Changi Airport News Singapore Airlines

Transit passengers from 44 countries can now shop and use the lounges at Changi Airport

As Singapore opens to the world, so does Changi Airport, with those transiting from a wide range of 'COVID-safe' countries now free to roam, shop, dine or kick back in a lounge before their onward flight.

With Singapore continuing to relax its border restrictions, it’s now possible for more and more transit passengers with travel history from ‘COVID-safe’ countries to escape the transit holding ‘pens’ and roam the shops, dining outlets and lounges during their layover at the airport.

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This will hopefully enhance Changi’s attractiveness as a transit option, given that connections at other major hubs like Dubai and Hong Kong are already largely restriction-free in the transit zones.

The news also comes as Australian citizens are free to make discretionary international trips from 1st November 2021, meaning many will likely be heading to Europe and the USA to reunite with family and friends for the for the first time in 18 months.

Changi was a popular transit point for these travellers pre-COVID, so adding them to the eligibility list for a stress-free transit should encourage many to choose such a routing, another boost for Singapore Airlines.

Changi’s transit areas, currently deserted, could be heading back towards busier times. (Photo: Changi Airport)

Transit freedom for 40 new countries

Until recently, only transit passengers with 14-day travel history to a short list of just four countries Singapore had unilaterally opened its borders to were permitted to avoid the Transit Holding Area and roam the terminal’s transit zone freely between their flights at the airport.

Category 1 Countries

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macau

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mainland China
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan

This list has now been significantly expanded and covers all Category 1 countries (above), plus 40 Category 2 countries and VTL countries (which are all Category 2 anyway).

Category 2 Countries

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bahrain
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น Bhutan
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Liechtenstein
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USA
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vatican City

That means if your travel history has been wholly within any of these 44 countries in the 14 days prior to your transit through Changi, you will be able to roam the departures area just like a regular passenger departing from Singapore, prior to your onward flight to any final destination.

For example, those flying in Business Class from Sydney to Johannesburg on Singapore Airlines via Changi Airport are now eligible to shop and use the temporary SilverKris lounge during their transit.

Important: You will still need to book your transit through Changi under one single ticket through your airline or travel agent. Separate bookings are not supported.

Obviously there are not non-stop flights to Singapore originating in all Category 2 countries (some don’t even have an airport!), but remember this is about your full 14-day travel history, not just the flight you arrived to Singapore on as part of your connecting itinerary.

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For example if you had been in Estonia (Category 3) then flew to Turkey (Category 2) for a week before taking a Singapore Airlines transit flight from Istanbul to Jakarta via Changi, you would be restricted to the Transit Holding Area during your connection in Singapore.

That’s because you have a Category 3 country in your 14-day travel history, even though you arrived at Changi on a flight from a Category 2 country.



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Transits to your transit count!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that only your original origin country and your 14-day travel history will be considered when it comes to transit freedoms at Changi.

If you’re taking a routing with multiple connections, for example London – Dubai – Singapore – Phnom Penh with Emirates and Jetstar, your transit stop on the way to Singapore will scupper you.

That’s because transit stops count towards your travel history, in Singapore’s eyes, even if you remain in the transit area throughout your connection, and the United Arab Emirates is Category 4.

No transit freedoms at Changi on a route like this

Effectively there will be no way to escape the Transit Holding Area for any routings that bring you to Singapore on Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways, prior to an onward flight, until the UAE and Qatar upgrade to Singapore’s Category 2 level.

Simple transit routings from a Category 2 country via Singapore to any third country are the way to benefit here, or from a VTL flight (if eligible) via Singapore to a third country.

Guaranteed transit freedom with this one – all British Airways flights to Singapore from 19th October are designated VTL services

Transit facilities ‘zone’

Transit passengers from approved countries will still not be able to leave the transit area and enter the public area of the airport or Jewel during their layover.

Transit shops at Changi T3. (Photo: Changi Airport)

They are also restricted to a designated shopping / dining zone and the B and C gates in T3 and T1 respectively. For flights departing from the A gates or D gates, passengers will then have to show their boarding cards at an access control point, as they leave this designated transit / departures zone.

Other transit requirements

All passengers transiting through Changi with 14-day travel history to Category 2, 3 and 4 countries must have a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before departure of their flight to Singapore in order to be allowed to board, regardless of vaccination status.

Transit time should not exceed 48 hours.

The transit arrival process

Flights arriving from Category 1 countries and VTL designated flights arrive at the B gates in Terminal 3 and the C gates in Terminal 1.

Transit passengers arriving on these flights with 14-day travel history only in Category 1 and 2 countries then have a seamless entry into the transit ‘zone’ in either terminal, and can proceed directly to shops, dining establishments and lounges as they please.

Flights arriving from Category 2, 3 and 4 countries arrive at the A gates in Terminal 3 and the D gates in Terminal 1.

Transit passengers arriving on these flights with 14-day travel history only in Category 1 and 2 countries will then be escorted by airport staff into the transit ‘zone’ in either terminal. They can then proceed to shops, restaurants and lounges.

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In all cases transit passengers with travel history to Category 3 and 4 countries, including anyone arriving on flights operating directly from those countries (e.g. Emirates from Dubai), will be issued with a wristband and escorted to the Transit Holding Area. If their connection is less than 75 minutes, they will be escorted directly to the next departure gate.

The transit departure process

Transit passengers with Category 1 and 2 travel history and those who arrived on VTL flights in transit, can simply proceed to the next departure gate from 60 minutes prior to departure time, having enjoyed freedom in the transit shopping zone.

Boarding is at the same time as regular passengers departing from Singapore.

Those who have been confined to the Transit Holding Area will be escorted in groups to the departure gate for security screening and boarding, around 75 minutes prior to departure time.

They will be the first group to board the aircraft, regardless of cabin class.

Lounges

Eligible passengers transiting at Changi with Category 1 and 2 travel history can access one of the following lounges during their layover:

Terminal 1

  • SATS Premier Lounge (24h)*

Terminal 3

* Accepts Priority Pass

Will the lounges cope?

This significant relaxation will mean many more transit passengers in the main shopping, dining and lounges section of Changi Airport, treated simply alongside those departing from Singapore once they’ve reached this area.

That’s good news for shops, bars and restaurants, more of which should now be able to justify reopening, but it does sound to us like it will put additional strain on the limited lounge facilities.

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When we travelled to Germany in early September, the temporary SilverKris lounge remained relatively quiet even as passengers began to arrive for the flurry of midnight departures.

Finding a seat was certainly never an issue.

Recently though, readers have been sharing photos of much more crowded scenes at these hours, no doubt fuelled by the recent travel relaxations for quarantine-free trips, mostly to and from Europe.

SIA is currently operating around 50 inbound passenger flights to Changi each day. Only three or four are from Category 1 countries, but over 30 are from Category 2 countries.

It stands to reason that a large proportion of transit passengers on these flights will be eligible to access the main transit concourse and that a certain proportion of those will be eligible to head to the SilverKris lounge prior to their onward flight.

(Photo: BK Tan)

With Australia removing arrival caps for returning citizens and permanent residents from 1st November 2021, in addition to allowing unrestricted outbound travel, the crowding could become even more exacerbated.

The new SilverKris lounges at Changi will help relieve the burden on the temporary facility, but these still seem someway off opening.

New SilverKris lounges are coming, but is it soon enough? (mage: Singapore Airlines)

An SIA spokesperson told us earlier this week that “renovation works are still ongoing, and opening plans for the new lounges have yet to be finalised”.

One potential option if the temporary SilverKris facility does begin to get too busy during the evening departure rush, and the new lounge opening still isn’t in sight, might be to reopen the T3 Marhaba lounge for KrisFlyer Elite Gold and Star Alliance Gold members.

Reopening the Marhaba lounge could be a good option if lounge capacity starts to get stretched. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This had already been doubling as the temporary KrisFlyer Gold lounge prior to the pandemic, a function it was originally set to serve until the SIA lounge renovation project was completed.

Relocating these passengers back to Marhaba would ease some strain on the temporary lounge, if it comes to that.

Which airlines offer transits through Changi Airport?

At the time of writing, 14 airlines operating at Changi have approval to carry transit passengers to and from the networks of partner carriers, as shown in the following table.

Airline Transit partners

Air France (AF)
  • Air Niugini (PX)
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • Malaysia Airlines (MH)
  • Qantas Airways (QF)**
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Air Niugini (PX)
  • Air France (AF)
  • KLM (KL)
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

British Airways (BA)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
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Emirates (EK)
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)

Etihad Airways (EY)
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
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Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • Air France (AF)
  • Etihad Airways (EY)
  • Emirates (EK)
  • KLM (KL)
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Air Niugini (PX)
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)

Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • Air France (AF)
  • British Airways (BA)
  • Emirates (EK)
  • Finnair (AY)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • KLM (KL)
  • Qantas (QF)**
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Swiss (LX)
  • Turkish Airlines (TK)

KLM (KL)
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Lufthansa (LH)
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Scoot (TR)
  • Scoot (TR)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Singapore Airlines (SQ)
  • Air France (AF)
  • Air Niugini (PX)
  • Asiana (OZ)*
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)*
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA)
  • KLM (KL)
  • Lufthansa (LH)
  • Scoot (TR)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)
  • Swiss (LX)
  • Turkish Airlines (TK)

Swiss (LX)
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Turkish Airlines (TK)
  • Jetstar Asia (3K)
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ)

* From 1st November 2021
** From 18th December 2021

Transit Holding Areas

For those with Category 3 or 4 travel history, still not eligible to shop and dine as they please during transit at Changi, it’s an escorted march to and from one of the airport’s Transit Holding Areas in store once your touch down in the Lion City.

One of the Transit Holding Areas. (Photo: Changi Airport)

Here you can purchase snacks and drinks from vending machines, or use an app for food delivery from selected airport F&B outlets.

There is also premium transit holding area for “participating airlinesโ€™ premium passengers”, including SIA First and Business Class customers and PPS Club members (note – not for KrisFlyer Elite Gold or Star Alliance Gold status holders), but by all accounts the experience is less than impressive.

Transit hotels

Those in transit through Changi with longer connections are still able to book a stay in a private room at two airport hotels, regardless of their original country of origin:

The Ambassador Transit Hotel in Terminal 3 remains an option for longer layovers. (Photo: Harilela Hospitality)

Those with travel history in Category 3 or 4 countries will be escorted to and from the transit hotel, and will not be allowed to shop or dine en-route in either direction.

Those with travel history in Category 1 or 2 countries can proceed to and from the transit hotel freely.

For longer connections, even those with lounge access may prefer this option.

Note also that the temporary SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3 is currently closed between 2.30am and 5am each day, which may leave you wandering the terminal for three hours in the middle of the night on some connecting schedules, or having to decamp to the SATS lounge next door.

A transit hotel stay might be worth considering for connections falling between those hours.

Summary

Great news for Changi transit passengers originating in a host of ‘safer countries’, who will now be able to freely roam the transit areas in Terminals 1 and 3 at Changi Airport during their connection between flights.

This will make a connecting flight at Changi far more bearable for many journeys.

While the Transit Holding Areas offer the option to order food and drink, plus selected shopping, and eligible passengers had access to a premium waiting area, overall the concept just doesn’t sound very appealing (and reviews don’t exactly sell it!).

Now only those with Category 3 and 4 travel history will be resigned to this fate during a Singapore layover.

There’s a potential challenge for Singapore Airlines though!

With an extra 30 SIA flights per day likely to be carrying scores of eligible transit passengers, including A380s from London by November, plus Australia allowing its residents freedom to travel internationally both ways in two weeks from now, what will this mean for lounge occupancy?

Expect more crowds at SIA’s temporary SilverKris lounge come November. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If the long-awaited revamp of at least the first of the airline’s T3 SilverKris lounges isn’t finished soon, we can see an alternative needing to be found sooner rather than later.

The most logical one? An early reopening for the nearby Marhaba lounge, to relieve the strain.

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

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9 comments

  1. Passenger traffic at Changi Airport is still less than 5% of pre-pandemic levels. It will be very sad if the lounges cannot cope.

  2. To be clear : does this mean passengers can start transiting at SIN under 2 separate tickets if coming from a Cat 1 or 2 counteies? For example: will I be allowed to redeem UA miles to fly ORD-ZRH-SIN on LX and then connecting to a separate SQ ticket from SIN to DPS?

  3. Hmmmm…..disappointing news (and less useful for prospective pax) but thanks for clarifying. I hope they will allow it soon as I don’t see why you are not allowed to do it? If you’re checked thru and don’t need to enter the country pick up any bag, I don’t see why they shouldn’t let us do that to access better award availability.

  4. I have to say, at the risk of being a killjoy, this news doesnโ€™t exactly enthuse me. For those of us travelling VTL and hoping to minimise the risk of catching COVID on our trip and being trapped overseas indefinitely, sharing the lounge with unscreened passengers from 44 countries, not all of whom will be COVID – swabbed, sounds like an unnecessary risk. Most people will be unmasked in the lounge and eating and drinking. Hello, positive pre-departure test and mandatory 14-day trip extension. Itโ€™s really worrying in my view.

    Make no mistake – do away with the pre departure test for VTL flights and I would be all for it. Iโ€™m all for treating covid as endemic and opening up the airport to transit passengers is definitely a part of that. But if weโ€™re going endemic, go all the way. Treating covid-positive travelers differently from covid-positive singaporeans when there are 3000 daily cases makes little sense if endemic is the goal.

    1. All transit passengers through SIN require a negative pre-departure PCR test. The only exception is Cat 1 pax, but they were in the lounge already anyway.

      1. Oh – that is great to know and a huge relief! Thank you Andrew. Your posts are making the headache of planning a pandemic era trip so much more enjoyable

  5. I’m all for one ticket bookings except that on some routes, SQ is making it impossible due to the ‘Dynamic Pricing’ and not by Common Related fares. Take for example, their ‘new’ flight from YVR. I want to go to PEN. But SQ is pricing flights to/from PEN via SIN at DOUBLE the fare of flights to/from KUL in any direction. The only way to do this as even promoted by many travel websites is to issue a ticket from YVR to SIN or vv and then a separate ticket SIN to PEN or vv. All on SQ. But from you wrote that does not seem possible now. Wish someone in Revenue Control realises that PEN is not in Timbuktu! There are also some great fares ex-SIN to Europe on many airlines in Premium classes eg TK, EY but again you’d have to connect on a separate ticket coming from another destination will make it impossible to take advantage of this.

  6. @GB Absolutely agree with your observation. Sounds a lot like the SG govt is sanctioning a bit of an advantage (and price gouging) by the home carrier who is the only airline to benefit from this new arrangement

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