Wait for bags at Changi may take longer

TRAVELLERS arriving at Changi Airport may now face a longer wait than before to collect their bags.

The airport's "first bag on the belt in 12 minutes" standard was relaxed recently to allow a couple more minutes, sources said.

This is after feedback from industry players, including ground handling firms which handle passengers, bags and cargo.

Growing passenger numbers and rising manpower costs have made meeting the old standards increasingly challenging, they said.

Last year, Changi Airport handled a record 55.4 million passengers. Traffic is expected to grow in coming years as the demand for air travel in the Asia Pacific rises.

As part of the changes - the first in seven years - those using budget carriers are also likely to queue longer at check-in counters compared with those on full-service airlines.

This is because there are now different standards for the different types of airlines.

It is understood that this is due partly to different traveller expectations and pressures on budget airlines to keep a tight lid on costs to offer competitive fares.

Previously, the rules were the same for all airlines. No traveller should wait more than 10 minutes to get to the front of the line and another two minutes to be processed.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) confirmed that performance standards had been revised, taking into account passenger growth and changes in the operating environment.

The authority did not provide details on the new standards.

The spokesman stressed, though, that the priority is always to maintain high standards of service.

The head of Dnata's Singapore operations, Mark Edwards, said it will take time to assess the impact of the recent changes.

The 40-year industry veteran, who has worked at airports in London and Munich in Germany, said Changi's standards are the highest he has come across.

"Changi is 100 per cent focused on the customer experience and, as a passenger, I appreciate that going in and out of Singapore is a fairly easy and pleasant experience.

"But the pressure and problems it causes us are extraordinary and we struggle with it all the time," he said.

The move towards do-it-yourself options should help, he added.

He was referring to the airport's initiative to cut manpower costs and boost efficiency by rolling out self-service options for check-in, baggage tagging and aircraft boarding.

Housewife Paremjit Sandhu, 49, said: "Flying in and out of Changi is quite pleasant. Even when there are queues, you don't end up waiting for too long and everything is very efficient.

"I have no doubt that the airport will maintain the highest standards even as traffic numbers increase."


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