I woke up semi-early for my vacation inclination so that I could make it to Bahrain Airport and then to Oman in time for a decent Muscat day tour with my guide. My flight from BAH-MCT was scheduled for 955AM but boarded about 45 minutes late due to a gate change, so I spent a little more time than necessary hanging around in the Bahrain Airport and using the free Wi-Fi to play Candy Crush and literally numb my mind.
Here’s a view of the airport – several options for coffee, but not enough nice, quiet sit-down places to work. It is nice seeing that many of the Gulf Peninsula airports have free Wi-Fi. My other critique of Bahrain Airport is that the only shopping options were Bahrain Duty Free – it could have done with some local shopping options and less fancy, traditional items.
I boarded my very first Oman Air flight without the gate agent even making an announcement (boarding just magically started, so it was a good thing I noticed the gate change!). To be fair, I think the airport did make an announcement about the gate change.
The Oman Air flights wasn’t a very pleasant experience. Eveb though it was just a short 1 hour flight, two young boys without an adult were seating in the middle and aisle seat next to me. Their parents were sitting on the other aisle grappling with 2 other small children and paid no attention at all to my side of the aisle. As usually the woman was overwhelmed and the man was doing nothing, chilling by the window on the other side oblivious to the chaos. I basically had to instruct the boys to sit still and put their seat-belts on and “be the adult”. Hate that shit. They were actually fairly well behaved for being totally on their own, but still kids obviously that did kid things.
The food on-board was awful – granted I wasn’t expecting anything at all for such a short flight, but pretzels, packaged, dry bread-sticks, mango chutney, and a package of date sticks (this was the best part) were pretty useless for a lunch. Oman Air also handed out apple juice and water.
The best part of the flight and the experience at Bahrain Airport was the view when were were descending in to Oman (and possibly Saudi Arabia?). You could see the mountains clearly and the city of Muscat (with a large sprawl) eventually emerged. My tour guide later said that about 1 million people lived in the capital (4 million total in Oman).
Immigration was a little confusing because we had to stand in line at the currency exchange to get the visa (using a $20 bill, where a Visa was issued and some random Omani Reali change). Luckily I was nearly first in line getting off the bus that had to take us from the airplane to the airport (the new airport was still under construction), adding about 30 extra minutes of transfer to our arrival in Muscat.
While I was waiting in line, I checked out the free Wi-Fi I had previously heard about. Tip for travelers (#traveltip) – Muscat Airport Wi-Fi requires an active SMS account, so unfortunately I was thwarted there as I needed SMS to get Wi-Fi and had purposely been traveling on Wi-Fi only on my Samsung Galaxy 7 to avoid data and text charges.
So I did eventually figure out how to hack the SMS Wi-Fi coupling conundrum on my next visit to Muscat Airport while headed to Salalah – you can simply stop by the information desk located near Duty Free in the central terminal area and get a code from the desk for two hours of free internet. Still, a bit silly and cumbersome, and also the lady at the desk was pretty annoyed to have to do this continually.
After obtaining the visa, I easily made it through immigration. With no bags to wait for, I was able to walk right out after perfunctory luggage scan (that nobody even looked at) before exiting the International Arrivals hall. My guide, Sulemain, from Majan Views tour company, was waiting for me with a sign in hand and we were ready to go start our Muscat day tour.