Uncategorized

A detailed guide to Jewel at Changi Airport

Jewel Changi Airport Vortex

Singapore Changi Airport has been awarded ‘World’s Best Airport’ by Skytrax from 2013 to 2019, meaning it has held the honour for at least seven consecutive years.

As someone who has transited through Singapore for every single international trip in 2019 (and subsequently reviewed many of its lounges for Point Hacks), I have to agree with that accolade as well.

There are four main passenger terminals of varying ages and designs, three of which are interconnected. Passengers and locals alike are also flocking to Jewel, a relatively new retail rainforest enclosed in a striking glass dome.

Read on as I take you through the various facilities that Singapore Changi Airport has to offer, over multiple trips through Jewel and all four terminals.

Jewel Changi Airport

The biggest drawcard to Changi Airport is the new Jewel – a massive glass dome filled with retail therapy, food outlets, a lush rainforest and of course, the centrepiece HSBC Rain Vortex waterfall. You can easily spend a good part of the day wandering around and taking it all in – and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do so if you can. 

There are seven levels to explore. Here is a summary of each, from lowest to highest:

  • B2: Supermarket, movie theatre and retail shops
  • B1: Major retailers (Uniqlo, Zara), Terminal 1 arrivals pick-up
  • L1: Early check-in, Changi Lounge, baggage storage, Terminal 1 Arrivals Hall
  • L2: Retail shops and viewing deck
  • L3: Link bridges to T2 and T3, retail shops and gardens
  • L4: YotelAir (hotel), Changi Experience Studio (fees apply) and retail shops
  • L5: Canopy Park, an attraction for families (entry fees apply)

Review of Jewel Changi Airport attractions

Jewel is first and foremost a shopping mall connected to an airport, with some airport-related amenities such as check-in areas, lounges and a transit hotel.

Starting from the bottom, the basement levels offer a unique view of the Rain Vortex from down below.

(The waterfall is enclosed by glass here – you can’t fall or get wet).

The Jewel Food Hall is a popular place to get light bites from a range of well-known brands across Asia.

Also downstairs is a supermarket and IMAX theatre, suited for longer layovers.

Highlights of the basement levels at Jewel, including a full IMAX theatre.

If you’re landing in Terminal 1 (such as from Qantas, Jetstar and Scoot flights), the arrivals hall connects directly to Jewel at Level 1. It doesn’t get more convenient than that!

The new Terminal 1 arrivals hall will funnel you straight out to Jewel.

Also on Level 1, there are early check-in counters where you can drop off your bags, plus the Changi Lounge which I have previously reviewed. It’s both an arrivals and departures lounge, and can be accessed with Priority Pass and other lounge memberships.

The main anchor retail stores are found from Levels 1 to 4, including the big brands you’ll be familiar with in other cities, such as clothing stores Zara and Uniqlo. If you’ve got an urge to buy a new iPhone while in transit, that’s covered too! 

A two-storey Apple Store at Jewel.

Lines are also long for US-imports such as Shake Shack, which remain as popular as ever after opening. Other upscale dining options include Burger & Lobster, Din Tai Fung and Tim Ho Wan.

As you go higher, the floors get a bit quieter which is perfect for a more relaxed shopping experience.

The YOTELAIR Changi, which is a transit landside hotel for passengers, is on Level 4. This chain has small, but modern and functional rooms which can be booked overnight or for day-use. Standard rates start from 220 SGD per night ($235 AUD), but look out for specials if you can book ahead.

YOTELAIR Jewel room rates including Cyber Monday specials.

On the other side of Level 4, you will notice some nets above, where for a fee, you can walk or bounce your way around the upper levels of Jewel – perfect for burning off the kid’s energy! The Manulife walking nets or bouncing nets start from 15 SGD ($16 AUD) per adult, and 10 SGD ($11 AUD) for children. 

A view of the walking nets, Jewel.

Level 5 houses the Canopy Park which is a multi-attraction venue perfect for families, including Discovery SlidesFoggy BowlsPetal Garden and Topiary Walk, all for 5 SGD per person.

Other attractions include a 23m-high Canopy Walk glass bridge, a Hedge Maze and Mirror Maze. The entry fees for these attractions, plus the Manulife nets, automatically include entry to Canopy Park too.

The Changi Experience Studio is a high-tech attraction where you can engage in the wonder of projection experiences, enjoy interactive games and immersive shows while learning about aviation and what makes the airport tick. Entry starts from 25 SGD ($26 AUD) per adult and 17 SGD ($18 AUD) per child.

Views of the Rain Vortex are possible from many vantage points on each floor – just follow the signs or the crowds. It’s easy to get around with escalators or lifts, and luggage storage is available.

Jewel’s Rain Vortex and surrounding forest in the leadup to Christmas.

I would recommend skipping Level 1, as that is where lots of people seem to congregate for photos, and the view of the Rain Vortex isn’t that great from there anyway.

Photos aren’t great from Level 1 unless you go right to the centre and shoot upwards.

Instead, head up to Level 3 or Level 4 of the shopping floors and walk around until you find a balcony with nice, sweeping views and no crowds in sight.

Taken from Level 4 balcony. For reference, the YOTELAIR is directly opposite.

The Rain Vortex has nightly light shows, which I hear are quite amazing. However, I’ve always transited during the day, so I don’t have any personal photos of it.

For something to get the blood pumping, the Shiseido Forest Valley is the official name for the lush forests surrounding Jewel and the Rain Vortex. There are free walking trails that can take you through four levels, and you might even forget you are next to an airport!

Entry to this is usually free but during special events such as the Christmas period (mid-November to early January), limited ticketed entry is implemented for the evening activities and shows.

Summary of the Christmas special activities at Jewel (supplied).

How to access Jewel Changi Airport

Jewel is publically accessible by anyone landside. Apart from taxis and rideshares (Grab), the MRT (subway) and buses also connect to Changi Airport.

If you’re already in Singapore, then you can easily explore Jewel and drop off your bags through the Early Check-in Counters on Level 1, before heading to the terminals for your flight. Check if your airline participates in Early Check-in here.

If you’re transiting or arriving in Singapore, you have to go through immigration to enter Singapore first. The Terminal 1 Arrivals Hall leads straight into Jewel. Terminals 2 and 3 are connected to Jewel via link bridges, so it’s easy to walk across. Transiting passengers are advised to have at least five hours between flights before attempting to visit Jewel.

On the link bridge from the Terminals 2 and 3 Jewel.

Once it’s time to catch your flight, head back to Level 1 if you’re going to Terminal 1 or need to catch the Skytrains, or to Level 3 if you want to find the direct link bridges to T2 and T3.

This is Jewel from Level 1, where it connects back to Terminal 1 and the rest of the airport.

The YOTELAIR picture is courtesy of Yotelair.

A detailed guide to Changi Airport in Singapore

Singapore Changi Airport

Our guide to Jewel at Changi Airport in Singapore focused on the sparkling retail complex which also happens to hold a rainforest, food court, two-storey Apple Store, an IMAX cinema, all-day check-in counters, a lounge, a 40m waterfall, Terminal 1’s arrivals hall and some jumping nets (to list just a few).

Now we take you through the various facilities that Changi Airport’s terminals have to offer.

Changi Airport Layout

Singapore’s Changi Airport has four terminals. T1, T2 and T3 are all interconnected, which means you can go anywhere within those three terminals after immigration via walking or by the free Skytrains. This opens up opportunities to go shopping at more stores or go lounge-hopping.

Australians will most likely use Terminal 3 for Singapore Airlines flights, or Terminal 1 for Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates and Scoot flights. Terminal 2 is generally more for regional Asian departures.

Terminal 4 is the newest and hosts Cathay Pacific and AirAsia as the main airlines. It is connected to T1/2/3 via a shuttle bus service from T2. However, only people with a boarding pass for T4 are allowed in that terminal, so Qantas passengers can’t go to T4 to use the Cathay Pacific Lounge, for example.

Cathay Pacific Singapore Lounge Terminal 4

However, it might be possible the other way around. For example, a Cathay Pacific passenger with oneworld Emerald status could technically check-in at Jewel for the boarding pass, cross immigration at T1 to use the new Qantas First Lounge, then take the Skytrain to T2 and then the airside bus transfer to T4. This is a very long process though, so I wouldn’t personally recommend it.

Point Hacks has reviewed most of the major lounges in Singapore Changi Airport, so read on for more information!

Terminal 1

Qantas, Emirates, Jetstar, Scoot and most other oneworld airlines depart from Terminal 1. Jewel is also directly connected with Terminal 1.

Behind the main counters are two separate areas for early check-in. On the right is the general early check-in lounge, for participating airlines such as Qantas.

To the left is the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge, which serves Business Class and First Class passengers of participating airlines, plus some members with frequent flyer status (for Qantas, that’s only for Platinum members and higher, not Gold).

It’s much fancier here, where you are invited to take a seat while waiting and being checked-in. There are simple refreshments and reading materials while you wait, and then a dedicated passage out to immigration.

Water, Coke and Juice in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge.

Immigration is done in the centre of the terminal. To the left is the C Gates and almost all the lounges mentioned below. To the right is the D Gates, where an Aerotel transit hotel and Qantas First Lounge are located.

After immigration in T1, C-Gates are on the left and D-Gates are on the right.

Notable Lounges and Hotels:

  • Qantas International Business Lounge 
  • Qantas International First Lounge (review coming soon!)
  • Emirates Lounge
  • British Airways Lounge (review coming soon!)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge Singapore
  • SATS Premier Lounge T1
  • Thai Airways Lounge
  • Aerotel Transit Hotel (after immigration)
Qantas Singapore Business Lounge near the C-Gates.

The Skytrains connect Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 near the C Gates, and Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 near the D Gates. Security screening is done at individual gates, so leave time for that before boarding.

Terminal 1 has the Aerotel which is an airside transit hotel with a swimming pool and fitness room. They charge from 6-hour blocks onwards, so it could be a great option for taking a break in transit, or you can buy access for just the pool and shower for a refresh.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 serves Singapore Airlines regional flights mainly. As one of the original terminals, it does have an older and more cramped feel overall.

The upper level of Terminal 2 where lounges and food court are located

Notable Lounges and Hotels:

  • Ambassador Transit Lounge + Hotel
  • TGM (Priority Pass ‘lounge’ serving restaurant meals)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, SilverKris and First Class lounges

I’m a fan of TGM on the upper floor, which accepts Priority Pass visits in exchange for a Japanese or Korean meal. If you have an unlimited membership, it’s basically a free feed which is often higher quality than basic lounge food.

Japanese bento boxes at TGM, free of charge with Priority Pass visits.

Terminal 2 has a central garden atrium with a koi pond, which is quite relaxing to watch. If you can brave the heat, outside there is a sunflower garden as well.

Both Terminals 2 and 3 have a small movie cinema, playing some of the latest DVD releases. It’s completely free to use, and screenings run 24/7 except during designated cleaning hours. You can even view the screening schedule here.

Terminal 2 is also home to some unique facilities such as an ‘Xperience Zone’ for kids, an ‘Entertainment Zone’ also for kids and a dedicated ‘Family Zone’ with baby facilities and a playground.

From Terminal 2, there are two Skytrains to T3 (one from the F-Gates and one from the E-Gates which goes through Jewel), and one Skytrain to T1 from the E-Gates. From the public side, there is a direct link bridge to Jewel as well.

The Skytrain between T2’s E-Gates and T3’s B-Gates goes through Jewel.

Finally, T2 is also the hub to transfer to the newer Terminal 4, which is located off-site. If you are in transit and have a valid boarding pass for Terminal 4, head to Gate F51 in Terminal 2 for security screening and the airside transit bus.

Airside transit bus from T2 to T4. It’s free but you have to do security screening first.

In my case, I was staying at the landside Crowne Plaza Changi hotel overnight near T3, before a flight to T4 the next day. As a landside passenger, I had to head to Terminal 2’s arrival hall, where a free public shuttle bus would take me to Terminal 4.

This free landslide transit bus from T2’s arrival hall to T4 – you can’t miss it.

Terminal 3

Changi Terminal 3 is the one you’ll most likely encounter if you are on Singapore Airlines’ many flights to Australia and on to Europe and other faraway cities.

It’s a newer terminal designed for Singapore Airlines with a private First Class kerbside check-in area and its unique The Private Room lounge for First Class passengers.

Terminal 3 is much brighter and airier than Terminals 1 and 2.

Notable Lounges and Hotels:

After immigration, you’ll be front and centre in the shadow of Louis Vuitton’s flagship store. For lounge passengers, the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounges, The Private Room and SATS Premier Lounge are to your left, and the Marhaba Lounge is to your right.

Lounges and Singapore Food Street are all located up one floor, just like the other terminals. In order to streamline security, there are quite a few gate areas that share one security checkpoint. This can result in long lines, although Singapore Airlines has priority screening lanes for Business and First Class.

You can see the SilverKris Business Class Lounge on top of the gate area.

The Crowne Plaza Changi hotel is located near Terminal 3 landside (review coming soon), which is really convenient for overnight stays. Terminal 3 also has a movie theatre, a playground and a butterfly garden.

Terminal 4 

Terminal 4 is the odd one out as such, since it’s the newest terminal, but also separate from the Terminal 1/2/3 complex. Another change is centralised security screening after immigration which means a sterile airside area, whereas Terminals 1/2/3 is not sterile until the gates, where security screening takes place.

Terminal 4 from the transfer bus

As a new terminal, it was built with automation in mind. The majority of check-in and bag drop is self serve, especially with major low-cost airline anchor Air Asia.

Immigration and boarding are also automated going out (but not coming in, unless you have access to the fast lanes). Facial recognition technology is used to capture your face at immigration, which is then used to open the boarding gate later on.

Automated immigration (left) and boarding gates (right).

Terminal 4 also features CT scanning security equipment, which makes it a breeze. Laptops and other items did not need to be removed for screening, which helps a lot.

The terminal itself is cavernous. The top floor houses the Blossom – SATS and Plaza Premium Lounge and the Cathay Pacific lounge. These are the only two lounges in the terminal.

View of the Blossom – SATS and Plaza Premium Lounge from the quiet mezzanine level in T4.

Unlike the other three bustling terminals, Terminal 4 has an air of peace and tranquillity. It’s quiet because it doesn’t serve many airlines yet, so it’s not up to capacity.

Terminal 4 has the G-Gates.

The downside of having security at each gate in Terminals 1/2/3 is that the spaces feel claustrophobic. In contrast here, the gate areas are very spacious and relaxing.

Automated boarding lanes at Terminal 4.

Immigration in Singapore Changi Airport

When landing at Singapore, you’ll need to fill in an arrivals card unless you qualify for e-gate entry. If you don’t have checked luggage and arriving into Terminals 1, 2 or 3, you can actually go to one of those other terminals and clear immigration there.

Why would you want to do that, you might ask? Each terminal has different waves of ‘peak times’, and it could be much quieter at a different terminal. It only takes minutes to ride the Skytrain to a quieter terminal, potentially saving quite a bit of time at processing (it is a bit of a gamble though).

Even Singapore is not immune to long lines.

The free Singapore transit tour

Did you know that if you have a long layover at Singapore Changi Airport that doesn’t involve going through immigration, you can actually get a free 2.5 hr tour of Singapore!

You’ll need between 5.5 to 24 hours between flights, no more and no less. All the information can be found online here, but as a summary, you need to be eligible to enter Singapore and sign-up for the tour at T2 or 3’s transit area. This means: do not exit through immigration before signing up for the tour.

Two of the free bus tours available for transiting passengers.

Getting to and from Singapore Changi Airport

In terms of public transport, you can catch buses to the city and there is also an airport MRT (subway) station in-between Terminals 2 and 3. There is no extra airport fee for the MRT.

Otherwise, taxis are plentiful and you can also rideshare through Grab, the local app (Uber no longer operates in Singapore). It’s really easy to use and almost identical to Uber. Airport transfers can also be arranged by most upscale hotels in Singapore.

How to visit or transit through Singapore with points

There are many ways to visit Singapore using frequent flyer points, from the opulence of Singapore Airline’s new Airbus A380 Suites to Qantas and Emirates’ range of flights in Business and First Class. 

Summing Up

Changi Airport really has a wealth of features and amenities to keep kids and adults entertained alike. Due to keeping things concise, there were lots of other general facilities I wasn’t able to cover, so I’ll summarise them here.

All terminals have lots of duty-free shopping and assuming you can bring it to your next destination, liquids will be delivered to gate security in T1/2/3. There are, of course, plenty of restroom facilities all equipped with high-tech sensors, and for some of them, killer views!

Views of Changi Airport from some of the bathrooms

If you need a nap but don’t want to use one of the many transit hotels, there are a few free sleeping lounges with semi-flat recliners. They are always in high demand though, so you might need to wait around for one to become available.

Free WiFi is offered throughout all terminals, as well as charging points with cables and computers with internet access, in case you didn’t bring your own gear.

There are plenty more art installations and attractions that will wow adults and kids alike, such as Kinetic Rain (1,216 bronze rain droplets moving like water), and the world’s tallest slide inside an airport (located in Terminal 3). Visit here for the full list of attractions.

Still shot of Kinetic rain, taken from an official Changi Airport video

Overall, I’m a huge fan of Changi Airport and I think it deserves its ‘best airport’ recognition. It’s not perfect of course, and my main criticism is having security at the gates in T1/2/3 which isn’t something to look forward to after some lounge time. But I understand there are upsides to that arrangement as well, such as having access to the shops and facilities as an arriving passenger.

How to use Velocity’s Membership Pause for Parental Leave when having a child

Velocity Frequent Flyer offers new parents an up to six-month pause on their elite status when welcoming a new addition to their family. It’s worth taking up if you have Velocity Silver status or above.

Point Hacks founder Keith took advantage of this benefit twice in five years for his two children. It helped him maintain his Velocity Gold status during periods of travel downtime.

Qantas also has a similar programme.

Continue reading…

Changes to Qantas redemptions on partner airlines

Qantas recently announced a long list of changes to the Frequent Flyer programme, including an increase of points needed for premium redemptions from 18 September 2019.

This will affect every airline that can be booked through Qantas Frequent Flyer, including American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates and more. Unfortunately, it also marks the increase in points needed for the popular oneworld Award for round-the-world trips in Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class.

Continue reading…