Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Fri October 30 2015

Taking Duty-Free Shopping Online at Singapore Changi International

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | October 30, 2015

Taking Duty-Free Shopping Online at Singapore Changi International

Singapore’s Changi International is already considered one of the world’s best airports thanks to features like an in-terminal swimming pool, Xbox and PlayStation consoles that are free to use, spa services, multiple indoor gardens (including a butterfly garden) and more shopping options than anyone could possibly need. 

Duty-free aficionados are in for a treat if they have a layover here. Even departing passengers who want to casually browse the duty-free selection before they take off usually leave impressed. 

Taking the duty-free experience into cyberspace

Shopping is a major part of the Singapore experience in general, and the Changi experience in particular. This fact is not lost on the airport’s overseers, who are also aware that people want to avoid Singapore’s taxes, which are not steep compared to some places in the world, but more expensive than others. 

Now, duty-free shopping is about to go online in the Southeast Asian city-state. Arriving passengers will be able to browse the selection on the airport’s official duty-free web site, iShop Changi. They can make purchases and payments online and then simply pick up their items as they are passing through the airport. 

More time to browse

Actually, online duty-free shopping has been offered for a couple of years at Changi. However, arriving passengers were not able to use the service until now. 

Purchases can be made up to two weeks before flying. Buyers then head to airside “collection centres” to pick up their items. Passports are required for identification, and people must also produce a copy of their receipt (emailed after the purchase is processed on iShop) before they can leave with their perfume, whiskey or cosmetics. 

Both online and in-person purchases qualify for the airport’s rewards program (which is useless unless you live in Singapore or fly there frequently). 

Pushing duty free without being pushy 

The move to online duty-free shopping may actually be a welcome development for retail-averse travelers. It may, eventually, signal the end of the practice of flight attendants pushing duty-free items on passengers at the end of long flights. You’ve probably experienced this: you see a cart coming down the aisle, but instead of the pre-landing refresher to take care of your dry mouth, you are shown a bottle of Johnny Walker and a carton of Marlboro Lights. 

On the other hand, duty-free mavens planning a Singapore excursion can start making their purchases two weeks before arrival. Even if they don’t use the iShop to buy something, they can use it to get a preview of what’s currently on offer at Changi’s outlets. 

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