Monday 7 January 2013

Long Haul Layovers - Newark And Singapore

Note: I am not Dick Puddlecote.

Thank you to everyone who welcomed me to Dick's blog last month with your comments, if you missed it you can read how I introduced myself here.

We are now at that time of year when many people will be booking holidays, here are some tips for two regular airports for long haul layovers for those of us who enjoy a smoke.

If you travel to the west coast of America, it is possible you may stop at Newark airport along the way.

Newark airport. Ok, you cannot smoke anywhere in the airport. However, if you have a layover there and flying to Europe, the chances are that you will be going from terminal C. There are a couple of things to think about here. The first is duty free. If you are on a layover and get into terminal C, go buy the duty free before you do anything else. The beauty of this airport is that you buy the duty free and get a receipt. You will only get your goods at the gate when boarding so no need to worry about carrying it around with you. If you fly into terminal A, you can get a bus which will take you to terminal C, which again means you can take care of duty free before anything else.

OK, so you have duty free and you have a few hours to spare. You go out of departures to have a cigarette, cigar or whatever else takes your fancy. The first thing that will hit you is that there is nothing outside departures at Terminal C to entertain you. So, have your smoke then jump on the free airtrain (or walk, there are decent walkways and will help stretch the legs) and go to terminals A or B. my preference is Tony Romas at terminal A. You can have a drink, some food, then go have a cigarette after. In fact, on a four hour layover, I spoke to the staff and was able to pop out for a smoke between drinks!

It is also worth mentioning that although it may be publicised that you can only smoke outside Newark at one of the designated smoking areas, this is incorrect. Walk out the door and light up, everyone else does. There are also ashtrays everywhere outside.

On your return to terminal C, go upstairs, out of the doors and walk left. When you get to the end of the terminal, you will see steps on your left. This takes you to an outdoor smoking area with seats. It is also next to security and I usually find that one the quieter of the 3 security gates in that terminal. Note that the later it gets the quieter it is, but beware that they might also close some gates so make sure to ask if this might be the case to give yourself plenty of time to get to your flight.

If you are thinking of travelling to Australia, it is possible that you may have a stopover in Singapore.

The most important thing to remember about Singapore airport is that you are not allowed any ingoing duty free allowance on tobacco (you're also not allowed to bring chewing gum in either, it is banned!). They don't mess about either, please note that there is a large fine and prison sentence if you are caught smuggling tobacco in. This is not just with duty free, but even with those bought tax paid before you leave!

I had read you could buy duty free and pay the tax, however this is not the case. I tried to buy cigarettes once in Dubai and was refused as I was off to Singapore, even though I said I intended to declare them. Cigarettes in Singapore are S$12 per pack. However, on your way home you can get your duty free at around £15 for 200....go figure!

Note also that you can only take 50 cigarettes into Australia which is a new regulation. I have not seen it in other airports yet, but in Singapore you can buy 50 cigarettes (2x25 packs) especially for the purpose.

However, despite the country being one of the most vociferous against smoking, there are still various smoking rooms around the airport. Singapore has designated areas outside, usually one or the other end of this huge airport. People generally will not smoke out of these areas. Just get through to departures and you will find much nicer areas to smoke. Note too that dropping litter is a serious offence in Singapore. Do not take any chances.

In terminal 1 there is the Cactus Garden which is advertised as a beer garden and smoking area. This particular smoking area has been a source of amusement for me the past few years. There is a great bar and even outdoor air conditioning. However, you can no longer smoke at the bar or at the tables. There are other seats where you can freely take your drink and smoke, though. This results in quite an amusing scenario. Last time I was there, a lot of folks were taking advantage of what I call the 'cheap seats' where smoking is welcome, but only three people sat at the bar and none in the table area. Note that this is outdoors and there is only 3 yards at most separating the smoking and non smoking areas. It still makes me laugh. I remember when smoking was allowed at the bar and it was like a holiday resort - everyone sat at the bar chatting to strangers, having drinks, cigarettes and a good laugh. This is still the same experience, just moved a few yards away.

In terminal 2 there is Hari's Pub (don't confuse with Harry's bar, quite different). As you enter the bar, over to the right hand corner there is a small smoking room - yes, indoors! Order your drink at the bar and tell them you are going to the smoking room. Their waiter service will bring it for you and they will also come to you for further orders, you don't have to move a muscle. Simply pay at the bar on your way out. How very civilised.

As for hotel smoking rooms in Singapore or America. Yes, you can still get them - don't believe the hype! I manage to get quite a lot of smoking rooms. Check before booking the hotel and never assume, because of the country, that there is no chance of a smoking room. Places that would surprise you are the Waldorf and the Grand Hyatt in New York. Both have limited smoking rooms. Just don't book a Marriott in North America as they were the 'proud' pioneers of non smoking hotels. You can get smoking rooms with them in other parts of the world though.

I hope some of you might find this information useful, you can find my articles tagged as Bear Tripper on the right hand side. If you have any tips of your own, please add them to the comments. I will try to reply to as many as possible.

Happy travels!


Bellevue said...

I no longer fly long haul, because I could not cope with the non-smoking. But as a matter of interest, there is a smoking area (beyond security) at Bristol airport. I fly quite often to the UK from France, and always try to go through Bristol.

Bellevue said...

ps. I should say that Bristol is the only airport I have come across where you are allowed to smoke in the departure lounge.

Bear Tripper said...

Hi Bellevue. Thanks for your comment. Have a look at the first blog I did.

They now have a smoking balcony (in the departure lounge) in Birmingham airport. There were also a lot of helpful comments regarding smoking in airports. East Midlands is another where there is a smoking 'cage'. I am hoping there will be a trend on airports providing at least these outdoor areas in departures for us smoking travellers!

Steve Brown said...

Bear Tripper,
Thanks for some very, very useful information!
FYI, you can smoke in the bar in the departure area at Lusaka International Airport in Zambia. You might have to stand the bartender a beer, though!

Bear Tripper said...

You are welcome, Steve, glad you have found it useful.

Never been to Zambia - worth knowing (and certainly worth the price of a beer) :-)

Weary traveler said...

At Singapore terminal 1, in addition to the outdoor smoking area at Harry's bar there are indoor smoking rooms on the upper level.
Amsterdam airport has reopened smoking rooms, some of the airline lounges (eg klm) have smoking rooms and murphys pub has now got a smoking room again.
Bergen airport, no smoking after security, the bar on the floor above departures has a heated outdoor smoking room overlooking the runways. If the bar is closed, don't worry, just duck under the barrier and use the facility as normal. No one minds.

Mr A said...

I was in Singapore last year and I couldn't work out the smoking situation at all. I knew about the restrictions at the airport and dutifully declared my open pack of 20. But I'd heard that you had designated smoking areas OUTSIDE, that simply going outside a bar was not enough. Now I had tried to book a smoking room in the hotel (yay for those!) but as is always the way when the antis try to distort markets, those were completely booked up. Once I hit the city bars, in-bar smoking was verboten. However, so was outside smoking - you had to leave outside areas to stand outside the roped-off area of the bar where the tables were. However, this was often only a couple of feet away, so you could continue your conversation. However, while this was, like most anti-smoking regulations, utterly nonsensical it was however less disruptive than the UK ban as everyone was outside anyway (it was hellishly hot even in January) and as I say, by merely stepping over a rope you could continue your conversation with the people you were with. The hotel was another matter. As I couldn't get a smoking room, my room was obviously non-smoking. The bars were also non-smoking despite basically being open-sided pavilions. The pool (completely open) was also non-smoking. Yet you could smoke on a number of outdoor patios, despite people eating there. Weird - there really seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it, and even after 4 days there, I was still none the wiser about how their ban worked. Strangely, despite being so draconian (basically outside smoking bans in many areas, including outside bars) in some ways it was less disruptive than the UK's ban. As it was so incredibly hot I never even considered going indoors anyway and simply stepping over a rope was less disruptive than having to leave a pub and stand outside. And I could still smoke at my table while having lunch and breakfast or when having a beer/coffee. Still wouldn't want to live there though - very strange place.

Briar Tuck said...

Bloody hell! Are you sure? There's certainly a fenced 'outdoor smoking area' (like somewhere you'd put the wheelie bins) with Imperial's clangy steel 'smoking pavilion' [] installed at one end, but this is off the main landside foyer. Before redevelopment, there was certainly somewhere beyond security, but if it's still there, it hides itself well...

Bear Tripper said...

Had totally forgotten about the indoor smoking room over by the food court. Usually fly from the other end of the airport so the cactus garden is closer....and the indoor smoking room doesn't have a bar attached ;-)

Thanks for the info on Amsterdam. I have not flown through there in years but at least now know that there are smoking areas there - just in case!

Bear Tripper said...

Totally agree with your comments on this. I have been fortunate enough to get smoking rooms when I have been there. I understand they are in demand (not that anyone smokes anymore.....honest!)

Clarke Quay is incredibly bad to get smoking tables at any bars/restaurants. Boat Quay does seem a little more smoker friendly but, again, only a few tables here and there are smoking....right next to the ones which are non-smoking. Most smoking friendly place I have found is Chijmes which is a complex just over the road from Raffles. You can generally get a smoking table quite easily at the bars and restaurants there in the main area. One even looks like it is almost indoors but most are outdoors, which is absolutely fine due to the nice weather. Even Raffles itself - you can smoke at the bar in the courtyard area.

It doesn't then make sense that you have a swimming pool at a hotel where there is no smoking allowed or, as I found at a couple of hotels, one place towards the back of the pool area where you can smoke.

All this in addition to the situation at the cactus garden does tend to beg the question as to what exactly is being achieved and does everyone really know what the rules are supposed to be?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Hey! Something I recognise. I have made use of the Murphy's pub room at Schipol. Got a big TV screen on the wall too IIRC. :)

Bellevue said...

Dear Briar, this was admittedly about a year ago. I went to the bar for a glass of wine and when asked if there was anything else, I jokingly said 'Is there somewhere I can smoke?' and I was directed to the outside balcony smoking area. It might no longer exist after the redevelopment, which is a bugger as far as I am concerned!

John Pickworth said...

Schipol; thumbs up for Murphy's... not so much for the glass sided smoking cubicles provided elsewhere in the airport. Designed for 6 but frequently packed with 20+ souls pressed tightly together. I cannot tell you the numbers of times I've heard long haul Americans expressing surprise, and shock, that we're not so liberal in Europe after all.

exploringme said...

It's a great place to stay with. The water in the pool is clear and clean. Overall, the resort was grad A to me.
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