Upgrade for Changi T1's check-in rows

The new check-in rows at Changi Airport Terminal 1 suggest what the departure hall will look like when the upgrading works are complete. More self-service check-in and bag-drop kiosks will also be installed.
The new check-in rows at Changi Airport Terminal 1 suggest what the departure hall will look like when the upgrading works are complete. More self-service check-in and bag-drop kiosks will also be installed.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Four new check-in rows have been built at Changi Airport Terminal 1 to increase passenger handling capacity, and they give an idea of the updated look coming to the rest of the departure hall.

About two years after works started, the hoardings have come down to unveil white counters with metallic bases and red carpets with hues of pink, orange, white and blue.

As part of T1's upgrade, the existing purple counters at the 10 other check-in rows that have been there for about 15 years will be replaced with the new ones.

To ensure that airport operations are not disrupted, the works will be done progressively, Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan told The Straits Times.

The improvements, which also include an upgrade of the baggage handling system, are expected to be completed by around 2020, he said.

Along with new check-in counters and carpets, more self-service check-in and bag-drop kiosks will be installed.

The entire airport is moving towards adopting automation and technology to boost efficiency and reduce reliance on manpower in a tight labour market.

Upgrading works at T1 are being carried out in tandem with the construction of Jewel Changi Airport, slated to open in 2019.

Being constructed where T1's open-air carpark used to be, the multi-storey Jewel complex will feature mainly retail offerings and be linked directly to the terminal.

The new check-in counters at the departure floor are now occupied by Philippine Airlines and Air France-KLM.

Deputy station manager at Air France-KLM Boon Chua said: "The renovated T1 is indeed a big improvement. The environment is very pleasant for our customers as it has a modern look and feel."

The one downside, though, is that there are two pillars that may obstruct passenger queueing.

Budget carrier AirAsia, which is now at rows nine to 11, plans to move today.

Its chief executive in Singapore, Mr Logan Velaitham, is happy that there will be more self-service options.

"Automation brings efficiency for our operations and convenience for our travellers, who can go straight from the airport doors to immigration if they have no bags to drop off. Those with bags can just drop them off at our self-service kiosks without having to visit manned counters," he said.

More than six in 10 AirAsia passengers arrive having already checked in online or through their mobile devices.

More than three in 10 go straight to immigration as they have no bags to check in.

Mr Velaitham said: "When we move to T4 next year, we are looking at even more automation and technology, so it's good for our customers to get used to it."

Retired professor Udaya Sharma, 70, said: "Innovation and continuous upgrades are crucial for Changi to stay ahead."

Lecturer Lee Teck Chuan, 51, said change is good but noted that the constant upgrading can be disorientating, especially since T1 is already quite crowded.

The situation should ease when AirAsia and some other carriers move to T4.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Upgrade for Changi T1's check-in rows'. Print Edition | Subscribe