Connecting flights often prove challenging for travellers and the actual ‘how to’ can vary from one city to the next, but here at Singapore’s Changi Airport transiting couldn’t be simpler – even for first-time jetsetters or those taking their inaugural international business trip.
For starters, Changi has three terminals, all for international flights, and which are conveniently numbered as T1, T2 and T3.
Qantas, Emirates and British Airways flights depart from and arrive into Terminal 1; SriLankan Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot use Terminal 2; Jet Airways flies through Terminal 3 and Singapore Airlines uses both Terminals 2 and 3, yet all of its Australian and European routes fly through only T3.
The three terminals are all connected ‘airside’, so if you arrive into one terminal but your onward flight departs from another – such as flying Qantas into Terminal 1 and connecting to Jet Airways in Terminal 3 – there’s no need to clear immigration or to leave and re-enter the building.
Connecting at Changi Airport: the basics
Stepping off your first flight, you’ll be delivered straight into the departure lounge among all other travellers. If you already have your onward boarding pass and any luggage has been tagged through, you’re free to head straight to your next departure gate, or to a lounge if you have access.
Navigating the airport is incredibly easy with clear signage wherever you look…
… and which often provides a rough estimate of how far you are from your desired gate:
Many assistance kiosks are also scattered throughout the terminals which allow you to enter your flight number manually or simply scan your boarding pass to receive visual directions to your boarding gate…
… and again, with a time estimate from your current location.
Connecting at Changi Airport: changing terminals
While it’s possible to walk from one end of one terminal to the far end of another, the sheer size of Changi can see that trek taking over an hour – instead, look for the Skytrain which runs between the terminals, arrives every few minutes and moves you around in mere moments.
Different trains move in different directions, so check the screens before you hop aboard. In this case, the Skytrain was bound for Terminal 1, taking us there from Terminal 3.
The trains are all driverless, so for a stickybeak of the airport around you, head to the front of the carriage where you’ll have a perfect view.
Note however that the normal Skytrain route from Terminal 3 (B gates) to Terminal 2 (E gates) is currently closed due to airport redevelopment works, so if that’s the route you were taking, follow the temporary shuttle bus signage instead:
Connecting at Changi: baggage but no boarding pass
If you’ve arrived but don’t have your onward boarding pass, instead keep your eyes peeled for the transfer counters (or ‘transfer lounges’) throughout the terminal concourse.
Some transfer counters cater only to specific airlines, but to make things easier for travellers each offers a printed list of airlines and shows which transfer counter you should approach for each one to check-in for your onward flight.
In most cases your luggage will be sent right through to your final destination and won’t need to be touched in Singapore, although in a few scenarios – particularly with low-cost airlines like Scoot – you may need to clear passport control, collect your baggage and then proceed to check-in again.
It’s certainly not the most convenient route, so make your first stop the transfer counter and see if they can help before taking that time-consuming detour.
Connecting at Changi Airport: security screening
Unlike most other airports where you’d first go through security screening and then enter the main departures area, Changi reserves the security formalities for the actual departure gate just before take-off.
Each gate or group of gates is separated as its own secure area and ‘closes’ either 10 or 20 minutes before departure, depending on the particular flight and airline.
For that reason, even if you’re flying in business or first class, it’s wise to arrive at the gate a little earlier than usual to avoid rushing through security, being stuck behind a long queue, or worse, missing your flight.
As you’d expect of any international airport, you’ll also be asked to remove your jacket before stepping through the metal detector and to separate both your laptop and any liquids from your bag, which you’ll have practiced before leaving Australia.
For more information about connecting between flights in Singapore, head to the Changi Airport website.
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