The following article is written by Mothership,sg, in partnership with Changi Airport.
Once, a friend visiting Singapore told me something peculiar. She was flying in a day earlier just to sleep over at Changi Airport.
Needless to say, I was bewildered. And amazed when she countered matter-of-factly:
“Isn’t it the best airport in the world?”
Sure, Changi’s the best airport in the world. But we certainly don’t think of sleeping in the airport for the sake of it.
Unlike other airports worldwide, Changi is often a destination itself. Families gather to dine or just to watch planes take off; as a student, I travelled to the airport to study -- because free Wi-Fi, 24/7 air-conditioning and it’s clean and comfy.
That’s all great, but I found that Changi’s appeal, to me, lay in the little, meticulous details found everywhere.
It’s easy to overlook, but if you delve deeper you’ll find many weird and wonderful reasons that keep you coming back to the airport.
The unmistakable airport “smell”
Long before I even heard of the term “scent marketing”, I realised that Changi Airport has quite a distinct smell.
Is it the scent of adventure? Or just the chemicals used by the cleaning staff? Either way, I soon came to associate this clean, distinct scent with the excitement of travel, the familiarity of home, and the anticipation of seeing a loved one.
Yes, the airport scent will always trigger memories in my heart.
And amazingly, it’s a scent that’s consistent throughout all the terminals.
The little shelf in toilet cubicles
It’s not just one of the classiest toilets I’ve had the opportunity to do “business” in. There’s something charming about that oh-so-convenient stand to place your phone, passport and boarding pass on.
Nobody likes having to fumble with their things in the toilet. And for a clumsy person like me (tendency to drop various things, including my phone, in the toilet bowl ugh), it’s small details that make all the difference.
They didn’t have to build shelves there, but they did.
That toilet rating system that’s made for the typical Singaporean
Singaporeans are a shy bunch -- we hesitate to dish compliments, not because we’re mean, but because paiseh lah.
Which is why Changi Airport’s touchscreen toilet rating system is perfect, because we get to express customer satisfaction (not happy also can anonymously give feedback) and don’t even have to spend time doing it -- I can literally click on it while running out of the washroom. Tried and tested.
Yes, the toilet is super clean, I love it!
The wide, open spaces that bring inexplicable peace
When the country you live in is tiny, open spaces have an indefinite appeal. Not only does it feel more luxurious, it also makes me feel at ease -- away from packed train rides and crowded malls on the weekend.
Not to mention the secluded corners that allow for quiet conversations and moments of peace.
The soft, plushy carpet that makes everything seem cosier
Changi airport always felt luxurious to me, but I could never really put a finger on it -- until I realised that it’s (partly) because of the carpeting.
Parts of the airport is carpeted, especially the transit areas. This ups the luxury factor and also serves a practical purpose -- the carpeting absorbs sounds, so it has the effect of making you feel more relaxed.
More relaxed = happier traveller = better experience.
Don’t believe me? The next time you visit an airport that feels strangely barebones, see if you notice the lack of carpets.
Usher guy at the taxi stand
Not to mention, he informs you if it’s a more expensive cab (“Ah girl, this silver one more expensive than the blue one!”) and helps you to check if they accept card.
Uncle, don’t make break us with your kindness, please.
Unlike the airport scent which I noticed when I was much younger, this was actually a recent discovery.
Maybe it’s because Singaporeans live amongst shades of green, it escapes our consciousness -- as if it were an embodiment of the Garden City it resides in, the airport is filled with plants and trees. 99% of which are real.
Yes, Changi is planets apart when compared to other airports that look stark and unwelcoming.
The lack of white lights
Now, this could purely be a speculation on my part, but have you ever noticed that there are almost no white lights in Changi airport?
Light colour affects your mood, and white lights can create a harsh and even depressing atmosphere; the lack of white lights in turn creates a welcoming ambience, which makes us feel more at home than anything.
And that’s why you always feel good at the airport.
Nothing to feel ashamed of if you never realised these little things that make our airport great. If you just had an “oh, ya hor!” moment, yes! You’ve uncovered (some) weird reasons why you love going back there.
So many things about our airport to feel proud of, and these are just eight.
Article written by Tsiuwen Yeo, in a collaboration with Mothership.sg.
About Mothership: Mothership is a Singapore-born Internet media company and one of the largest digital platforms in Singapore, with 5.5 million monthly page views. The platform covers a range of content, including local and regional news, lifestyle stories and historical content.