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Comparing the lounges in Kuala Lumpur International Airport isn’t something I thought I would write about.
Passing through Kuala Lumpur airport is almost a given when you travel to Malaysia. The busiest airport in Malaysia and one of the busiest in South East Asia makes it a great base for any South East Asian trip.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport has 2 main terminals, KLIA1 and KLIA2. KLIA2 has all of the budget airlines such as AirAsia, Batik Air and Lion Air and offers fares as low as any around the world.
KLIA1 houses all of the traditional and flag carrier airlines that you’re likely to fly internationally such as Emirates, Qatar and Singapore Airlines, as well as being the hub for the national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
If you’re lucky enough to fly business class on any of those flights, or have status that gets you into a lounge before a flight, KLIA1 has an abundance of lounge options.
Having travelled Malaysia extensively and becoming a bit of an airline nerd, I’ve tried out plenty of lounges in KLIA1 and give a run down of which ones you can get in and which lounge you should choose.
An Overview of the Lounges at KLIA1
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Domestic
This lounge caters for those travelling domestically around Malaysia on Malaysia Airlines or those with an equivalent One World status.
I’ve always encountered friendly staff at reception and there is a large area to store bags just inside the entrance. There is a variety of seating with high bar stools just inside, restaurant style seating and tables and wide comfy lounge chairs at the far end over looking the planes lined up at their gates.
The food is often basic but tasty with no more than 1 or 2 dishes available at each time of day. There is also a noodle station available where tasty noodle dishes can be whipped up in a couple of minutes from the chef on call. Soft drinks and tea and coffee are available and self serve. Considering the coffee is from a machine, it is surprisingly good.
The highlights of the food and beverage offerings are the miniature cakes that are available with the sandwiches. I dare you to eat just one!
There is no alcohol served, but as it is only a domestic lounge, it caters to the domestic market, many of whom are frequent travellers on short flights and don’t drink alcohol.
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Regional
For any international short haul flights around Asia, you’ll be directed to the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge. Just past immigration, head through duty free and search for the escalators on your left.
If you are flying Malaysia Airlines short haul in business class, or are a One World Sapphire or Emerald member on a short haul flight, you can use this lounge. Think flights to Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore.
This is a much larger lounge than the domestic lounge taking up a lot more floor space. The buffet area is large and is stocked with a variety of foods. When I was there at breakfast time, there was a wide selection of breads and pastries and western and Malay breakfasts available.
Coffee is made by a barista and there is a bar that opens in the afternoons. Again there is a variety of seating with large arm chairs over looking the runway, small tables for eating and a family area for those travelling with young children.
The wifi is excellent as well and I have taken video calls whilst sitting in this lounge without any problems.
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite
This is Malaysia Airlines flag ship lounge as you would expect at their home airport. This is the largest lounge of the lot and is at the satellite terminal at KLIA1 where all long haul flights depart from.
This is actually two lounges in one, with the Business Class lounge on the left and the First Class lounge on the right as you enter. The business class lounge is also available to One World Sapphire members on Malaysia Airlines or any other One World member, such as Qatar Airways, with the First Class lounge for those in First, Business Suites or One World Emerald card holders.
Unfortunately, I only got to check out the business class lounge, but it had everything you could want and more. A variety of seating, with large windows, a nap room, family room, showers and separate bar area as well as its own noodle bar/ restaurant and another large section for buffet foods. You won’t go hungry. The food seemed similar to the other two lounges, but with slightly more options on my visit. The bar area only serves alcohol in the afternoons, which seems a slight down point.
Another slight negative is the lack of natural lighting. Although there are windows running the full length of the lounge, with such a large space to illuminate, it can seem dark when on the far side.
Despite this relatively minor flaw, due to its sheer size, it didn’t feel busy on my visit even though I was there in a morning rush. Everybody had a table and there was still plenty of room spare.
Service was again impeccable with me being welcomed to the lounge by every member of staff I came across.
Plaza Premium Lounge
As with every major airport in the world, KLIA has a Plaza Premium Lounge.
However this is the first time I have come across a Plaza Premium with a First option.
The regular lounge appears to be like any other Plaza Premium with tea, coffee, juices and buffet food available. Access is with a variety of cards, such as Priority Pass, or with payment.
The Plaza Premium First lounge was different. I can only assume that the First brand of this lounge is contracted out to priority customers of other airlines. I managed to get access due to my status with Qatar Airways and I had a bit of disappointment when I realised this would be the lounge I had access to. However that disappointment soon disappeared when I entered.
The lounge appeared clean and new and I was welcomed by every member of staff that I walked past with numerous staff on hand at all times.
There are large lounging chairs when you walk in, dining chairs and tables opposite the bar and more large chairs at the far end. A warm towel was brought to my table as soon as I sat down and a drinks order taken.
Food was ordered via the QR codes on the table and I was very happy with the nasi lemak that arrived. The Eggs Benedict also looked very appealing. As I was there at breakfast, there was also a selection of cereals, breads, pastries and fresh fruit available.
Although I ordered barista coffee, a coffee machine was next to the self serve beer tap. Wine also appeared to be able to order every early in the morning although premium spirits and cocktails incurred an extra charge.
Although it was totally unexpected, the service of the Plaza Premium First lounge is the best I’ve seen from all of the lounges in KLIA. The food and drinks were also excellent. My first thoughts were disappointment but I was very happy to be proved wrong that it really is a premium lounge experience.
As always, I try to be as honest as possible on this page. There are other lounges in KLIA which I haven’t been to and may be as good including the Travel Club Lounge & Bar. If you’ve been to it, please let me know how they are!
You may also be interested in: How To Get From KL International Airport To The City Centre in 5 Different Ways
Which Lounge Should You Choose in KLIA1
Often, which lounge you choose is often dictated by the ticket you hold. There would be no way to get into the satellite lounge if you were only flying domestically for example. There isn’t really a bad choice of lounge in KLIA1, and all were far less busy and with much better service than many other lounges I have been in.
When I realised I had been in the three main Malaysia Airlines lounges and decided to write a post on it, I thought the Satellite lounge would be a winner but only just as all of the lounges are excellent. However, I now feel that if you get the chance to visit the Plaza Premium First in the main terminal, it should definitely be on your list.
Check out my other posts for travelling around Malaysia:
- Visiting Bako National Park From Kuching: A Detailed Guide
- How To See Orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve
- Visiting Mulu National Park: The Essential Guide
- How To Get From KL International Airport To The City Centre
- What To Do In Kuala Lumpur: Top 10 Things
- Which Lounge Should You Choose at KLIA
- Petronas Twin Towers vs KL Tower: Which Is Best To Visit?
- Visiting Pantai Pasir Panjang, Penang from Georgetown
- The Best Coffee Shops in Georgetown, Penang
- What You Must Eat in Penang: Top 10 Foods To Try
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.