I had the experience, last week, of using KLIA2 for the first time to an international destination and back.
One of my strong feelings is that the RM4 billion spent to build KLIA2 appears to be a big rip-off!
My expectations of a low-cost carrier terminal, on the rating of 0 to 10, for KLIA2 are:
1. Speedy check-in: Rating - 7
The check-in counter staff had many a time to attract the attention of the passengers to an available counter. Maybe you should install green/red lights above counters to indicate ‘engaged’ or ‘free’.
2. Departure lounge and announcements: Rating - 5
The lounge is uncomfortably too open and the announcements are not very audible.
3. Signage rating - 5
Not a very comprehensive signage system. Even when existent, the signage lacks impact.
4. Themed to project for Malaysia brand: Rating - 3
The theme is non-existent, and the environment a bit cold (lacks warmth).
5. Walking time from Immigration/Customs to departure gate and from arrival through to Immigration/Customs should not exceed 30 minutes: Rating - 2
Here the planner has failed miserably!
6. Immigration: Rating - 6
Not seamless. Immigration officers still need to direct passengers as the signage are not helpful.
7. Baggage claim: Rating - 8
8. Customs: Rating - 7
9. Counters for getting a taxi: Rating - 3
A real chore, this!
10. Eateries providing affordable food: Rating - 5
11. Liquor/cigarette sales outlets: Rating - 7
12. Foot massage outlets: Rating - 6
Total score is 64/120, which is below satisfactory.
The main shortcomings of KLIA2
a) The long walk (without walkalators) and the need to go up and down along the way to the boarding gate is a serious shortcoming that needs to be addressed. The airport layout and facilities reflect a very bad understanding of customer/traveller needs. It seems to me that the design was dedicated more to benefiting the retail outlets by ‘forcing’ passengers to walk past them. For over 60-year-old travellers, the best bet is to request for a wheelchair!
b) Once you have done Customs, heading for the taxi counter and then to the taxi is another challenge, for you have to need to take a lift from Level 2 to Level 1! The information signage are poor.
c) You then come out of this RM4 billion facility and look at the taxi assembly area. You feel that you have gone back in time to the 70s. It looks like a Third World situation!
In summary, and considering that it is a low-cost traveller facility, emphasis should have been to provide the basic infrastructure and to expedite the passenger through the check-in, Immigration and Customs procedures in a seamless and speedy manner. KLIA2 is way off the mark.
A simple solution could have been adapting, even shamelessly copying, the Changi Airport for functions and procedures and adding a Malaysian feel to it all, by way of ambience and aesthetics. The cost of the KLIA2 would then have been less than RM1 billion!