For something so thrilling, flying can be a really dull, painful activity. Because flying always means one thing: the airport.
The long lines for check-in. And for security. And for boarding. The delays. The plain decoration and walls and tunnels and halls. Sure, you're going on a vacation, but to get there, you must first pass through a kind of fun vacuum.
In recent years, airports have tried to improve this with better restaurants, and more spaces for people to relax. Chicago's O'Hare even has a full-sized Brachiosaurus skeleton to gawk at while you wait for your 4:35 to Dallas. But when it comes to being a destination in and of itself, few airports can touch Changi airport in Singapore. Especially now...
Here "4" your pleasure
Welcome to Terminal 4. This brand new, five-storey airport terminal at Changi is a real stunner. And it does this by combining two seemingly opposite things: nature and robots.
In the average airport, you're lucky if you pass a couple plastic trees. But walking through Terminal 4 is like wandering through the world's biggest greenhouse. There are 340 different species of plants inside — like, real plants.
The calming effects and health benefits of plants on people is well known. Putting a whole bunch of them in a place where everyone is usually tired, sore, and cranky is a simple and brilliant idea.
And they're not stopping there! The airport is planning to have both a rainforest and the world's biggest indoor waterfall in Terminal 4 by 2019. And yet, just when you think that you've got Changi all figured out, they go and flip the script.
Leave me alone
Terminal 4 is more than just some trip back into nature. It's also a look at how technology will change airports. Basically, it is designed to be completely run by robots.
No security staff. No cleaning or baggage staff. (Well, almost none...) Instead, to check-in or confirm ID, you scan your face. Luggage moves from place-to-place by machine. Robots clean the rugs and bathrooms.
It's all based on the idea that after a long flight crammed in a small space, most people want the chance to be left alone for a little while. No people bugging you for this and that. Just you, and a bunch of plants and flowing water, and your thoughts. And, well, you know...the 82 million other passengers per year that Changi handles.
Would you be excited to try out Changi's Terminal 4?