First hand experience of the new KLIA2 LCC terminal in Kuala Lumpur
10 May 2014 09:08:00
Yesterday, May 9th, the infamous LCC Terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport was replaced with the brand new KLIA2 terminal, a huge structure with 60 gates and a annual capacity at 45 million passengers a year double that of the old LCC-T. Since yesterday all Airasia flights have moved to this new terminal.
On first sight it has some major improvements. It is adjacent to the main KLIA terminal making transfering flights between AirAsia and another carrier a lot easier. Also, the old LCC Terminal was badly over-capacity and extremely crowded.
But there the improvements end unfortunately, and as soon as you land the annoyances start. I arrived on an AirAsia flight which landed in the evening at 9pm on the day of the opening. The aircraft docked with an aerobridge, which is nice and modern and saves you from walking outside to the aircraft as on the LCC-T. But at the LCC-T you could exit the aircraft from both the front and back, while now, because there is only one aerobridge, everybody has to exit the plane at the front.
If you have finally made it out of the aircraft the walking starts. When you exit the gate you enter a long, long hallway all the way to the main building. All the gates are next to each other on either side of a long rectangular building so when your gate is at the back, which mine was now, you need to walk up to 1km to get to the arrival hall. And no, there are not any travelotors (horizontal escalators).
Confusion @ KLIA2
Here another characteristics becomes clear: confusion. Although I am by now quite an expert in airports, I could not understand this one. Signing was bad, doors everywhere, lifts are placed in a small alley and things like that. Luckily there are dozens of young people with big signs "Ask me" everywhere, and yes, that is necessary.
After a 15 minute walk I finally arrived at the passport control which was a brees. No people waiting so I could walk on in just a minute. Which way you need to go after you get your passport back is confusing though. Luckily some immigration staff had taped some paper signs with Exit on some immigration booths, which helped, but it is telling that they did not think about that when designing the airport. I mean, you have a brand new, billion dollar terminal and you need to direct people with taped paper signs?
After immigration you pass a wall and you end up in a tax-free store. Another strange experience, you actually need to exit the store to get to the baggage carroussels. On the other side of the enormous hall is a small sign "exit" ;, so it took me a while to figure out how i could get out of there.
At the customs they now decided that all bags needed to be scanned, while normally you could just walk on. A big queue was the result. Funny was that the guy who should be looking at the screen of the scanner was busy writing an sms while dozens of bags passed.
Then... More walking... After the customs you arrive in the commercial area and to get to the busses to KL you need to pass 400 meters of shops. Then I realized i needed an ATM but they are hidden away. After asking one of the many guys i was directed to a corner where there was one single ATM, which didn't accept my card. After looking more I ended up changing some money into ringgit at a bank near the busses. Then they have all these shops, and all these foreigners coming there, but no ATMs.
The new bus station at KLIA2
Finally, after all the shops and if you managed to find out how to get to the lower floor, you get at the bus station. Finding a bus was another annoyance. Before, at the old LCC all the busses were parked on small area and you could just pick the one which was almost full and would depart soon and get in. Now there is over the length of the building about 15 bus stops. You need to walk another few hundred meters before figuring out where a bus to Sentral is departing. Then you can not get in. You need to buy a ticket first at a booth inside. So back inside again and the different bus companies have different booths, and of course far away from each other as well. So there is no way to compare departure times anymore. I ended up buying a ticket for a bus which would depart in 25 minutes which was not that bad.
So after one and a half hour I was finally in a bus, tired of the annoyances and all the walking. While at the old LCC-T, if you don't have baggage, you could be in a bus on the way to the city within 15 minutes after landing, my record was 8 minutes. That is something you would never be able to do here. Part of the long time it took now was also because of the confusion, but normally at KLIA2 getting into a bus takes about an hour; because you need to wait longer before you exit the airplane, need to walk up to 1.5 km to the busses and then randomly have to choose a bus without knowing if there was another one departing sooner.
Is KLIA2 an improvement? No, it is a first and foremost a shopping mall, not an airport terminal. KLIA2 makes flying with AirAsia to KL a hassle. Give us the LCC-T back!