Flying with Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air or Cathay Dragon from Kuala Lumpur International Airport? Then take advantage of the city’s in-town check-in desks, where you can ditch your suitcase and obtain your boarding pass before reaching the airport.
It’s a great move if you’re planning some final sightseeing on departure day – as you won’t need to worry about your suitcase until arriving at your destination – and also means you can head straight to passport control at the airport, bypassing the regular (and often lengthy) airport check-in queues.
Here’s how you can make use of Kuala Lumpur’s biggest airport timesaver.
Kuala Lumpur in-town check-in: the basics
You’ll find this check-in facility in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral railway station. That’s because it’s reserved for use by passengers of the KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit airport trains, so you’ll need to buy a train ticket to access the check-in zone: but more on that later.
Malaysia Airlines passengers can check-in at leisure on the same calendar day as their flight, up to two hours prior to departure when travelling internationally – such as to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth – or up to 1.5 hours before departure when flying domestically with no checked bags: otherwise the same two-hour cut-off applies.
Flying with Malindo Air, including to Brisbane or Perth? You can check-in here a maximum of eight hours before travel up until three hours before your international or domestic flight, or until two hours before departure for domestic flights without checked baggage.
Check-in for Cathay Dragon flights to Hong Kong and beyond – including onward connections with Cathay Pacific to Australia or elsewhere – closes two hours before departure, whether travelling with checked baggage or flying with only carry-on.
In all cases, your checked baggage allowance is the same as it would be when checking-in at the airport itself, so if your business class ticket or shiny frequent flyer card provides a higher-than-normal baggage allowance, you can take advantage of that allowance here.
While the queues here tend to be quite short, each airline also has clearly-signed priority lanes for high flyers to use during peak times: but if you miss the cut-off times above, or are travelling with any other airline, you’ll need to proceed to the airport with your bags and check-in as normal.
Note that in previous years, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Royal Brunei supported in-town passenger check-in, but this is no longer the case.
Finding and accessing Kuala Lumpur in-town check-in
Begin by making your way to Kuala Lumpur Sentral railway station: a short walk across the road if staying at the popular Hilton Kuala Lumpur or Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur hotels, or connected to most of the public transport options in the city, including the LRT, KTM Komuter, KTM Intercity and the KL Monorail.
Once inside the station, follow the signs to the KLIA Ekspres…
… being sure to walk in the ‘green’ direction towards departures, as arriving passengers alight at the opposite end of the station:
Once you’re near the main KLIA Ekspres zone, keep following the signs towards ‘airline check-in’…
… until you find the barricaded check-in area:
If you don’t already have your KLIA Ekspres or KLIA Transit ticket, you’ll need to buy one from the windows or vending machines nearby – but if you already have your ticket or planned ahead and purchased a return ticket when you arrived in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll need to scan it at the barriers here to enter the check-in zone:
We’d suggest it’s easiest to buy your return ticket via the KLIA Ekspres mobile app before arriving in Malaysia, as you get a 10% discount over the walk-up price – 90MYR (A$27.05) instead of 100MYR (A$30.05) – and can present a barcode on your mobile phone screen for scanning at the gate.
This avoids fiddling around with a paper ticket, keeps your receipt safe in your email inbox, and yes, you can still pay by AMEX through the app.
Once inside the barriers, head to the appropriate check-in desk, present your passport, drop your bags and receive your boarding pass. If your airline issues airport lounge ‘invitations’ and you’re entitled to access, you’ll receive these here too:
On our most recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, we were impressed that there were no snaking check-in queues here for any of the airlines, and upon later seeing the length of the business class ‘priority’ queue at the airport terminal itself, were glad to have already been checked-in.
Of course, if there’s time before your flight and you’ve completed check-in, you can explore the shops and restaurants at KL Sentral or spend the day elsewhere, before later returning and boarding a train to the airport.
If you’re ready to depart, present your ticket again at the barriers located across from the airline check-in area to access the train platform, and you'll arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport already checked-in and ready to head straight to passport control and your airport lounge.
One final tip: ‘Express Path’ cards for the airport formalities don’t exist in Malaysia, but business class and first class passengers can present their boarding pass at the red-carpeted passport control lanes for a fast-track to their lounge or departure gate, found next to the Diplomatic Passport and APEC Card queues.