next few hours and not some cheapo traveller taking free stuff for a 10-minute run to the gate.
I slept for a good 2 and a half hours and woke at 5am to a fully charged phone, and grabbed breakfast at McDonald’s before heading to my boarding gate and Bangkok.
Or maybe Osaka?