Kuala Lumpur Airports Go “Silent”

A three-note chime followed by unintelligible boarding calls and paging of late passengers will no longer be heard in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the low-cost carrier terminal, KLIA 2. Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) announced that fewer public announcements will be made starting last Saturday. In the pilot test, MAHB reduced the over 500 announcements daily by 63% and replaced it with Malaysian instrumental music.

Passengers should instead refer to the display screens for information or ask airport staff for assistance.

There is a growing number of “silent” airports around the world, such as the one in neighbouring Singapore, ie. Changi Airport, as well as the London City Airport, Helsinki Airport, Chennai Airport, Cape Town International Airport and El Prat Airport in Barcelona. The quiet airport concept is, supposedly, to reduce noise pollution. And with fewer announcements, passengers might actually pay attention to the important announcements that the PA  system would be limited to; in KLIA and KLIA2, that would include last calls and prayer time.


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There are also now other ways to communicate with passengers—eg. email, text via smartphone and mobile apps—and with better clarity. Messages sent via these channels can be customised to the passenger’s language of choice. An article by CNN Travel pointed out that airports often use English as a default second language when making announcements, but also that only 1 billion out of the world’s over 7 billion people can speak it. What’s more, “local accents and fuzzy intercom systems may make the announcements unintelligible”.

So, it seems to make sense that those public announcements in the airport are no longer necessary, and passengers can enjoy a more peaceful environment. At least, passengers at KLIA and KLIA2 appear to like it. MAHB conducted a survey and found that nearly 98% of respondents were agreeable to having a “silent” airport.

What do you think?

A) NO, bring back the airport white noise!

B) YES, now I can slumber peacefully in the airport.

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