Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

MET#3: Bahrain (or at least its airport)

Bahrain Airport overview
Bahrain Airport overview by Franz Zwart, CC-licensed.

After spending less than 48 hours in Amman, I was back to at Queen Alia International Airport to make my way to Oman. To fit my schedule, I had to fly overnight, and the only airline with flights that suited was Gulf Air, the Bahrain flag carrier. And this meant a stop at Bahrain airport.

Gulf Air’s history is actually quite interesting, as various Arabian Gulf countries owned parts of it in the past, but nowadays it is wholly owned by the government on Bahrain, and based out of Bahrain international airport. The flights I took were on its smaller Airbus A320 aircraft and neither flight was particularly well-loaded – I think I was one of of only 20 passengers on the second leg from Bahrain to Muscat.

Despite being a hub airport, Bahrain International isn’t all that big. It sits on an island off the cost of mainland Bahrain (itself an island), and has just one terminal. Gulf Air operate the vast majority of flights but there are a number of other operators, including British Airways who fly from Heathrow.

As I was travelling overnight after two long days, I didn’t really take much time to explore the terminal – instead I went straight to the gate for my flight and made use of the free wifi for an hour or so. The time difference meant that Christine was still awake at home, despite it being the small hours of the morning where I was. The previous flight from my gate was a busy flight to Mumbai in India, which departed late as a large group of elderly passengers turned up to the gate well after the scheduled departure time. Even though I fly rarely, I’d like to think I’m a considerate traveller and aim to be at the gate well in advance of the departure.

The flight departed from a small extension to the terminal, right at the far end. It was barely more than a shed, with a small coffee shop and duty-free stand. Naturally, the coffee shop was a Costa Coffee – it and Starbucks were available throughout the Middle East and offered pretty much exactly the same experience as at home. Whereas the gates in the main terminal had airbridges, we were loaded onto those super wide buses with minimal seats that you only see at airports, for the short drive to the plane.

It was while I was waiting for my flight that Christine started checking the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice for the countries I was visiting. I’d already checked it, as a requirement for work, but I think this rather upset her. Whilst I stayed entirely airside in Bahrain, there was a major uprising in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring and there is still an undercurrent of unrest.

I left Bahrain at 1:35am local time, and arrived in Muscat 90 minutes later. More on Muscat in the next instalment.

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