New Queue System at Airport Passport Control

Post by Mark

airportline2

Last night when I got back to Kuwait from a quick trip to Doha I noticed they changed the queue system at passport control.

When I came down the escalators I noticed majority of the immigration counters were practically empty which was a relief since I really didn’t want to spend an hour in line. But then as I got closer I noticed something odd. On the far left was a large crowd of expats, when I looked carefully I noticed all the empty counters were for GCC nationals and that expats needed to enter a queue on the far left.

airportline1

So I got into the queue which truthfully was moving fast. It was one long queue that served all the expat counters which is something I prefer over having individual queues for each counter. It’s actually been proven to be more efficient which is why it’s used in other countries. There was an officer at the end of the end of the queue who was directing the expats to available counters as they free up. It’s like finally, a proper system.

But, I had a major issue was with the visual appearance of the passport control area (put aside the floor tiles that wouldn’t look out of place in a bathroom). My big issue was how they had the large wide open space for GCC nationals and then had all the expats squeezed into the far left corner like cattle (check below illustration for an overhead look).

queue

I don’t mind there be more counters for GCC nationals over expats, but at least have the expats queue wider and take up more space. Right now the expats are squeezed into 25% of the space while the other 75% is left open for GCC nationals. It really looked degrading the way we were all squeezed off to the side and it’s definitely not a great first impression for visitors on arrival.


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New Airport Long Term Parking Extension

Post by Mark

parkingextension

Ok ok so it’s not really an extension but, just to give you an idea of how bad the situation in the long term parking has gotten, they’re now having cars park in the pedestrian walkway in the long term parking lot.

They’re going to have to construct a new multistory parking lot but that would mean they’d have to close the parking lot during that process which will be annoying so I have another idea. How about turning an empty lot of land near the airport into a parking lot and then have a shuttle bus service to and from the airport?


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New Immigration Counters at the Airport

Post by Mark

airport

Supposedly service is better as well. I wonder if they’re still allowed to be on their phones?


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Poll Results: Are you traveling for National Day?

Post by Mark

nope

I’m assuming the vast majority are choosing not to travel this year because the holiday falls on a weekend.


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Are you traveling for National Day?

Post by Mark

plane-window

I should start holding this poll every year just to see if there is a drop or increase in traveling over the previous year.

Are you traveling for National and Liberation Day?







View Results

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Jazeera Airways Future Plans

Post by Mark

checkin

The Jazeera Airways 2015 Report is out and amongst all the financial data they have a section dedicated to future plans. Here are the ones that caught my attention:

Remote Check-in
Jazeera are building a check-in facility two minutes away from the main airport terminal (pictured on top). You arrive at the facility where parking valets will meet you, unload your baggage and then park your car for you. You then check in your baggage at this facility and get your boarding pass before being shuttled to the main terminal where you can head straight to immigration. The idea here is that you’ll bypass the airports congestion by skipping the whole parking and check-in process at the main terminal. They’ve already started construction on this facility and it should be operational by the end of this year.

In-flight Broadband
Jazeera Airways will be the first airline to be connected with Rockwell Collins PAVES™ Cabin Wireless and next-generation Global Xpress connectivity. It’s a new technology I previously hadn’t heard about that will give passengers fast, reliable and consistent coverage while also having access to the same high quality broadband that was previously only been available on the ground. According to a press release by Rockwell Collins, this service will be active by end of the year but in the Jazeera Airways report it says winter 2017 so it could be a typo.

map

Jazeera Airways Introducing Long-Haul Flights
Starting 2018 Jazeera will be flying long-haul flights. They don’t mention which countries specifically but they have a little map with a bunch of countries on it including popular destinations like London and Paris.

One thing the report fails to mention is the dedicated Jazeera Airways terminal which I’ve been hearing about for ages. My guess is the rumored terminal is actually just the new remote check-in area and not a separate terminal similar to FlyDubai. Check out the full report [Here]

Update: Just got a couple of clarifications. A dedicated Jazeera Airways terminal is still planned, it was just left out of the report. Also in regards to broadband on flights, by Winter 2017 they mean January 2017.


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Immigration Officer Hard at Work

Post by Mark

hardatwork

Even though there were huge lines at passport control, this officer at the Kuwait Airport still found time for Farmville. Seriously you can’t make this shit up.


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Etihad Airways to the United States

Post by Mark

etihad

Ok since I’ve been drinking in the Abu Dhabi airport for the past few hours and I’ve been listening to David Bowie’s Starman on loop… I’m now in a slightly better mood. So, I figured I’d post what was actually cool about flying with Etihad to Los Angeles. This was my third trip to the U.S. in the past 6 months, the first time I flew British Airways, the second time United Airlines and this third time with Etihad.

I personally prefer as direct a flight as possible since I pop a sleeping pill and xanax combo that basically knocks me out for most of the flight. So 5 hours or 10 or 15 doesn’t make a difference for me. Stopping half way is annoying, I just want to settle down in my seat, sleep and then wake up in my destination. United Airlines was a direct flight but their planes were pretty old and they’re now no longer flying out of Kuwait.

Etihad and Emirates both have direct flights to LA but Etihad has one major advantage over Emirates. U.S. Border Control are located at the Abu Dhabi Airport. It’s so odd I’m not sure why they chose Abu Dhabi, their only other location outside of North America is in Ireland. What this means is you get all your security and visa procedures done at the Abu Dhabi airport and then once you land in the States you don’t have to go through any of it. You actually land in the US as a domestic flight, you walk out of the plane, pick up your bags and leave the airport. This is very convenient especially for those who don’t have US or Canadian passports since the immigration lines on arrival to the U.S are usually super long.

The downside of Etihad is there is a high chance you’re gonna miss a connecting flight. A lot of my friends have missed connecting flights in Abu Dhabi because their flight from Kuwait was delayed or in my case, even when my flight wasn’t delayed I still managed to miss my connecting flight to Kuwait. It’s a gamble so just make sure you know the risk.


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Why Etihad Airways Sucks and American Express Kicks Ass

Post by Mark

amex

I was originally going to post about how shit Etihad Airways is because they removed my name off my connecting flight back to Kuwait. They “assumed” I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gate in time and now I’m stuck in their airport for 5 hours waiting for the next flight out. But, I figured everyone had already heard a ton of horror stories on Etihad and you wouldn’t be interested in hearing another. I mean even Anderson Silva trashed them on his Instagram account after his last visit to Kuwait.

So instead I’ve decided to turn this post into a positive one and talk about my love for my AMEX card. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and I love it for multiple reasons. Firstly getting an AMEX card was a fairly simple process, I don’t remember the exact steps since it’s been 6 or more years since I got the card but I do remember their requirements were really simple, something like just prove you work and that was it. They then give you a ridiculously high limit, mine has always been like $12,000 from day 1. But the biggest advantage of the card for me is lounge access while traveling. For example I’m now stuck at the shitty Abu Dhabi airport for 5 hours and Etihad couldn’t give me access to the lounge even though they fucked up because the lounge was “full”. Not that I really care for their lounge since it’s small and overpacked always but I just wanted them to compensate me in someway for ruining my return flight. Since I couldn’t get access to their Premium Lounge I decided to check the airport website and see what other lounges were available here. I ended up finding one called Al Reem tucked away on the far side of the airport that allows access to AMEX card holders. I’m here chilling in the lounge now and it’s actually better than the Etihad Premium Lounge. It’s quieter, a lot less people and there is even a bar.

lounge

I travel a lot and always in coach when traveling around the region so the AMEX card really makes the airport experience a lot more comfortable. I use it mostly at the Kuwait Airport, Beirut Airport, Dubai Airport (all terminals), Bahrain and now I’m using it in Abu Dhabi. If you’re flying out with FLyDubai from the Sheikh Saad Terminal in Kuwait, the AMEX card also gives you access to the business class side of the airport which is a much more superior experience compared to the regular side.

Other than lounge access, my AMEX card also gives me 30% off on MyUS shipments and I also earn points on the card which I can convert to air miles for my favorite airlines or buy products from the AMEX store. If all that isn’t enough, my AMEX card has even given me access to early bird or reserved seating for concert tickets in the States using TicketMaster.com.

There are some downsides of course compared to the credit cards from your bank. You have the yearly card fee which you have to pay while my MasterCard with NBK is free. The interest rate is also higher with AMEX, my MasterCard I think is 1% a month while AMEX is like 2.3%. Then you lose a bit of money with the exchange rate whenever you settle your bill since you have to pay using US dollars. But those downsides are worth it for me which is why I love my American Express card. For more details you can visit them in Salhiya or check out their website [Here]


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Places to Stay: The Hoxton – Amsterdam

Post by Mark

hoxton1

Every time I visit Amsterdam I tend to stay in a different hotel but this time I think I’ve found my favorite place. This weekend while in Amsterdam I stayed at The Hoxton which is a pretty cool boutique hotel that opened up back in July.

I ended up staying in one of their “Roomy” rooms overlooking the canal and it was pretty spacious. The room looked great, slightly retro but not overdone to a hipsterish level. It wouldn’t look out of place in an All Saints look book. The hotel has a pretty popular restaurant that was busy all day long but my favorite thing about the hotel was the location. The hotel is located across the canal from The Nine Streets and just few minutes walk from a bunch of my favorite places. Literally all the shops I wanted to visit were less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel including Baskèts, Concrete, Carhartt WIP and ETQ. That made going back and forth to the hotel to drop shopping bags a breeze.

hoxton2

Price wise I thought it was really reasonable especially considering how weak the Euro is right now. I booked last minute and two nights set me back €648. That around KD105 for a night for a pretty big room with a great view, in an amazing location and in a great hotel. I’d definitely stay there again. [Link]


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