Thursday 22 May 2014

First Impressions of KLIA 2

After our pleasant few days in Malacca, we journeyed down by bus to the new KLIA 2 low cost terminal.  I looked forward to exploring the new buildings as I frequently fly Air Asia. They have an enormous presence there,  utilising  over 80% of the allocated space for airlines.  The old LCCT “tin shed" was not a particularly pleasant place to spend time between connecting planes. I was not to be disappointed.

The new terminal is situated less than 2 kilometres from KLIA. This is far closer than the old LCCT terminal that took up to 40 minutes by road to get to.  The Express train now joins both in less than 3 minutes.  This should facilitate the movement between two terminals to a mild inconvenience. 

First impressions as you enter the new terminal is that it doesn't feel much like an airport terminal, but more like a shopping mall. In fact it's called Gateway@KLIA2 and locals are being encouraged to use it as such. 

The building is in 3 parts, the drop-off and pick-up - private and public transport hub where you walk into the Gateway shopping area then finally through to the main terminal building itself. The entire three areas have extensive shopping, 330 retail shops in total, I believe.  At this stage only a little over a half are open.  This, at first glance, is no low cost shopping experience.  In fact, it's the complete opposite, with brand name boutiques and chic restaurants throughout. There is even an upmarket extensive supermarket.  The first one I have seen at an international airport.

The airfare may be low cost but the shopping experience will make up for it.  Spend a few hours shopping here and you'll need to be paying for excess luggage. 

The building is designed for shopping through and through. No direct walk to the departures. The pathways bow left and right from the central line in a semi circle much like a peeled onion to make sure you have to walk passed most of the retail area.  There is very little seating, a clever ploy I think, so if you want to rest your weary feet it must be in a coffee shop or such.

I joked with my wife that next time we can fly in from Sandakan, do the shopping, then return the same day without leaving the building.

In all seriousness, I'm no great spender so this is mostly wasted on me and maybe for the majority. It will be interesting to see how well businesses prosper in the future especially the non-food outlets that are not on the main thoroughfare. 

The KLIA express (train) comes right into the centre of the buildings. It’s only a 30 minute trip into Sentral (main station) Kuala Lumpur.  It’s quick and very convenient, though a little expensive at 35 Ringgit one way.  The buses are slower but a lot cheaper at about 10 Ringgit . 

As I didn't arrive at the new terminal, I can only comment on departures.  The experience was seamless.  Efficient baggage drop off with minimal wait and plenty of operational x-ray machines.  

The departure / arrival departure gates number 5 on 4 piers. The outer pier requires a long walk over a skybridge to get to and takes a good 10 to 20 minute.  No issues with seating here, plenty with food outlets aplenty. 

So, there you have it.  A very pleasant experience even though my aircraft ran 90 minutes late. 

Time will tell if the retail outlet functions the way it's designed to.  I certainly like the light airy interesting building which, in my humble opinion, will give KLIA 1 a run for its money.


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