Passenger’s Guide to Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Terminal Two of Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Northeastern Borneo, Sabah, province, Malaysia. Photo Credit: Tomiqta.

Airlines & Aviation

Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia. Located in northern Borneo, Kota Kinabalu Airport serves Kota Kinabalu and the island’s northwestern coastal region, popular with ecotourists. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah province.

Introduction to the Region

Located in Southeast Asia, Borneo is the world’s third largest island and the largest island in Asia.

Straddling the Equator, the island’s land mass is split between Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Close to three-fourths of the island’s territory belongs to Indonesia and one-fourth to Malaysia. The tiny state of Brunei accounts for roughly 1% of the island’s territory.

Kota Kinabalu Airport serves the Malaysian part of the island and neighboring areas.

The region is popular with eco-travelers and is particularly famous for Kinabalu National Park.

One of its coolest tourist attractions is the Mari Mari Cultural Village, which is staffed by descendants of a head-hunting tribe!

Kota Kinabalu Airport Overview

kota-kinabalu-international-airport-terminal-interior Inside the modern terminal building at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Photo Credit: Atlasmotor.

Kota Kinabalu International Airport has a full range of services for passengers.

The airport currently handles about 8 million passengers a year. It has a capacity of 9 million passengers a year. It has one runway.

Often referred to at KKIA, the airport’s city code is BKI.

Airlines and Flight Information


Kota Kinabalu International Airport is a hub for AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines, MASWIngs, and Malindo AIr.

The airport is served by roughly 20 airlines. There are flights to several domestic destinations as well as to such regional international destinations as …

  • Australia,
  • Brunei,
  • China,
  • Hong Kong,
  • Japan,
  • Korea,
  • Macau,
  • The Philippines,
  • Singapore,
  • Taiwan, and
  • Thailand.

There are more than 25 flights a day to Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital. The flight time is roughly 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Kota Kinabalu Airport Services

kota-kinabalu-airport-terminal Check-in counters at Kota Kinabalu Airport. Photo Credit: Atlasmotor.

Money exchangers, ATMs, SIM card providers, a left luggage service, a charging station, and a Tourism Malaysia counter are among the services offered. The Tourism Malaysia counter provides travel information, maps, and brochures.

You won’t for hungry or thirsty at KKIA! There are several fast-food outlets as well as convenience stores, coffee houses, and sellers of donuts and cookies.

Both domestic and international chain brands are well represented. There is even an Irish style sandwich shop!

The terminal also has convenience stores selling snacks and beverages and retail outlets selling toiletries and souvenirs.

Departure Lounges at Kota Kinabalu Airport

Malaysia Airlines has a Golden Lounge for departing passengers.

Located on Level 3 past Gate 7 of the main terminal building, the lounge is open from 4 am to 9.30 pm seven days a week.

The lounge is primarily reserved for passengers with elite status or holders of premium class tickets.

The airport also has two paid-in departure lounge, one for domestic passengers and one for international passengers.

Operated by Plaza Premium, the lounges offer comfortable seating, light meals, beverages, showers, Wi-Fi, charging stations, work stations, and other services.

The charge for both lounges runs US$42 for up to two hours.

The international lounge is located near Gate B3. It is open from 6.30 am to 1.30 am seven  days a week.

The domestic departure lounge is located near Gate A10. It is open from 5.30 am to 1.30 am seven days a week.

Click HERE for more information.

Ground Transportation at Kota Kinabalu AIrport

A taxi from the airport to downtown Kota Kinabalu runs roughly 30 ringgit. Taxis can accommodate up to four people.

You can buy a taxi coupon at the Airport Taxi counter in the arrivals area of the airport terminal.

If you would prefer to book a taxi in advance, check out Taxi2Airport.

Tourist Attractions Near Kota Kinabalu Aiport

skilled-dancers-putting-on-a-spirited-performance Dancers performing at the Mari Mari Cultural Village, a 30 minute drive from downtown Kota Kinabalu. Photo Credit: Shakar.

Often referred to at KK, Kota Kinabalu is located on the Northwestern coast of the island of Borneo, a region popular with eco-tourists.

Formerly known as Jesselton, the city is partially surrounded by rain forest. It is a gateway to Kinabalu National Park.

One of the area’s most interesting tourist attractions is the Mari Mari Cultural Village, which I highly recommend.

My visit to the village – with guides that are descendants of head hunters – was honestly one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had as a travel blogger!

Another enjoyable experience was taking a firefly river cruise, which reminded me at first of taking the Jungle Boat Ride at Disneyland.

The only difference was, it was a REAL river, there were REAL monkeys along the shores, and the promised fireflies really DID appear – and they were NOT created by fairy lights!

Location of Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Kota Kinabalu International Airport is located about eight kilometres southwest of downtown Kota Kinabalu. The drive downtown takes about 10 minutes.

This post contains affiliate links. It is intended for travel inspiration and planning, but information cannot be guaranteed. You should do your own due diligence.

This is the first in a series of passengers’ guides to Malaysian airports.

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