Changi Airport ensures automated immigration clearance system is wheelchair accessible

by | Jan 12, 2023 | Airports, Digital Transformation, Travel Tech

Changi Airport ensures automated immigration clearance system is wheelchair accessible


Recognising the challenges that travelling with a disability can pose, Changi Airport offers a new measure to assist passengers who use wheelchairs.

The airport introduced automated lanes called the Special Assistance Lane (SAL) in December 2022. These allow passengers in wheelchairs to benefit from the convenience of automated immigration clearance enabled by biometric technology.

Changi Airport Group, Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) worked together to create the new automated lanes.

In the creation stages, people of reduced mobility were involved in physical sessions. This helped to identify any challenges and ensure the lanes were as user friendly as possible. Factors including the width of the lane as well as the placement and angles of the passport and biometric scanners were taken into account. Looking forward, the lanes will continue to be refined based on feedback received by users.

Currently, the new lanes are available at Changi Airport Terminal 1 departure hall and the Terminal 2 arrival and departure halls. The SALs will be progressively installed at all Changi Airport terminals and the passenger halls at land and sea checkpoints. Right now, the option is only available to Singapore residents (Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders), but will be extended to eligible foreign visitors from March 2023.

Making automated procedures accessible to people with physical disabilities enables the benefits of airport technology to be felt more equally across passengers. It also allows for the redistribution of staff to optimise the running of the airport.

Moreover, the SALs allow families of up to four people to go through self-immigration clearance together. This makes Singapore the first country in the world to introduce an automated lane for multiple travellers to perform self-immigration clearance as a group.

Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Chief Executive, SPD, an organisation that serves people with disabilities, said:

“The addition of wheelchair-friendly automated immigration lanes will help some wheelchair users to be more independent, as well as provide some caregivers with more convenience when assisting their loved ones who use mobility aids.”

The Straits Times reported that Ms Fathima Zohra, 25, a wheelchair user who is paralysed from the neck down, welcomes the introduction of the automated lanes. Ms Zohra said:

“With these automated lanes, I feel my condition is understood and respected. I feel more assured I can travel smoothly.”

For related content see Accessibility technology for visually impaired passengers and IGA Istanbul Airport paves the way for accessibility


Article by Jess Brownlow