Malaysiakini Letter

My 'exhausting' experience at KLIA2

Stanley Isaacs
Published:  |  Modified:

I have used the new KLIA2 twice before and again last weekend to go to a neighbouring city. I decided that this time I must air my grouses publicly about the terminal.

For a low-cost airfare terminal it is no doubt large and grand in appearance, but it is far from being user-friendly. The walk to the departure gate is unusually and unnecessarily long and most tedious, particularly to those who are less able and certainly to the disabled.

On this particular journey, I had with me my mother-in-law for whom a wheelchair was e-booked in advance and payment also made in advance. The check-in counter sent me somewhere far away to get a wheelchair for her. When the chair was finally found they did not have a person to push it and told me to push it myself and perhaps find a staffer after the passport check counter, to assist.  

There was no one I could get among the AirAsia personnel. Imagine, I had to push the wheelchair and at the same time pull my own bag all the way up to the departure gate.

That is so much a complaint against the service of the airline concerned!

Now about the terminal itself.

The walk to the departure lounge was an exceptionally tedious journey. I call it a journey because I was exhausted by the time I reached the departure gate. The signage to the international gates was also confusing and I had to do a U-turn at a certain point of the journey (the signage to departure gate ‘L’ for example is confusing and inadequate).

KLIA2 is our latest air terminal and the owners have boasted it to be the largest low-fare air terminal in Asia if not the whole world. Should not the architects of such an expensive and newest airport terminal have given it more thought on the interest of the users of the terminal?

If walkalators for example were considered too luxurious for such a terminal, could the building not have been designed with the best technology available to avoid stress to the users?

Users of KLIA2 do not expect the luxury of a first class terminal but they do and are entitled to have a convenient and easy-to-use terminal.

I found the very long passage way to the international departure gate narrowing at a certain part such that it was hardly 6m wide. It was congested and trolleys and roller bags were knocking one another.

The questions: Why was the walkway designed to be narrow as if designed for yesterday’s load of passengers? Why the long walkway without walkalators? The fact that a few walkalators were recently installed (albeit awkwardly) at some parts, confirms the original want of due care and consideration by the architects and the developers.

I could not help comparing the experience I had at KLIA2 with the walk at the airport of my destination. The walkway there was pleasantly broad, easy and breezy. A wheelchair pusher was ready in the aircraft even before disembarkation was allowed.

Without being disloyal to my own country I could not help wondering whether our designers did not care to learn from the successful works and long experience of others?

Now that we are nearing 2020 for advanced nation status, should not our authorities be giving due attention to the raising of ‘standards’, accessibility to services and the overall usability of facilities holistically, rather than merely taking pride on what we can build?

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