The renovation of Kota Kinabalu International Airport, otherwise known as KKIA, has been completed for a few months now. Phase One is done, with Phase Two still in the works. I took a flight to Tawau with my family for a recent wedding. Normally, we would fly Air Asia, which operates out of Terminal 2. For this trip, Malaysia Airlines had cheaper seats, and as there were 7 of us, that worked out to be pretty substantial savings.
Tickets were booked on-line, and had we booked a day earlier we would have been on Air Aisa. As it were, it gave me a chance to explore KKIA.
Since both Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia fly to Tawau, both airlines only offer limit flights. We were on the 1.15pm flight. It is advised to get to the airport 2 hours before departure, you never know what can happen with traffic. Traveling with 2 kids and a baby means you really got to plan your trip.
We got to KKIA just after 11am, checked our luggage and got our tickets. Since we were there early, check in was a breeze. After checking in, we went to McDonalds to get a bite to eat. It sure was quiet, even for a Tuesday. We let the kids explore the shops there,… let’s see, chocolate shop, Body Shop, book store, seafood store with an aquarium of live fishes. Actually, it might be the same shops as Terminal 2.
Once you go through customs, you enter into where the Boarding Gates are. Like airports anywhere in the world, it is easy to see where you need to go. The renovation of KKIA fitted the place with floor to ceiling windows, so that made it modern and full of light. It’s nice, but it looks just like any modern airport anywhere in the world.
There we all were, seating comfortable at our boarding gate waiting for the flight to be called. Then I noticed that I don’t see any aeroplanes at our gate, and it was already past 1.00pm. Sure enough, the announcement came through. The flight is expected to arrive at 1.45pm. Then at 1.45pm, still no plane. Another announcement, and a new take-off time at 2.20pm. Which thankfully did arrive and we took off at 2.20pm.
A delay of more than 1 hour is pretty unusual in Malaysia. Try traveling with kids and a baby, and you can imagine why it was tough. Nap time and feeding time, and kids can only sit at one place for a short time. But the thing that gets me is that they never tell you why there is a delay. I mean, is just the weather or is there something wrong with the plane???
The only thing that made it ok……there was a Starbucks there! So you can get a coffee, and head on over to the smoking room and take a break. For all you smokers, the smoking room is locate at the end of the building, in the direction of Gate 1.
The Boeing 747-400
Malaysia Airlines operates the Boeing 747-400 for most domestic routes. I guess they have refitted the interior for most of the planes. The 747-400 has been around for years now, and has a very good safety record in Malaysia.
But in terms of comfort, it loses out to the Airbus that Air Asia operates. The airbus is new, the seats are leather, and the air-conditioning is a lot better. Maybe that is one of the reasons why this flight was not packed. Given the choice, I believe most people would select Air Asia. I would too. Not that there is anything wrong with Malaysia Airlines (MAS). The service for both airlines in the air and on the ground are very professional, friendly and helpful.
The Flight Back
After 2 days in Tawau, we flew with MAS from Tawau back to Kota Kinabalu on the afternoon flight at 2.20pm. You won’t believe this…..ready for it? The flight was delayed until 3.30pm! Unbelievable. We had to watch the Air Asia passengers board their flight which I presumed took off on time. C’mon! Is there a problem with the airplane? Why won’t anybody tell us anything? It might have been the same plane for all we know.
Malaysia Airports should look into getting the luggage to passengers. I don’t know if it is a manpower issue but the luggage at KKIA always seem to take a long time. At least, it arrived. They left my luggage on the plane bound for Kuala Lumpur before. Makes for a good story but not much fun while it was happening.
If you need a ride to Kota Kinabalu city, you can use the airport limo service. Just buy the ticket before you exit the Arrival Hall.
You can make your on-line booking at www.malaysiaairlines.com. You can find discounts up to 70% if you make your purchase at least 21 days before your flight date. After you have purchased your seat, bring the print out and check in. Unlike Air Asia, Malaysia airlines assign seating number and allows you 20kg of baggage per person.
This entry was posted on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 at 7:09 am and is filed under Featured, Living Here. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.