Home sweet home. Our short holiday is over.
Half the times I tell friends that I managed to spot a landmark from the air they give me this look that says: we believe you but you need to get a coffee… Well, today was special.
This was Mangaf during our landing this morning, shortly after sunrise. At the bottom of the photograph are the gardens and chalets of the Hilton Kuwait Resort. In the distance, highway 30 and Subiya are visible. Zooming in I can even point to our house.
We’re spending the Eid holidays in London. A cold, wet, freeeezing London. Great…
During summer it always feels like a holiday being here. Even when we lived here. For some reason, I associate the summer weather with all the tourist attractions. It has been a few years since we spent more than a quick stop-over in London around this time of year. Winter-London feels like I’m back home. Many old memories of frost, coats, scarves, hats and numb toes.
During our final approach into London’s Heathrow, I saw our 777 perfectly drawn onto the clouds. For those familiar with the area, you can just see the GlaxoSmithKline building in the centre left.
I took this from a Gulf Air flight out of Kuwait this morning. The weather was beautiful and clear. The plane was banking to the right and I found myself staring at this view of KWI. For the first time, I noticed the name “Kuwait” written on the ground in that huge lettering. I wonder if they’re lower beds? It seems too big an area. Have a look at the larger version by clicking the photograph.
I fly through many airports around the world, and I still think Kuwait’s is one of the best. Even though I now associate cigarette smoke smell with the lady’s voice calling the gates, and that KWI doesn’t have good shops and restaurant, it scores high where it counts. For me, the most important factors are world class: Good highway connection, close/cheap long term parking, short distances to walk between gates and lounges, and most importantly it takes less than 25 minutes to do everything – whether departing or arriving.
This will change, and soon, with all the planned expansions and runways. We currently have 8 million passengers coming through Kuwait, the new airport will have a capacity of 20 million. I have a friend working on this project but he’s unable to share with me anything confidential. Al Watan Daily had an article on 6th November about the new plans. Read it here if you’re interested.
It looks like this small airport luxury will be gone soon, so enjoy it! Even with the Hajj rush starting soon…
I had meetings in Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. I usually stay in Bahrain but this time I had no meetings there, so I flew direct to Dammam. It was prayer time when I arrived so we waited twenty minutes before the immigration guys returned. One by one. There were four queues by then and they chose to open the windows where no-one was waiting. I think they enjoy seeing the scramble. I did.
Unfortunately I didn’t see Al Khobar but I hear from everyone that it’s a beautiful city especially by the Corniche.
Departing from Dammam airport is also miserable. It’s a beautiful building with good size halls and check-in desks – but it lacks any life. Once you go through to the gates, there is one shop (like a large Baqala) and a sign for a restaurant that I couldn’t find. I thought Kuwait airport was bad until I saw this one. The photograph is of the aeroplane I took back. This was the only clean spot I could find on any of the windows. Compare this with Bangkok!
My travel agent had told me that the only direct flight to Muscat yesterday was KLM. I arrived at my gate and saw an Oman Air flight parked at the gate next door. It was bound for Muscat and even taking off a few minutes before the KLM flight!
While waiting for my blood pressure to drop back to 3 and 2 digits, I asked the suit by the gate entrance, and he assured me that I had made a better choice. The Oman air flight stops at Dubai on the way!
The national carrier of Oman doesn’t have direct flight to Muscat from Kuwait – but the Royal Dutch Airlines does. Crazy world!
The good news is I woke up on the flight to catch this beautiful moment; the bad news is that I didn’t wake up early enough to have a glass of water before sunrise.
Ok, not quite that bad. However, this 40-minute journey was delayed by 40 minutes!
Air traffic control were having some fun with this pilot. Two and a half circles after flying into London’s air space, we made our final approach West into Heathrow.
I didn’t have a window seat but managed this photograph of the screens
I recently joined an online Kuwaiti forum dedicated to Aviation. Nice group of people, mostly captains I think. The website is rich with information on aviation and links. Photos and videos of airplanes and airports, and much more. Best of all, in my opinion, is access to a softward that allows you to see planes over Kuwait… LIVE! You have to qualify for access by registering and writing in the forum.
It’s such a small world, I found out that the founder is the brother of an old friend.
I posted some of my old photographs at their forum, and while searching for images I came across this one. I took this earlier this summer just before landing at Heathrow. If you look carefully, you can almost see the London Eye in full. Almost direclty opposite are the houses of parliament which are visible in the larger versions.
I’ve flown British Airways for more than ten years. They have constantly improved their service, systems, food, seats and lounges. Of course there are problems now and then, and I’ve had my fair share of rows with their staff (the inherently stupid ones), but today I’m writing this from the BA lounge at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5. Wow… The furniture, ambiance, size, food, drinks, reading material, service (I could go on for a while)…
Most impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the view.
This trip will start off as work then into a holiday a few days later. I can’t wait for the latter. I enjoy my work but it really is time for a break after more than one year with only a week’s break.
The sun is setting over Heathrow’s horizon.
I took this an hour before we boarded.
… and pleased to say this will not be a business trip. Can’t wait to see my wife and kids.