Help me survive a terrible layover in Singapore
August 24, 2017 10:16 AM   Subscribe

This Saturday I will be flying from Jakarta at 6am and arriving in Singapore at 8am. Then, at 10:30pm ON A DIFFERENT AIRLINE AND TICKET, I will have my final flight home. I am desperate for a place to rest/nap for a few hours before possibly going to explore Singapore for the afternoon and returning to the airport for my final flight. Ideas?

Because of how early my first flight is, I am going to be seriously exhausted and not up for immediately exploring Singapore during the 10 hours I have before my final flight at night. Also, since my flights were booked separately on different airlines/tickets (it's a long story) I will need to pick up my bags and (presumably?) leave the secured area. Thus, I'm assuming a transit hotel isn't an option since they are all by the departure gates within the secured area.

Adding to the mix, my second flight in the evening is on Korean Air and the counter does not accept check-in and bag drop for my flight until 7pm so I can't exit the secured area at 8am and then immediately check in, drop off bags, get my ticket, turn around to go through security again.

Any ideas? I would love to have a place to privately nap for a while in the morning/early afternoon. Maybe after that I will leave my bags at the Changi luggage storage area and head into the city to explore. Is there a clean inexpensive hotel outside of the airport that will enable me to check-in early in the morning rather than the usual timeframe of 3pm? Any other clever ideas? Halllllp!
posted by joan_holloway to Travel & Transportation around Singapore (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This may not work since the notice is so short, but sometimes there are rooms at the airport transit hotel. Make a reservation, though - I lucked into a room once but often they are booked up.
posted by Frowner at 10:19 AM on August 24, 2017

Frowner, please read my post details or explain to me if I'm incorrect - but my assumption is I won't be able to access the transit hotel since I need to exit the secured area between my flights since my flights are not on the same ticket and I won't be able to check-in for my second flight until the evening.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:23 AM on August 24, 2017

Sorry if I'm wrong about this, but while you can't drop your bags that early, you'll have a ticket on the other airline and should be able to check in and get a ticket online, even. Can't you just take your bags with you to the transit hotel and do the baggage drop later? Or is there something in your bags that wouldn't pass the security screening for carryon luggage on the way in?

(Sorry, no, I missed the specific "no check in" in your post! You can't! Sorry!!! [That's weird, though. 24-hr-advance check-in is so common....])
posted by praemunire at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just fwiw, I've been in your situation, fretting in advance about how to nap and how to stash bags during long layovers on little sleep. Each time, I've simply headed into town, did some sightseeing and eating, and faded out after around maybe 4-8 hours (but remained surprisingly awake until then, due to the stimulation of an alien environment). Then I snoozed a couple hours in-chair at gate area.

My prediction is you'll be fresher off the Jakarta flight than you'd expect. Certainly not your best/brightest form, but quite able to do some intrepid exploration. You will, however fade, so be prepared to exfiltrate. Also: be extra careful about safety and misplacing stuff, due to fatigue. You'll forfeit a good 20-30 IQ points.

One way to think of it: years from now, you'll recall your Singapore explorations - no matter how foggy - way more strongly than you'll remember the fatigue. Travel's worth an occasional all-nighter.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Changi airport is literally the most amazing airport to be stuck in for a long layover, and booking on two separate tickets ("self-connecting") should only slightly hamper your plans. First, I would recommend asking, both before your first flight and in the Changi transit lounge, if there's any way they can check your baggage through or help you despite being on two separate tickets. Depending on the airlines they may be able to help. They have left luggage counters in both public and transit areas, a variety of free and pay lounges (some with private rooms and showers) in both public and transit areas (in addition to transit hotels on both sides), tours outside of the airport specifically designed for people on layovers (which can accommodate self-connecting passengers upon request per point 4) plus a ridiculous amount of ways to kill time at the airport itself.

Also Korean Air seems to offer early check-in of up to 6 hours in advance.
posted by acidic at 10:55 AM on August 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

The question to answer (by someone who knows Singapore airport) is whether the baggage claim is inside the secure area. It will certainly be inside customs, but I believe I've been in international airports where baggage claim is inside the secure area. If that's the case, you can (possibly) go to a transit hotel before you exiting the secure area.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:56 AM on August 24, 2017

The Crowne Plaza at Changi is right at T3, they have a "day room" rate that is slightly cheaper than overnight but it is still $$$ If you just want to take a shower, there are several spa-type businesses in transit areas for when you check back in. There are also quiet areas with recliner lounge chairs or flat upholstered benches in transit areas.

All three (okay apparently T4 is now open) terminals have left luggage both inside and outside immigration/customs. I have done the thing where I stayed "in transit" and my checked luggage goes around and around the baggage carousel until airport staff picks it up and puts it with the unclaimed luggage where I retrieved it hours later after going out through Immigration and before checking in for another flight. An airport staffer assured me it would be okay and safe and it was. I don't think I'd do this anywhere *but* Singapore but that airport is phenomenally organized.

But I've also arrived at Changi in early morning after an all night flight or night bus and hopped on the subway to go in town, walked around all day and then returned in the late afternoon or evening to catch my next flight. The way I figure it is, I'll be good and tired enough to sleep through it.

But are you sure you can't do early check-in with Korean in T2? According to this page, you can.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:33 AM on August 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've done this before at a few airports! Changi airport is wonderful, and has a movie theatre and napping chairs scattered around the airport.

Luggage: Check your luggage in at a Left Luggage storage locker. They have it outside the transit area, so you would exit, store your luggage there, and wander around.

Napping: There are napping chairs scattered around the airport inside the transit area. That said, if you want a shower and a real bed, you could use one of the lounges with designated nap rooms. Terminal 3 has a napping area in the public area.

So, to summarize, here's what I'd do. This front-loads all of the logistics when you arrive so that departure is a breeze:
- Arrive at Changi, claim your bags.
- Head to Terminal 2 for the KAL flight, then store the bags in the left luggage locker there.
- Head to Terminal 3, go to the Haven lounge, and nap a bit.
- Wake up, head into the city, wander around.
- When you come back, go to the KAL terminal (2), pick up your bags from the locker, check in.
- Go into security & board & fly as usual.
posted by suedehead at 12:09 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you! Suedehead has the best solution as the Haven lounge is available "landside". The Korean Airlines early check-in counter doesn't open until 4:30pm based on both the Korean Air website and Changi website, so that doesn't help me at all.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:33 PM on August 24, 2017

Once you are back airside for flight two, I suggest going for a swim at the Aerotel's rooftop pool. Your three-hour ticket also includes a small lounge with refreshments and shower/gym/locker access, for a bit more than the price of a meal - 12 USD. It is FANTASTIC. Book it in advance if you like or just turn up.
posted by mdonley at 7:19 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely just stay at the airport, it's super chill. There are nap pods and things. The info counter people will sort you out.

Ifyou want, take a cab to Changi Village nearby, a laidback beach area with good local food and small shops and cafes that makes for a pleasant few hours as an alternative to the usual Orchard Rd shopping.

You might just be arriving for the final night of the Night Festival, a night arts thing downtown with light, dance, theatreetc art thats mostly free and has a food fair too. So if you arrive wired up, ask at the tourism counter if that's still on, its pretty cool.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:14 PM on August 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

if you end up with some time at changi and are in the mood for some tasty local eats, definitely check out the staff canteens which are open to the public.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 8:37 AM on August 26, 2017

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