Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Here's what it takes to design the world's best airport
•An international airport with an indoor garden, butterflies, swimming pool and movie theater
•Singapore's Changi pulls out all the stops to stay atop rankings
By Uptin Saiidi
Singapore's Changi Airport recently unveiled plans to open a mixed-use complex in 2019, promising a five-story indoor garden, among other attractions.
The pressure is on to maintain the title of world's best airport -- in which it's held for the past five years -- as ranked by Skytrax's World Airport Awards. It's also considered the best airport to sleep by many reviews and bloggers.
The airport's offerings and amenities are far and wide ranging from a free movie theater, outdoor swimming pool and butterfly garden featuring more than 1,000 insects ranging from 40 different species.
It's even marketed as its own destination within Singapore, where it's not uncommon to see families visit Changi to shop and dine on weekends. It's also known to be a hot spot for students looking for a coffee shop to study in.
CNBC went behind the scenes to explore how the world's best airport is designed.
Singapore Changi Airport
1) Real-time data
Changi receives more than 1.8 million clicks of feedback each month from passengers ranking everything from restrooms, customer service agents and even the gardens.
Some of the data is actually used to help inform real-time business operations. For example, passengers leaving the restroom have the choice between ranking the facilities between excellent, good, average, fair or poor. The operational staff monitors that data and deploys cleaning staff to any location that isn't rated highly.
2) Carpeting instead of tile
It's not very common to see an airport decked out in carpet, but at Changi, it is the norm. This is done to increase the level of luxury, while also done to absorb many sounds that often make airports feel noisy and chaotic.
A less-noisy airport, often means more relaxed passengers.
3) Bringing in natural elements
Changi prides itself on its vast amount of greenery, which includes plants throughout its terminals, and five main gardens. It is not easy to maintain. There's 10 offsite and full time plant specialists, and about 150 gardeners who work 24/7.