Singapore’s Changi airport (SIN)

Last year I wrote a post about Singapore’s Changi airport and how efficient it is. Earlier this month I visited Singapore again and not surprisingly the airport has improved even more. For one thing the airport now offers free WiFi throughout it. This is in addition to offering free internet terminals in numerous places, telephones to call any Singapore number for free, and a free 2 screen movie theater which shows recent major releases. Shopping remains a huge activity there too and if you really have time to kill (minimum 5 hours) you can arrange a city tour, which I think may be free too. You may ask why does the airport do all this for a captive audience of mainly transit passengers. I think that the reason is to keep those passengers coming back, either as transit passengers or as visitors. Singapore is battling with Bangkok to remain an important air transit hub in the region. With what seems to be more liberal and less expensive air agreements, Bangkok is really becoming the main air hub of Southeast Asia. That may not seem like a big loss for Singapore if you think about the noise and pollution that air traffic generates, but it is. In addition to the obvious economic benefits of having a busy airport (shops, food venues, landing fees, etc), there are reputational issues at stake. It isn’t just national pride, it is the reputation as being a business center and all of the economic benefits that brings. You can’t be a true business center without having ready access to convenient regional and global transportation. That means direct routes to other business locations and not just being a side spur off of main routes. To get those, a location needs to cater not only to business travelers, but tourists as well who tend to drive airline decisions on where to fly. That’s why Singapore caterers to passengers. It’s working too. As someone who has been there as a tourist, I’d not only go back, I’m recommending that you pass through too.