The Kuwait Airport Sucks!Thursday, June 23, 2016
As much as I love Kuwait, I absolutely hate the airport we have. No, I'm not talking about the selection of duty free stores or the number of restaurants and cafes that we have. I'm talking about how inefficient the whole process is, I'm talking about the unfriendliness and negative work ethic of the staff, herding passengers like cattle from line to line while barking rudely to anyone who appears to look like a poor maid or labourer. This is of course, unless you have the privilege of being a Kuwaiti, because oh in that case you can jump, hop and skip through any queue and no rules apply to you.
An airport is the first impression a country makes on a tourist. There's no point spending millions of dollars on a new airport, or even renovating parts of the old one if the service is just as crappy with the same indifferent attitude.
We just arrived back from our trip to Thailand and though we've been seeing the service at the Kuwait Airport degrade with each passing year, this year just topped it! Our flight to Bangkok via Colombo was at 10:30 pm and like good travelers, we arrived with more than 3 hours to spare. The queue to check in our luggage was chaotic with passengers forming their own queues all over the place and despite checking in online, there was no separate counter. On spotting a suited staff (a friendly expat I should add), I approached him and told him that I'd checked in online and mentioned that I was travelling with young kids. He quickly opened up a separate queue for those already checked in and we breezed through the first hurdle. Yay!
Quite proud of ourselves, we walked out happily only to have our hearts sink when we saw the queue for the customs clearance. It snaked out almost all the way to the front door! Only once we got near the front did it become apparent just why the queue was this long. For the entire "Other Nationality" economy class passengers, there were only two counters open. What!? Seriously, what is the point of having brand new customs counters if they aren't used? There were at least 3-4 counters open for GCC Nationals and Business and First Class passengers though. Good to know that their priorities are in order! We also had to get our carry on screened and though there were three x-ray machines, only one to two of them were open at any one time. Also, the officers in charge of screening the baggage were just on their phones or talking amongst themselves. If they're not going to do it properly, why bother in the first place?
Having finally finished with customs, we thought we were done with queues until we went downstairs to our gate to board our flight and were met with yet another giant queue to again screen our carry on baggage before boarding the plane. And get this, for the entire flight, there was just one x-ray machine. How ridiculous is that? Despite just making it onto the plane in time, there were still passengers to clear each hurdle and our flight ended up leaving an hour late making us miss our next two connection flights. Definitely a nightmare when you have little ones with you.
Once we arrived in Colombo, while trying to book other flights, the staff at the transfer desk let us know that since April, almost every single flight out of Kuwait has been late. Not due to technical difficulties or anything else plane related mind you, but due to the laziness of our Kuwait immigration. If you plan to travel out of Kuwait, make sure you have at least 90 minutes before your connecting flight as you run the risk of missing it otherwise. (Arriving back in Kuwait was no different with a clueless officer first directing everyone into an 'S' shaped line and then from there directing passengers to stand in separate lines in front of all the customs counters. It made absolutely no sense except to confuse and annoy passengers.)
Because of our missed connection, we ended up travelling from Kuwait to Sri Lanka to Singapore to Thailand. I saw the airports of four different countries in a space of 20 hours and not one of them came even came close to the inefficient, incompetent and inhospitable excuse we have for an airport!