Don’t get me wrong - my girls are my world. But sometimes when I’m flying solo with them, I wish that airports would offer the service of checking them in. Queuing at the check-in counters and immigration lines while fumbling for our passports barely sound like a holiday at all. On our way to Bali this time, I brought along a backpack filled with treats and entertainment for them but didn’t end up using any of it - and I could only thank Changi Airport for that.
For all you parents out there who are yearning to know how to entertain and exhaust your kids before a flight at Changi, here’s your guide to sanity, compiled by yours truly.
1. Free movie screenings - Action-packed drama for your little drama llamas
Free movie screenings at the airport? Sign us up! I mean, It’s great that I don’t have to pay just to keep my girls quiet (although in times of desperation I may think about it). Now, I can just plant them in front of a screen playing their favourite cartoon movie and voila! I had a good 30 minutes of me-time to relax and catch my breath after all that check-in frenzy with the girls.
When we were there, the theatres were screening cartoons and Marvel superhero movies like Spiderman and How to Train Your Dragon. According to Changi Airport’s website, the movie theatres are closed at certain timings for weekly maintenance but otherwise open 24 hours, daily! Also, the schedules of each movie are found just outside the theatre. However, if you’re like me and want to know the movie schedule before heading down, you can find it here.
Terminal 2, Level 3, Departure Transit Lounge
Terminal 3, Level 3, Departure Transit Lounge North
2. An Alice in Wonderland experience at the Butterfly and Sunflower Gardens
Not too far away from the movie theatre in Terminal 3, we chanced upon an indoor butterfly garden. Yes, a butterfly garden in an airport! Now that is amazing! Can you believe that this place has over 1,000 tropical butterflies and even an emergence cage for your kids to watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons? We tried a cool trick here - the girls rubbed their fingers on the pineapple slices (food for the butterflies) and held it up in the air. Soon enough, butterflies landed on their fingertips and seriously left my girls in awe. Heck, even I was in awe.
I tried utilising the educational resources there to teach the girls a thing or two about nature and the butterflies… though the whole time, they were happy running around, chasing the many butterflies… which is alright I guess, I wanted to tire them out before the flight anyway.
Location: Terminal 3, Level 3, Departure Transit
Over at Terminal 2, we found another garden, filled with 500 brightly lit sunflowers! Definitely another must-go attraction! They can also catch planes taking off and enjoy the view of the tarmac.
Location: Terminal 2 Departure Transit, Level 3
3. Good old arcade games will never go wrong
Ah I remember the good old days when I used to play arcade games. Old but gold… anyway that’s not the point. From old-school arcade machines to Xbox Kinect, the Entertainment Corner at Terminal 4’s Departure Transit has a fun selection of games which my kids and I thoroughly enjoyed before our flight. They really liked the futsal table and Xbox Kinect. The trick is to let the kids win or else they’ll make more noise…ya know, “parental duties”.
Location: Terminal 4, Level 2, Departure Transit
4. Just chill and watch the planes go
I was quite amused at how the girls can be so fascinated by watching planes land and take off. I mean, they’re just planes right? They will literally attempt to chase after the aircrafts taking off and can be entertained by this for a good 30 minutes.
If your little gremlins happen to be mini Leonardo da Vincis as well, a tip that I got from my friend was to bring along some paper and colour pencils to draw pictures of the aircrafts parked at the parking bays. Trust me, this could really come in handy. A good spot is the Viewing Gallery at Terminal 3 Departure Transit. Not only does it have a fantastic view, they also have a couple of good dining spots and even a playground nearby, which leads me to my next point…
Location: Terminal 3, Level 2, Departure Lounge Transit behind Louis Vuitton
5. Let em’ loose at the playgrounds!
Here’s one of my all-time favourite tactics - playgrounds. You really can’t go wrong with them. Not only do they keep kids occupied, they are also a good way to develop your child’s creativity and motor skills. More importantly, this is a tried-and-tested way to get your kids to nap peacefully during your flight. I could grab a coffee or even a full meal at the food stalls nearby and watch the girls enjoy themselves at the playgrounds.
Terminal 1, Level 2, Departure Transit Lounge East, next to Outdoor Garden
Terminal 2, Level 2, Departure Transit Lounge North, next to the Family Zone
Terminal 3, Level 2, Departure Transit Lounge Central
Aside from all the fun and games, the baby care rooms available at each terminal are huge life savers. Who wants their little ones to make a mess of themselves before the flight. I know you don’t. Sinks, diaper-changing stations and water dispensing machines - are all readily available.
Location: There are multiple baby care rooms throughout the airport. Find them here.
The best part of all of these attractions is that they are all free-of-charge. Next time when you are here at the airport with your kids, you’ll be thanking me for all these tips (you’re very welcome). If you have more time to spare, catch this short film - I can so relate.
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