Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (2022)

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As more direct long-haul flights take off from Australia and New Zealand, Singapore’s airport is fighting back to deliver a stopover like no other.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (1)

Fiona CarruthersTravel editor

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Stepping off a 14-hour-flight from Heathrow at 7.30am on a Sunday at Changi Airport, let’s just say no one is really at their best. Even the creature comforts of a Singapore Airlines’ business-class seat cannot totally counter jet lag and the seven-hour time difference from London.

Besides which, far more interesting than sleep were the onboard box-set entertainment and late-night snacks (hawker-inspired egg noodle soup with chicken and Asian greens, and, oh gosh, yes – another glass of the William Fèvre Chablis would be nice).

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (2)

Pushing my luggage trolley through Changi, I mindlessly follow fellow passengers. I’m on my way to the Crowne Plaza Changi for a three-night layover en route back to Sydney, staying in a runway suite complete with deep-soak bath tub overlooking the tarmac.

It’s too late when I realise I’m still in herd-mentality mode – and have sailed right past the five-star airport hotel, located off to the side of Terminal 3.

I’m caught in the slipstream, and am now walking across an air bridge towards “Jewel”, a $S1.7 billion ($1.79 billion) relaxation, retail and dining complex I’m only vaguely aware exists, given it opened in mid-2019, not long before the pandemic slammed Australia’s borders shut.

It feels too hard to turn around so I press on with my fellow travellers – if only to stretch my legs.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (3)

Within minutes, we’re at the entrance of what can only be described as the Mecca of layover lounges. Before us is a massive, all-enveloping, amphitheatre-style, terraced tropical forest, ringing with birdsong. Being Singapore, it’s piped birdsong, but that somehow doesn’t detract. Natural light floods through the glass-dome ceiling, more than 40 metres high, and the sun’s rays touch the huge pool of water at the base.

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(I later learn the water in the pool springs to action from 11am to 11pm daily to create the Rain Vortex, the world’s highest indoor fountain. Passengers are encouraged to get close to the spray as the perfect transit pick-me-up.)

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Forget the London-to-Singapore trek. Within minutes, we’ve truly been transported from one world to another: from harsh fluorescent lighting, baggage carousels, anxiety-inducing “last call” announcements and the sinister temptations of duty-free to an entrancing indoor rainforest. We are all slack-jawed with wonder.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (4)

“Wooow, Dad, this airport has Jurassic Park!” cries one deeply impressed British toddler. I, too, flap my arms in delight.

As we enter the age of direct long-haul travel, with so-called hub-busting flights between Perth and Rome from Qantas, Brisbane to Vancouver with Air Canada and the just-launched 17½-hour Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to New York, traditional layover destinations are working hard to ensure the growth of foot traffic.

Singapore Airlines’ senior vice-president for marketing planning, JoAnn Tan, isn’t too worried yet about the long-haul trend. “For now, revenge travel continues to outstrip all other pressures, including inflation, and we’re still seeing strong demand,” she says.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (5)

“The past few years, people have felt something is missing. They simply want to travel, and they are doing that, especially at the premium end, to spoil themselves, and we hope to see [network] capacity return to almost 80 per cent by the end of this year.”

Nevertheless, given the time and travel disruption caused by stopovers, direct flights are a commercial threat to classic hub carriers out of Australia such as Singapore Airlines. Even the brave souls who’ve flown direct in economy are generally fans of “one hop and you’re there”.

“Direct is best” was rapidly becoming my mantra too, until I was invited on this trip to get acquainted with the suite of new products Singapore has rolled out as it fights to put the heart in the hub – tempting travellers to relax and enjoy the layover, with the benefits that too entails.

As Changi evolves, it will eventually become a satellite city, if it hasn’t already, thanks largely to Jewel.

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Its new mega-terminal T5 is due to be completed by the mid-2030s. Bigger than all four current terminals combined, T5 is being marketed as the Titanic of airports: a state-of-the-art, mostly automated terminal (complete with robots) that should be largely “pandemic proof” by the time its designers are finished.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (6)

Pre-pandemic, Changi was already on a mission to create a better travel experience, primarily by bringing the outside in. Take the Hub & Spoke Café in Terminal 2, which offers al fresco dining, and boasts three green walls bedecked with 2700 plant varieties. It opened not long before COVID-19 hit, and dishes up western cuisine and local favourites such as sweet-coconut kaya jam toast with taro milk tea.

The Jurassic Mile walk opened in 2020, stretching from Terminal 4 along the perimeter of the airport past the Tanah Merah Golf Club. Its name is a nod to the fact it’s scattered with giant dinosaurs. No comment.

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Now Jewel is offering an elevated nature-themed mall that discounts the need to travel into the city centre if you only have one or two nights.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (7)

Designed by a group of architects led by Moshe Safdie, who also did Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, the 10-storey Jewel complex includes 300 retail and dining outlets, as well as early baggage check-in facilities, all built around the terraced forest, with another vast green canopy area to explore on the top floor.

Checking into the Crowne Plaza Changi, I find a mutual Jewel fan in Bruno Cristol, the hotel’s general manager. “Jewel has already boosted the hotel’s revenue by more than 20 per cent,” Cristol says.

Don’t even try to book the hotel on a weekend: between the large resort-style landscaped pool, suites with runway views and Jewel, the good old Crowne Plaza Changi has, against the odds, become a “staycation” favourite with locals.

“Kids love it here – they play in the pool, then sit and watch the planes land and take off all afternoon, while their parents pop out for a quick shop next door at Jewel,” says Cristol.

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The hotel will even deliver to your room a large platter containing a chocolate airport, complete with a dark chocolate runway lined with raspberries, white chocolate planes, and a macaroon-stack for the air traffic control tower.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (8)

Given Jewel has everything you need – from Michelin-starred restaurants to day spas, a movie theatre and Muji, plus most of the top-shelf European brands – it’s also boosting the appeal for corporates and leisure travellers to ditch the CBD and just stay at Changi.

For now, Crowne Plaza is the only five-star hotel available – until T5 opens, with three big-brand hotels billed.

Roll in the fact that Singapore Airlines has just spent more than $S50 million ($52.6 million) upgrading its key lounges in T3, and by the third day of airport lush, I’m questioning if I really need to fly home.

After a three-hour tour of the lounges with Philip Lim, Singapore Airlines’ head of premium passenger services, my main take out is that pointy-end passengers now have 30 per cent more lounge space and seats across four fully refreshed and expanded areas.

Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (9)

The large SilverKris Lounge has a first-class section, including a smaller, even more premium Private Room, a super exclusive area for just 78 passengers (read those travelling in suites). On the other side, you’ll find the business-class section. The separate KrisFlyer Gold Lounge is a mere 20 metres or so away. The four areas can collectively accommodate some 1150 customers across a total of 6100 square-metres.

The Private Room is a series of intimate, relaxing spaces (much like the screened suites on board), which fan out below the area’s visual centrepiece, a custom-designed Lalique light dome.

It’s à la carte only dining in here, but being posh doesn’t preclude snackable items like Wagyu burgers, chicken satay and laksa – with lobster and extra-big prawns; for bubbles, it’s 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.

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Four small day rooms with either an Italian-designed Poltrona Frau recliner or a single bed (all with Tempur mattresses) complete the scenario. Guests may choose from a medium-firm Symphony pillow, or the soft-fluffy Cloud pillow. In other words, no duck down has been left unturned. All areas, including the showers, are wheelchair-accessible.

So pleasant have the past few days been, on take-off aboard the flight back to Sydney, I scrawl a red-pen note to self: “Call Los Angeles, Tokyo, Bangkok, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc to check on new stopover experiences.”

The writer travelled courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

Need to know

The Singapore Grand Prixruns from September 30 to October 2. One of the most technical courses on the Formula 1 calendar, it takes place over 61 laps of the 5.063-kilometre Marina Bay Street Circuit.

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Is this the world’s most beautiful layover? (10)

Fiona CarruthersTravel editorFiona Carruthers has written and edited travel for the Financial Review for almost a decade. She has held senior roles with ABC Radio National, Deutsche Welle Radio, TIME and The Australian, and was deputy editor of Traveller. Email Fiona at fcarruthers@afr.com

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FAQs

Is your layover long enough? ›

The recommended layover time for international flights is generally longer, as you will have to go through customs and immigration before boarding your next flight. In most cases, a 30-minute layover for domestic flights and an hour for international flights is considered a minimum, or short, layover.

How much layover is enough? ›

Two hours. Mayers recommends two hours as a standard buffer between flights to be safe. This gives you a cushion in case things go wrong during your journey. You'll definitely want at least a two-hour window if you've booked a “hacker fare,” as opposed to flying with the same airline your entire trip.

Is a 30 minute layover in Detroit enough time? ›

There are a few exceptions to what I am comfortable with. I'll gladly take a 30 minute layover on a domestic trip, however on an international trip, I like a few extra minutes. I've made really short DTW connections, sub 15 minutes is possible, but not comfortable. You'll be running or at least walking very fast.

Is 2 hours enough time for self transfer? ›

Factor in a minimum three-hour window when flying to high traffic airports or traveling during peak days or hours. It's also important to know if you have to exit your terminal, collect your bags, and go through security again. If so, it's best to add another hour cushion for self-transfer flights.

How long of a layover is too long? ›

3 Hours or More

3 hours isn't too long to wait around for your flight to arrive. But, you are definitely going to want something to do to kill the time. Start with turning on all your electronic devices to see if any need a recharge.

Is 4 hours enough for a layover? ›

Depending on where you are, it might take you 30–60 minutes or more to get into the city, and it will take you at least an equal amount of time to get back, and then you'll have to go through security again. I wouldn't leave an airport for a layover any less than five hours.

Is 3 hours enough for a layover? ›

Yes, three hours is more than enough time, assuming both the flights are on one ticket. You could absorb a fairly lengthy delay on the inbound of up to 2 hours and still make the flight to SNN.

How long of a layover do I need 2022? ›

The more connections you have, the more you're asking for trouble. I suggest at least a two-hour layover domestically and a four-hour layover internationally to avoid a missed connection. There are many horror stories of missed cruises and weddings because people did not plan enough time and missed a connecting flight.

Is 1 hour 30 minutes layover enough? ›

Yes, one hour is enough time for a layover when making a connecting flight in many airports. However, if you are flying from a destination known to have delays or flying international you may want to choose a flight that allows for more time.

Is a 1 hour layover enough in DTW? ›

No, International to International (Domestic) is lists as 90 Minutes, and that is TIGHT. I would want at least two Hours. What can you do at the Detroit Airport layover? (Note: I'm assuming if you're connecting in Detroit, you're on Delta and in the McNamara Terminal.

Is 1 hour enough for connecting flights? ›

If you can't avoid connecting, don't book the shortest layover, because you'll be building in stress and the possibility of missing your flight. A 1-hour layover is not enough anymore. Thirty minutes, not a chance. In most cases, 3 hours is safe.

What happens if I miss my connecting flight because of a delay? ›

What happens if a flight is delayed and you miss your connection? If you miss your connection due to a delay, usually the airline is responsible for providing you with a replacement flight to your destination. They will have to book you on the earliest possible flight available.

How short of a layover is too short? ›

It's really hard to put an exact number on how long you need for your layover. At a minimum, I'd say you should plan for one hour for domestic layovers and two hours for international layovers. But this is not a hard, fast rule!

How much time do I need between connecting flights? ›

What's the minimum time you should leave between connecting flights? Although it's difficult to say exactly how much time should be left between connecting flights, you should always try to have at least an hour for domestic connecting flights and at least two hours for international connecting flights.

What is the longest layover allowed? ›

A layover is a connection that lasts no longer than 4 hours for domestic flights and no longer than 24 hours for International flights. Layovers are fairly common, especially overnight layovers, but usually they aren't long enough to benefit you.

What happens if you leave during a layover? ›

If you leave the airport for your layover between the flights, you'll absolutely have to go through security again. That's because you'll have left the TSA-secured part of the terminal, and you might have picked up food you're not allowed to bring on the plane—or, worse, something illicit or dangerous.

Can I leave the airport during a long layover? ›

The short answer is yes. It is possible to exit and reenter the airport. Whether or not you should depends on a range of factors, including if you're traveling internationally or domestically and how much time you have between flights.

What happens if you have an overnight layover? ›

If you do have an overnight layover and will be spending the night at the airport, remember your options. You can stay in an airport hotel both within transit or on the public side, you could sleep or rest in the airport terminal itself.

What does a 4 hour layover mean? ›

A layover is a broad term that means any connection between flights. This could include a stop as short as 30 minutes (depending upon the airport) or as long as four hours (or up to 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights). Airline crew use this term, slightly differently.

Is a 2 hour layover too short? ›

Two hours is plenty. One hour has a mild level of risk, but most likely it will be OK. If a flight is late or you have a short connection, the airline coordinates with the ground staff to get you to your connecting flight on time – it's a major hassle for everyone if you miss it.

Is a 90 minute layover enough? ›

No, a layover of 90 minutes is not enough, to be absolutely safe you should get a layover is 2–3 hours long to give yourself enough time to go through customs, also with some international flights you will have to go to C baggage claim fee you're checked bag if you checked a bag, then you will have to recheck your bag.

How long is the average layover? ›

The average layover time is between 2 and 3 hours. This is the most popular flight configuration that allows you to reach the transfer gate with no airport rush. It allows enough time for walking around, shopping, have a drink, get fresh and ready to board onto the connection flight.

Is 45 min enough for connecting flight? ›

As a rule of thumb, on domestic routes, you need a minimum of 45 minutes between flights. That's because you don't have to go through security, customs, and immigration.

Can I get out of airport if I have 20 hour layover? ›

If you have an excessive layover time you may be wondering: Can I leave the airport between connecting flights? The short answer is yes. It is possible to exit and reenter the airport.

Will a connecting flight wait for you? ›

No, if your first flight is delayed and you won't make it in time to catch your connecting flight, the plane won't wait for you. However, if you're travelling on a through-ticket, the airline must rebook you on their next available flight to your destination, provided that there are seats available.

Is 1.5 hours enough for connecting flight? ›

Yes, it should be enough time if your incoming flight isn't late but if you've booked a through ticket and you do miss your connecting flight the airline is obliged to get you on the next available flight. 2.

Is a 30 minute layover enough time Delta? ›

Recommended minimum connection times

Delta: 30-minute minimum connection time. Southwest: At least 30 minutes if you have checked bags. United: 30-minute minimum for domestic, 60 minutes for international.

Can you walk between terminals at Detroit airport? ›

ExpressTram™

Detroit Metropolitan Airport's terminals feature moving walkways to ease the journey to your departure gate. In the McNamara Terminal, Concourse A, the ExpressTram whizzes travelers along the mile-long concourse between three conveniently-located stations.

Is DTW Michigan airport Big or small? ›

At over 7,000 acres, Detroit Metropolitan Airport is one of the United State's largest and busiest airports and is the second-busiest transportation hub for major airline company, Delta.

How long does it take to get through DTW airport? ›

Current Average TSA Wait Time at DTW

Please expect to wait up to at least (11 mins) on average to go through security checkpoints at DTW.

Is a 1 hour layover risky? ›

If you can't avoid connecting, don't book the shortest layover, because you'll be building in stress and the possibility of missing your flight. A one-hour layover is not enough anymore. Thirty minutes, not a chance. In most cases, three hours is safe.

Can you get in trouble for skipping a connecting flight? ›

Final Words

Skipping the last leg of the flight, however, is perfectly legal, and the only risks are that the connecting airport may change ahead of time, or your bonus points might be canceled for not showing up.

Do airlines compensate for missed connections? ›

If you are connecting on a different airline, airlines are not required to provide compensation if a delay on the first flight causes you to miss your connection. However, if your first flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline that caused the delay.

Is a 40 minute layover too short in Atlanta? ›

The ideal layover time for most people on a domestic flight will be 45-60 minutes. For an International to Domestic flight the ideal connection time will be about 90 minutes. Connecting in ATL is easy, fast, and pleasant. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Is a 40 minute layover too short in Dallas? ›

What is the minimum connection time for domestic flights at DFW? As Ive already mentioned, a connection time of 40 minutes is about as low as you can get at DFW. The problem is that its a huge airport, and even when taking advantage of the inter-terminal train, it takes a while to get from one end to the other.

Is a 40 minute layover too short in Charlotte? ›

What is the minimum layover for domestic flights in Charlotte? The minimum layover that I would recommend in Charlotte from one domestic flight to another is 35 minutes. Honestly, you could probably do it in as little as 25, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Do I need to check in twice for connecting flights? ›

In most cases, you'll receive your boarding pass for your connecting flight already when you check in for your first flight. This means you don't have to check in again for your next flight.

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Is a 1 hour layover long enough? ›

Yes, one hour is enough time for a layover when making a connecting flight in many airports. However, if you are flying from a destination known to have delays or flying international you may want to choose a flight that allows for more time.

Is 90 minutes a long enough layover? ›

For peace of mind, particularly when connecting in a large city, try to schedule a layover of at least 60 minutes. If you have gate-checked items or are traveling with someone with special needs, extend your connection time to 90 minutes if possible.

Is 1.5 hours enough for connecting flight? ›

Naturally, this will require much more than the above-mentioned MCT and it is your responsibility to make sure that you have enough time to do all that. The rule of thumb is to allow a minimum of 3 hours between flights if they are not part of the same ticket.

How long is the average layover? ›

The average layover time is between 2 and 3 hours. This is the most popular flight configuration that allows you to reach the transfer gate with no airport rush. It allows enough time for walking around, shopping, have a drink, get fresh and ready to board onto the connection flight.

Is 1 hour and 10 minutes enough for layover? ›

no, it is not long enough. If both flights are on the same itinerary, and you can accept the risk that you might have to be put on a later flight (at no additional cost to yourself), then 1h10 is OK. If neither of those applies, then Houston (or rather Atlanta) we have a problem.

What does 1 hour layover mean? ›

A layover is a broad term that means any connection between flights. This could include a stop as short as 30 minutes (depending upon the airport) or as long as four hours (or up to 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights). Airline crew use this term, slightly differently.

How long should connecting flights be? ›

What's the minimum time you should leave between connecting flights? Although it's difficult to say exactly how much time should be left between connecting flights, you should always try to have at least an hour for domestic connecting flights and at least two hours for international connecting flights.

What is the longest layover allowed? ›

A layover is a connection that lasts no longer than 4 hours for domestic flights and no longer than 24 hours for International flights. Layovers are fairly common, especially overnight layovers, but usually they aren't long enough to benefit you.

Is 90 minutes enough for a layover in Paris? ›

Minimum connecting time recommended by EASY CDG*

60 minutes for connections within the same terminal. 90 minutes for connections that require travel between terminals.

Is 90 minutes enough time for airport? ›

If you can skip the check-in counter, 90 minutes should be plenty of time to make it to your gate for domestic flights. Arriving two hours early for international flights (while still saving an additional 30 minutes for passport control) with your carry-on luggage and boarding pass should be sufficient.

Can I make a connecting flight in 20 minutes? ›

No! It is never safe to book two flights within 20 minutes of each other, even if you are traveling without luggage. The minimum connecting time between flights is 1.15 at the least, even for domestic flights. I'm booking a flight for the first time.

Is 1 hour layover enough time in Heathrow? ›

We recommend that you allow the following minimum connection times: 1 hour for connections within the same Heathrow terminal. 1 hour 30 minutes for connections that require travel between terminals at Heathrow.

Is 4 hours enough for a layover? ›

Depending on where you are, it might take you 30–60 minutes or more to get into the city, and it will take you at least an equal amount of time to get back, and then you'll have to go through security again. I wouldn't leave an airport for a layover any less than five hours.

Is 3 hours enough for a layover? ›

Yes, three hours is more than enough time, assuming both the flights are on one ticket. You could absorb a fairly lengthy delay on the inbound of up to 2 hours and still make the flight to SNN.

How long is a 2022 layover? ›

How long should a layover be for domestic flights? Because trans-national schedules are typically shorter, layovers usually only last from one to four hours. Experienced travelers prefer domestic stops of at least 60 to 90 minutes.

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