I can’t say exactly what put me in a bad mood at Terminal 4, Changi. But I was super tetchy, aware that I was ready to explode with rage at such trivialities as the sandwich assortment, or the speed of the person in front of me at the security check. Why was I so angry?
Perhaps it was the future calling to me, laughing at the fact that I would be sat in the middle seat of the last row on the plane. Fortunately the occupant of 31C never showed up, so I got extra space to spread myself out.
Maybe it was the carpets. There’s lots of new carpet at Terminal 4, all slightly unappealing in different ways.
It probably wasn’t security, no matter how much my hackles were up. Things have been refined here: there was no need to even talk to somebody to get a boarding pass. I swiped my passport, scanned my printed out flight docs, and went straight through an automated gate, whereas at the other Changi terminals, even with automated passport recognition, there’s still somebody who has to check and stamp your docs after the computers have assayed your fingerprint and declared you safe. Or did I feel sorry for the uncles, made redundant by technology? I guess not.
The x-ray machines have moved away from each gate and to the entry to the terminal. I’ve heard criticism over this – at peak times, I guess it could be a bottleneck as opposed to doing it gate by gate, but against that all your fooling around with passports and luggage can be got over with in one go. And also, you no longer need to take your laptop out of your bag. So that shouldn’t have annoyed me. But somehow it did.
The terminal itself is quite small (around 20 gates, from the signage, which is itself a bit confusing – how labyrinthine can you make it when there are only 20 gates?) but it feels empty, not spacious. It just doesn’t feel quite the right size, and I can’t say why that is. Could it be it needs more people in it, crowds of disconsolate travellers staggering to low cost airline take offs? There aren’t enough shops, or they’re too big, or have not enough in them, or there’s too many of them. Is it wrong to be nostalgic for the Pret A Manger in Terminal 3? Can something as soulless as a modern airport truly be inauthentic? Maybe these confusing questions were what caused me psychic pain, cognitive dissonance like a mental friction.
Or I just wanted to not be flying to Kuala Lumpur tonight, because I wanted to be at home? There’s nothing that modern architecture can do to solve for loneliness.