After the great passport fiasco of 2008, the time came for me to strap on my parachute.
My itinerary was JKIA - DXB - LHR.
Its been said time and time and time again (often as you'll notice by Cold Tusker) that JKIA is a hole. It is. There's no other way to put it. It is dark, cramped, shabby and really quite dirty.
Yes..the airport is old and we either need an upgrade/expansion/renovation or a whole new airport but I personally do not think that we are making anywhere near the most of what we do have at the moment. For example, there is no reason whatsoever for the place to be so disgustingly dirty. The fixtures and fittings are of the very lowest quality and standard and are falling apart, the place is packed with many tiny shops that all seem to do the same 2 or 3 things....alcohol, perfumes, chocolates, curios (and often have no staff manning them), at arrivals passport control there were boxes and other crap spilling out of the some cupboard off to the side...I mean its just generally terribly shabby and tacky...there's a real low rent feel to the place....from the wobbly writing stand provided for filling in departure cards to the 'burglar proofing chic' look that seems to have been the design brief for the place. Its a sad and pathetic airport that conveys lack of care, planning or any sort of ambition.
Oh my wow! One thing that you definitely cannot say about Dubai airport is that whoever it belongs to is lacking ambition. I did not think that the old terminal (Terminal 1) was anything to scoff at, but the new terminal (Terminal 3) is phenomenal..if only for its sheer size. I walked over to Terminal 1 and by comparison it now seems small, stuffy, crowded and very underwhelming. Of course with Dubai, there's often the impression that they have perfected the art of the super glossy veneer that hides a fairly average if not tacky underbelly (and there are hints of it when you peep into certain nooks and crannies) but all in all it is a very nice place to transit through.
The shops are huge, the staff are plentiful and super attentive and the selection of certain things (alcohol, fragrances to name a couple) is just confusing. Nice space, seemingly well thought out, well planned, well trained and ample staff and a feeling that all aspects within it work in tandem..ie..the airport management, airline management and duty free management.
London Heathrow...my impressions...nice lights illuminating their Terminal 3 building (also has a nice exterior quadrangle) and crowded.... Badly crowded and quite cramped.
Its not as bad as JKIA in that the shops are pretty okay and presented well and it is not as (evidently) filthy but it also gives the impression of being an airport that is stretched to its very limits.