Airport Review – KLIA2


Air Asia Planes lined up at KLIA2

Air Asia Planes lined up at KLIA2

So, here I sit at Gloria Jean’s in the brand new terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, writing my first ever airport review – well, of this new terminal that opened, as near as I can work out, a week ago on May the second. We received an email two days before our flight on Air Asia that we would not be transiting in the old LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) as was the norm for Air Asia flights, but the brand spanking new KLIA2, the biggest budget airline terminal in the world! It’s even bigger than KLIA1, a rather state of the art terminal which is one of my favourites.

It's a little bit of Hawaii in KLIA2

It’s a little bit of Hawaii in KLIA2

Then on the flight we were told by the very friendly Air Asia cabin crew that we were to be the first ever flight from Japan to land at KLIA2! Wow! It was actually pretty exciting! And a massive relief – the LCCT was basically a large shed with four food outlets that appeared to have bought their sandwiches from the same catering company, and was pretty hot, always packed, and very small with nowhere to escape and relax. With a seven-hour layover either way with Air Asia heading from Tokyo to Melbourne, this was welcome news, and to be honest, a little exciting.

There's a Bidy Shop here

There’s a Bidy Shop here

And now I am here. And to be honest, I feel let down. Let’s get this straight, it is definitely without a doubt a lot better than the LCCT. However, it feels like it opened before it was ready. The flight attendant was pretty excited too, he described it as ‘a shopping mall with an airport attached’. Except, the fact is, a week in it seems only about a quarter of the outlets are open. Now bear in mind that I didn’t check out the area outside immigration, but the information desk said that this was where most of the shops are. It doesn’t even seem that big!

There are more spots for a kip. I confess I lay down at Gloria Jean’s – there’s a nice kind of sofa here and no-one seemed to mind. I didn’t sleep much on the flight. The air conditioning isn’t perfect – but it’s better than LCCT. Getting off the plane, you avoid the long walks now because a gangway greets the plane. At LCCT there was a lot of walking – usually 500 metres or more from the plane to the terminal.

Dusty window ledges

Dusty window ledges

Still. The place has been open a week and the floors are filthy. There’s a lot of carpeting, and it looks worn – like it’s 20 years old. And there’s dust and dirt, and it doesn’t appear to have been vacuumed since it opened. Window ledges have names written in the thick dust that sits on them. Presumably the dust is from the completion of building, rather than Father Time, but still! There are only a couple of ATMs, with plenty of slots for new ones.

Public tables and seating

Public tables and seating

Tables in the general seating area remain uncleared for hours. Here at Gloria Jean’s or at McDonald’s it’s ok, but in the public areas it’s diabolical! I even saw a bunch of cigarette butts in a pot with a native Malaysian tree in it! And the toilets! There are more than at LCCT, a MAJOR blessing, but – no toilet paper in some, very dirty, and I went into one before and saw basically every stall clogged or covered in shit. Sorry. It had to be said. When they do clean the toilets (this was a complaint I had at the LCCT too) they just spray water everywhere. The floor, toilet seats and walls are sopping wet. In contrast, the KLIA-1 terminal, which I visited last year, is almost spotless.

Story of the Day

Story of the Day

I guess I need to remember that it is a low-cost carrier terminal still. There’s an apple shop open called ‘Machines’, a WH Smiths, an eye place and a jewellery place. The prices are not cheap. Not horrifically expensive, but not cheap. As the guy said – it’s a shopping mall with an airport attached, so you’d expect better. I’ve been to KL, the shopping malls are generally much cleaner and presentable than this place. Some of the fittings are already coming loose as well, the plastering job is pretty average, it looks rather temporary.

Cigarette butts - not a good look

Cigarette butts – not a good look

Oh – but the PA system is good, a vast improvement on the one at LCCT, where your eardrums got assaulted at every announcement. Again – it’s a terminal for low cost carriers. So we can’t expect perfection. Air Asia, as always, are an outstanding low cost airline and have a great range of destinations. Wish they would reinstate their flights to Europe! Sadly, for all the hype – and I expect things will improve over time – this KLIA2 terminal has been a disappointment, albeit it is much better than the previous one. I’d give it one and a half stars out of five.

In three hours, it’s time for the second part of the leg. Folks – I am almost home. Tomorrow’s Sunday Spotlight will take you to Cameroon, so stay tuned!


  • Interesting post. I hope the terminal has improved when I next use it in October! I too, wish AirAsia still did the Europe flights. At least we have Bali, which from Perth is soooo cheap 🙂

    • thanks for reading! Home now in Australia – I believe most outlets were open on the other side of immigration after talking to a few people that came through from there (ie they were in Malaysia and not transiting) It’s a work in progress. The worst thing was the toilets.

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  • Very curious to hear a first-hand experience. How about the walking distances – that seems to be one of the main problems highlighted also?! It’s a shame as I understand they were dying to open it asap, and now it seems waiting and getting the job done properly might have been a much better idea…

    • I gather the check in area is a fair walk from the departures area. There was a bit of walking involved but other airports have a fair bit more – Dubai for instance! But LCCT didnt have much at all – there was no where to walk! Oh, except for to and from the plane – at least THAT isnt necessary anymore. As far as I know.

  • This is a fair customer feedback. Will share this with a blog read by the those who should be able to take up the challenge of improving it! Thank you.

  • Okay… some positives but also some MAJOR negatives! Maybe they get their act together soon?!

    • Well it’s still WAY better than the LCCT. And I was there in its first week of operation and I imagine they were pushing to get it open. But I can only review what I experience. It’s an important hub though coming from Australia because Air Asia use it and they have generally the best deals going around. Thanks for reading!

  • It’s basically a vast mid-market mall with an airport terminal attached to it. It’s unnecessarily huge. Everyone I’ve talked to complains about the long walks required. Agreed it looks like it was rushed and opened in a very slap-dash manner — poor workmanship is abundantly evident. Lights and fixtures don’t fit their cutouts properly, painting is sloppy (and in some cases, only one coat when either better paint or 2-3 coats were clearly necessary), things like bathrooms and walkways appear to be years old even though the airport just opened… it’s just a big disappointment. And curiously, there’s a customs clearance point at departure. I’ve traveled all over the world and have never seen a customs point — to the point of x-raying your bags — for DEPARTURE. That’s usually an arrival thing. Another Malaysian oddity.

  • I travelled through the new KLIA2 on 30th May and 3 June going to and from Chiang Mai. There are basically two terminal building connected by the sky walk or some other crazy name, which is basically a walkway connecting the two terminal buildings. The walkway crosses over the tarmac ie. aircraft can travel beneath you as you are walking along the walkway.
    Distances. Both times I arrived at arrival gates furthest from the customs/immigration area. I timed my walk with just a small carry on bag with wheels. From the arrival gate to the “Sky Walk” was 10.5 minutes. I walked at a moderate pace, if you had kids, were elderly (read slow walking) then maybe 15 minutes or more just to the Sky Walk. Then you go up a moving walkway or elevator to the skywalk which was another 8.5 minutes moderate paced walking. Add more if you have kids or walk slowly. Total of 19 minutes from the gate to customs. After customs/immigration collect your bags and then your bags, not carry on, are x-rayed. After this you enter the large shopping mall with another 6-7 minute walk if you are going to get a taxi.

    Catch my drift? A lot of walking and yes there were about 2 moving footways each of about 60 metres on the 1st concourse and I think there were 2 on the Sky Walk. Unfortunately only one was working on my arrival and 2 on my departure. Make sure you leave plenty of time between flights if you travelling somewhere else.

    Toilets in Kl are for some reason amongst the worst I have experienced any where in the world. It is clear that they need for attention or should I say more regular attention. Clearly the new terminal is far far superior to the old tin shed but you now you do the walking inside the terminal rather than on the tarmac.

  • Airport Inspector

    KLIA2 in a nutshell: Expect long walks and very poor design.

    – There is up to a 1km walk from plane to Arrivals hall. Add another 1km back if you are catching another plane. Not to mention the distance between the Arrivals and Departure Halls and the buses 500m away outside.
    – Two narrow escalators funnel arrival passengers to the overhead walk-way – the SkyBridge (?). They form an obvious point of failure. What happens when one needs maintenance or breaks-down?
    – More escalators to the Immigration arrivals hall. The feeling is small and cramped.
    – The Immigration arrivals hall consists of immigration desks facing each other in a hall approx 15m wide. This results in unnecessary over-crowding since the nearest queues impede access to all other queues. Mid-week it was crowded. What happens during a peak holiday period?
    – The Immigration arrivals hall exit feeds into a shop. That feels a bit crass.
    – There were no free drinking water fountains to be found either walking to or from the plane.
    – The corridors to the departure gates are too narrow and easily blocked by slow moving people and trolleys
    – That said, there are very few trolleys to help the young and old with their hand luggage during the long walk over the Sky-Bridge.
    – Signage through the airport is inconsistent and inadequate.

    Overall, the qualitative rating of the airport is poor, with low quality fit and finish throughout the air-side section. From a design and useability perspective, with mistakes such as the long walking distances, narrow hall widths, lack of drinking water, and poor signage, KLIA2 scores poorly. While the water and signage could be fixed, KLIA2 appears flawed by it’s larger problems. One is left wondering whether the individuals and committees who commissioned, approved, and oversaw the building of this airport really understood the practical priorities that lie behind good airport design.

    Conclusion: If you are old, infirm, or travelling with children, give KLIA2 a miss.

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  • I think Immigration cannot manage the overload of passengers. Many passenger missed the flight including me. No doubt that airport is so nice. There are plenty of shop outlets but its very painful experience that we missed the flight. Eventhough we went on time, the officers seemed so irresponsible. No one announced and gave the periority to the passenger who had to board. Less officers in the counter. The layoutof the airport is worse than old LCCT. I don’t understand that why did they made the gates so far and I had to go through 2 times for security checking which was too time wasting. Not to boost but I have already been to a few countries and have to agree that I never seen such a poor arrangement like klia2. I am so upset with klia2 and the arrangement. Tome, the ppriority should be the passengers not the decoration and shop outlets. Overall, my comments are 1. There should be enough counters with officers to be opened. 2. It should not have 2 times security checking. 3. The gates should be rearranged.
    hope my comments would be appreciated and acknowledged.

    • thanks for commenting. I didnt have any issues with immigration but I was only transferring. Arriving from the outside it seems you had some issues thanks for letting me know here. hopefully the KLIA2 management will do their best to improve it!

  • this might be a reasonable explanation for the airport being so huge lol

  • This departure from Malaysia’s terminal 2 has been the most depressing airport experience I have had in my 50 years of airline travel. Not only is the airport itself completely BLAH!,…the airport staff, from check-in to departure gate, our just as boring and completely unenthusiastic, and of very little help.

  • This Airport reminds me of the new one in Moscow. Actually quite similar.

  • mostly uncomfortable! EVERY seat there had armrests!

  • I want to get a remote starter in my Chevy 2013 Cruze which does not have the manufacture’s installed in it.

  • Non-Malaysians flying to KLIA2 beware! You may be randomly stopped by immigration officers to be questioned at the office. If you’re stupid enough to comply, you’d be asked for money, or be detained. I personally know 3 person who was detained thus for a day until someone paid up. They told me about 100 people are being detained there like this. It’s now a ‘routine’!

  • KLIA2 is frustratingly big and filthy. What a waste of money.

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