UK Electronic Visa Waiver for Kuwaitis

Post by Mark

Come Fly With Me

If you have a Kuwaiti passport you no longer need a visa to enter the UK, all you need is a visa waiver. A friend of mine recently got the waiver two hours after applying for one. It’s cheaper than getting a regular visa and pretty convenient if you’re planning an impulse trip.

The cost for an electronic visa waiver is £15 but it’s only valid for one entry. You can apply for the EVW by visiting the EVW website [Here]


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Tour the New Kuwait Airways Terminal (T4)

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I got a tour of the soon to open Kuwait Airways Terminal 4. I hadn’t seen that many photos of the terminal and so was really surprised at how beautiful it was. I took a ton of photos so I’ll take you on a quick tour of the airport starting from the entrance all the way into the plane, and then I’ll go the other way, from the plane all the way to the exit. Here are some interesting points first:

– The new terminal is located on the right just before arriving at the main airport. There are signs up now that point to terminal 4 and there is also a new exit that was constructed. Here is the location on [Google Maps]

– The new terminal is only for Kuwait Airways flights.

– In the photos, you’ll notice signs for E-Gates. Yes, it’s happening but I wasn’t able to get any information on it other than the fact they’re going to implement it. I was not given a timeline but it could be very soon which would explain the urgent move to new passports for Kuwaiti citizens and the voiding of old ones.

– The only area I wasn’t allowed to photograph was the business lounge. It’s located on the far right of the departures terminal and spans two floors. It has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the runway, and unlike the Kuwait Airways lounge in terminal 1, it didn’t look tacky.

– The security check area is going to be proper, similar to setups you see in large airports abroad and it will also have full body scanners.

– Terminal 4 will be managed by the South Korean Incheon International Airport. The Incheon airport holds the record of being ranked the Best Airport Worldwide for 11 consecutive years so it’s going to be in good hands.

– The boarding gate for US flights has an extra security check, the rest of the gates don’t.

– The plan is to eventually have US Border Control at the terminal similar to how it is in Abu Dhabi. This would be huge if it happens.

– All the waiting area seats throughout the terminal have both power ports and USB ports.

– The terminal is expected to start operating on July 25th, although I’ve also heard the date August 8th being thrown around. In both cases, the terminal will start operating with a limited number of flights with the first route being just Dubai. They will then continue to add other GCC flights before adding the rest of their destinations.

That’s some of the most important points I wanted to highlight. If you have any questions or things you’re curious about let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer them for you. To check out pictures of the terminal as well as the full tour from start to finish, click [Here]


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The Lebanon Summer Guide for 2018

Post by Mark

Haven’t done this for a while but here is my Lebanon summer guide for 2018 in case you’re heading there in the next couple of months.

//////// FOOD ////////

Coara
Since I was with four vegans on my last trip, one of the places we really wanted to try was Coara. It had been on my todo list ever since I watched the video above. The food was incredibly delicious and the husband and wife that cook and run the place were extremely hospitable. I highly recommend it and it’s just an hour away up in the mountains from Beirut.

Onno
Originally a small Armenian restaurant in the poor neighborhood of Burj Hammoud, Onno became popular with the tourists after Anthony Bourdain fell in love with the place. The restaurant has now expanded with multiple locations around Lebanon, but the food is still great. My favorite location of theirs is in Badaro, it’s walking distance from the Smallville Hotel and it’s surrounded by some decent bars.

Kalei Coffee Co.
This is my favorite coffee spot in Lebanon. Not only is their coffee good but they’ve got a very chill garden area to just kick back in and take a break.

Hanna Mitri Ice Cream
I honestly have no idea what the place is called, I just know the name of the owner and I think that’s what most people go by. It’s a hole in the wall, literally, but he has the best Arabic ice cream you’ll ever have. All the ice cream is made fresh daily and depending on what time you pass by he might have sold out of specific flavors or even closed down early because he sold out of everything. There usually is a small queue outside the door but it’s never that bad. Oh and make sure you know what you want since the owner is the equivalent of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. If there is a queue and you get to the front and are confused, don’t expect to get any ice cream. If you’re stuck, just ask for a mix of everything.

Smoking Bun
Still my favorite burger spot and that mostly because it’s located in Mar Mikhael near all the bars. This is the #1 burger place to stumble into half drunk at 2AM. They even have a vegan burger which wasn’t bad at all.

//////// BARS ////////

Internazionale
This has been my goto place for a few years now. It’s located right on Mar Mikhael street and its a very chill bar with good music and a small outdoor seating. This is a great place to sidewalk drink while watching people walk by and a great place to socialize with complete strangers.

Anise
This is a small bar also located on Mar Mikhael and a few stores behind Internazionale. Their super pro bartenders probably make the best cocktails on the strip and their smoked rosemary whiskey sour is insanely good. This is the place if you want to have a good cocktail.

People – Aishti Rooftop
If you’re in the downtown area and are looking for a mid-day break then this is a nice place to stop in for a glass of chilled white wine or Prosecco. It’s located on the rooftop of Aishti and it’s usually pretty quiet during the day.

//////// BEACH ////////

Colonel Beach
Located to the north of Lebanon in the beach town of Batroun, Colonel beach is part of the Colonel beer brewery and restaurant. It’s not that big but its cozy and obviously they’ve got a great selection of their own beer to choose from. Check their schedule if you’re interested in beach yoga since they take place pretty frequently during the summer time. There is no entry fee to access this beach.

Lazy B
While Colonel is located in the north, Lazy B is located in the south in the town of Jiyeh. They have multiple pools including one just for adults and they also have a pretty large sandy beach area. What I like about Lazy B is that they don’t have loud music blasting and they have lots of private shaded areas with hammocks scattered all around. Lazy B also has a good selection of poolside food to choose from and there is alcohol of course. The entry fee is $30.

//////// ACTIVITIES ////////

Hiking
One of my favorite things to do in Lebanon and I always recommend visitors to go on a day hike. The Tannourine Cedar Reserve is a place I recommend often since the location is incredible and the trail fairly organized. Check out my previous post on hiking in Lebanon [Here]

ATV Adventure

ATVing in Lebanon can be pretty fun and adventurous especially if you head up to Faraya and take one of their 6-hour excursions. I’ve done it three times with different friends and we’ve always had a blast. For more information on this check out my previous post [Here]

If there are any other places you want to recommend, let people know by leaving a comment below.


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Kuwait Airport Terminal 4 Inaugurated Today

Post by Mark

The new support terminal (T4) was inaugurated a short while ago. This new terminal will be handling all the Kuwait Airways flight to help reduce the load from the main airport terminal. According to my source at Kuwait Airways, the new terminal will be active and fully operational from August 8th of next month.

I’ve attached some photos to this post taken by Sarah Alsayegh. I’ll hopefully be getting a tour soon and will take more photos and post more information then.

PS: Supposedly the terminal isn’t this dimly lit, but instead the photographer retouched them to this effect.

Update: Here is the location on [Google Maps]

Update2: Here are some more details:

– Shaded parking for over 2,000 cars connected to the terminal via an air-conditioned bridge

– 50 check-in counters

– Special check-in counters for people with special needs

– 16 self-check-in machines

– Terminal has first and business class lounges


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Everything You Need to Know on the New Airport Terminal (T2)

Post by Mark

Last week I was given a very detailed presentation on the new terminal that’s under construction as well as a site visit to see the current progress. There was a lot of information presented but for this post, I rounded up what I thought was the most interesting. So here we go:

– The terminal is shaped similarly to other airports around the world for the same reason all cars have 4 wheels, it’s a shape that works really well for airports. But like all cars have 4 wheels, there is still a big difference between a Ferrari and a Kia and this applies to airports as well. Although airports can be shaped similarly, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all function the same way.

– Eventhough the terminal is huge, you still won’t have to walk much. The distance from the terminal entrance to the center of the terminal is around 150m. The furthest a passenger has to walk once inside is 600m. That’s one of the advantages of the triangular shape of the terminal, less walking distance for the passengers.

– The original plan of the terminal was to open with a capacity of 13 million passengers a year with an ability to expand that up to 25 million if needed. The plans have changed now and the terminal will now be able to handle 25 million passengers from day 1.

– The terminal will have a level of service rating of “A”. Dubai, for example, has a “C”. The level of service is calculated using a variety of things including the distance between passengers in the terminal, facilities, wayfinding etc.. For an airport of this capaciaty, its generally very difficult to get an “A”.

– The terminal has enough gates to handle 21 Airbus A380s (above) but also has the capacity to handle 51 smaller aircraft all at once (below). Thats possible because the majority of the gates can either take one large plane or two smaller ones without having to make any modifications.

– The terminal will have over 5,000 underground parking spots dedicated just for the passengers. Our current airport in comparison has around 1,500 that is also shared with the airport employees.

– Nothing is off the shelf, everything is being custom designed and made for the terminal. There are some things that have never been done before even for Foster + Partners, so its a learning experience for everyone involved in the project.

– Landside is airport lingo for everything before immigration and security, airside is what they call the area after. There will be no mall located in the landside part of the terminal but the airside will have a retail space larger than Trafalgar Square (pictured above).

– There will be 44 immigration desks and 26 security screening machines just for economy travelers. Premium passengers will have their own immigration and security checks in a different area.

– The footing of the building (the foundation base) is 5m deep. I had no idea if this was a lot or not but I was told by architects and engineers that this is crazy deep, usually the footing is around 1m max. The reason for this is the footing has to support all the arches which support the whole roof and structure of the terminal.

– Speaking of arches, there are 800+ arches being used in the building.

– The airport will have a floor for arrivals and another for departures so the two don’t mix. The departure dropoff and the arrival pickup area outside the airport are 500 meters long each and composed of 4 lanes. So they both have 2KM each of temporary parking.

– The rendering above of the expansion of T2 where the terminal is mirrored is just to show that there is room to expand but the final design of the expansion terminal might look completely different.

– Nobody knows what DGCA will do with the current airport once T2 is up and running.

– The terminal is currently 1% behind schedule but the contractor has a catch-up plan in place.

– Contractually the airport is expected to be completed by September 2022. It might finish earlier but September 2022 is whats in the contract. Once the airport is completed it will be handed over to DGCA and it could then take up to a year for the airport to open and function.

I took random pictures at the site as well as screenshots from the powerpoint presentation. If you’d like to see them then click [Here]

Below is a video presentation I found of the airport as well that features a lot of animated renderings.

If anyone has any questions, let me know in the comments below.


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Jazeera Flights Getting Canceled

Post by Mark

Looks like I was lucky last week to fly out to Beirut and back with Jazeera. According to my readers and Jazeera Airways themselves, a lot of their flights got canceled last week due to a number of circumstances.

Originally I had heard it was because IATA cracked down on Jazeera after finding out they were flying their planes without proper servicing as well as flying their crew for longer hours than allowed. But, Jazeera Airways yesterday issued a statement denying that and clarified what actually happened. According to them, it was a combination of bad weather, a technical issue with one of their planes and the combination of both problems taking place at the same time that caused a crew shortage as well.

Everything is back to normal now so if you have a flight booked with them you shouldn’t freak out. For more information, you can check out the Jazeera Airways statement [Here]


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Kuwait Airport Terminal 2 vs The Avenues

Post by Mark

Yesterday I got a very detailed presentation on the new airport terminal that’s being constructed along with a site visit (you can check my story on instagram @mark248am). There is a lot of information I need to figure out how to condense into a post, but for now, I wanted to share the slide above.

If you’re wondering how large the new terminal will be, the picture above is a comparison of T2 next to The Avenues.


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My Experience Flying Out of the New Jazeera Airways Terminal

Post by Mark

This past weekend I got to fly out of the new Jazeera Airways Terminal (T5) and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s a brand new terminal and our current main terminal is a horrible mess so you would think flying out of this brand new terminal would be a far better experience, but, it really wasn’t that much better.

Parking & Check-in
Firstly, I used the Jazeera Airways Park & Fly service to check in. It’s a service they have where you park your car in their parking lot located away from the terminal, you then check in at the parking lot and take their shuttle back to the main airport. The reason I did that is the service costs KD2.5 a day while parking at the Jazeera Airways parking lot costs KD6 a day, so its a considerable amount of savings. I’m glad I checked in from their remote location since when I arrived to the main terminal, I noticed the check-in area was pretty packed, and they didn’t have their self-check-in machines installed yet either.

Passport Control & Security Check
Passport control wasn’t too bad, there weren’t a lot of people and so I didn’t spend too much time in line. The area did look a bit messy though, I don’t understand why the airport, both this one and the old one can’t get belt barriers set up in straight lines. Anyway the issues started right after passport control beginning with the security check. Between passport control and the security check there really isn’t enough space to set up a proper queueing system so we were standing a bit disorganized. The security machines were also pretty small without any prep space before it. By prep space, I mean an area before the machine to put your bag and start unpacking the laptop or removing your belt, watches etc. Also they didn’t have any bins to dispose of liquids in before the machine, you had to put your liquids in the machine and then dispose of them on the other side. Finally, not sure if its the same now in the main terminal, but the last time I flew out from the main terminal they were using the private security firm G4S for security control. At the Jazeera Terminal the Port Authority is in charge and I’m not exaggerating here, it looked like they were on their first day of the job. They were completely disorganized and looked like amateurs with very little confidence or experience to manage the security check. I’m 99% sure this must have been their first day in charge of security because I can’t imagine another reason why they were so all over the place.

The Terminal
Once I was done with the security check I decided to walk around and explore the terminal but there really wasn’t anything to explore. The duty-free section hadn’t been set up yet and there were no restaurants and very little seating. The terminal still looks unfinished, it was basically in the same state I had seen it in before they had opened. Thankfully, the Jazeera terminal is connected to the old main terminal so I just headed to the lounge there to kill some time and then passed by the newly opened Pick to grab a bite. When it was close to boarding time, I decided to head to my gate back in the Jazeera terminal to wait there, except it turns out there isn’t enough seating at the gate so you have to queue outside the gate until they’re ready to put you on the bus. Once you get into the gate you need to pass through another security check and like the first security check, it was a disorganized mess. This security check also lacked bins to dispose of liquids so people were just placing them on the floor around the security machine.

The Plane
Not related to the airport but still worth mentioning. Our plane was the brand new A320neo which they had just received like a week or so ago. It was very comfortable and not that noisy (engine sound). The thing I found odd was that the interior of the plane was a dark maroon color, both the carpets and the seats. It felt like I was on a Qatar Airways flight and not a Jazeera Airways one. Aren’t the interiors meant to be blue? I thought they were because of their press release photo (pictured above) so I found that odd. I kinda feel like this plane was possibly meant for Qatar Airways but was then taken by Jazeera? Can’t imagine why else it would be in this color. No screens, USB ports or any seat amenities of course, but that was ok with me since I carry everything I need with me anyway. I just wish they had screens somewhere with the live map so we knew how far into the trip we were but that’s the only issue I had with the plane.

Arrival
Coming back into Kuwait was a far better experience. Passport control went pretty smooth and so did the carry-on security check right after. After the security check is the baggage conveyor belts area which felt small. Our baggage did take forever to come out but I’m not sure Jazeera have any control over that. The airport is small so the distance from passport control to baggage pick up to airport exit is very short so if you’re only with your carry on, then you could be out pretty quickly from the terminal. Once I was out there were no signs telling me where to go for the shuttle bus back to their Park & Fly area, I also couldn’t find a Jazeera Airways employee to ask so I asked a security guy who told me to go to the side of the building. The shuttle was just arriving so I didn’t end up waiting long and ended up back at my car fairly quickly.

In Conclusion?
If you fly with Jazeera Airways right now you need to manage your expectations and treat their new terminal like it’s still in beta testing with a lot of bugs that need to be sorted out. Is it better than the main terminal? I mean I guess but marginally. Only the passport control area is an improvement but that’s about it. The conveyor belt area was a bit tight, there are two belts and the space around them is smaller than the number of people per flight so it gets crowded very quickly. If two planes land at the same time I can imagine it looking like a total mess but I think it would still be better off than the main terminal, but just slightly. The worst aspects of the new terminal are the unorganized and inexperienced security personnel along with the horrible gates that can’t hold passengers (at least Gate B3). I imagine things will get better but for now, don’t expect too much.


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Pick and Wendy’s Now Open at the Airport

Post by Mark

Last month Wendy’s opened up at the airport where Pinkberry used to be located, and a couple of weeks back, Pick opened up where Potbelly used to be. I especially like the fact that Pick opened up because at least we have a healthy option available at the airport now. Actually, the options for food now is pretty good with the addition of these two.


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Improvements to Airport for Upcoming Eid and Summer Traffic

Post by Mark

Here is another positive airport post, a variety of improvements have been made to the main terminal to accommodate the extra traffic for Eid and the summer. Below are some of the main points taken from an AlQabas article.

– 15% fewer passengers due to the opening of the Jazeera terminal
– Terminal 4 opening in July will also reduce load on main terminal
– Some budget airlines will be moved to Sheikh Saad Terminal (T3)
– New hall for transit passengers
– New hall for visa issuing
– Improvement of air conditioning performance in the airport
– Additional support workforce for the airport
– Luggage drop-off outside the main terminal for Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways
– Self check-in machines
– Installation of shade and cooling sprinklers in departure drop off area
– Additional seating in the arrivals area and the check-in areas
– Check-in areas Zone 2 and 3 will have their on carry-on baggage security checks bypassing the main security check area
– Carry-on security check machines have been increased from 5 to 9
– An increase from two to four immigration entrances on departure. The new entrances are now divided up as follows: First Class and Diplomat passengers, Kuwaiti and GCC citizens, expats and finally, aircraft crew.
– Arriving luggage will be security checked before hitting the conveyor belts speeding up the exit process
Luggage home delivery with Pearl Assist. They’ll pick your bags up from the conveyor belt and deliver them straight to your home.

There is no mention in the article if they improved immigration services on arrival since currently, that’s probably my least favorite part of the airport.


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