All of this is what the management refers to as the “Changi experience.” No, Changi isn’t beautiful, exactly—it’s humane. And humanity is something at which the staff works overtime. “Every day on the ground at Changi we conduct surveys,” Tan says. “We know when things don’t work.” Even objects offer surveys: every restroom, for example, has a wall-mounted screen that says please rate your experience. Below that is a row of simple faces ranging from grinning to frowning. If you tap anything lower than “good” (a smile), you’ll get a questionnaire: Wet floor? No toilet paper? The real-time feedback means problems are solved very quickly.
And, in theory, if you simply stand around looking perplexed, one of more than 200 iPad-wielding Changi Experience Agents—men in purple blazers and women in pink—will buttonhole you, ask what’s wrong, and attempt to fix the problem. I had coffee with a couple of them who told me stories of helping passengers who’d missed their flights or whose relatives were trapped in passport control with visa issues, or were simply looking for an outlet to charge a cell phone.
In a small, densely populated nation like Singapore, little things count. Many of Changi’s best innovations are small and considerate, such as the charging stations with rows of little lockable boxes, so you can safely leave your cell phone while you wander the terminal. There are free foot-massage machines (socks on, please) on every concourse. Even the acres of carpeting are part of the thoughtful culture: you can tell you’ve crossed from one terminal to the next when the pattern shifts.
Photo Credit of charging station. There are others of the buuterfly and orchid gardens and of slides and pools at the airport on that page