There are many facets of business travel that can get people riled up, particularly layovers. Sitting around in an airport for a few hours is hardly enticing for any traveller. However, while layovers are a necessary evil, it need not always be dreadful.

Here’s what you can do at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to pass the time productively on your layover.

The airport has two terminals that are connected by a 10-minute free shuttle bus or 3-minute train ride. KLIA is where regular airlines operate, while klia2 handles low-cost airlines.

Sneak in a little snooze 💤

Planning to catch up on sleep only on your next flight? Think again. Boarding the plane while you are sleepy makes you more prone to motion sickness. That’ll leave you feeling squeamish upon arrival.

Instead, make sleep your top priority and recharge at the airport’s rest zones. Look for Rest N Go massage chairs that are dotted around the airport’s two terminals, which are free for use.

Alternatively, Capsule by Container Transit Hotel has private nap pods designed for transit travellers. Located at Gateway@klia2, it is an 8-minute walk from klia2. A minimum of 3-hour stay is priced at US$24. Guests have access to a common lounge area, showers and complimentary Wi-Fi.

For more privacy and unrivalled space, it can be worth checking into an airport hotel on your layover. Your options include Sama Sama Express (available at both terminals), Aerotel Airport Hotel (Gateway@klia2), and Tune Hotel (klia2).

Catch up on work 👩🏻‍💻

While nothing beats a personal desk for peak productivity, you can still get work done in peace on your layover. The airport has plenty of seating areas to settle down and has complimentary Wi-Fi. Simply connect to the ‘FREE_WIFI@KLIA’ network.

On low battery? There are charging stations in the airport, but you might have to wait for your turn. If there’s urgent work to be done, don’t pin your hopes on this charging station. Head to the Internet Kiosk found at the Satellite Building (klia2) or better yet, move to a lounge.

First or business class travellers should check with the respective airlines for their entitled lounge access. For economy-class fliers, you can enter certain lounges by paying at the door or through a lounge membership program, such as Priority Pass.

For instance, the Sama Sama Express Lounge will cost you US$26 per entry. Located at both terminals, this lounge has comfortable seating, shower facilities, Wi-Fi access, buffet spread, and beverages.

Keep yourself entertained 🍿

Sated on proper meals and some sleep, you can now work your way through KLIA’s entertainment offerings.

Spend the rest of your layover at the movie lounge (klia2), catching a blockbuster on cosy chairs. Or visit the KLIA Jungle Boardwalk and be surrounded by lush greenery. The idea of an indoor forest is not exactly innovative, especially for travellers familiar with Singapore Changi Airport’s myriad of green spaces.

Still, a stroll by the boardwalk will be a good break from the airport’s cacophony of noise.

Satisfy your hunger 🍔

If there’s one reason to be excited for your layover at Kuala Lumpur, it’s the food. Malaysia is a food haven, with culinary influences from Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Indian cuisine. The food court is a good place to begin your foray into Malaysian food, with all the choices clustered together.

At Gateway@klia2, Quizinn by RASA food court serves Malay, Chinese, Korean and Middle Eastern specialities and is open 24 hours. Other food courts in KLIA include Food Paradise (L4) and Food Garden (L2).

For the health-conscious, BMS Organics serves clean eats that retains the local flavour. Their Curry Laksa is made using soy milk and the nasi lemak comes with a multi-grain option.

Alternatively, go for assorted mango desserts and drinks at Hui Lao Shan (klia2), or freshly made dim sum at Eden Restaurant (KLIA). Hurried travellers can get a quick bite with Hot & Roll’s wraps or Flight Club Grab & Go’s thunder tea rice, pasta or spring rolls.

Scratch your shopping itch 💳

Shopping is the best activity to while away the hours on your layover. There are two major shopping centres outside of KLIA. Gateway@klia2 has over 100 retail spaces and 90 eateries, while Mitsui Outlet Park is a factory outlet mall with your top brands at off-season prices. At the ground floor of the outlet mall is Japan Avenue, where you’ll find Japanese speciality products, fresh sashimi and matcha desserts.

Pamper yourself 💆‍♀️

Even the weariest passengers tend to perk up at the thought of a massage. If time permits, treat yourself to an hour-long massage before your next flight.

At klia2, there are three wellness centres: Santai Reflexology, Wellness Spa and Thai Odyssey (Gateway@klia2). Amp up your pampering session with Wellness Spa’s hair and beauty treatments too.

Stay fresh with a shower 🚿

Showering in this airport might be slightly tricky. For travellers without lounge or hotel access, the only free shower facilities provided by the airport does not come with a water heater. That means you’ll have to grit your teeth and bear with the cold water.

Or, fork out RM30 and bathe comfortably at Capsule by Container Transit Hotel, inclusive of towels, soap, and shampoo.


An airport facing stiff competition

With the largest mega air hubs all located in the Asia Pacific, KLIA may be ramping up on its facilities and services but it still faces fierce competition. KLIA is a far cry from its counterparts, only coming in 54th for Skytrax’s best airports in 2019. Even as we zoom in on Asia, the airport doesn’t make the cut for Skytrax’s top ten best airports in Asia.

In terms of connectivity, KLIA is doing better. According to air travel intelligence provider OAG’s Megahubs International Index 2018, Kuala Lumpur International Airport was ranked 12th for its international connectivity. As it continues to be a key connecting point for flights, expect to have Kuala Lumpur host your layovers more often.


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