Going Deeper Than The Buzz: The World’s Best Airport Changi

Melyssa Koh

Managing Director, Singapore

Since its opening in April this year, Jewel Changi, located at the far Eastern side of Singapore, has been attracting huge crowds of people who are not strictly air travelers. A joint venture between Changi Airport and CapitaLand, Jewel Changi is not your ordinary 10-storey commercial development with 280 retailers and F&B outlets. Situated amidst the various terminal buildings, Jewel Changi is the latest addition that augments Changi Airport as the air hub that connects lives. Interesting features like the 14,000 sqm Canopy Park, 250m bouncing net suspended 8m above ground, 25m high walking net, 4 discovery slides, and most impressive of all, the 40m-high Rain Vortex, world’s tallest indoor waterfall, are hardly features that one would expect to find in a mall. 

The Changi Airport (source: Changi Airport Official Website)

It is no coincidence that Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted as Skytrac’s World’s Best Airport for the 7th consecutive time, and most recently crowned as the strongest airport brand. For a small country with a size of 721 km², Changi Airport saw a record 65.6 million passenger movement as an international air hub. These impressive results of an airport are not just due to Singapore’s renowned traits of efficiency, but is attributed to the brand’s long-term vision of making the airport a destination, not only a place of transit. 

By using the 4 Facets of Brand Positioning, let’s examine how Changi Airport is able to maintain its appeal to travelers and locals alike over the past three decades. 

Truth: World-Class Service with the Changi Experience

Going beyond the clockwork efficiency of air transportation and baggage handling, airport can be a place of emotional experiences. Proudly termed as “The Changi Experience”, Changi Airport aims to make experiences at the airport stress-free, personable and positively surprising for visitors.

Needless to say, Singapore’s known trait of efficiency is also showcased at the Changi Airport – a place that has become synonym to the Singapore national brand. Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) program at Changi Airport gives travelers a full suite of self-service options from check in, bag drop, immigration clearance to boarding. One would need only 15 minutes from check-in to gate. Efficiency is a given for any reputable airport, but Changi Airport manages to make the whole experience efficient and stress-free for travelers.

Continuously raising the bar, early check-in process has also been seamlessly integrated into the Jewel Changi mall, allowing for a smooth check-in experience. The world-class service does not end there, but also extends to air-sea connectivity. Passengers arriving from air onwards to cruise or ferry can have their luggage delivered from arriving flight to departing vessel directly, giving them seamless end-to-end transfer. 

L to R: Self-check-in counters at Terminal 4, Early check-in at Jewel Changi, Lounge area in transit

Vision: Exceptional People, Connecting Lives

World-class hardware without service with a human touch is just mechanical efficiency. One key element of the Changi Experience is its staff—the faces of Changi Airport. Like the Ladies and Gentlemen of Ritz-Carlton, the exceptional staff of the Changi Airport strive towards service excellence, which recognizes that everyone is unique and engages with every single visitor to create good memories. Changi Airport is more than just a transportation hub and place of air transit. It is a place where positive emotions ride high and lasting memories are made.

Universe: The Utopian Candyland

With travel comes the inevitable delays, queues and wait in the airport. Unless you are in the premium lounge, time at the airport is typically deemed as boring, uncomfortable and expensive. To put it simply, it’s a place where you don’t want to be. But Changi Airport does the opposite and never fails to surprise and continuously challenge others to “rethink travel”. Changi Airport aims to make time at the airport an immersive experience that is worth your time. Beyond just a place of transit, Changi Airport aims to bring its visitors into a futuristic utopia where they can enjoy world-class facilities such as a swimming pool, snooze zone, Singapore’s tallest indoor slide, movie theater, arrays of restaurants, shopping and many other attractions. Arriving at the airport two to three hours before flight departure would no longer be a dread or waste of time, but a destination where life is perfected and driven by innovation and creativity. With so much to do, there is something for everyone. Whether you are the shopaholic, the flora fanatic, the literacy geek or the gourmet lover, the utopia of Changi washes any worries of reality. What’s not to love about a candyland which has the comfort of a luxury resort, the excitement of a first-of-its-kind amusement park and the galore of a mega shopping complex? 

Public and transit areas in Changi Airport

Personality: The Personable Ambassador and Host

With the airport being a gateway to Singapore, it naturally carries the Singapore ambassador badge. Knowledgeable and personable, the staff at Changi Airport is just like the perfect host who would share all the insider tips about Singapore. Where to go, how to get things done, what is the local culture like etc. These are all questions that you can depend on Changi Airport to help you with, leaving you with memorable, lasting impressions of your experiences in Singapore. Information counters and service staff are readily available on ground at Changi Airport that one will never feel lost. For those not lost, the best way to experience a nation’s culture is to live like a local; Changi Airports reaches out with tips on local haunts via its microsite, Now Boarding

As the Singapore Ambassador, injecting local flavor into The Changi Experience is one of the more focal traits of the gracious host. Local brands showcase, visuals installations of local cultures and other Singapore-inspired displays integrated throughout the facilities at Changi Airport. Thoughtful and meticulous, every little detail and corner is not being overlooked; even the walls of the underpass connecting the carpark and terminal are lined with hand-painted wall murals depicting local heritage scenes to create the sense of space. No matter how brief your stay is, the host’s personable gestures and little surprising touches would give you a glimpse of Singapore, and hopefully would implant the desire to visit Singapore as a destination, not a transit. 

L to R: Now Boarding Microsite, Changi Airport’s Instagram posts

Conclusion: Constantly Rethink Travel

It takes more than hype and buzz to build a brand that would continuously appeal to its target audiences, and Changi Airport certainly did not stop at building the first transit swimming pool back in the days. It is the constant pursuit to redefine “stress-free, personable and positively surprising travel” that keeps Changi Airport ahead of the game.

Part of redefining “travel” also mean redefining target audiences. For most airports, it is clear that airlines and flight passengers are the main targets. With Changi Airport located just 20 kilometers from city center, however, it is also a destination for locals. Already the case for the past three decades, there are only so many viewing halls and sky trains that can continue to surprise the locals. With the latest addition of Jewel Changi, it creates more opportunities for positively novel experiences and more reasons for frequent visits to the airport. Maybe, there will come a day when people reframe how they see airports as places of transits to destinations. Instead of “the airport with a huge shopping mall”, it more resembles “the destination that is so conveniently integrated with flight travel”.

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