After eight years of operations, and what feels like a similar waiting time in check-in queues, Kuala Lumpur’s Low-Cost Carrier Terminal finally closed on Friday.
Launched in 2006 on a site conveniently located 75km from the city centre, the LCCT was always a difficult airport to love. In a 21st Century of gleaming aerotropolises designed by international architects, where passengers are transported along travellators before picking up a Cartier watch, enjoying a cup of green tea at Harrods, and maybe even catching a 4D movie at the IMAX, the LCCT always felt a bit, well, unrefined.
In fact, it felt exactly like what it was – a hastily-erected, oversized barn.
While passengers at nearby KLIA were luxuriating in elegant cafes, designer boutiques and indoor rainforests, the LCCT was never the kind of airport you wanted to hang around in.
Mind you, the lack of facilities was never a major problem; passengers usually arrived in a mad rush, having spent hours stuck in traffic jams trying to get to the terminal. And unless my memory is tricking me (I must admit it’s been a while since I was last there), the terminal’s interior was painted a sickly shade of off-yellow – perhaps a deliberate technique to keep people moving.
But at least the LCCT served a purpose. Along with AirAsia, it ushered in a new era of low-cost air travel and enabled millions of Malaysians to broaden their horizons. Who cares if you have to walk across the tarmac in tropical heat if you’re saving 100 ringgit on the airfare? Who gives a monkey’s if you don’t have a tropical rainforest to look at while you wait for your plane, as long as you depart on time?
AirAsia Malaysia’s CEO, Aireen Omar, said she would be “sad to leave the LCCT”. “[The airport] had been so kind to us,” she mused.
I’m not sure how many other people would feel that fondly about this old shed, carved out of palm plantations in the middle of nowhere.
But tomorrow I will be flying into the new KLIA2 for the first time, with its international facilities and rail links to the city. Will I feel any twinge of regret for the old LCCT? Probably not, but who knows? Sometimes you miss the strangest things.