Last week in this column I bid a not-especially-fond farewell to KL’s old Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). I was never keen on this ‘airport’ (I believe I called it a “hastily-erected, oversized barn”); it served a purpose but, let’s face it, it was a rubbish airport.
But after many false dawns it has finally been replaced by KLIA 2. And I’m happy to report that, on first impressions, it was worth the wait.
The first thing to note about KLIA 2 is that it is huge. Absolutely enormous. Spread across 257,000m², it has 68 departure gates spread across two separate wings, which are linked by huge two-tier bridge that spans the tarmac.
After landing at any airport, I typically hot-foot it through the crowds so I can get to the front of the immigration queue. Standard stuff really. But at KLIA 2 I would advise pacing yourself. After speed-walking down a seemingly endless warren of corridors I was frankly knackered, so I slowed to a more leisurely stroll.
After what felt like a couple of kilometres, it dawned on what was missing: travellators. This is an issue. There are a few, but I think the policy with travellators should be that you either have a whole network them (like Changi), or none at all. Because mentally, once you get off a travellator the rest of the walk feels like you’re wading through syrup.
No doubt they were scrapped to save cost (I can imagine AirAsia in the planning meeting with a big black marker pen, crossing out expensive non-essential items that could be used to reduce its airport fees). But money has been spent well in other areas. There are 80 aerobridges, which is so much better than that agonising bus ride to an aircraft parked 100 metres away. And the new baggage carousels tell you how long you have to wait until your luggage will appear (not your exact suitcase of course, but the first and last bags).
A few things need to be ironed out, of course. I’m not sure there is any need for two layers of air-side baggage screening, and there could be a better balance of F&B outlets before and after immigration (as opposed to an entire shopping mall before, and handful of crowded coffee shops after).But on the whole, it’s very good.
Last week I said that the LCCT wouldn’t be missed, and having experienced KLIA 2, there is no way I will be getting all misty-eyed about the old place. KLIA 2 is the future, and I only hope that all new low-cost airports can be this good.