What Does it Look Like When the Best Airport in the World Builds a Brand New Terminal?

Singapore’s Changi airport tops most lists of ‘Best Airport in the World’ and for good reason.

It features several gardens, including a butterfly garden. The shopping — and food options — are hard to match. There’s even a movie theater. You can take a free transit tour. And there’s a Crowne Plaza hotel linked to terminal 3 via covered walkway, and a transit hotel which doesn’t require clearing immigration.

Changi airport opened terminal 3, the home for the bulk of Singapore Airlines fights and especially their long haul operations in 2008 (they are not the sole occupants of the terminal).

The airport’s Budget terminal was opened in 2006 — and closed 6 years later. It will be replaced with a brand new ‘terminal 4’ expected to open in 2017.

A rendering of the new terminal 4 was released yesterday:

It sure isn’t Washington Dulles.

Cathay Pacific is expected to be the first airline to occupy terminal 4 when it opens.

The airport is already planning for a terminal 5…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Yes, but will it have moon buggies to take you to the gates? Talk to me then. 😛

  2. Surprisingly, it reminds me of Incheon Airport. Especially the check-in area. Incheon is one of the best so I can understand copying it, but I thought they would go for something even more modern.

  3. Just for argument’s sake, when we talk about the experience first time foreign visit have when *arriving* at an airport, well, that’s sort of a red herring.

    At most airports, the arrival experience is quite brief. At most airports (including some of the best in the world) you get off the plane, walk, go through arrival procedures, pick up your bag, walk some more, and end up at the front lobby, which generally isn’t too impressive.

    Having landed at ICN, HKG, NRT, and a few others, the USA arrivals experience just doesn’t strike me as that much worse. (Says a guy who lives 6 miles from IAD.)

    As for the IAD moon buggies, we don’t have a lock on bus gates.

    The departure experience from IAD does suck. My door to door time is about the same at DCA as it is IAD.

  4. @Dan the arrival experience at IAD can be pretty bad, with long lines, but it’s not as bad as at many airports where there’s an endless series of walks through dreary off-white hallways with low ceilings until you come upon a picture of the President. Miami’s arrival experience is worse than IAD’s.

  5. @Dan: I would argue that the arrival experience at SIN (or HKG/NRT/etc.) still beats most places in the US. Long walks to long lines to long interrogations with CBP does not make for happy tourists. FRA is the only foreign airport I can think of that comes close, and at least their border police are efficient and somewhat friendly (if you’re white).

    As for transit (which is a big part of SIN’s business) I don’t think there’s any comparison. Changi beats everyone else, hands down.

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