How is T4 different from other terminals?
Do I really need to use the FAST system? Is it for everyone?
What are some tips for family-travellers with kids?
This post seeks to answer some of these common questions as we welcome the opening of the new Changi Airport T4 tomorrow.
The much-anticipated Terminal 4 of Singapore’s Changi Airport opens on 31 October 2017. Touted as a game-changer for airports, T4 boasts many state-of-the art facilities and amenities including self-service check-in terminals and more. T4 also pays homage to many of Singapore’s multi-cultural way of life. In short, it is set to be an icon and melting pot of Singapore’s art, science and heritage. However before you depart for T4 with a carload of excited kids and lugguage, do note some suggestions on how to manage everything between drop-off to departure…and back again…all from Changi Airport’s new T4!
Airlines Using T4
- 31 October 2017 – Cathay Pacific and Korean Air
- 2 November 2017 – Cebu Pacific and Spring Airlines
- 7 November 2017 – Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines
To FAST or not to FAST:
One of the features Changi Airport’s T4 boasts of would be the FAst and Seamless Travel System (FAST). This includes 4 key features, namely:
1. Self Check-in and Bag-drop
2. Auto Immigration Clearance
3. Auto Security Clearance
4. Auto Boarding
Not for Everyone:
Auto Immigration Clearance: Fast and seamless but not everybody can utilize the features of FAST. For instance, the Auto Immigration Clearance is ONLY for Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass Holders or Visitors whose fingerprints are registered with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Those who qualify must also be ABOVE 6 years of age (this excludes toddlers and infants).
Auto Boarding: Similarly the Auto boarding feature is reserved for those who qualify to use the Auto immigration clearance.
Auto Security Clearance: Advanced 3D screening technology allows travellers to keep our laptops and tablets in our bag when going going security check. Though it is more hassle-free, rules on liquids – including those in milk bottles and drinking water for young children, gels and aerosols still apply.
So what should families do if you’re departing from T4? Here are some helpful tips:
1. Arrive Early:
Self Check-in and Bag Drop: This is something revolutionary for the Singaporean traveller! The self check-in process is key to beating the Qs. There are many Self Check-in kiosks around which makes for faster check-ins and hopefully, seamless travels. Take a look at our video for a glimpse of the Self Check-in experience:
Before going to the airport:
2. Sort it Early:
Sort your travel documents ready in a clearly marked folder. Based on our experience doing self-check ins and bag drops at Copenhagen Airport, it is essential that your travel documents and essential travel info (such as flight booking reference number, passport numbers, passport expiry dates etc.) are all at your finger tips. Ensure documents are clearly labeled (remove the fanciful passport sleeves etc.) so that your self-check in at the FAST terminals are done quickly before the kids get too restless! The last thing you want is to hold up the Q.
Also, there may be lots of confused travellers doing this for the first time, unsure what to do or hordes of non-English speaking travellers seeking help from the few roaming airport staff. This will slow-down the self-check in process so do plan to arrive earlier for your flightsgui
3. Prioritise Early:
Check-in the moment you arrive at T4. There are many cool features and amenities to discover at T4 but those can be done AFTER you’ve cleared your checking in.
Self-Bag Drop: Adults only please:
At the check-in, you’d be prompted if you have luggages to check-in. if you do, a baggage tag will be printed for you to attach to your check-in luggage before you drop it in. While young kids will be very enthusiastic about helping to stick the luggage tag stickers, it’s best that the adults handle this ourselves to ensure the luggage are tagged properly. Follow the clear printed instructions and more importantly keep the docket / tag (to trace your luggage in the unfortunate event that it goes missing).
4. Decide Early – Go Manual or Go FAST?
Sure! If you really have your hands filled with luggage and active kids or perhaps elderly passengers that may not fully comprehend the FAST system, then you can choose to go manual (i.e. approach the friendly counter staff at the designated check-in counter of your flight) and proceed for check-in and bag drop the good, old-fashioned way.
Going ‘manual’ may be the best way if you have kids below 6 years of age and are carrying drinking water for very young kids. You may wish to pack these separately for easier retrieval during the security screening process.
Be prepared for whole-body screening. This may take some getting used to for some. If this is seem too daunting for your young children and the elderly, you may like to highlight to the officers for help.
Once again, do expect some travellers who may need assistance. This may hold up the line. Arrive early to mitigate these time grabbers.
Watch the video here on the FAST System at T4 to know what to expect:
How to keep the kids Engaged
Having shared all the points above, how do we keep the excited young kids engaged? Instead of just looking at the smart device screens, you can certainly keep the kids occupied with the following at the departure transit area once you’ve cleared immigration:
a. Count the Petals: The garden theme is prevalent throughout Singapore and T4 is no exception. One key feature would be the petal designs that are across the carpets, the lids of the trash bins, the ceilings and more! Have your kids identify where they can locate these petals and discuss what they may represent!
b. Read the Facts: For older kids who are ok to roam, you may want them to read some of the interesting facts about the airport that is found printed on info-boards around the terminal. These facts include:
1. What are some of the interesting facts on the terminal’s design?
2. What is the total capacity of travellers that the terminal can handle?
3. What are other interesting facts about T4 that are truly unique?
c. Be immersed! There is one screen that is truly worth watching out for and it can be found at the customs and immigration clearance. Look above the passport clearance and security screening machines and you’ll see an amazing 70-metre long high-definition LED screen. You’d be mistaken it for a long mural if it’s not moving but wait for it and you’ll be amazed by the clarity and realism of the screen. It would be a treat for both adults and kids as we go through the mundane but very necessary customs and security clearance!
d. There’s a Playground inside?!
If play is what the kids are craving for, then look out for the playground within the departure transit area! Yes! This was still under construction during the T4 Open House but I’m sure families will know where it is once it opens.
e. Heritage Zone and Peranakan Love Story Show:
THIS is a MUST! Situated in the center part of the Departure Lounge is what looks like a street from Katong. Look carefully or you may just miss another amazingly high-definition screen that seamlessly integrates with the façade of these ‘Peranakan homes’. Watch how the façade ‘comes alive’ and tells the love story between 2 individuals and their families accompanied by an iconic Dick Lee tune! Amazing! The show is about 10 minutes long. Make sure you arrive early to watch this!
f. Novelty Seats: Look out for these quirky seats situated all over the departure transit area. Go to lounge around in them, take family wefies…it’ll be a blast! Do remember though that they are not playthings so avoid letting your kids jump on them for safety reasons and as a courtesy to fellow travellers.
f. Get Arty: There are many key art installations in and around T4 that pays homage to transport and travel. Keep a lookout for them and get the kids to read the description, talk about them and take loads of photos. Remember to hashtag #ChangiAirport and #ChangiT4! Some of these beautiful installations include:
1. Petalclouds: In-line with the Kinetic Rain Sculpture at Terminal 1, here in T4 is the mesmerising Petalclouds which, to us, depict the graceful and moving clouds usually seen from the plane windows. These are visible throughout the terminal and within the Departure Transit Area.
2. Travelling Family by Kurt Metzler (Departure Transit Area only): depicting a travelling family try posing like them!
3. ‘Les Oiseaux’: These bird-like wire sculptures are found in the public area, Arrival Hall as well as the Departure Halls of T4.
h. Shops and Eateries: Paying homage to the Singapore way of life, there are a variety of eateries within the Departure transit area that highlights local cuisine. These were not ready during the T4 Open House but again, but expect the likes of Bengawan Solo, Bee Cheng Hiang among others. I think we locals will have no problems ‘sniffing’ where these eateries are. Have your local favorite snacks as a family before jetting off!
4. Awed before flight:
I’m guilty of this too – rushing through the boarding area but this is one boarding area that is definitely another highlight of T4 which we should not miss! Featuring a long unobstructed glass wall that overlooks the runway, the boarding area provides an awe inspiring experience as we take in the vista of planes, sky and land merged as one.
The 5 ‘C’s of Travel
Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 is truly a game-changer. Beyond revolutionising the air travel experience, to me it invites travellers to rethink travel – comfort, convenience, creativity, culture and connectivity in an uniquely Singaporean way. For more information, do visit Changi Airport’s website at t4.changiairport.com