While I was very happy to fly Singapore Airlines home from Bangkok in business class, the transit experience at Changi Airport was not what I was expecting…
My Singapore Changi Transit Experience
I booked Singapore Airlines from Bangkok to Los Angeles via Singapore in order to experience the ultra-longhaul Airbus A350-900 flight to Los Angeles, a flight I have not taken since it was operated by an all-business class A340-500.
The schedule left me with a five hour transit at Singapore Changi (SIN), which I had planned to use to work at the Singapore Airlines Lounge.
But when I arrived in Singapore, transit passengers were asked to remain onboard. Only about 4o people were on the BKK-SIN flight, including about a dozen transit passengers.
Airport staff boarded the aircraft and asked us to follow them. We were presented with a green bracelet and told to follow them. Other passengers connecting from a nearby gate joined us.
We headed out, past a beautiful Airbus A380 (now serving Kuala Lumpur but soon serving London) and onto a train. We were taken out to a remote gate area (A15) and essentially dumped. An airport staff told us to wait and we would be called when it was time to board our flight.
It wasn’t all bad – there were restrooms and a couple snack stands. You could also order food from your mobile phone. But I was not expecting to spend my layover cordoned off in a gate area, apparently because Thailand is deemed a high-risk country. Singapore divides nations into four categories and Thailand is currently a Category III nation, deemed high-risk.
I had thought about flying first class via Tokyo on the way back and am so glad I did not. Business and first class passengers were not treated any differently or even given a complimentary snack or water bottle.
I turn lemons into lemonade and parked myself down by an electrical outlet (there were very few, but I found one) and worked very productively for four hours without moving.
Flights were called one by one. Finally, my flight to Los Angeles was called about 1 hour, 10 minutes prior to departure. We began the long trek to the gate area, taking the train again then walking through the passenger terminal led by an escort. It was a very long walk, taking about 20 minutes.
Finally, we were simply dumped off at the gate: I guess I could have tried to go back and visit the lounge, but wanted to respect the system and also noted that the “clean” passengers had a yellow bracelet on.
After clearing security, I shortly thereafter boarded the flight without incident. Thankfully, I was not treated any differently onboard.
The Singapore transit experience was not what I was expecting. It seemed efficiently inefficient to me and I’m not sure why we posed such a threat when we had vaccine cards and a fresh negative test…but that’s the nature of transiting through Singapore right now.