When in Saudi Arabia: The Jeddah Airport Experience

The Middle East is a common transfer hub that connects Asia to the rest of the world. It's said that airports in the Middle East are the busiest where the biggest airlines usually connect at.
On my way to Morocco, I flew with Saudia Airlines, an airline based in Saudi Arabia. The 2-way ticket both had stopovers at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah and so I had the chance to stop by the Middle East for the first time.

Much that I wanted to explore Saudi Arabia though, I didn’t really have the luxury of time. Given the visa requirement to enter Saudi Arabia for Philippine passport holders, I opted out of getting one since the stopover was just short. I only stayed there for at least 6 hours.

Tip: As long as you stay less than 12 hours when transiting in any Saudi Arabian airport, no visa is required for Philippine passport holders. No need to pass through the immigration either. However, if it goes beyond 12 hours, it would be better to ask your airline company and the embassy of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines if a transit visa is needed. 

Also read: Shelly Viajera Travel tips on applying visas

I have to mention that it was a longgg 6-hour transit because there was really nothing much to do inside. Unlike most international airports, there’s no free WIFI in Jeddah airport. Though there was a WIFI router for rent in a souvenir shop, I didn't buy to the idea of the expensive and limited one-hour usage. So aside from taking a nap, what I did instead was to just check out the Duty Free shop and other smaller stores. A few more food stalls were around including a Tim Hortons and a Baskin-Robbins.
While going around, I caught a restaurant serving local food (Though I forgot the restaurant's name, I remember it's at the farthest left coming from the Duty Free shop). I tried khubooz, a round flat bread quite similar to naan and pita bread. Khubooz is said to be a common Middle Eastern food.
Jeddah airport’s boarding area seems smaller compared to other international airports. It got chaotic that some had to resort to sitting on the floor and toilets were a mess. I have to say that it isn't an airport you want to have a stopover at.

Tip: If your airline has its own lounge, stay there as long as you can to somehow get away with the crowded common area. Saudia Airlines, for example, has an exclusive lounge that I easily got access to after passing through the transfer desk. They gave a meal in a box for free (given to passengers with more than 4 hours waiting time in the airport) with free-flowing coffee and tea. Plus, I got to sit more comfortably on the couches and was entertained by their TV and reading materials. The lounge’s toilet was also cleaner compared to the common toilet. 

Despite all, I saw something interesting while in transit. For the first time, I saw passengers of the hajj, the religious journey of Muslims to the holy place Makkah (Mecca) in Saudi Arabia. I easily noticed these pilgrims as they went by groups, mostly aged ones, all wearing white clothes called as ihram. Some of them were even on the same flight as mine.

Have you been to the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah? What are your experiences there?

When in Saudi Arabia: The Jeddah Airport Experience When in Saudi Arabia: The Jeddah Airport Experience Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 1.3.18 Rating: 5


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