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Singapore Airlines commences transit arrangements for passengers from Australia, New Zealand

Transit via Singapore only applicable for customers travelling one-way from seven cities in Australia and New Zealand

Singapore Airlines announced Tuesday (11 Jun) that it has gotten regulatory approvals to facilitate transit journeys from a handful of cities in Australia and New Zealand.

Singapore authorities have earlier announced that it will allow transit passengers once again from 2 Jun, subject to regulatory approval of airlines’ plans to manage these passengers. The onus was on airlines to submit a proposal in managing to health risks and segregating transit passengers away from departing passengers.

Singapore Airlines transit-approved origin cities

Customers travelling from the following cities will be allowed to transit in Singapore:

  • Australia:
    • Adelaide
    • Brisbane
    • Melbourne
    • Perth (on Scoot)
    • Sydney
  • New Zealand:
    • Auckland
    • Christchurch

Note that the transit arrangement is only applicable one-way from Australia and New Zealand to any other SIA destinations. There is currently no transit arrangements for journeys via Singapore into Australia and New Zealand, so customers from anywhere else wanting to visit these two countries will have to find alternative routings.

New Transit Holding Areas

Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport has published their plans to manage these transit passengers, with the setup of dedicated Transit Holding Areas (THAs) to segregate transit and departing passengers.

One distinct feature of Changi Airport main terminals (1, 2 & 3) is the fact that departing, arriving and transit passengers all pour into the same transit area without segregation, as security screening are done only at the gate. This allows a seamless transit experience, allowing passengers who have just landed to pour directly into the transit area, without having to navigate through a labyrinth of walkways to get to a central security screening area.

With the setup of the THAs, this will no longer be possible.

The new transit experience

So how will the new transit experience look like?

The experience, in fact, begins at the departing city. Passengers who will be transiting in Singapore will be boarded first (regardless of cabin), and seated in a designated zone in their respective cabins on the aircraft away from the other passengers who are terminating their journeys in Singapore.

Once in Singapore, transit passengers will disembark last, after all the other passengers leave the aircraft. This group of passengers will be escorted to the THAs by ground staff. Transit passengers will not be allowed to visit any shops, restaurants, lounges and any amenities along the way.

There will be a temperature screening area at the entrance of all the THAs, and only authorised passengers and staff will be allowed into the THAs. Transit passengers should also note that they are required to wear a mask at all times, except when they are eating, drinking or smoking.

Based on photos published by Changi Airport, it seems like there are two THAs: one at A21, and one at C3 (ground floor gate holdrooms at gate C1).

Transit Holding Area (Gate C3)
Transit Holding Area (Gate A21)

Once in the THAs, passengers will not be allowed to roam anywhere else within the airport.

The amenities within the THAs include:

  • Vending machines
  • Mobile food kiosks
  • Sleeping recliners
  • Restrooms
  • Wi-fi (complimentary across the airport)
  • Smoking room
  • Shopping concierge service

Customers who wish to shop may utilise Changi’s shopping concierge service to purchase cosmetics or other tax-free items. Unfortunately, the concierge will not be able to purchase duty-free alcohol products on behalf of customers.

Vending machines
Snooze areas

Customers who wish to order food and drinks from any of the airport restaurants, cafes or bars can also place their orders by scanning a QR code and ordering online. The orders will be brought to them.

What about lounges?

Changi Airport has left it to airlines to decide if customers can visit a lounge, and SIA has decided to set up a ‘lounge’ (kind of) within the THAs for their premium customers.

For premium passengers, including suites, first class, business class and PPS Club passengers on Singapore Airlines who are transiting in Singapore, they will not be allowed to visit the SilverKris lounge at Terminal 3. Instead, they will be directed to a premium waiting area at the THAs.

Premium passengers transit area
Premium passengers transit area

As you can see from above, Changi Airport has made some effort in sprucing up the area with armchairs and tables similar to some of the lounges’ offerings, although this is definitely far from the actual lounge experience.

SIA will also make complimentary food and beverages available for its premium customers, although no further details are available.

No limit to transit duration

Neither Changi Airport nor Singapore Airlines have imposed a maximum layover duration, so that means it’s technically possible to do a 23-hour layover if you will like to.

However, this new arrangement will require transit passengers to remain in the THAs at all times until their next flight. Note that all the transit hotels are closed at the moment, so passengers with long layovers should note that they have practically no other options.

All transit hotels, including Aerotel Singapore, are temporarily closed

Final thoughts

It is definitely yet another good step towards recovery, as details on how transit arrangements are unveiled by Singapore Airlines today. Of course, we will expect the airline to expand this arrangement to passengers travelling from other regions in time to come.

The transit arrangement is definitely far from ideal, but in the usual Changi fashion, you can trust the airport to still try their best to make the transit experience as comfortable as they can.

It’s hard to say if and when we will return to the previous ‘free-flow’ model where passengers are free to mix around. We are definitely moving towards a new normal, and this episode may perhaps nudge the airport into rethinking its airport experience and passenger flow model.

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