Last weekend Singapore Changi Airport announced the progressive reopening of Terminal 2, which has been shuttered for over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, with flights set to start using a small section of the terminal from 29th May 2022.
However, if you pictured a grand reopening with flashing lights, background music, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and smiling dignitaries on hand, you’ll need to temper your expectations a little!
While T2 is ultimately set to become the airport’s most recently renovated terminal at full reopening, by mid-2024, for the time being this first phase looks more like a stop-gap solution to cater for rising passenger numbers and flight volumes, since Singapore reopened its borders to the world in April this year.
Which part of T2 is opening?
Changi Airport has now revealed that six contact gates and three baggage reclaim belts at the southernmost side of T2 will be reopening this weekend, following a few test flights starting today (26th May).
The six gates are F50 to F60, in the finger leading from the south of the departure hall out towards JetQuay.
Some of these gates can be configured to process departing passengers on two flights at the same time, when narrow-body aircraft are used. For example, gate F52 can be used to process passengers departing on two separate Boeing 737s parked alongside one another, each with their own jet-bridge attached.
Prior to COVID-19, gate F51 was also used a ‘bussing gate’, to take passengers to and from aircraft parked remotely, away from the terminal building.
These factors mean the relatively small terminal section could actually handle quite a number of simultaneous departing flights during peak morning and evening periods, to relieve pressure from Terminal 3.
The southern T3-T2 Skytrain will link to the gates
As expected, the airside Skytrain from Terminal 3 (near gate A9) will link to this newly reopened T2 southern departure gates section, dropping passengers off near gate F50.
The A-F Skytrain will operate from 4.30am to 1.30am each day from 29th May 2022, suggesting this section will be in use throughout the full normal flight departure period.
This is not the northern T3-T2 Skytrain, which passes through Jewel and formerly connected the B gates to the E gates. It remains closed.
Singapore Airlines will operate flights at all three terminals
Singapore Airlines has now confirmed on its website that while all departing passengers will continue to check in at Terminal 3, SQ flights themselves may actually arrive at (or depart from) any three of the airport’s operating terminals from 29th May 2022.
Departures: How it works
You can check which terminal your flight is departing from on the airport departure screens, via the Changi Airport Flight Departures website page, or through the iChangi app. This information is typically updated within 2-3 hours of your flight departure time.
The departure gate may also be shown on your boarding card, depending on how early you check in.
- A/B gates: Terminal 3
- C/D/E gates: Terminal 1
- F gates: Terminal 2
Here’s what you need to know:
- If your Singapore Airlines flight is departing from a T1 gate, you may clear departure immigration in T3 or T1 if you wish, after checking in.
A landside Skytrain connects T3 to T1, if you wish to clear immigration in T1.
An airside skytrain connects T3 (near gate B5) to T1 (near gate C2), or you can walk if you prefer, if you have cleared immigration in T3.
- If your Singapore Airlines flight is departing from a T2 gate, you must clear departure immigration in T3, because T2’s departure immigration facilities are not yet operating (technically, you could also clear in T1, but that’s an even longer trip to your gate!).
An airside skytrain connects T3 (near gate A9) to T2 (near gate F50).
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take a ‘shortcut’ to T2 by walking through T1, like you could pre-pandemic. This is not currently possible, and as a reminder the airside Skytrain from T3 to T2 that passes through Jewel (B-E) is closed.
You must take the A-F Skytrain if you are departing from a T2 gate – it is the only way.
Arrivals: How it works
You (or those meeting you) can check which terminal your flight is arriving at via the Singapore Airlines Flight Status page, the Changi Airport Flight Arrivals page, or through the iChangi app. This information is typically updated within 6 hours of your flight’s arrival time.
- If your Singapore Airlines flight arrives at T1 or T2, you must clear arrival immigration at your respective arrival terminal if you are travelling with checked baggage, because your luggage will be delivered to the reclaim belts there.
- If you are travelling with hand luggage only, you can clear arrival immigration at any terminal (e.g. take the Skytrain from T1 or T2 to T3, if you wish to clear immigration there).
The T2 departures area will be sparse
Singapore Airlines is certainly ‘managing expectations’ for those with a T2 departure gate, suggesting a longer stay in T3 will be preferable since “only washrooms and smoking areas” will be available in the reopened T2 departures section, housing these six gates.
No chance of picking up some last minute duty free or a pre-flight meal by the sounds of it – so make sure you get everything you need at the T3 side before making the journey across to this section on the Skytrain.
In all likelihood, Changi being Changi, we do expect there will be at least some vending machines available over in T2, if you suffer sudden hunger pangs, or your departure is delayed.
If you reach the F gates pier in T2 and discover a significant departure delay for your flight, we’d suggest hopping back on the Skytrain to the well-equipped T3. Since trains will be running every 5 minutes or so, it’s easy enough to return later.
What about T2 arrivals?
If your flight arrives into a T2 gate, you’ll proceed downstairs through immigration, which includes a multitude of automated gates for fast contactless processing.
Test flights operated this afternoon (26th May), with the first passengers passing through from Phuket and Bangkok on Singapore Airlines services.
You’ll then collect your luggage from one of three carousels (37, 38 or 39).
This suggests the reopened section of the terminal will likely handle only around three arriving flights at once, though with six contact gates available a larger number of departures could be handled, since aircraft are often towed from remote parking areas to the gates (and hence don’t always have any arriving passengers on board).
It’s possible, however, that the larger baggage carousels (37 and 38) may be able to accommodate arriving luggage from more than one flight simultaneously.
We took a wander this morning into the new T2 arrivals area, and the good news is that the section already has the new renovations.
Essentially the area looks identical to the revamped Terminal 1 arrivals hall, which is no bad thing – CAG did a good job there and here.
On arriving in this section you’ll see exit ‘Door 6’ straight ahead of you, so that’s the best place to organise your Grab or GoJek pickup!
There is a money changer in the baggage reclaim hall, but no duty free store or any other shopping options are available at this stage.
Once you have cleared customs, follow the signs to take a lift down to B1 for access to the T2 bus station, or all the way across to the northern end of T2 for MRT access (which is quite a walk!).
Unfortunately you cannot remain on the arrivals level when walking to the MRT, as the remainder of this section is still closed for construction.Pro Tip: If you are arriving at a T2 gate with hand luggage only, you may want to consider taking the Skytrain to T3 after disembarking, then clearing immigration over there, for a potentially better selection of taxis and ride-hailing options.
There is also a walking route from the T2 arrivals section to Jewel, but plan for around 20 minutes.
Travel between T1 and T2
If you’re a (very unlucky) transit passenger, you might well find yourself arriving on a Singapore Airlines flight in T1 and departing on your next flight from T2, or vice-versa.
Because most of T2 is closed for renovation works, the Skytrain from T1 to T2 remains closed. That means this previously simple journey is now a real pain, because you will have to navigate through T3 to reach your next departure gate.
Here’s how it will work from a D or E gate in T1 (worst-case) to a T2 F gate:
- Walk across the T1 transit area to the C gates
- Take the Skytrain or walk from the C gates to the B gates
- Walk across the T3 transit area from the B gates to the A gates (KrisFlyer lounge pit stop here if eligible!)
- Take the Skytrain from the A gates area in T3 to the F gates in T2
Singapore Airlines has devised a guide for connecting passengers to assist with this.
How many flights will use T2?
It’s difficult to accurately predict how many flights each day will use the new T2 gates, but we would estimate that at least one ‘wave’ of 5-6 services in the early morning peak and perhaps two ‘waves’ in the longer evening peak could be directed here each day, potentially meaning 15 or more arrivals and departures.
That’s a nice chunk of T3’s 110 or so daily flights shifted away from that terminal to ease congestion at peak times (15% of them already use T1 gates), though all of this will unfortunately require some additional planning on the part of passengers.
Changi Airport’s terminal operations, and those of Singapore Airlines, are set to get more complex from this weekend with an opening of this small section of Terminal 2.
The golden rule seems to be that if your flight is departing from a T2 gate, stay in T3 for as long as possible. There really doesn’t seem to be anything over at the T2 departure gates side yet, apart from toilets and smoking areas!
For arriving passengers the new immigration hall, baggage reclaim and arrival pick-up have been nicely refurbished, with onward links to public transport and Jewel in place.
If you touch down with hand luggage only, don’t forget you can hop across to T3 on the Skytrain and clear immigration there if you wish, for potentially better transport options.
Transit passengers potentially face the biggest hurdle as part of this change – with the real possibility of a T2 – T1 transfer or vice-versa really eating into a short layover.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)