Imagine you’re going on a trip that requires you to fly. You head to the airport the standard 2 hours before your flight and you wait. But you find out that the waiting area isn’t very comfortable, so you find it difficult to sleep. You start to wander around the place, but as you stop to ask for directions, the staff isn’t very helpful. What’s worse is that in the midst of all this you go to the toilet only to find out how badly it smells.
The story above could be your experience at a Malaysian airport. A horror story about how your trip was ruined before it even began.
Luckily all the things that we hate about our airports may be gone soon because recently it was announced that Malaysia Airlines Holdings Berhad (MAHB, the company which handles the airports in Malaysia) would be investing USD 1 BILLION on upgrading the airports in Malaysia in the next 5 years! After exchange rate, that USD 1 billion comes to about RM4.14 billion Ringgit (at time of writing)!
However, it seems that these upgrades would be centered around increasing the capacity of the airports in Malaysia, with airports like KLIA and the Penang International Airport both reaching their passenger capacity. But is that all the upgrades that the airports in Malaysia need? Well, maybe the passengers themselves have other suggestions.
So we thought we’d find out what exactly would people like to see improved in Malaysians airports by asking our readers on Facebook, and here are 5 of them.
1. Better places to sleep
If you’ve ever been been scheduled for a transit flight, you know how much it would mean to have a nice place to snuggle and just chill. While KLIA was once ranked 8th best airport to sleep in (according to an online survey), it’s recently dropped to number 14.
And that actually doesn’t seem too bad right? But one commentor said this.
And just like Malaysians, we’re all good until someone starts comparing us to Singapore. So we went to look up this “snooze lounge”, and dayum is it beautiful.
Singapore’s Changi International Airport is actually ranked the top airport in the world to sleep in (by the same website that ranked us 14th). According to Changi Airport’s website, they have 3 snooze lounges – one for each terminal, but they are exclusive to transit passengers.
And while we’re not doing too bad, a sleeping lounge (or sleeping lounges) would make us a very pleasant country to end up transiting to.
2. A much improved toilet experience
Ain’t nobody should be denied the right to a clean toilet, especially before boarding an aeroplane. And it seems that toilets are a huge issue in Malaysian airports. According to reviews on airline and airport website, Skytrax, airport toilets are in need of major improvements in Malaysia.
KLIA, Langkawi International Airport, and Penang International Airport have all had complaints about their toilets made against them. While in Penang the complaint is simply that there are not enough toilets, cleanliness is the issue for the other 2. One site even said that the toilets in KLIA are as bad as the toilets in the movie “Trainspotting“.
But why are our toilets so bad? Well Malaysia isn’t exactly known for having the nicest toilets in the world. Our recent toilet survey pointed out that when you Google “toilets Malaysia” vs “toilets Singapore”, you get pretty contrasting results. One travel website even bravely claimed that Malaysia has the worst toilets in the world (a bit far-fetched but for someone to make such a claim means that we may actually have a problem).
But it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask that at the very least, our airports have good toilets la. Perhaps this time we can learn from Singapore? The toilets at the Singapore Changi Airport look pretty good la.
3. Can tahan flood
There have been news of airports in Malaysia being flooded in the past including the Penang International Airport, the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and KLIA 2, though in the latter’s case, this was later clarified to be “ponding”.
Wet runways always make it more risky for a plane to land. This article mentions multiple incidents involving landing an aeroplane in the rain while this and this mentions that runways are definitely more dangerous when wet. And seeing how Malaysia is a country where floods can be as unpredictable as your stomach after eating yesterday’s nasi lemak, coupled with how news of the flooding in airports is actually quite recent, maybe flood mitigation really should be on the list of upgrades for airports.
4. More of those horizontal escalators
A walkalator/moving runway/travelator is actually not exclusive for airports, but in Malaysia it seems to be the place where we see them the most. And why not? Walkalators are pretty useful since you do a lot of walking in airports, and often with your heavy luggage.
And it seems that this ingenious invention which makes life easier for travelers all around, was lacking in Malaysian airports.
We don’t know which airport the comment was referring to, but asking around the CILISOS office, we found out that KLIA2 once had a severe lack of walkalators. We say once because recently it was reported that just a couple of months ago, 28 new walkalators were installed at KLIA2, increasing the number of walkalators at the airport to 42, as opposed to just 14 when KLIA2 opened in 2014.
But while walkalators may be good for those who are carrying huge amounts of luggage, if you’re looking to get around an airport faster, they may actually be slower than you just walking. At least according to this article.
Researchers have found that using the travelator at airports, especially at busy times, can actually slow you down because people reduce their walking pace on the human conveyor belts and cause blockages. – Telegraph UK
So while walkalators may help sometimes, it’s probably a good idea to know when to use them, and when not to, even if there are 42 of them around.
5. Better security all around
In the midst of all the news about ISIS, it’s probably normal for people to want better airport security. But do we need it? Well according to a criminologist, while our airport security is “good”, we should be more stringent now.
“Compared with the 1980s, when Malaysia always had stringent measures in place, over the last few years our security level has not improved to reach a standard that is acceptable by security and safety experts.” – Criminologist Dr P Sundramoorthy, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today
But improving airport security may go beyond just upgrading the security systems that we have, because recently 15 immigrations officers were either sacked or suspended after they looked to have disabled passport checks at airports on purpose.
So we don’t just need security upgrades, we need better officers.
Is RM4 billion even enough for all the airports in Malaysia?
Bloomberg reports that the RM4 billion that MAHB has set aside is not very big when you compare it to the recent upgrade budgets for the Hong Kong International Airport (RM74 billion) and the Changi International Airport (RM5.29 billion).
But consider what the money on these airports are being used for:
- Hong Kong International Airport – To build a whole new runway.
- Changi International Airport – To build a new terminal.
On the other hand, MAHB’s managing director has said that only KLIA would receive some upgrades to the main terminal, while implying that for other airports, the upgrades would be to increase their capacity. So maybe the reason why our RM4 billion may pale in comparison to other airports is that these upgrades are meant for specific purposes, rather than an overhaul of the airports.
But even if we don’t get the things that we suggested above, it doesn’t mean that we have to stop asking. To be fair, they did give KLIA2 more walkalators. And hopefully in time, they will improve other aspects of Malaysian airports as well.
Because we definitely want better airports than Singapore. #justkiddingSingaporewestillloveyou