Officially, Kuala Lumpur airport is known as “Kuala Lumpur International Airport” or “KLIA” for short.
Just as a side note, you can easily get KLIA confused for the acronym “KLCC” which stands for “Kuala Lumpur City Centre”.
Anyway, KLIA is one of the newest airports around the Asia Pacific region and cost $3.5 billion dollars to built. It is the primary gateway into Malaysia and each year, more than 25 millions visitors pass through its terminal gates.
Because of its modern facilities, the airport is ranked as one of the best airports in the world. The airport was designed by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa and resembled a combination of Bedouin tents with a futuristic look.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - What to expect upon Arrival
Located approximately 70 kilometres south of the capital, KLIA comprises of:
A Main Terminal Building with 80 gates (MTB)
A Satellite Building (STB)
A Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)
The Bunga Raya Complex for VVIP
Two full service runways
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Main Terminal Building (MTB)
The Main terminal building (MTB) consists of 5 levels and covers a floor area of 241,000 square meters. The duty free shops, retail outlets, restaurants, Customs and Immigration counters are all located inside the MTB.
There is also two armed contact piers which is attached to the MTB which service the domestic and short haul international flights. Weary travellers will be pleased to know that there is also a 5 star 441 rooms Pan Pacific Hotel located just adjacent to the MTB. From the MTB to the Pan-Pac hotel, it’s only a matter of a 10 minute walk.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Satellite Building (STB)
Located some distance away from the MTB is the four armed 143,404 square meters Satellite Building (STB).
Access to the STB is by the shuttle Aerotrain which runs at 3 to 5 minute intervals. All long haul international flights will arrive and depart from the STB. For the convenience of jet lagged travellers, you also have an 80 room Airside Transit Hotel located inside the STB.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)
On the other side of the runway apron from the MTB is the 35,390 square meters Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).
This terminal was designed to accommodate the low cost carrier business model and is the main hub for all Air Asia flights, domestic and international. Facilities here are quite Spartan when compared to those located at the MTB.
By road, the LCCT is around 20 kilometres away from the MTB. So this might be a hassle if you landed at the MTB and are trying to catch a connecting flight at the LCCT.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Bunga Raya Complex (VVIP Complex)
Catering to head of state, foreign dignitaries, VVIPs and unless you are blue blooded, entrance into the complex requires a special security pass issued by the Department of Civil Aviation.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Arrivals at MTB
Regardless of where you are arriving from, be it a domestic or international flight, you have to proceed to the arrival concourse at Level 3 of the MTB. Those passengers disembarking from the STB will need to take the Aerotrain to get to the MTB. The Aerotrain will stop at Level 4 (Mezzanine Level) of the MTB. Access to Level 3 from Level 4 is by lifts or escalators located near the Aerotrain.
KLIA - Immigration
Before submitting your passport for stamping at one of the 48 immigration counters, you will need to fill out a disembarkation form to be handed over to the immigration officer together with your passport.
Kuala Lumpur Airport - Baggage Claim
Upon clearing immigration, you will proceed to the baggage claim area to claim your baggage. There are complimentary baggage trolleys near the baggage carousel area so you need not worry about having to lug your heavy luggage all the way to the arrival hall.
KLIA - Customs
Beyond the baggage claim area are the customs lanes. There are 26 lanes altogether.
Take note, in Malaysia, the trafficking of drugs carries a mandatory death sentence! Don’t tempt fate even if you intend to consume those drugs for your own recreational purpose. Anything which is more than 15 grams automatically is classified as drug trafficking and hence the mandatory death sentence! Furthermore, if you are intoxicated with drugs upon arrival, you can be refused entry into Malaysia. So be forewarned.
KLIA - Travellers Service
One thing really cool about KLIA is the Travellers Service Centre situated at Level 3 of the MTB. You can easily pick out the centre as it is one of the more aesthetically appealing spots on Level 3.
You will be greeted warmly by friendly staff sporting red jackets. It is not uncommon for one to get lost in such a big airport like KLIA. So the Traveller Service Centre is there to help make your experience at KLIA more enjoyable and to provide assistance, like escort and portage for arriving passengers.
They also deal with departure arrangements if you need their services. Basically, it’s a one stop centre that caters for all a visitor’s needs.
KLIA - Departure and Check-In at MTB
Located on Level 5 of the MTB is the departure hall.
The departure hall caters to both domestic and international departures. There are six lanes of check-in counters and the check-in counters are arranged alphabetically from A to M there is no “I” check-in counter, probably it could create confusion to the number one.
All domestic and some short haul international departures are from the MTB. STB cater solely for long haul international departures. AS mentioned earlier, access to the STB is by the Aerotrain.
KLIA – Immigration
There are 61 immigration counters serving departing passengers. Once you have checked-in and claimed your boarding pass, you will proceed to the immigration counters to get your passport stamped.
To gain entrance into the departure lounge, you will need to show your boarding pass to the security personnel stationed at the entrance. Your boarding pass is also needed for you to gain entrance to the specific departure gate, 30 minutes before departure time.
KLIA - Information Counters
If you require additional or specific information about hotels, taxis, tours or currency exchange, there are several information counters located at various areas of the MTB and the STB. Just ask one of the staff manning the counters.
So if everything goes smoothly, Bon Voyage!
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