KL's Happening Hub
August 18, 2014
A new budget terminal in KL is upgrading your layover. Story and photos by Marco Ferrarese.
Published on Aug 18, 2014
Kuala Lumpur's new airport terminal, KLIA2 (klia2.info), proves that low cost doesn't mean low class. Launched in May, this flashy LCCT is light years ahead of its predecessor, which was pioneered by Air Asia's Tony Fernandes in 2006 as the first ever all-budget terminal, but left much to be desired in terms of travelers' comfort, with leg-numbing waiting chairs and dining options in dire straits. Eight years later, the boom in low cost carrier traffic has led to this snazzy US$1.3-billion upgrade, designed to cater to a whopping 45 million passengers per year. In line with its ambitious "Next Generation Hub" tagline, KLIA2 aspires to be the world's missing link between low cost and full service flight experience.
Travelers mill through KLIA2
The best part? The new terminal is only 2 kilometers away from KLIA, the main international airport, so transfers are smooth sailing. The old LCCT was a 20-kilometer slog, and travelers were stuck hopping expensive taxis or waiting through half-hour long bus-rides to switch between the two airports. Now the entire journey can be blissfully bus-free, thanks to the new terminal's proximity to KLIA—conveniently linked to downtown KL via rail—and possibly our favorite new feature: 80 new air bridges. That's right—gone too are the days of shuttling from gate to plane aboard worn-out airline buses, or, a hated novelty of the old low-cost KUL, trekking the tarmac single-file for kilometers in torrential rain. Now travelers can strut on and off the plane via air-conditioned walkways.
But with facilities like this and the vast, store-lined main terminal that tempts jet-setters to stop and indulge, you may not be in any rush to board. There are a staggering 81 restaurants, bars and cafés, and 118 shops spread across the 70,000 square meters of retail space, while the relaxation areas are furnished with comfy lounge chairs, laptop charging stations, and baby-care rooms. A hightech skybridge—the first in Asia—crosses over the airside giving passengers exceptional views of the airstrip. It's a constant dance of lift-offs with more than 200 departures each day, and as plane after plane takes to the skies, KLIA2 also soars into the upper echelons of air travel.
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