To give you some context: in 2019, 68.3 million passengers from all over the world went through Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Terminal 4 (or T4) is Changi’s newest baby, opened recently in October 2017. T4 has the capacity to handle 16 million passengers a year. It was previously the Budget Terminal, though after its reopening was anything but – T4 is the first airport I used that had self-service check-in, fully automated bag drops (the weighing scale was exact and unforgiving towards excess luggage), and a free entertainment corner equipped with an Xbox Kinect and pinball arcade machines. T4 also has a gorgeous interior styled to look like shophouses.
On the other hand, Terminal 2 (or T2) is ten times as old as T4 but as late as January this year it was looking to expand and increase capacity. Yes, January 2020 B.C. (before corona), which seems ages ago.
Both terminals have now been shuttered — in T2’s case, for 18 months, in T4’s case, indefinitely — driven by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Passenger volumes have declined by as much as 99% compared to last year, which isn’t surprising. Recently it’s picked up a little bit, but hardly back to B.C. levels.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we had a sudden hankering to visit the airport even though we had nowhere to go.
Normally we liked lingering at Changi after sending relatives off, or dropping by on random weekends. Riding the Skytrains between the airport terminals is free and my kid always enjoyed the view — huge planes, assorted airport vehicles on the tarmac.
I know the airport might seem like an odd place to hang out. But here in Singapore it’s exactly what the government wants you to do.
Exhibit A: Jewel Changi, with its massive menu of shopping & dining options, its impressive indoor waterfall a.k.a. the Rain Vortex, the Canopy Park, and of course, Singapore’s flagship A&W outlet. (The queues at A&W when it first opened at Jewel were crazy, but to be fair it was making a comeback after a 16-year absence. By the way, does anybody remember the A&W branch at Greenbelt Makati back in the ’90s?)
Surprisingly, the link bridge to T2 remained open. We also caught a glimpse of the terminal itself. I expected it to be empty of course, but it was still strange to see it as quiet as a library.
Then, we headed back home on a train that was just as silent (at least until the change at Tanah Merah station).
Think critically dear readers,