Inside the Best Designed Airport in the World

Fingers crossed for a flight delay! Yes, really.

Changi International Airport, Singapore
Photo: Darren Soh

As travelers, we can’t always choose where we get to spend those extra hours between flights.

But it may actually be worthwhile to fly out of your way if it means passing through Changi International Airport in Singapore: an antidote to the stale, purgatory-like experience typically offered by airports.

“I usually [arrive] four hours earlier just to enjoy the amenities,” admitted one Travel + Leisure reader.

Changi Airport Design
Darren Soh

For four years in a row, Changi International Airport has earned the No. 1 overall spot on our World’s Best Airports list. With movie theaters, lounges, a two-story butterfly habitat, a rooftop pool, and traditional gardens filled with waterfalls and orchids, it’s easy to see how travelers could confuse Singapore’s airport with a theme park or miniature city.

One World’s Best voter raved about their experience during a seven-hour layover, while another lamented: “I just didn’t have enough time to really enjoy it fully.”

But even if you’re just catching a connecting flight, arriving at the most well designed airport on Earth is an unusually pleasant experience.

Changi Airport Design
Darren Soh

“Changi is the most streamlined and ‘easy to figure out’ airport we have ever been in,” said a satisfied T+L reader. Others hailed it for being thoughtful, well organized, accessible, and efficient.

The latter is absolutely crucial to having an agreeable airport experience. After all, most of us just want to get where we’re going without too much hassle.

Changi Airport Design
Darren Soh

That’s why you’ll find hundreds of iPad-wielding, blazer-sporting Experience Agents to help even the most vaguely confused-looking traveler find his or her gate, a charging station, or connect to the free Wi-Fi.

And if you happen to get stranded at Changi during a flight delay or cancelation, you’ll find the airport comfortably equipped with dedicated Snooze Lounges (where you can nap on chaise lounges for as long as you’d like) and restaurants specializing in local fare.

And Changi is only getting better. A new terminal is slated to open in 2017, allowing Singapore to accommodate some 82 million passengers.

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