8 October 2021
– By Justin Ng
When you finally make the long-awaited return to KLIA to catch that international flight to a destination as heavenly as it is far away, pay attention to the improved experience.
The unthinkable happened – my passport expired. Never a braggart, I did however shuttle between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for work in 2019 to such an extent that I lost count. It was ad nauseam. Perhaps pretentiousness was getting to my head and now I must repent. I miss flying. Even a short hop to Singapore will nurse this deprived man. Little did I know that during this lull in international travel, KLIA has undergone a considerable improvement. Changes born of necessity due to the pandemic, but also amenities to smooth your travel, from the moment you arrive to the point when the plane detaches itself from the runway and soars to the skies.
The world’s no.1 airport in the second quarter of 2021, according to the Airports Council International, while KLIA is an endearing name to many, things have continued to improve and change for the better. Here’s what you can expect.
Food and beverages
Choices of food and drinks will be significantly bolstered with the presence of both local and international chains. For pork-free dim sum, there is DIN by Din Tai Fung. It will be joined soon by Hard Rock Café, which will offer the familiarity of cheese burgers, while 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken is self-explanatory. Jamie Oliver’s Diner will delight with its own spin on burgers, while you can look forward to hearty Malaysian fare at Serai Café. If ever you need a pick-me-up before a flight at ungodly hours, Costa Coffee is the place to be.
Hard Rock Café, 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken, Jamie Oliver’s Diner and Serai Café are slated to open in the coming months.
Health and safety
Stringent health and safety procedures have been retooled according to Covid-19 protocols. Thermal scanners are placed at entrances, in addition to counters shielded by sneeze guard protectors. To minimise physical contact, contactless security screening will be carried at checkpoints, while safety compliance officers patrol terminals to ensure social distancing is practised responsibly at all times. E-payment is encouraged as well.
Ultraviolet chambers, which provide UV light to curb the transmission of airborne pathogens, are installed in washrooms. The UV disinfection technology also applies to all arriving baggage, where articles are disinfected automatically as they pass through the conveyor system.
KLIA now boasts the Automated Queue Management System that leverages on 3D sensors to manage and reduce queue wait times to under 10 minutes. The system accurately counts the number of people in a certain area and proactively monitors congestion and overcrowding. It alerts ground staff to intervene where necessarily in compliance with SOPs.
As health screening becomes the norm, the healthcare screening facility is erected to facilitate more convenient and efficient Covid-19 testing for arriving passengers, with shorter wait times.
To further improve hygiene, hand sanitisers are placed strategically throughout the building, while sanitisation is carried out no fewer than 8 times every day at facilities and areas with high patronage, such as washrooms, check-in counters, lifts, escalators, seats and baggage trolleys, among others.
The indispensable Automated People Mover locomoting travellers between the main terminal building and the satellite terminal will undergo a replacement exercise. The Aerotrains have been in service since 1998, when the airport first opened, while another was added in 2010.
On the agenda of Malaysia Airports, the operator of KLIA, is to reimagine the commercial and retail experience to constantly adapt to the shifting dynamics. KLIA will witness further transformation and rejuvenation into a lifestyle destination.
The pivotal highlight is the revitalisation of the centre court at the satellite terminal to become a shopping nexus, thrilling travellers with a constellation of high-end brands. To tempt returned travellers with a refreshed and vibrant experience and introduce more impactful brands that resonate with travellers. This is already evident with the enriched F&B mix stated above.
As a gateway to Malaysia, KLIA will house Sense of Malaysia retail outlets to provide local brands with opportunity and international exposure where local and foreign travellers can source for gifts of Malaysian flavours.