Singapore's Changi Airport
Singapore's Changi Airport: you could spend a few weeks here and not realise you missed your flight. Photo: AP
The latest Skytrax poll, sourced from more than 12 million travellers, restores Changi to the number one position, a spot it last occupied in 2010. In 2012, for the 16th year, Changi won the Golden Pillow award for top airport from the Sleeping in Airports website.
No other airport has been named world’s best airport so consistently and by so many different sources, and it’s worth considering the reasons.
Changi handled more than 51 million air travellers in 2012 yet it feels spacious, unhurried and calm.
Its green spaces include an outside cactus garden with seating, a sunflower garden and an enclosed butterfly garden. All the terminals offer free wifi and computers with internet access. Charging stations, also free, allow you to lock up your phone while it charges.
There’s also a free movie theatre and a huge indoor slide where restless kids can burn some energy. Each of its three terminals has free rest areas, with leather chairs with head and leg rests that allow you to stretch out full length.
Each terminal also has its own transit hotel, with low-cost rooms available in six-hour blocks. Cleanliness is top notch. Travellers are asked to rank the toilets on an electronic scoreboard as they exit.
If a particular facility drops below par, a flying cleaner team is dispatched. Terminal 1 also has a rooftop pool with a Jacuzzi and bar. Although Changi is a big airport, the speedy Skytrain offers quick transfers.
The factors that put Changi on top stem from a recognition that passengers deserve to be treated like human beings, not an infernal nuisance to be fed and bled of cash as quickly as possible. When airport preference becomes a factor that influences passengers' choice of airlines, the airlines as well as airports need to take notice.