Want to be one of those people who seem to get through airport check-ins and security checks effortlessly? Here’s a quick guide on how to smoothen this process so you'll have more time to relax before boarding your flight.

Pack to meet airport restrictions

Containers of liquids, aerosols and gels in a transparent bag Containers of liquids, aerosols and gels in a transparent bag

Pack carry-on liquids, aerosols and gels in containers no larger than 100ml in a transparent bag

Know what you can – and cannot – pack in your luggage to avoid unwanted surprises at the airport.

For starters, know your airline's baggage allowance to prevent overpacking. Also ensure that your carry-on bag is within the size and weight limits stated. If you intend to carry any liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) on board, they should be in containers no larger than 100ml and packed in a transparent bag. Medicine, baby milk or food as well as food for specific dietary requirements are exempt from these restrictions.

Large containers of liquids (even if near-empty) should go into your luggage, but not cellphone power packs or valuables – place those in your carry-on instead. Those travelling to the US should use a TSA-compliant luggage lock to enable airport security personnel to unlock bags during checks. Otherwise, the locks may have to be cut and could damage your bag.

Different countries also have different restrictions on items that can be brought into the country. For example, you must declare all food, plant and animal products on arrival in Australia. Do your research beforehand to avoid any potential problems.

Be the early bird

Check in online to save yourself the hassle of standing in line. If you’re flying on an airline that offers early check-in, arrive early to beat the queues and make the most out of your time at Changi.

A woman checking in at the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) counter at Changi Airport A woman checking in at the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) counter at Changi Airport

Use the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) check-in services to avoid standing in queues at the airport

Alternatively, use the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) check-in kiosks, available at all three terminals.

If you have no check-in luggage, some airlines also offer the option of skipping the check-in counter altogether, allowing you to head straight to Departure Immigration with your mobile phone boarding pass, or home-printed boarding pass (find out your check-in options here).

When you are at a new airport you are not familiar with, always arrive early to allow more time in case of unexpected traffic jams, queues, or different processes.

If you’ve got no checked-in baggage, you can even skip the check-in counter and head straight to Departure Immigration with your mobile phone boarding pass.

Indulge in a pre-flight shopping spree – online

Take your time to indulge in duty-free shopping online (and score some travel-exclusive deals!) at platforms such as iShopChangi instead of rushing through it in order to catch your flight. You can then pick up your items at the airport, all packed and ready to go in a jiffy.

For those who’re not too keen to carry their bulky purchases on board, collection on-arrival is also available for wines and spirits (subject to duty-free allowances), as well as cosmetics and perfumes.

iShopChangi collection counter iShopChangi collection counter

Collect your purchases from the iShopChangi collection counter, located at all three terminals

Two women carrying shopping bags at Changi Airport Two women carrying shopping bags at Changi Airport

Enjoy some leisurely pre-flight shopping at Changi Airport

Any extra time available can then be spent leisurely browsing shops within the departure transit lounge. Rest assured that you can bring LAGs such as alcohol and cosmetics on planes as the items will be packed in special bags at the cash register.

However, if you’re travelling on United Airlines, Delta Air Lines or towards Australia, note that your LAG purchases, whether online or at the airport, will be delivered directly to your boarding gate. Just remember to complete your purchases at least 90 minutes before your flight.

Clear security like a pro

Most people dread the long holdups at boarding gates, but there are a few things you can do to ease the process. For a shorter wait, pick a queue on the left, as research suggests most people who are right-handed naturally veer towards the right lane.

Jacket, metallic accessories and shoes in a tray for security checks at the airport Jacket, metallic accessories and shoes in a tray for security checks at the airport

Take off your jacket, metallic accessories and shoes and place them in a tray to breeze through the security line

Besides picking the correct queue, prep yourself by emptying your pockets of coins, keys and cellphones. If you have a water bottle, empty it out as you can refill it after security checks. Remove laptops and tablets from your bag as they have to be scanned separately.

Before your turn, take off your jacket and other metallic accessories such as watches and jewellery. If possible, wear a non-metallic belt so you won't have to remove that as well. Boarding the plane with a pair of slippers or comfortable slip-on (also non-metallic) shoes is also a better idea than boots.

Following these travel tips will make your time at the airport more fun, and definitely less stressful. Why not check in early the next time you travel through Changi?


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