Ready for take off? 7 things you don’t see before boarding a plane at Changi

before boarding a plane at Changi

Behind-the-scenes before boarding a plane at Changi

Anyone who has ever travelled through Changi Airport can attest to its efficiency as a transport hub, surpassing most airports worldwide. It’s no surprise that it consistently ranks among the world’s best.


Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

To deliver top-notch service, numerous behind-the-scenes preparations take place that often go unnoticed.

These are some of the intricate processes that happen right before you board a plane at Changi Airport, so that your air travel experience is seamless and safe.

1. Baggage unloading happens immediately as passengers disembark

A small army of workers await the moment an aircraft touches down. Once the aerobridge operator docks the plane, passengers start to deplane.

At the same time, the ground crew immediately unloads the check-in baggage and other cargo with the help of specialised lifts and vehicles.

luggage unloading

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Once removed from the aircraft’s cargo hold, these items are transported to the respective terminal.

To optimise this process, autonomous vehicles such as the Auto-Dolly are currently undergoing a trial. These automotives function without the need for an operator.

2. Plane gets a refuel & sewage is removed

To prepare for the plane’s next flight, a maintenance and disposal team steps in quickly, like clockwork.

before boarding a plane at Changi 2

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

A refuelling truck carries fuel from an underground storage tank and dispenses it into the plane. These fuel storage tanks are found at all of Changi’s aircraft bays.

Simultaneously, separate trucks remove sewage from the previous flight and supply fresh water to the aircraft.

3. Cabins are cleaned & toilets are washed

Next, the cleaners. They quickly begin their work as soon as all passengers and crew members have disembarked.

Row by row, they remove waste items such as empty water bottles, used tissues and discarded packaging.

before boarding a plane at Changi 3

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Used blankets, pillowcases and headrest covers are also replaced with fresh ones. To ensure that the plane is squeaky clean for the next passengers, they vacuum the cabin floor and clean the toilets.

Amenities such as toilet paper and napkins are also replenished, subject to the airline’s requirements. At the same time, gifts or freebies are restocked depending on flight and cabin class.

4. Inflight meals & drinks are brought in

The in-flight catering team enters the arena next, ensuring all passengers are well fed during the flight.

Trolleys of meals and beverages are wheeled onto the plane and stored in the aircraft’s galleys, where the cabin crew prepares them for passengers.

inflight meals

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Most inflight meals are cooked in catering facilities near the airport.

As they exit the plane, the catering team also takes the previous flight’s food waste for disposal.

5. Airline technicians run checks on the plane

While the flurry of activities are ongoing, airline technicians commence a thorough inspection of the plane, addressing any issues that were logged from the previous flight.

before boarding a plane at Changi 5

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Issues could involve mechanical parts such as loose tray tables and electronic components such as entertainment systems.

Lastly, the technicians perform a comprehensive diagnostic of the aircraft’s systems to ensure that all is in order for the next flight.

6. Pilot & crew make final preparations

Around 60 to 90 minutes before the flight’s departure, the cabin crew arrives and begins their final preparations.

They organise inflight meals in the galleys for easy access during the first meal service.

Cabin crew

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Meanwhile, the ground crew conducts final safety checks on the equipment.

The flight’s First Officer also inspects the plane’s exterior, including its body, wings, and wheels, checking for any visible damage.

Only after the captain approves the safety checks is the plane cleared for flight.

7. Final step: Plane is towed into its taxiing position

After the passengers have boarded and the luggages and cargo are loaded into the plane, the ground crew remains on standby.

airplane taxiing

Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Upon receiving clearance from the control tower, the plane is towed from the bay to its designated taxiing position by a tow tug.

The ground crew can only leave for their next assignment once the plane begins taxiing towards the runway.

Also read: Woman says Changi Airport is ‘the best’ after staff found lost item within 30 minutes

Woman says Changi Airport is ‘the best’ after staff found lost item within 30 minutes

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