Which Singapore Airlines flights still depart from Terminal 1 gates at Changi?

While the temporary closure of Terminal 2 during the COVID-19 pandemic might seem like the primary reason, this situation is not entirely new. Back in February 2020, prior to the onset of the pandemic and with all airport terminals operating as usual, Singapore Airlines had already been directing around seven of its Terminal 3 departures to Terminal 1 gates each day.

This was due to the simple fact that, even with its Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka services operating from Terminal 2, the airline’s operations at Terminal 3 couldn’t accommodate the demand during peak departure hours.

Which terminal by destination?

Singapore Airlines has restored its pre-pandemic destination list from both T2 and T3 at Changi Airport, with the exception of two daily flights to Male in the Maldives, which still depart from T3 (these were T2 flights prior to COVID-19).

Here’s a summary of which flights depart from which terminal.

SIA Departures from Changi Airport
Terminal 2Terminal 3
BangladeshBrunei Cambodia IndonesiaMalaysiaMyanmarPhilippinesSri LankaThailandVietnamAll other destinations
including Australia, India, Europe, Japan and the USA

Ideally you should check in and clear immigration at the terminal your flight is departing from, however do remember you can actually check in for any Singapore Airlines flight at either T2 or T3 if you wish, regardless of the actual departure terminal.

Check-in rows at the newly refurbished section of Changi Terminal 2’s departure hall. (Photo: Changi Airport Group)

It’s important to note two things from the outset here:

  • If your T3 flight is allocated a T1 departure gate you must still check-in at T3 (or T2 if you wish). SIA does not operate check-in desks in T1.
  • Arriving SIA flights at Changi can use T1, T2 or T3 gates, regardless of their origin country. Immigration and baggage reclaim is via the respective arrival terminal’s facilities, even at T1.

T1 gates: What times of day are worst affected?

Given the rolling gate shortage issue in T3, you might think that the T1 departure gate issue afflicts SIA flights at all times of day.

Well that’s not the case, because Singapore Airlines has two primary departure ‘banks’ through its Changi Airport hub – one in the morning and one at night – and those are bottlenecks where T1 gates need to be used most often as an overspill for T3.

Singapore Airlines
T1 departure gate usage for T3 flights
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

T1 gate
T1 gate
daily average
T1 gate
Peak 1
7am to 12pm
763/day76 / 668
Lull period
12pm to 7pm
19< 1/day19 / 393
Peak 2
7pm to 2.30am
1877/day187 / 1,214

On average, three departing Singapore Airlines passenger flights each morning and seven departing flights each evening, which are supposed to use T3 gates, actually use a departure gate in T1.

As you can see, there’s a very slim chance that you’ll be assigned a T1 departure gate when departing during Terminal 3’s quietest afternoon period, when ample gates are usually available for SIA.

However, in the peak evening and late night departure bank 1 in 6 T3 flights uses a T1 gate (15.4%), based on analysis over the last four weeks.

Which T1 gates are used?

The good news if you are affected by the T1 departure gate allocation for your departing T3 SIA flight is that the airline only uses T1’s ‘C gates’ for this purpose.

You can access these gates relatively easily by taking the transit T3 > T1 SkyTrain from near gate B5, which drops off near gate C1 in Terminal 1.

Location of ‘C gates’ compared to the T3 lounges and main transit section. (Image: Lufthansa Systems)

Better still, based on our four-week analysis the airline is allocated gate C1, C20 and C22 for over two-thirds of its T1 departures, which are very close to the T3 (B) > T1 (C) transit SkyTrain drop off point.

Here’s how SIA’s T1 gate allocation looked over the four-week period between 24th July and 20th August 2023.

Singapore Airlines
T1 departure gate usage
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

GateDeparturesAs % of T1 gate usage

That said, a small number of flights (17 during the four-week period analysed) departed from gates C25 and C26 – right at the far end of the C gates ‘finger pier’ in T1 and quite a long walk, even from the SkyTrain station near gate C1.

Indeed from the T3 SilverKris lounges to gate C26, Changi Airport quotes a walking time of 28 minutes, though this can be reduced to around 19 minutes by taking the T3 (B) > T1 (C) transit SkyTrain for part of the journey.

The final part of the long walk to gates C25 and C26 at Changi Airport. (Photo: Duc Huy Nguyen / Shutterstock)

Which flights are most affected?

Out of 2,275 flights planned to depart from Terminal 3 over the four-week period we analysed, 282 used a Terminal 1 departure gate, which is 12% or 1 in 8 services.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s simply a 12% chance your T3 Singapore Airlines flight will depart from a T1 gate. Due to the peak departure periods mentioned above, some flight numbers are significantly more often affected than others.

Here’s a rundown of the T3 services that have a 25% chance or greater (more than double the average) of being allocated a T1 departure gate.

Singapore Airlines
Most common T1 departure gate flights
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

FlightDestinationTimeT1 gate
SQ842Chengdu09:502 / 4
SQ336Paris00:1512 / 28
SQ876Taipei08:2012 / 28
SQ608Seoul00:1010 / 28
SQ636Tokyo Haneda22:5010 / 28
SQ656Fukuoka01:204 / 12
SQ235Brisbane21:309 / 28
SQ422Mumbai07:409 / 28
SQ225Perth00:058 / 28
SQ438Male20:358 / 28
SQ826Shanghai01:158 / 28
SQ22Newark22:357 / 28
SQ223Perth09:307 / 28
SQ38Los Angeles20:457 / 28
SQ612Seoul02:257 / 28
SQ352Copenhagen00:055 / 20
SQ512Bengaluru21:203 / 12
SQ672Nagoya01:203 / 12
SQ302Manchester02:252 / 8
SQ336 to Paris had a 43% strike rate for a T1 departure gate at Changi over the last four weeks. (Photo: Dubai Airports)

Consider the T1 Plaza Premium lounge for T1 departures

If your T3 flight is departing from T1 (a ‘C gate’) or even from one of the high ‘B gates’ like B9 or B10, it’s worth considering a visit to the Plaza Premium Lounge just above gate C1 as an alternative to the T3 lounges, since it is then a very short walk from lounge to gate, with no further SkyTrain trips involved.

The Plaza Premium Lounge is located above gate C1
Take the escalator near gate C1 up to the Plaza Premium lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In other recent news, the lounge is also now back on the Priority Pass access list, meaning many of our readers with a Priority Pass membership tied to their credit card can take advantage of complimentary access here.

Food options here include signature Singapore Laksa and classic Singapore Chicken Rice.

Some T3 flights never use a T1 gate

If the prospect of having to make your way to a T1 departure gate for your Singapore Airlines flight doesn’t appeal to you, there’s some good news.

Some flights never use T1 departure gate, most notably including all Airbus A380 services – which exclusively use T3’s superjumbo-compatible gates:

  • A2
  • A4
  • A5
  • A10
  • A13
  • B2
  • B4
  • B5
  • B7

In the current schedule, SIA Airbus A380 departures comprise:

  • 00:25 – SQ237 to Melbourne
  • 00:45 – SQ231 to Sydney
  • 09:00 – SQ308 to London
  • 09:30 – SQ830 to Shanghai
  • 09:40 – SQ892 to Hong Kong
  • 16:50 – SQ406 to Delhi
  • 20:20 – SQ221 to Sydney
  • 23:30 – SQ322 to London
SIA’s Airbus A380 departures are currently T3-gate-guaranteed at Changi Airport. (Photo: Grirk / Shutterstock)

However, A380 flights aren’t the only T3 departures that don’t ever seem to get shifted to a T1 gate. Based on our four-week analysis, the following services are also apparently 100% immune.

Singapore Airlines
T3 flights that always use T3 gates
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

SQ634Tokyo Haneda13:55

The fact that these flights never used a T1 departure gate over our four-week analysis period of course doesn’t guarantee they never will in future, but it looks like these ones generally remain in T3.

Some T2 flights depart from T3 gates

Over the last four weeks, Singapore Airlines operated 1,491 passenger flight departures from Terminal 2, but a small minority of these – just 10 flights in fact – actually departed from a Terminal 3 gate.

That’s just 0.7%, which is quite negligible and probably happened due to an unforseen gate shortage in T2.

Here are the 10 flights that were affected.

Singapore Airlines
T2 departures using a T3 gate
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

DateFlight NumberDestinationDeparture Gate
27 JulSQ194HanoiB7
28 JulSQ944BaliA11
30 JulSQ138PenangA19
5 AugSQ138PenangA20
6 AugSQ178Ho Chi MinhA1
12 AugSQ706BangkokB10
13 AugSQ194HanoiA9
14 AugSQ928SurabayaA9
14 AugSQ186Ho Chi MinhA16
16 AugSQ194HanoiA9

While this is an uncommon occurrence, remember that SIA’s T3 lounges are far superior to the older T2 versions, that only got a minor spruce-up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reception at the newly renovated KrisFlyer Gold Lounge in Changi Airport’s Terminal 3. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you’re departing to a T2 destination and notice that your flight will actually use a T3 gate, you’ll probably want to head over to the T3 transit area as soon as possible to make use of the newer lounges, assuming you’re eligible for access.

Some T3 flights depart from T2 gates

T3 flights departing from T2 gates was a common occurrence when T2 first reopened in May 2022, but now that the facility has almost all its former gates back in action there is thankfully little need for this.

As such, all Singapore Airlines departures to South East Asia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are processed through the T2’s check-in, departure hall and aircraft gates.

However, over the last four weeks three flights that were supposed to depart from Terminal 3 needed to use a T2 gate instead, as shown below.

Singapore Airlines
T3 departures using a T2 gate
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

DateFlight NumberDestinationDeparture Gate
30 JulSQ442KathmanduF37
1 AugSQ522HyderabadF35
18 AugSQ332ParisF60

With 2,275 planned T3 departures for Singapore Airlines over this four-week period, the chance of your T3 flight departing from a T2 gate was only 0.1%!

This is hardly worth mentioning, but do be aware if you are very unlucky this situation might affect you, and it’s important to build in additional time to take the SkyTrain from T3 to T2 for boarding.

You could also choose to relocate to the T2 transit area or one of the T2 lounges early, so as not to be rushing at the last minute.

Which SIA flights arrive into T1?

Singapore Airlines flights inbound to Changi Airport can arrive at T1, T2 or T3, regardless of their country of origin.

This is mostly dictated by the next departure service the aircraft will operate.

For example, this morning (25th August 2023) SQ37 from Los Angeles to Singapore landed at 06:46 and arrived into Terminal 2 (gate F41), because the aircraft operating the service (an Airbus A350 Long Haul, 9V-SJG) was then being used to operate SQ106 to Kuala Lumpur at 08:30, which is a T2 departure.

The actual arrival terminal for all Singapore Airlines flights heading to Changi Airport is assigned approximately two hours before landing. You can click here to check the flight status, which includes arrival terminal information, or check the Changi app or Changi Airport website flight information page.

During the four-week period from 24th July to 20th August 2023, we analysed arrival terminal information for Singapore Airlines flights and found that 300 services out of 3,765 total arrivals parked at a T1 gate – around 8% or 1 in 12 flights.

Singapore Airlines
Changi Airport arrivals by terminal
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

DateTotal arrivalsAs % of all
SIA arrivals

However, in common with the pattern we saw for departing flights there are many services that have a much higher chance of arriving into T1 than the 8% network-wide average.

Here’s a rundown of the SIA services that have a 25% chance or greater (more than three times the average) of being allocated a T1 arrival gate.

Singapore Airlines
Most common T1 arrival gate flights
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

FlightDestinationTimeT1 gate
SQ423Mumbai07:4014 / 28
SQ301Manchester07:403 / 8
SQ216Perth06:359 / 28
SQ895Hong Kong22:409 / 28
SQ214Perth22:358 / 28
SQ23New York05:208 / 28
SQ33San Francisco05:458 / 28
SQ825Shanghai05:558 / 28
SQ185Ho Chi Minh22:407 / 28
SQ191Hanoi17:057 / 28
SQ218Melbourne05:307 / 28
SQ305London05:307 / 28
SQ37Los Angeles07:507 / 28
SQ529Chennai06:107 / 28
SQ183Ho Chi Minh06:555 / 20
SQ27Seattle05:303 / 12
SQ387Barcelona06:552 / 8

Unlike when a Singapore Airlines flight departs from T1, in which case check-in remains at T3, for services allocated a T1 gate on arrival the immigration processing and baggage reclaim is at T1 itself.

That’s an important distinction, especially if you have friends or relatives coming to meet you at the airport.

If you don’t have checked baggage, you can actually proceed for immigration clearance at any terminal, but for those with checked bags it’s essential to “do as you’re told” here and clear via T1 in this example, because the correct baggage reclaim belt is only accessible through that channel.

Some A380 flights arrive into T2

You’ll recall earlier that we said you’re guaranteed to be departing from a Terminal 3 gate when departing on one of SIA’s Airbus A380 services – which only operate to T3 destinations and never get shunted over to T1.

For arrival into Changi Airport, it’s a different matter.

Many Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 services arrive into Terminal 2, because rather than be immediately used for another flight the aircraft are then towed to a remote parking area for several hours, then towed again to a T3 departure gate for their next service.

This helps Changi Airport optimise its gate allocation at peak times. Here’s how it looked over the four-week period we’ve analysed.

Singapore Airlines
Arrival gates for A380 flights
24 Jul – 20 Aug 2023

FlightDestinationTimeT2 gate
T3 gate
SQ893Hong Kong19:355 / 20
15 / 20
SQ228Melbourne21:304 / 28
24 / 28
SQ833Shanghai21:203 / 28
25 / 28
SQ222Sydney21:203 / 28
25 / 28
SQ232Sydney17:302 / 28
26 / 28
SQ403Delhi06:100 / 20
20 / 20
SQ317London07:300 / 28
28 / 28
SQ319London16:550 / 28
28 / 28

A380 arrivals from Hong Kong and Melbourne are the most likely to arrive in T2 rather than T3 but some A380 flights, including both daily London services, never seem to.

The Terminal 5 solution

Cross-terminal operation for Singapore Airlines at its main Changi hub, including the use of gates in Terminal 1, isn’t an easy problem to fix until the mid-2030s, when the mammoth Terminal 5 comes into operation.

Changi Airport Terminal 5 will almost double the size of the airport. (Image: Changi Airport Group)

The opening capacity of the facility is slated to be 50 million passengers per year, and with 60 contact gates the entire SIA Group, or all SIA and Star Alliance carriers, should easily be accommodated under one roof.

A future extension to the terminal will hike capacity even further to 70 million passengers, with 20 further gates, so there’s little doubt this will be the carrier’s main hub in future, avoiding cross-terminal operation.

Until then, some expansion of Terminal 2 on its upcoming full reopening may allow SIA to shift more flights across to that facility, but even then it’s unlikely the T1 gate issue can be completely avoided.

There’s no quick fix to this issue, short of moving even more flights across to Terminal 2 upon its full reopening later this year.

When Changi’s Terminal 5 comes online in the mid-2030s, with a capacity for 50 million passengers a year and at least 60 contact gates, the entire SIA group could well be accommodated under one roof for the first time in decades.

Until then though, you should probably get used to these T1 gate operations – and build in some extra time to head to the gate especially if you’re in the SilverKris lounges, which are on the ‘wrong’ side of the T3 concourse.

In fact, Terminal 3 is the second smallest facility at the airport, housing just 28 gates. This is also why Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa and Swiss can’t share the same terminal with Singapore Airlines at Terminal 3. During the departure rush between 10 pm and midnight, there’s simply not enough room.