IT is rather perplexing when one considers the design of KLIA 2 Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang.
It departs from the conventional concept of an airport where the priority is convenience and comfort of passengers from the point of entering the airport, checking in and clearing security and immigration, and boarding the plane by the shortest possible route.
Other amenities such as retail outlets and eateries would be arranged along this pathway without obstructing the passengers on their way to the boarding gate.
As part of a good design concept, the designers would create an ambience of warm welcome with an air of festivity and convenience so that passengers would have a pleasant experience.
But the KLIA 2 designers had a different concept in mind. They tried to combine a mall, a street thoroughfare and an airport all in one. As a result, the basic function of an airport, that is to get passengers to the departure gate with the least hassle, was compromised.
Spatial utilisation to accommodate the other two functions caused further confusion, as the passengers have to go through a maze to check in and to negotiate alleys and corridors to get to the departure gates.
Signages are small and in subdued colours. They have to compete with the large bright neon advertising lights of the retail outlets and the eateries. As a result, first-time and even returning passengers find great difficulty in getting proper directions.
Arriving passengers have to negotiate three tiers of ramps from the aerobridge to the concourse.
Then they have to walk some distance before climbing up and down escalators and jostle through corridors before finding the immigration and Customs clearance checkpoints.
After that, another long walk to the baggage claim area where mayhem reigns as passengers and their trolleys wait to claim their bags at the congested space between the carousels.
Passengers have to endure a long wait before retrieving their luggage and then another walk through the shopping area to the pick-up area. There seems to be a systemic failure in guiding the passengers from disembarking to the pick-up point.
There is also no unity in the interior design façade. It was a mismatch of decorative and architectural forms without any design identity with respect to shapes, lines and colours. Clearly, there was no holistic design approach. In short it was a chaotic design.
To be fair, there were attempts to infuse order in this chaos, but it was at the expense of the convenience of the passengers
KLIA 2 is a superb example of a Third World mentality disguised as a First World pretence.
It is reflective of the structural and cerebral malaise of our national planning efforts.
MOHAMED GHOUSE NASURUDDIN
Universiti Sains Malaysia