The Abu Dhabi Airport Experience, or: The longest night in my life (?)

Abu Dhabi Travel Blog

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Having started most of my flight experiences at "Linz Hörsching", I can safely say that I'm anything else but exacting or critical about airports. As a passionate traveller, I just love the atmosphere, the excitement, the people, crowds. Even the waiting. Well, maybe that's slightly different if your waiting time comes down to 14 hours. Or if those are overnight and you have to pass time trying to find somewhere halfway comfortable to sit while not allowing yourself to fall asleep so you don't wake up baggage-, money- and passportless.

While all of those aspects add to the general view of 14 not-so-great hours to start your trip with, the essential matter remains that of all possible places, Abu Dhabi airport is the one you least want to spend those 14 hours of overnight-waiting at.

When you get there in the first place, the first thing that catches your eye is a huge colourful monument stretching down from the ceiling in the middle of the hall. All the gateways are situated in a circle around it, casually adding some confusion to the whole organization of the airport with not enough signs for people (like me, i admit) to really get along and find out where to go before making two or three rounds.

Beyond the facade of a richly decorated entrance hall, some deserted jewelry stands and the grotesque monument, i found totally (!) neglected bathrooms with no toilet paper whatsoever and at least half the floor flooded, way too less seats for the amount of people waiting, resulting in quite a struggle through the complety randomly organised sitting areas, the floors of which were paved with sleeping people. The ones who smartly enough had the idea to sit/sleep in one of the carpet floored gateways were driven away by at least four of the hundreds of patrolling security guards, who however didnt seem to care about people lying on a less comfortable floor.

There really was an oppressive atmosphere preoccupying the whole airport, with grumpy looking Sheiks walking around as though the place was theirs (well, might not be too farfetched) and sitting in chairs while their completely disguised wives and children had to rest at their feet.

But hey, I don't want to be all negative about it. On a brighter note: the building did contain curiosities worth seeing, such as a money exchange bureau apparently offering deals with Francs, DeMark and Austrian Schilling.

marksreynolds says:
This is the second bad story I have read about this airport. Here is the link to the other one.
Posted on: Mar 11, 2009
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Abu Dhabi
photo by: Vlindeke