Kuala Lumpur International Airport is ranked as the 5th busiest airport in Asia and the 14th busiest in the world. The airport is in the Sepang district which is about 60 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and located right opposite the F1 racing circuit. It has a huge catchment area and in 2012 passenger numbers were 39,887,866 with 283,352 aircraft movements and 673,107 tonnes of cargo handled.
When deciding to use KLIA you need to be very clear that there are two terminals. The IATA code for the airport is KUL which is shared by KLIA and Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) or KLIA2. These are the SAME airport!
Malaysia Airlines and the international carriers use KLIA and the budget airlines use LCCT. Just remember you cannot transit airside from one to the other. You can see from one terminal to the other across the runway but you have to use a shuttle bus or taxi to transfer between the two. The shuttle buses are a cheaper option but there is no luggage storage space so everything has to be taken inside the bus. By road it is about 20 kilometres, if you were a crow it is about 800 metres!
The airport is owned by the government of Malaysia and is operated and managed by Malaysia Airports (MAHB) Sepang Sdn Bhd. There are many systems in place to ensure efficient operation and one of these is the 100% Bar Coded Boarding Pass capability. KLIA is one of the first airports in Asia Pacific to use this.
In June 1993 the Malaysian government decided that Subang International Airport, as it was known then, was just not going to be able to handle the demand for air travel in the future and a new project began. The Prime Minister had a grand development plan for the nation and part of this was the Multimedia Super Corridor.
Once KLIA was completed the old Terminal 1 at Subang was knocked down and the old Terminal 3 was improved to create a new Subang International Airport which only handles military and turboprop aircraft.
KLIA covers an area of 100 square kilometres and is one of the largest airport sites in the world. The new airport was officially opened in June 1998 just in time for Commonwealth Games of the same year. Unfortunately the opening did not go to plan and there were many teething problems. Baggage was lost, delays of up to five hours, baggage handling problems and queues everywhere as sky bridge allocation systems broke down.
The East Asian financial crisis, Avian Flu, Swine Flu and then the general global crisis all contributed to a drop in passenger numbers and some airways stopped flying to KLIA because of this. In 1999 after a full year of operations the total passenger numbers were 13.2 million, just over half of the forecast 25 million.
There are two runways, parallel to each other, one of 4,056 metres long and the other is 4,124 metres long. The taxi time ranges from 2 minutes to 11 minutes depending on which of the 10 exits are used. If one runway is used only for landing and the other for take-off there can be 120 aircraft movements per hour. For safety in low visibility there is CAT II Precision Landing ILS to guide aircraft in all weather conditions. The runways at KLIA can already accommodate the Airbus A380 but plans are in place for two, maybe three more runways.
To make moving around the airport easier for all the many nationalities that use it there is a colour-coded systems for the signage in Malay, Japanese, Chinese, English and Arabic.
There are two buildings at KLIA, the main terminal where everyone checks in, goes through immigration and on arrival collects baggage. Most domestic flights depart from the main terminal, and then there is the satellite terminal for international flights. You can only get to the satellite terminal once you are checked in and the train time is about two minutes.
On arrival expect to spend around 40 minutes to clear immigrations, board the connecting train and collect your bags. There are luggage lockers at KLIA and LCCT if for any reason you need to leave your bags for a while.
If you are arriving at KLIA and are catching a connecting flight with Malaysia Airlines from the same terminal you can probably get away with an hour between flight times. For any other combination of terminals and airlines it would be wise to allow at least three hours.
The facilities at KLIA and LCCT are outstanding. There is every possible modern convenience you can think of and then a few more as well. How many airports do you know that have a massage and reflexology centre? There is a business centre; children’s play areas and nurseries, a viewing gallery and a visitor service centre. Disabled facilities are excellent, there are baggage wrap stations, KLIA TV and Radio, ATM’s as well as a Bureau de Change and a prayer and silent room plus much more.
Flights and Destinations
AirAsia - Alor Setar, Balikpapan, Banda Aceh, Bandar Seri Begawan, Bandung, Bangkok-Don Mueang, Bangalore, Bintulu, Chiang Mai, Chennai, Clark, Cochin, Denpasar/Bali, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Johor Bahru, Kolkata, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Krabi, Kuala Terengganu, Kuching, Kunming, Labuan, Langkawi, Mataram-Lombok, Macau, Makassar, Medan-Polonia (close on 25 July 2013), Medan-Kuala Namu (open on 25 July 2013), Miri, Nanning, Padang-Minangkabau, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Sandakan, Semarang, Shenzhen, Sibu, Siem Reap, Singapore, Solo, Surabaya, Surat Thani, Tawau, Tiruchirapalli, Vientiane, Yangon, Yogyakarta
AirAsiaX - Beijing-Capital, Busan (begins 15 July 2013), Chengdu, Gold Coast, Hangzhou, Jeddah, Kathmandu, Melbourne, Osaka-Kansai, Perth, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Haneda
Cebu Pacific – Cebu, Manila
Indonesia AirAsia - Bandung, Denpasar/Bali, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Makassar, Medan-Polonia (close on 25 July 2013), Medan-Kuala Namu (open on 25 July 2013), Surabaya
Mandala Airlines - Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Surabaya
Thai AirAsia - Bangkok-Don Mueang
Tiger Airways - Singapore
Zest Air – Manila
Malaysia Airlines - Alor Star, Bintulu, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kuching, Labuan, Langkawi, Miri, Penang, Sandakan, Sibu, Tawau
Eaglexpress - Charter: Jeddah
Malindo Air - Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Miri, Sibu, Tawau
Air France -Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Air India Express - Chennai
Air Koryo - Seasonal: Pyongyang
Air Mauritius - Mauritius
Bangkok Airways - Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Koh Samui
Biman Bangladesh Airlines - Dhaka
Cathay Pacific - Hong Kong
China Airlines - Taipei-Taoyuan
China Eastern Airlines - Shanghai-Pudong
China Southern Airlines - Guangzhou
EgyptAir - Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Cairo
Emirates - Dubai, Melbourne
Etihad Airways - Abu Dhabi
EVA Air - Taipei-Taoyuan
Garuda Indonesia - Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Iran Air - Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Japan Airlines - Tokyo-Narita
Jetstar Asia Airways - Singapore
KLM - Amsterdam, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Korean Air - Seoul-Incheon
Kuwait Airways - Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Kuwait
Lion Air - Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Lufthansa - Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Frankfurt
Mahan Air - Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Malaysia Airlines - Adelaide, Amsterdam, Auckland, Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangalore, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Brisbane, Chennai, Colombo, Dubai (resumes 5 August 2013), Delhi, Denpasar/Bali, Dhaka, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Jeddah, Kathmandu, Kunming, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Malé, Manila, Medan-Polonia (close on 25 July 2013), Medan-Kuala Namu (open on 25 July 2013), Melbourne, Mumbai, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Perth, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Siem Reap, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita, Xiamen, Yangon
Myanmar Airways International -Yangon
Nepal Airlines - Kathmandu
Oman Air - Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines - Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar
Philippine Airlines - Manila
Qatar Airways - Doha, Phuket
Regent Airways - Dhaka (begins 6 July 2013)
Royal Brunei Airlines - Bandar Seri Begawan
Royal Jordanian - Amman-Queen Alia, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi
Saudia - Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh
SilkAir - Singapore
Singapore Airlines - Singapore
SriLankan Airlines - Colombo
Thai Airways International - Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi
Turkish Airlines - Istanbul-Atatürk
United Airways - Dhaka
Uzbekistan Airways - Tashkent
Vietnam Airlines - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Xiamen Airlines - Fuzhou, Xiamen
Yemenia - Dubai, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Sana'a
Transport To and From the Airport
The transfer time from the airport to the city is roughly an hour, depending on time of day, traffic and whether you use, taxi, train or bus. This has been known to stretch to two hours at really busy times so leave plenty of time if you are heading to the airport.
Taxis are plentiful at the airport and will take you anywhere for a prepaid fare. This fare is fixed by destination and type of vehicle, budget through to luxury. Budget taxis can only take three passengers as there is not much luggage space because of the LPG gas tank.
In the arrivals hall you will walk past the Airport Limo desk. Choose your type of taxi, make the payment and you will be told where to meet your driver. There are no extras and you won’t get ripped off.
Watch out for taxi touts in the arrivals hall. They are not licensed, will charge you an exorbitant price and probably have no insurance.
There is a train service from KLIA main terminal but not from LCCT. The KLIA Express Train leaves the airport station every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day and the journey to KL Sentral takes about 30 minutes. The station at KL Sentral is not in the centre of the town so you will probably need to use a taxi or bus to reach your destination.
The bigger hotels offer a hotel limousine service pick up / drop off at the airport. Some of them include the price in their room rates, but if not it will definitely be higher than a regular taxi fare.
If you fancy taking your time to reach the city and seeing the sights on the way why not use the local bus service. The service is cheap and not terribly environmentally friendly but then neither was the aircraft you arrived on! There are signs for the bus terminal throughout the airport and when you get there you will find a café and shops to pass the waiting time. Tickets can be bought from the counter in the bus terminal.
There is an AirAsia shuttle bus from KL Sentral to LCCT and return. Very easy to spot as the Skybus is the same bright red as the AirAsia colours. The buses depart every 30 minutes and have won awards for their travel service.
There are international and local car hire companies at the airport in the main building. Most of them are open from around 7am to 10pm, so earlier or later arrivals will need to check with the company first.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Arrivals
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departures
Routes To Kuala Lumpur International Airport
- Alor Setar to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Bayan Lepas, George Town to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Kuching to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Labuan to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Miri to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Sandakan to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Senai, Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Sibu to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
- Tawau to Kuala Lumpur, Sepang
Routes From Kuala Lumpur International Airport
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Alor Setar
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Bayan Lepas, George Town
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Bintulu
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Kota Bharu
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Kota Kinabalu
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Kuala Terengganu
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Kuantan
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Kuching
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Labuan
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Langkawi
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Miri
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Sandakan
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Senai, Johor Bahru
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Sibu
- Kuala Lumpur, Sepang to Tawau