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

🇭🇰 Hong Kong
🇲🇴 Macau

🇨🇳 Mainland China
🇹🇼 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

🇦🇺 Australia
🇦🇹 Austria
🇧🇭 Bahrain
🇧🇪 Belgium
🇧🇹 Bhutan
🇧🇳 Brunei
🇧🇬 Bulgaria
🇨🇦 Canada
🇭🇷 Croatia
🇨🇾 Cyprus
🇨🇿 Czech Republic
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇪🇬 Egypt
🇫🇯 Fiji
🇫🇮 Finland
🇫🇷 France
🇩🇪 Germany
🇬🇷 Greece
🇮🇸 Iceland
🇮🇪 Ireland

🇮🇹 Italy
🇯🇵 Japan
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein
🇱🇺 Luxembourg
🇲🇹 Malta
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇳🇿 New Zealand
🇳🇴 Norway
🇵🇱 Poland
🇵🇹 Portugal
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
🇸🇰 Slovakia
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇪🇸 Spain
🇸🇪 Sweden
🇨🇭 Switzerland
🇹🇷 Turkey
🇬🇧 UK
🇺🇸 USA
🇻🇦 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.



 


 

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.