Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tour of Middle East Airports

Greetings,

We recently went to London for a conference. We took the boys and were met in Heathrow by our friend, a former KAUST neighbor who, with his wife and three kids, has relocated back to the U.K. He collected our children and headed home so that Hayden and Logan would have friends to hang out with and activities to do which would be far more satisfying than residing in a hotel for three days. It was a successful but exhausting conference, and we enjoyed watching the activities of people strolling up and down the streets in Kensington. We appreciated the cool, bracing, and sometimes wet, weather for its vast difference from Saudi.

Towards the end of the conference, we visited our friends and collected the boys. As we prepared for our returns trip to Jeddah, we were grateful that we were traveling with only carry-ons, since our layover enroute was brief. We returned to Heathrow and, after enduring the most excruciating bag search of our lives, were finally free to head to the gate of our Qatar Airlines flight to Doha and then, we thought, the connecting flight to Jeddah. Our flight from London was about 20 minutes late in leaving, causing some concern since we were supposed to have only one hour layover in Doha. We landed in Doha, went to the gate, and soon discovered that all ten of us from London trying to make the Jeddah connection would be prohibited from accessing the flight, though it was still on the ground. Tempers flared and voices raised - the flight to Jeddah left without us. We were shuttled into another line with many other people who had missed flights. Eventually, we were booked on another series of flights the following day. We were escorted to a new line, processed for a temporary visa for Doha and requested to sit and wait for a shuttle to the hotel, where we were able to sleep about two hours before a too-early wake up call for breakfast and a return shuttle back to the airport where we again waited for a flight - to Abu Dhabi! We endured another three hour layover and, ultimately, got on our final flight to Jeddah, arriving fifteen hours later than planned and missing another school day!

Since we spent a good deal of time in each of these airports, I did observe some things. Flights from Doha, Qatar, head to every continent on the planet except for Antarctica. Who would have thought? You can fly from Doha to Melbourne or Hanoi, São Paulo or New York; you can fly to China, several locations in India, Bangkok, several destinations in the United States or Europe. In Abu Dhabi, we discovered that there are rolling carts available for people to push their bags around which are large enough for Logan to be pushed around by Hayden until the airport staff prohibited it. Oh, the things you can learn ... 

In the end we made it home safely and, I suppose, that is ultimately what matters most.

Thanks for reading. More news to come ... bike races, kids' triathlon, future plans!

Jennifer

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