KLIA how bad is it really ?

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  • Kopite

    For the past 20 years I’ve been using KLIA quite frequently and always found it a pleasant airport. Sure certain things don’t work very efficiently but, that’s just Malaysia as a whole experience.

    I haven’t been to KLIA now for 4 years +. But I want to use it as a transit hub from my home base to other international cities, to my end destination. (See my BT post Start Your Journey from Somewhere Else)

    I’m now reading horrendous reports on the internet about the physical condition of the terminals (hardware) such as most F&B outlets are still closed, cracked tiles, poor lighting, internal trains not working for transfer to the terminal from the satellite gates etc etc and the message is “avoid KLIA if you possibly can”.

    Also the (software) doesn’t work – huge queues at immigration for foreign passport holders etc.

    Can anyone comment on this please? What is the experience at KLIA really like? How is it for transit customers like me that need to exit through immigration and customs and re-check in for a different flight ?


    Hi Kopite. I spent a week in KL in Jun, traveling from HK with CX. On arrival at KLIA, the shuttle trains are no longer running. Everyone is directed to the replacement buses. These only leave when they are full, and take you to immigration. Immigration was a nightmare for foreigners, multiple queues, mine took 2 hours (arrived at 17.30 on a Saturday). Needless to say, luggage was waiting for me, stacked next to the luggage belt

    Departing 1 week later, no queue at CX check-in, for any classes. Dreading immigration, but no queue, walked straight up to a desk. Still using buses to replace the shuttle trains, this appears to be a long term solution. CX use the main Malaysia Airlines lounge, which was fine and quiet. Reasonable selection of hot and cold food. Small bar near the entrance.

    Security checks at the entrance to the gate, no queues or issues. Boarding and departure on time. Hope this helps.

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    Andy McF

    Hey Kopite –

    I’ve passed through KLIA 3 times this year, and twice last – and lived in KL for 8 years pre-pandemic.

    When you say, quite rightly, “certain things don’t work very efficiently”, then turn the dial up a little more from what you recall and you’ll be on the money.

    As mentioned above, the terminal shuttle train is completely gone for the mid-term it would seem, and replaced by city buses; everything is a few years older and less maintained; and yes, there are fewer airline lounges (replaced by Plaza Premium’s often way beyond capacity) and slightly fewer F&B outlets. Otherwise, it’s all exactly as you’d remember.

    Notwithstanding the above, immigration isn’t usually that bad – there’s foreigner desks stretching all the way off to the left. Confusingly, one queue serves 4 – 5 desks, so you should pick the queue that seems to be fronted by the most manned desks. I encountered a 20-minute queue last time, nothing the time before that, and 5 minutes the previous time. 2022, admittedly, it was a disaster zone and they seemed very ill prepared for the resurgence of visitors.

    Arrival customs sometimes enforces checked luggage x-ray for all, or based on origin, or not at all – depending on the mood it’d seem.

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