klia2 is the new budget airline terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It opened for passengers on 9 May 2014, replacing the former budget terminal LCCT. The old Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at KUL resembled a tin shed and it wasn’t long before AirAsia grew beyond the intended capacity. While it was ok to use if you were only flying without a connection, it was a tough place to spend if you had an overnight layover.
I was on a flight from Bali to Bangkok and I had to connect in KUL, so I booked a later connecting flight to give myself more time to investigate the new terminal.
Here are some photos and impressions of klia2.
klia2 is huge!
Visit the AirAsia route map and click Kuala Lumpur and you will see why klia2 is so huge. If you are touring around Southeast Asia the chances are that will pass through here at some point via AirAsia.
The first improvement I noticed are air bridges. At the old terminal the planes parked on the tarmac near covered walkways but you were still exposed to the weather.
My flight must have arrived at one of the furthest away gates as the walk to immigration was a trek. It wasn’t busy when I arrived so I waited less than 5 minutes to get my passport stamped. I would be interested to know if there are still long queues during peak hours.
[A long walk.]
Once you pass through customs and immigration and get outside you are greeted to what looks like a giant shopping mall, which you will need to navigate your way through to exit. It seems to be the same principle as having casinos in the hobby of hotels in Las Vegas. Here you have to fight your way past the shops to get to the transport connections.
Among the shops there is actually a useful addition of a fully stocked supermarket, which is a great idea if you live in KL and are coming home late.
[Supermarket in arrivals]
Another clever shop placement is this toy store, for the parents who have been away on business and are looking for a last minute gift for their kids before going home.
The biggest improvement to the budget terminal has been the connection of the KLIA Ekspres train, which used to only connect the main terminal at KLIA. There was a service where you could get the train from KL Sentral and then get off at the station before the airport and onto a connecting bus, but it was easier to take the direct bus.
[KLIA Ekspres at klia2.]
While the new terminal is a vast improvement for sleeping on the floor, if roughing it isn’t your thing then there are two sleeping options. One is the Capsule by Container Hotel. This is a similar concept to a Japanese capsule hotel, with this one using small shipping containers converted into private sleeping quarters.
If you want to stay in a hotel without trekking all the way into KL, search for more hotels near Kuala Lumpur International Airport here.
When I talked to my friends who were frequent travellers through LCCT we all agreed that the Food Garden was the best feature of the old terminal. This was a food court near the bus station that was open 24 hours and had free wifi. I’ve spent many a night there nursing a teh tarik while working under fluorescent lights. It was better a better option than camping out in the departure hall.
I’m sorry to report that the Food Garden did not survive the switch from LCCT to klia2. However, there is a good cheap eats alternative at the NZ Curry House which can be found on the ground floor, not far from the bus terminal. Here you will find proper curries and Malay food at decent prices (i.e. not the usual extortionate airport prices). I don’t think you would work here for an extended amount of time like you could at Food Garden, but at least you can get a decent roti canai without having to go into KL.
[NZ Curry House]
Scattered around the terminal are the usual familiar food chains and some independent eateries as well. The most unusual restaurant (for an airport) is this organic vegetarian restaurant.
When you check in you are warned to give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate, and you will need it as it can be a long walk. After checking in and walking for what seemed like miles, I got to the pier of my flight. The departure area is roomier than the old terminal with more shops and food options (though I would eat in the restaurants outside first).
There is a movie lounge, but it’s not cinema style like there is at SIN airport. This lounge consists of TV screens running the HBO movie channel.
There is free wifi which runs on a login that lasts an hour, but I was able to use it again after one hour.
After wandering around I went to my departure gate to do a bit of work. The bucket seats are comfortable but I was surprised to see how few power outlets there are. There are some available on the pillars that look like they for the cleaners use. I would have thought a brand new airport terminal would be more accommodating to todays traveller with power outlets and USB chargers.
[The prized seat next to the power outlet.]
For me the three signs of a civilised airport are:
– airport train
– free wifi
– free water
So congratulations klia2, you get a 3/3 there.
[Free water, as it should be.]
While I would still prefer to overnight it at Singapore Changi klia2 is a massive improvement on the old old terminal and I won’t break out into shivers the next time I have to do an overnighter at KUL.