Disaster: My Jeddah Airport Transit Experience

Disaster: My Jeddah Airport Transit Experience

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Hello from Jeddah! I just wrote about my bizarre Jakarta Airport transit experience. Well, that was like a vacation compared to my Jeddah Airport transit experience, which involved five ATMs, a harrowing one hour drive, and getting in a yelling match with a driver.

Let me explain… but first let me acknowledge that in retrospect I would have definitely handled this situation differently. I made some rookie mistakes and much of this was avoidable, and this wasn’t my finest moment. I’m not too proud to acknowledge my mistakes, though, and at least it makes for an entertaining story. I’ll blame it at least partly on my exhaustion.

I knew my Jeddah Airport transit would be complicated

On my current review trip, I ended up connecting in Jeddah, where I had an extended layover of around eight hours or so. That ended up being the best option (by some masochistic definition of “best”), given the airlines I wanted to review.

I knew my transit wouldn’t be straightforward. I was arriving at the Hajj Terminal on Garuda Indonesia (from Jakarta), and was departing from Terminal 1 on Etihad (to Abu Dhabi). When I wrote about my planned trip, some kind readers warned me that my transit experience would be a bit complicated, as the two terminals are 20 kilometers apart by road, with no easy airside transit option.

I figured that was an exaggeration. Nope, by road the terminals are in fact 20 kilometers apart…

Transit between terminals in Jeddah

My expectation was that I’d clear immigration at the Hajj Terminal (I had a Saudi Arabian e-visa, after all), and then I’d take a taxi to Terminal 1, et voilà! What could go wrong? Well…

My Jeddah layover was worse than I could have imagined

My Garuda Indonesia flight arrived at the Hajj Terminal. This was honestly quite the cultural experience, as this terminal is used by foreign carriers largely operating flights for pilgrims. While Jeddah’s new Terminal 1 is beautiful, the Hajj Terminal is… not.

Jeddah Airport Hajj Terminal

Even though the terminal has jet bridges, we were put on a bus and sent to immigration. Immigration was seamless, and the immigration officers were super friendly, and welcomed me to Saudi Arabia with a big smile.

The arrivals area was pretty deserted, since most pilgrims are traveling in groups, taking buses, etc., so there aren’t many individual visitors. I first opened the Uber app, but it said there were no vehicles available. Uh oh, that’s not good.

Fortunately there was a taxi desk in the arrivals hall, but the guy working it didn’t speak a word of English. So I figured I’d deal with that later, and would first go to find an ATM, since I’d need cash to pay a driver. I tried the ATM closest to the terminal exit, but after entering all my information, the machine said that there was no cash. Strange.

Jeddah Airport Hajj Terminal arrivals hall

I was approached by a friendly Pakistani man, who asked if I needed a taxi. Let me state very clearly that ordinarily I’d never accept a ride from someone doing this kind of soliciting at an airport. However, I wasn’t sure there was necessarily a better option, and I didn’t have any safety concerns here as I would in the United States, since Jeddah has little crime. I figured that worst case scenario, I’d be ripped off a bit, but that’s not the end of the world.

I didn’t see any official taxi queue (aside from the desk with the guy who didn’t speak any English), so I asked him how much it would be to Terminal 1. He said 120 SAR (~$32). I explained that I still needed cash because the ATM didn’t have any, and he said that wasn’t an issue, and we’d stop on the way.

So I accepted the price, even though I should have probably haggled, partly because I knew I didn’t have many other options to get cash.

At this point we started walking toward his car. He then revealed he’d be driving one other person, who then started walking with us. Okay, odd, but whatever…

Things are going great so far!

I can’t really do justice to the scale of this terminal, but it was a solid 20 minute walk before we got to the parking lot. He told us to wait, and that he’d get his car. I heard his car several seconds before I saw it, because it was the biggest screeching pile of junk I’ve ever seen/heard, and I don’t know how many accidents it had been in. It just consistently made the loudest whining noise imaginable (yes, more than I’m whining in this post!).

Okay, at this point I should’ve probably reconsidered, but it would’ve been a 20 minute walk back to the terminal, and I didn’t necessarily have a better option anyway. I mean, how bad could it be? Well, I’m happy you asked…

This guy was the worst and most careless driver I have ever seen in my life:

  • He spent most of the drive texting without even looking up every few seconds to see if there was traffic; I repeatedly asked him to stop, but then he’d stop for a minute or two, until his phone chimed again, and then it was back to more of the same
  • The road near the airport is five lanes in each direction of traffic, and when the road curved, he didn’t want to actually turn the wheel, so in a matter of seconds we’d be driving diagonally across five lanes of traffic, and he didn’t even look in the mirror to see if there were any cars in the lanes
  • He only seemed to have two modes of driving — either fully accelerating or slamming on the brakes
  • I don’t know how many dozens of times we got honked at; his driving was so bad that I almost felt like I was in a comedy skit, except there was nothing funny about it

Look, usually I have a lot of faith in drivers, even if they drive wilder than I would. After all, they do this for a living, and I figure that if they’re alive to still drive me, they can’t be that bad. However, I didn’t quite get that level of confidence from this guy, and his car’s “battle scars” also didn’t do much to reassure me.

By the way, rather than drive the 20 kilometers shown in the above map, we actually drove left, covering a distance of 28 kilometers. I think that’s because there are more ATMs in that direction.

So about halfway through our drive, we stopped at an ATM. The first ATM said there was no cash available. So then we stopped at another one. The same thing happened. Then we stopped at another one. The same thing happened. This guy obviously thought I just had no money in my account, rather than there being a problem with ATMs.

Jeddah ATMs leave a bit to be desired

Finally we arrived at a drive-thru ATM that probably had a queue of 20 cars waiting to use it. It almost felt like waiting at a gas station before a hurricane. Okay, so I guess Jeddah has a cash shortage, or something? Does anyone know why all these ATMs don’t have money? I mean, it doesn’t exactly seem like Saudi Arabia is short on cash…

Rather than waiting in line for the ATM, he drove to the very front, and then told me to get out and cut the people and use the machine.

“They’re also waiting, I’m not going to cut them.”
“No, just explain to them, they will understand.”
“Explain what? There’s a line to use the ATM.”
“Just cut, it’s fine. You can just explain.”
“No, what am I supposed to explain? You explain, if that’s what you want me to do…”

At this point I just sort of stood in the drive thru ATM, with me and the driver yelling at one another. He kept insisting that I should cut the line, while I told him I wasn’t comfortable doing that. The man in the car who was next to use the ATM clearly took pity on me and noticed how uncomfortable I was, and invited me to go in front of him.

Another 30 minute drive later, we finally arrived at Terminal 1. As I went to pay him, go figure he didn’t actually have change, so I basically ended up having to give him a huge tip. Oddly the other guy being driven wasn’t actually going to the terminal. I’m not sure if it was a friend of his, or what…

I can’t even begin to express how happy I was to be out of the car and in the new terminal after this ride.

Jeddah Airport Terminal 1

Bottom line

My experience transiting Jeddah Airport was awful. I knew the transit from the Hajj Terminal to Terminal 1 would be complicated, but I wasn’t prepared for the worst drive of my life, plus so many ATMs in Jeddah not having cash (what’s up with that?).

Ironically enough, the actual immigration process was super easy and everyone was friendly. It was just the getting between terminals that was a bit complicated. Next time (okay, there won’t be a next time, but if there were), I’d be sure to plan the transfer a bit differently…

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  1. Samir V Guest

    Hi Ben,

    I recently had another bad experience in Jeddah, this time though, at the relatively new Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport.

    On 17 December 2023, I was travelling on a Scoot airlines flight from Singapore to Jeddah transiting there for 4-5 hours ahead of my onward Saudia airline flight from Jeddah to Addis Ababa through the above-mentioned airport. Because Scoot and Saudia have no joint transit agreements in place, I wasn't able to...

    Hi Ben,

    I recently had another bad experience in Jeddah, this time though, at the relatively new Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport.

    On 17 December 2023, I was travelling on a Scoot airlines flight from Singapore to Jeddah transiting there for 4-5 hours ahead of my onward Saudia airline flight from Jeddah to Addis Ababa through the above-mentioned airport. Because Scoot and Saudia have no joint transit agreements in place, I wasn't able to book a point-to-point ticket and had hence to rely on a two-ticket booking instead, whereby I would be in charge of collecting and re-checking in the luggage at Jeddah airport for the second leg of my flight with Saudia.

    Initially I thought that was ok, because as a Swiss citizen I could easily get out of the transit area, clear immigration, collect the luggage from the conveyor belt and check it back in for my second flight. However, quite soon, I realized that my citizenship would require me to apply for an e-visa or queue for a visa on arrival, both of which would be costly and lengthy. I had contacted the Saudi embassy in Singapore and Saudia sales desk in advance of my trip and they had advised me to either do the visa on arrival procedures or to ask the international transit desk for assistance to handle the luggage at the terminal and have it checked in for me. Whilst this is an out-of-scope procedure I was told that the transit counter could normally handle that, especially if I had sufficient time and did not have any valuables or dangerous substances in the checked in luggage (both of which didn't apply in my case).

    So with that in mind, I pushed all worries aside, packed my belongings and boarded my plane in Singapore. Once I landed in Jeddah, I first approached the transit desk, asked them for their help, to which they replied they could provide me with a boarding card for my onward flight to Addis, but could not handle the luggage's transfer to the next flight. Therefore I was sent to immigration, asked to apply for a visa, clear immigration and exit the international zone.

    As I was waiting in the very long queue (maybe 1h+ of waiting time) of visas on arrival, together with many pilgrims and other tourists that had not pre-cleared or had issues with their entry, I asked a customs officer on the side, if there wasn't a smarter way of collecting my luggage and checking it back in without necessarily clearing immigration and having to go in and out of the international zone. He responded that I should ask once again my airline (Saudia), because normally they were the ones in charge of luggage handling and ticketing, and that normally there should not be any problem for the transit desk to handle such a situation and make sure that the luggage was on its way with me to the final destination. That would both save me time and money as I wouldn't have to clear immigration and enter Saudi grounds.

    So, optimistic at hearing these sentences, I went back to the international transit zone and asked, once again, the Saudia desk for assistance. There I went straight to the supervisor/manager of the team, which I had discussed my situation with a few minutes earlier, and told him what the customs officer had just told me; that normally there should be a way for Saudia to ensure that my luggage would be safely checked in and on its way to Addis on the same flight I was supposed to board in 4-5 hours with Saudia, through their ground staff. This time, he said that, well...indeed, there was a way to do so, but it was unofficial and that noone could guarantee that the luggage would make it there, as I would not have any baggage tag in hands (they could not pass it on to me at the international transit desk without having me physically doing the check in myself). He said, he also had no control or ways to track the ground staff at the arrivals, so if I have to take full responsibility if anything were to happen to the luggage. Naive, and thinking that in Saudi Arabai we were in a safe and developed country with people of trust, I followed the advice of the customs officer and went ahead, despite the supervisor's warning.

    He scanned my prior baggage tag, a copy of my boarding pass with Saudia for my onward flight to Addis and sent me off, saying that he had sent those to the ground staff on Whatsapp and that they would take care of the next steps. He sent me off to the security and transit area for my connecting flight, which I embraced happily at the idea that all had been sorted out and that I would now have plenty of time to relax in the transit zone.

    Fast forward, I boarded the airplane to Addis with a Skypriority ticket, had a very smooth airborne journey, arrived there a few hours later on Dec 17, but never found or saw any traces of my luggage ever again. In the meantime, we are now Jan 2, and I still haven't heard of any updates from Saudia airlines. What's worst, all the numbers (in total almost c.10) that I found or were given by the Saudia staff or the airport hotline have led me to erroneous or out-of-service numbers from the airport (KAIA), the ground handling company (SGSS) or the airline company (Saudia).

    I have filed a complaint and a search at the port of arrival (ADD) and whilst it has been recorded and both the staff in Addis and Singapore have checked and confirmed multiple times that they had not found any such luggage piece or - in the case of Singapore - confirmed that the luggage piece had well been checked in at the departure point, in Jeddah, I have seen no search, nor any activities and responses. The service of the airline has stopped at the port of arrival and since then it is impossible to contact them, their hotline constantly asking for a reservation number which noone has or doesn't seem to exist. All their contact lines are said to be out of service or wrong numbers. When checking on the world tracing app (World Tracer Aero), it looks like the airline or the ground staff at the airport has not conducted any searches and there are no responses to my prompt for feedback via email or the tracking system.

    Separately and desperately, I was told by the airport staff, that I should initiate an investigation through the Civil Authority.

    Has anyone had any similar prior experience like that? Have you ever dealt with or heard of that Authority in Saudi Arabia and is it worth the hassle of conducting such an enquiry? Would it make sense for me to transit through Jeddah on my returning flight to Singapore from Europe, just to search in their lost and found department and, if possible, to confront the ground handling / airline staff on this mishap?

    In hindsight, I regret not having done the e-visa and simply cleared immigration prior to boarding the second flight. But I was naive, trusted the local staff too much, was negatively influenced by the long waiting queue, bureaucracy and financial costs of an application for visa on arrival, whilst I simply wanted to relax at a coffee or F&B shop in the transit zone. I should have thought farther...

    Please avoid making the same mistakes, if ever in this or a similar situation, and make sure that you, and noone else, touches your luggage wherever you are transiting from one flight leg to the next one.

    Kind regards,
    Samir

  2. mt_xing Member

    Austin's two terminals are 8 miles (around 13km) apart by car with no airside transit option, and I thought that was bad already. This sounded like a heck of an experience.

  3. Charlie Diamond

    You could have been stoned to death for being gay so in that regard it’s not too bad…
    Still don’t understand why you visit those countries

  4. Red wan Guest

    Jeddah hajj terminal is a cut throat concrete and enormous pillars, jungle. My guest recent experience, we drove to drop our guest, a pakistani troly porter rushed to us, promis to carry luggage till collection converter belt. Line was too long, thus after half hours porter say give me my 50sr cash, cos my duty finished. He promised his good pakistani friend will complete rest of task, after all waiting and collecting luggage, the 2nd...

    Jeddah hajj terminal is a cut throat concrete and enormous pillars, jungle. My guest recent experience, we drove to drop our guest, a pakistani troly porter rushed to us, promis to carry luggage till collection converter belt. Line was too long, thus after half hours porter say give me my 50sr cash, cos my duty finished. He promised his good pakistani friend will complete rest of task, after all waiting and collecting luggage, the 2nd porter demanded 50 sr cash , he say I don't know 1st porter, so my guest reward him genersly. but its cheat and looting .

  5. Imran Guest

    I had a bad transit of 18 hours at Jeddah with a Saudi Transit Visa but was not allowed to go out. Spent the whole 18 hours at the terminal.

    Amazing Saudia and Saudi Airlines.

  6. Adam awalinsaan Guest

    Hahahaha!! This is NOT uncommon but a very typical experience. Welcome to Jeddah vish you had more time to experience our beautiful city. You could have also visited the grave of our grandmother whom after Jeddah is named. Guess who that is?!!

  7. Azamaraal Diamond

    I see that others mentioned that Manila was the worst but it almost seems Saudi is one up.
    In 2021 we arrived from Tokyo (JAL) (international) and were headed to on Philippine Airlines (domestic) to Palawan. Researched on web but the reality was quite different. But definitely not straightforward.
    Returned back from Cebu (Air Asia) headed to Kota Kinabalu so another terminal switch.
    Returning from Kota we had a tough and confusing...

    I see that others mentioned that Manila was the worst but it almost seems Saudi is one up.
    In 2021 we arrived from Tokyo (JAL) (international) and were headed to on Philippine Airlines (domestic) to Palawan. Researched on web but the reality was quite different. But definitely not straightforward.
    Returned back from Cebu (Air Asia) headed to Kota Kinabalu so another terminal switch.
    Returning from Kota we had a tough and confusing transfer (bus) to the International Terminal and then walked the air bridge and stayed two nights at the Hilton before moving on to Singapore.
    Signage and instructions were brutal.

  8. Dia Guest

    JED airport has three terminals. North , South (One of this is renamed to New Terminal) and the hajj. I think the transfer between North and South is easy. I have done it in the past and don’t recall any difficulties. Hajj terminal is separate for pilgrims. I never knew that non pilgrims can land at that terminal.

  9. CrazeUK Guest

    I wish I could add our failed experience to your post.

    We came on a flight from London Heathrow, transiting via Jeddah to Dhaka. It was delayed by 4 hours.

    There where 12 travellers, 4 adults and the rest where children, including 2 toddlers and a baby.

    The flight arrived with about 90 mins to the next flight, given the number of delayed travellers, they wouldn't let anyone transit to their on flights. We had...

    I wish I could add our failed experience to your post.

    We came on a flight from London Heathrow, transiting via Jeddah to Dhaka. It was delayed by 4 hours.

    There where 12 travellers, 4 adults and the rest where children, including 2 toddlers and a baby.

    The flight arrived with about 90 mins to the next flight, given the number of delayed travellers, they wouldn't let anyone transit to their on flights. We had to stay in their Aeroflot hotel on the airport.

    The staff at the hotel where just racist and rude. To any non white person they snapped and would ignore them. If you where white it was yes sir no sir.

    The hotel only had WiFi in reception, so letting people know of delays was limited. The food was barely edible with pulses and rice with a bottle of water. Breakfast was cold dry toast with over boiled eggs. The worst was a fire alarm at 7 am for 40 minutes - technical error.

    Our on flight came 6 hours late, was over booked. They changed terminals 3 times.

    Never flying Saudia again!

  10. Seth Guest

    Thanks for the story and information. With eight hours and a distrust of taxi drivers, I'd probably walk the 20 kilometers!

  11. Henry Young Guest

    Now you know why the first immigration officer greeted you so warmly. He was having a good laugh at your expense. Never leave the airport without cash. In many "out of the way" countries you need to find special ATMs that are linked up for foreign transactions, and guess where most of those are - airports. The classic for this used to be Japan. Even in Singapore, bank ATMs don't take each other's cards, although...

    Now you know why the first immigration officer greeted you so warmly. He was having a good laugh at your expense. Never leave the airport without cash. In many "out of the way" countries you need to find special ATMs that are linked up for foreign transactions, and guess where most of those are - airports. The classic for this used to be Japan. Even in Singapore, bank ATMs don't take each other's cards, although most handle foreign now. And you expect ATM's to be refilled promptly ? Next you'll be asking Saudi to get a service oriented culture. Also, driving in Saudi and Arab countries in general is MAD. What you experienced is perfectly normal, The wealthy think nothing of smashing up cars and replacing them, and the resulting driving style trickles down from there. I'm convinced insurance isn't even a thing there. Just stop having expectations of normality from an entitled American perspective. You don't even realize you're doing it, even after reading this. The bottom half of society in Saudi are treated like sh!t and you joined them for a day. In the absence of proper and thorough research which it seems you don't do, assume you are going to an alien planet and work back from that assumption :)

  12. Trevor_G Member

    In 2008 for Hajj, after waiting in the Hajj terminal with no announcements for hours and then watching FIVE planes pull up to the same gate at once, my friend's mum told her to "go tell the Saudia agent that we thought Pakistan International Airlines was the most disorganized airline in the world but we have a new winner!" Glad to hear the Hajj terminal has improved at least!!

  13. JetSetFly Guest

    Thanks for sharing. While I doubt I’ll ended up at Jeddah airport in my lifetime, this article is a good reminder to always research terminals thoroughly as you never know what you are going to get. These days I find VIP service at various airports work really well. Sometimes there is zero line at immigration while other times I’m so thankful that I spent the money to skip huge lines. You win some and you...

    Thanks for sharing. While I doubt I’ll ended up at Jeddah airport in my lifetime, this article is a good reminder to always research terminals thoroughly as you never know what you are going to get. These days I find VIP service at various airports work really well. Sometimes there is zero line at immigration while other times I’m so thankful that I spent the money to skip huge lines. You win some and you loose some. Several of your readers cautioned about Manila airport. I’ll be going there in the coming year or two. I’m already dreading it….Hopefully there is VIP service at that airport that can help me navigate between terminals.

  14. Fizah Guest

    I have visited both the hajj terminal and Jeddah airport few times. It is unfortunate to hear abt your experience. Not many ppl will use to transit at hajj terminal bcoz it is mainly used for large number of pilgrims during hajj season. I have never used their AtM coz i always bring cash or use card. Anyway, your case seems to be an unfortunate case of not researching the place well enough or maybe...

    I have visited both the hajj terminal and Jeddah airport few times. It is unfortunate to hear abt your experience. Not many ppl will use to transit at hajj terminal bcoz it is mainly used for large number of pilgrims during hajj season. I have never used their AtM coz i always bring cash or use card. Anyway, your case seems to be an unfortunate case of not researching the place well enough or maybe a rookie mistake. And in general, drivers in jeddah and madinah/mecca tend to drive quite hastily..not all. But those foreign and some local drivers drive like F1 drivers and very recklessly. If you noticed, many cars there would have some kind of dents at the sides. Anyway, glad you are fine.

  15. Babar Minhas Guest

    I was there on 20th November and left on 25th this was my first time and I went there to do umrah on 20th I arrived 06.30 and had a smooth run through immigration and customs went to taxi desk for information going to makkah lady was professional and gave me good advise as I was walking out of the terminal one guy approached me and I told him that I want to go Makkah...

    I was there on 20th November and left on 25th this was my first time and I went there to do umrah on 20th I arrived 06.30 and had a smooth run through immigration and customs went to taxi desk for information going to makkah lady was professional and gave me good advise as I was walking out of the terminal one guy approached me and I told him that I want to go Makkah to my hotel he asked for 250 sar and I said 200 he said fine at the same time another guy offered me 150 sar ride and they started arguing each other police man came to me in a second and asked me which of the driver I would like to travel with I said the one who offer me 200 not the one who said 150 I had a smooth ride good driver and great communication as well don't always blame others prepare yourself when travelling anywhere in the world

  16. SALMAN CHOUDHRY Guest

    HI..People just buy tickets online and they think they get the lowest and good one but it is not...if they can consult with a Travel agent or a Tour consultant then they will not face problem which you get.....i explain always to my clients about Terminal issues if they Travel /Connecting through different airlines and if its not on same Terminal...

  17. Jim Pierce Guest

    I NEVER travel overseas without a few hundred dollars in the local currency.
    Period

  18. Jason Guest

    If all the Dr. KnowItAll, snide, nasty critics who have tried to shame and pillory Ben for being in a dicey situation had traveled 1/100th of the amount he has traveled, they’d all be dead by now. Done in by the endless rigors of international travel. Ben, I absolutely loved your tale and laughed out loud several times thanks to your amusing way with words. Your exploits are classic, and the would-be shamers should be...

    If all the Dr. KnowItAll, snide, nasty critics who have tried to shame and pillory Ben for being in a dicey situation had traveled 1/100th of the amount he has traveled, they’d all be dead by now. Done in by the endless rigors of international travel. Ben, I absolutely loved your tale and laughed out loud several times thanks to your amusing way with words. Your exploits are classic, and the would-be shamers should be ashamed of themselves. They couldn’t walk an inch in your shoes, let alone a foot or a mile. Great job, as usual. And yes, we’re all glad everything worked out in the end. We all live and learn. Except the Dr. KnowItAlls. They already know everything … in their small, arrogant and deluded minds.

    1. AD Diamond

      Amen @Jason. The shamers (never take a ride with others, take large sums of USD everywhere) and the non-readers (why didn't you use Uber? Why didn't you make sure you knew which terminal you were landing in) need a timeout. Ben was kind enough to share his experience, including owning up to his mistakes and all y'all could do was trash him. It would serve us all right if he never told us about his mistakes again.

    2. Timtamtrak Member

      Agreed, Jason. Ben has traveled more than enough in his lifetime to be able to make a decent judgement on a situation. I’d have probably done the same and been equally frustrated when it was over.

  19. Jeff Guest

    We have had similar experiences in the past..so glad you are okay...it's the worst feeling when you are in someone else's car, not speaking the language and have your life flashes in front of you and you wish Jesus was taking over the wheel!!!

    Welcome home safely!!!

  20. tanzrosty New Member

    Ben, please don't blame yourself. Most of us humans would have reacted exactly the same way. Who heard of so many airport ATMs having no cash? Perhaps the only thing you could have done differently would have been to have Saudi Arabian cash on hand. We live and learn, and we've all learned from your experience. You are right -- this is even worse than your Jakarta experience. And I thought JFK was bad. Wishing you safe and smooth travels for the rest of your trip.

  21. Shazia Ijaz Guest

    At least the driver stopped at so many Atm’s and not dropping you in the middle of the ride.

  22. Joe Guest

    Ben. Google NAIA. Terminals are not connected. 1 km in manila is 10 minutes.

    1. Ron Guest

      Tell me about it. I knew in advance of the multi, non -connected terminal set up at MNL and the horrendous traffic in MNL to get from one terminal to another so specifically chose PAL for my domestic flight from Boracay so that I would land at T3 where I'm going to connect to an SQ flight to SIN on separate tickets Everything went smoothly at first; the guy at the check-in counter at Boracay...

      Tell me about it. I knew in advance of the multi, non -connected terminal set up at MNL and the horrendous traffic in MNL to get from one terminal to another so specifically chose PAL for my domestic flight from Boracay so that I would land at T3 where I'm going to connect to an SQ flight to SIN on separate tickets Everything went smoothly at first; the guy at the check-in counter at Boracay airport confirmed to me that we'd land at T3, the plane left just 15 minutes late and parked on a remote stand at T3 upon arrival in Manila. So far so good! Little that I know that my nightmare was about to begin. After everyone piled on the bus, it proceeded to T2 instead of T3! We were dumped at T2 bag claim carousel area. I approached one of the many PAL staffs on hand and explained the situation and ALL of them just shrugged me off!! After I insisted on seeing a supervisor/manager someone came down and promised that a bus would come and fetch the 2 of us (now with our luggages) and drove us to T3. We were then directed to a holding pen. Only that the bus never showed up. So after waiting approximately 45 minutes we gave up, walked outside to the arrival hall and flagged a taxi. Now, this was now late afternoon rush hour in Manila and sure enough the drive around from one side of the runway to another ended up taking 75 minutes! Luckily, we made it to the SQ check-in counter as the last passengers just as they're preparing to close the counters. Never fly with PAL again!

    2. Henry Young Guest

      Sorry for your experience Ron. But having lived in PH for a decade, I can assure you that expecting the answer to a question asked by a foreigner to actually be correct is foolhardy. Better to do your own research. This is down to the SE Asian "loss of face" cultural issue. They will prefer to tell you what they think you want to hear, or answer in the manner that's least likely to continue...

      Sorry for your experience Ron. But having lived in PH for a decade, I can assure you that expecting the answer to a question asked by a foreigner to actually be correct is foolhardy. Better to do your own research. This is down to the SE Asian "loss of face" cultural issue. They will prefer to tell you what they think you want to hear, or answer in the manner that's least likely to continue the conversation (they get "nose bleed" from speaking English), rather than give the correct answer. Same deal in shops where if you ask for help finding something you'll be told "out of stock" rather than actually helped to find the item which is perfectly well stocked. As a side note, there are NO domestic flights in and out of T3 now. The whole terminal is International only. Over the last year there have been ongoing terminal reallocations so confusion has been rife. Certainly your flight used to ship into T3, but no longer. My best advice is to book your international and domestic on separate days with a hotel between. You simply can't make assumptions about transfers in MNL. Food at the domestic terminals is another issue, unless you like Jollibee or deep fried fish balls from road side vendors. I was at T3 yesterday evening, and with traffic blocking the airport exit, it took an hour to get parking from entering the airport area. If you want to do an Intl-Dom transfer in PH, fly into Cebu, or plan for Manila per my comments above. Also tricks like knowing about The Runway bridge and the Resorts World area being a way better place to get a from/to Grab help also. Hand baggage only walk 15 mins then take a jeepny to the nearest LRT station can also be a traffic beating combo in the right circumstances.

  23. Andy 11235 Guest

    You admitted to the rookie mistakes, and I agree it is an amusing story -- with important lessons for other travelers (always have some cash, research transit airports, don't accept rides from strangers). My only humble comment is that it doesn't really sound like a "disaster." You made it quickly and easily through immigration. You made it from one terminal to the other and, presumably, caught your onward flight. The experience was an "adventure," but...

    You admitted to the rookie mistakes, and I agree it is an amusing story -- with important lessons for other travelers (always have some cash, research transit airports, don't accept rides from strangers). My only humble comment is that it doesn't really sound like a "disaster." You made it quickly and easily through immigration. You made it from one terminal to the other and, presumably, caught your onward flight. The experience was an "adventure," but not a "disaster."

  24. BurritoMiles Guest

    Hell yeah, this is what life is about: Adventure!

  25. ArnoldB Guest

    Dont let the haters get you down. Shit happens, and you owned up to it being partly your fault as well. Article was entertaining, but my favorite is still your Angola experience.

  26. Cash Guest

    Thanks for sharing! I've done pretty much the same, first in Havana and had to walk with a huge backpack between the two terminals along a highway (with friends), and then recently in Tashkent where the difference between terminals is ~10 minute drive. It's easy to make these mistakes but I think they're not really that big of a deal as long as you have cash and/or time. It's the lack of those things that can exaggerate them. Great story :)

  27. Oliver Guest

    Didn’t they have free WiFi in the terminals?
    That you could have used Google translate online or offline to communicate with the „official“ taxi guy who couldn’t speak English…?

    1. Azamaraal Diamond

      The wi-fi wasn't working. Remember?

  28. M. Alolayan Guest

    Jeddah North terminal (part of Hajj complex) was where the guy was parked. Obviously he didn't want you to follow him to the parking lot so you wouldn't see the terminal and the taxis/Uber desk, and ATM mechines.
    On the matter of ATM, cash is rarely used in Saudi Arabia on a daily basis, official business, including taxis will carry POS mechines and have an app (usually Uber or local sub-app Careem, also in...

    Jeddah North terminal (part of Hajj complex) was where the guy was parked. Obviously he didn't want you to follow him to the parking lot so you wouldn't see the terminal and the taxis/Uber desk, and ATM mechines.
    On the matter of ATM, cash is rarely used in Saudi Arabia on a daily basis, official business, including taxis will carry POS mechines and have an app (usually Uber or local sub-app Careem, also in Dubai).
    I'm not sure if Garuda bothered, but a quick visit to their stand would have gotten you on the shuttle to T1 for free (buses every 5 minutes, and solo cabbies for wheelchair/heavy luggage), which is a free service for connecting passengers (probably Etihad would have offered the same upon arrival).
    I'm so sorry for the bad experience. And I would really appreciate it if you could share this with JEDCO (jeddah airport company).
    They started last year, and it seems that Jed north Terminal will be gone in the next 5 years as T1 will expand to the with an airside unirail.

  29. Elizabeth Guest

    Jeddah Airport has a bus shuttle that goes from the Hajj Terminal to Terminal 1 that takes credit cards (make sure your credit cards are preauthorized for international travel, even stops). There are huge signs for it. They also have a private van available and green taxis along the front. Both also take USD but ask the USD price ahead of time and don't expect to get change in USD. Uber was available fine for me for my extended layover as well.

  30. gstork Guest

    Wait… hold on! What happened to Toby?? Wasn’t he with you on the flight from Jakarta? Did he also transit Jeddah, and ride in the same gypsy cab from hell to T1?

    If I was alone, I wouldn’t have done that. But if I was with someone, maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so risky.

  31. MOHSIN KHAN Guest

    so first thing is if its was a weekend then some time people face such cash shortage issue but not every where in jeddah its a big city its look like it was your hard luck also never fell for one guy you ask about the price to some other taxi driver in every nationality you will able to found such people taxi gutly took.lots of from you acutal fare was not more then 30 40 riyal

  32. MeanMeosh Member

    For everyone dunking on Lucky for not carrying a wad of USD to pay his cab driver: yeah, I highly encourage you to head to Jeddah, Delhi, Bangkok, etc., try to pay your cab driver with a $20 or 20 euro note, and see what happens. Hint: it probably won't end well. Even in Buenos Aires, where literally every travel blog tells you that USD is "widely accepted" in all shops, no, it isn't. Good...

    For everyone dunking on Lucky for not carrying a wad of USD to pay his cab driver: yeah, I highly encourage you to head to Jeddah, Delhi, Bangkok, etc., try to pay your cab driver with a $20 or 20 euro note, and see what happens. Hint: it probably won't end well. Even in Buenos Aires, where literally every travel blog tells you that USD is "widely accepted" in all shops, no, it isn't. Good luck finding a bank here in the US that will give you riyals, rupees, baht, etc. before you leave, either.

    If there's a mistake that was made, it's in not booking a transfer before arriving in JED. I'm probably the biggest cheapskate out there, but even I learned a long time ago, there's certain places it's just not worth trying to be cheap when it comes to transportation. Pay the extra money and hire a meet-and-greet service.

    1. Daniel from Finland Guest

      Buenos Aires is actually one of those cities where I, as a European, have paid my black taxi from the airport with USD as the ATMs did not accept foreign cards, the line to the only currency exchange booth was huge and the line to the white airport taxi stand was even longer. I paid perhaps 10 USD extra instead of waiting for perhaps more than an hour. Good deal in my opinion.

    2. RPGfaFG Guest

      I was in BA this spring. Argentina doesn't have a stable monetary system, so I don't know if anything has changed. But I also used USD to take a taxi from the airport and tipped in euros. I didn't have an issue with using the ATMs, although they used the official exchange rate, which is about half the blue dollar rate. Uber works there too. The quality of the cars/drivers can be variable, but that's...

      I was in BA this spring. Argentina doesn't have a stable monetary system, so I don't know if anything has changed. But I also used USD to take a taxi from the airport and tipped in euros. I didn't have an issue with using the ATMs, although they used the official exchange rate, which is about half the blue dollar rate. Uber works there too. The quality of the cars/drivers can be variable, but that's also true of the taxis. Shops will take dollars there, but they want crisp, new $100 bills (the blue stripe on the bills is where the "blue dollar" rate comes from).

    3. AD Diamond

      MeanMeosh, I agree with you. The arrogance of Americans to assume that dollars are welcome everywhere is crazy. One of my most embarrassing moments ever was when I was with a colleague in London (who had worked for the state department and should have known better) who tried to tip a server in US dollars. The look on the server's face was brilliant. I politely took the dollars and from her, handed them back to...

      MeanMeosh, I agree with you. The arrogance of Americans to assume that dollars are welcome everywhere is crazy. One of my most embarrassing moments ever was when I was with a colleague in London (who had worked for the state department and should have known better) who tried to tip a server in US dollars. The look on the server's face was brilliant. I politely took the dollars and from her, handed them back to my colleague and then gave the server the tip (which was wholly unnecessary because we'd already tipped on the CC) in pounds.

  33. Omar Guest

    I haven't been to the Hajj terminal in more than 15 years, but the recommendation at that time was to check in 6 hours before departure and every minute was needed.

  34. A Karim Guest

    I feel for the bad experience you had but it was partly too hilarious. BTW you were charged a very decent amount for that ride. I friend of mine paid SR 300 last month to go from the hajj terminal to T1.

    1. Abdullah Guest

      Your friend was robbed. It costs about 150-200 Riyals to get to Makkah from Jeddah airport, which is around 90 kilometres.

  35. iamhere Guest

    I agree with many of the other comments. It appears that you thought you knew it all and did not come prepared. Most places will accept USD but seems you travel without cash especially in small bills. Others warned you about the transit but it seemed you did not research it or prepare yourself. Let us make one thing clear, your personal experience was a disaster, but there was nothing wrong with the system or...

    I agree with many of the other comments. It appears that you thought you knew it all and did not come prepared. Most places will accept USD but seems you travel without cash especially in small bills. Others warned you about the transit but it seemed you did not research it or prepare yourself. Let us make one thing clear, your personal experience was a disaster, but there was nothing wrong with the system or setup. You were not prepared. If too few travelers change terminals then there would not be an airport shuttle bus.

    1. Pam Thickett Guest

      Oh please. Why don't they have a shuttle or something to the other terminal?

    2. A Karim Guest

      Good question Pam. The thing is that hajj terminal is only used for pilgrims who land there to visit the two holy places (Makkah and Madinah). A big majority of the passengers who land there use pre-booked coaches to go directly to either Makkah and some to Madinah. There is no shuttle service or normal taxis available as rarely anyone uses them (or allowed to use them)

    3. Joe Guest

      There's a bus shuttle. There are signs pointing to it in the terminal. It's parked outside. I paid around 35 (8$) Rials for the transfer. They accept cards. It was smooth and efficient. That was only a week ago.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      take it easy, Mr. KnowItAll.
      The man is being honest and alot of people could learn more from Ben's vulnerability in one article than all of the mileage and credit card articles in a year.

  36. Chris Guest

    I'm genuinely surprised reading a lot of these comments. Pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy spending 5 mins in an airport lounge chatting with 90% of those who've imparted their wisdom here, which I never thought I'd say.

    MNL for me is - hands down - the worst airport experience I'll ever have. But you get used to it and plan accordingly.

    Sounds like you had a pretty cool adventure. Live a life less...

    I'm genuinely surprised reading a lot of these comments. Pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy spending 5 mins in an airport lounge chatting with 90% of those who've imparted their wisdom here, which I never thought I'd say.

    MNL for me is - hands down - the worst airport experience I'll ever have. But you get used to it and plan accordingly.

    Sounds like you had a pretty cool adventure. Live a life less ordinary. Learn from any mistakes. Laugh. Try not to hurt anyone. Blog about it. Repeat. Two thumbs up!

  37. AD Diamond

    I've never changed terminals at Jeddah and I foolishly assumed that taxis would be readily available for your transit or I would have shared what a mess Uber is right now. Saudi has a huge problem with Uber availability right now. The country is growing like crazy and nothing can keep up. It's fairly typical in Riyad to order an Uber and have it be "ten minutes" away for an hour and then have the driver cancel.

    1. Nat Guest

      I was in Riyadh for work for three weeks in September and took two Ubers a day back and forth to the event, no problems. Max wait around 10 minutes. Also I used Uber eats most days and that was fine too,

  38. Drew Guest

    Back in 2003 I boarded a Lufthansa flight to Ashgabat and as the plane was accelerating for takeoff realized that I had made no arrangements for transit from the airport to my hotel - and with a 3am arrival, no less. I have no excuse or explanation except that I was so focused on getting my visa application processed that all other aspects of trip planning fell by the wayside. When we arrived there was...

    Back in 2003 I boarded a Lufthansa flight to Ashgabat and as the plane was accelerating for takeoff realized that I had made no arrangements for transit from the airport to my hotel - and with a 3am arrival, no less. I have no excuse or explanation except that I was so focused on getting my visa application processed that all other aspects of trip planning fell by the wayside. When we arrived there was a group of drivers milling around who presumably were specifically waiting for this flight. I said a silent prayer and got in a random guy's car who seemed very happy to have a passenger with US dollars (luckily he never tried to find out how many exactly). There were multiple police stops enroute to the hotel - it was shortly after an assassination attempt (or purported attempt) on President Niyazov and security was even tighter than usual. Nothing happened and I got to my hotel uneventfully but even time we were waved over by a policeman in the pitch black, I wondered what turn my life was about to take.

    My point (other than that I like telling this story) is that even experienced travelers sometimes fumble, and have to cross their fingers and forge ahead. I related to Ben's honest account of his experience and it's why I read a blog written by an actual person, not Marriott's marketing department.

    1. AD Diamond

      Agreed, we all make mistakes. I've been corralled into casual cabs in both Shanghai and Cairo. Cairo was my fault and Shanghai was because my colleague handed his bag to random guy soliciting as a "taxi." In both cases I felt lucky that all that happened is we got ripped off -- and given the locations, getting ripped off, while a lot relative to what it should have cost, was trivial.

  39. Dwhettingsteel Guest

    Sounds like being tired and impatient, couldnt wait for an uber to become available, not taking time to overcome language barrier at the taxi rank. And not carrying a cash backup seems a massive oversight.

    But I was reflecting recently that Ben's super detailed and clinical analysis of up market travel was starting to wear thin on me, as it misses the colour of travel. Some of the conversations you may have with a...

    Sounds like being tired and impatient, couldnt wait for an uber to become available, not taking time to overcome language barrier at the taxi rank. And not carrying a cash backup seems a massive oversight.

    But I was reflecting recently that Ben's super detailed and clinical analysis of up market travel was starting to wear thin on me, as it misses the colour of travel. Some of the conversations you may have with a stranger pre-flight or in flight for example I love.

    But this helps fill that gap, love it!

  40. Ryan Guest

    Welcome to my life. 6 years as an American living in Saudi and you have summed up my daily living exactly. As I always say, the Saudi motto is, “ Every time is the first time.” It’s incredibly irritating yet sort of endearing that a country can somehow function and be so important on the world scale. It’s an incredibly safe country…except when you are on the road. It’s lawless, like a video game.
    ...

    Welcome to my life. 6 years as an American living in Saudi and you have summed up my daily living exactly. As I always say, the Saudi motto is, “ Every time is the first time.” It’s incredibly irritating yet sort of endearing that a country can somehow function and be so important on the world scale. It’s an incredibly safe country…except when you are on the road. It’s lawless, like a video game.
    That’s a long layover without any alcohol!!! Sorry about that. Welcome to my world.

  41. Jeffrey Guest

    Even booking a ride share can expose you to blackmail and extortion: a few weeks ago I booked Careem (a subsidiary of Uber and huge in the Middle East) in Amman, Jordan to take me from the hotel to the airport. I chose the "taxi" option. En route the driver suddenly pulled into a gas station and claimed he had no gas left and asked for my credit card or cash. I refused to pay,...

    Even booking a ride share can expose you to blackmail and extortion: a few weeks ago I booked Careem (a subsidiary of Uber and huge in the Middle East) in Amman, Jordan to take me from the hotel to the airport. I chose the "taxi" option. En route the driver suddenly pulled into a gas station and claimed he had no gas left and asked for my credit card or cash. I refused to pay, as I was already paying Careem, so I asked to get out. In the middle of nowhere, at 5:30 am, with no wifi, and with a plane to catch! Fortunately the station attendant lent me his cell, and I booked an honest Careem driver.
    To add insult to injury, after many messages back and forth, Careem refuses to refund me the cab charge. Avoid Careem at all cost!

    1. Ryan Guest

      Middle East tried share drivers have all sorts of scams. I take them daily and seen it all. Just call your credit card company and fight the charge. You’ll win every time. I guarantee it.

    2. Jeffrey Guest

      Ryan, thanks for your advice, it's much appreciated. Best of luck to you dealing with them!

  42. XPL Diamond

    These very human stories are why I read OMAAT. We all know not to do X or Y, and Ben knows it too, and yet when he -- we -- are tired we make mistakes. Mediocre people tut-tut and pose themselves as superior; wiser readers take it for the lesson that it is. Thank you Ben for sharing this experience, and don't let the tut-tutters get you down.

  43. Carrie Gold

    Just so relieved that you survived the ordeal in one piece ..... but cannot help wondering what you would say to Miles if he put himself in this position. As a mother to five adult children, my response would be to hug you and then absolutely berate you for putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

    But in reality, we all can put ourselves in less than optimal positions when jetlagged and in an unfamiliar setting.

  44. Funny Guest

    Since you are a know it all, and don't listen to anybody... try transiting at Manila airport, terminal to terminal, and tell us how it goes....

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Funny -- https://onemileatatime.com/connecting-manila-philippine-airlines/

  45. maestroben1 Member

    Not a troll, but quite shocked that such a seasoned traveller could make so many mistakes, any one of which could have led to a really serious situation. Ford deserves to be really angry with you when you get home. (I say that as a father, who took silly risks when single, but would not dream of that now).

  46. Jamie Baker Guest

    Lucky. I’ve been reading your reviews for years and honestly love each one. However this one is amazing. Thanks so much for cheering me up in a long trip home in the uk. Ps where’s the Klug ?

  47. Pete Guest

    The moral of the story is that even the most experienced travelers make incorrect assumptions at times, and there are always lessons to be learned.

    He survived, and in one piece, so that's a good thing.

    1. A Karim Guest

      ..... and he was lucky that he did not pay too much. A friend paid SR 300 last month for a similar ride from the hajj terminal to T1.

    2. PietervdW New Member

      @Pete - well said! I also sometimes make stupid mistakes even when a trip is well planned. I have been in situations like Ben when I got in a taxi in places like Lagos, Cairo, Lebanon etc. where I am think "What am I doing, am I getting out of here?" :-D

  48. John Guest

    The majority have spoken. And have not been kind to Ben. No matter how much the tiny minority of 'supporters' try to explain away Ben's inexplicable rookie errors (i.e. he's tired! he's jetlagged! it's not HIS fault! etc etc) I and the majority can't help but feel he goofed up. I mean, getting told repeatedly the distance between terminals is 20km and choosing not to believe, or even bothering to check until he actually got...

    The majority have spoken. And have not been kind to Ben. No matter how much the tiny minority of 'supporters' try to explain away Ben's inexplicable rookie errors (i.e. he's tired! he's jetlagged! it's not HIS fault! etc etc) I and the majority can't help but feel he goofed up. I mean, getting told repeatedly the distance between terminals is 20km and choosing not to believe, or even bothering to check until he actually got there?! And don't me started on not having a bit of appropriate hard cash on hand..because you know, ATM problems are not a new shocking problem.

    1. James Guest

      John, this blog is not an "election". It doesn't really matter what the "majority" say in the comments. And, anyway, I'm sure, lots of people read but don't comment and have opinions too. No one denied Ben "goofed up" and could have done things better. But you seem to be on Team Condemn Ben For An Unforgivable Error How Dare He and others are on Team Oops We All Make Mistakes.

      Honestly, chill.

    2. John Guest

      My darling JAMES, would it be rude of me to point out that you're the one making reference to an "election", not I. Are you one of those poor unfortunates who lives and breathes politics 24/7? And since when is having "goofed up" anything but a mild rebuke (except for snowflakes and political junkies?). You really read far more into my words. That's your problem, not mine. So chill, stay off those meds/coffee/hash ... or...

      My darling JAMES, would it be rude of me to point out that you're the one making reference to an "election", not I. Are you one of those poor unfortunates who lives and breathes politics 24/7? And since when is having "goofed up" anything but a mild rebuke (except for snowflakes and political junkies?). You really read far more into my words. That's your problem, not mine. So chill, stay off those meds/coffee/hash ... or whatever it is you've imbibed in before hitting the keyboard. And Lucky is grown man. He answers for himself and doesn't want or require a 'white knight'....mmmkay?

    3. eaci Guest

      You said "tiny minority", which was the election reference.

  49. chasgoose Guest

    A lot of people don't seem to get that the Hajj terminal is not set up for individual travelers like Ben. The vast majority of people arriving there do so on package journeys where every aspect of their trip to Mecca is arranged for them, including transportation. It's not shocking that there weren't tons of cabs waiting there or that the ATMs weren't working. I am a little surprised that, given the international nature of...

    A lot of people don't seem to get that the Hajj terminal is not set up for individual travelers like Ben. The vast majority of people arriving there do so on package journeys where every aspect of their trip to Mecca is arranged for them, including transportation. It's not shocking that there weren't tons of cabs waiting there or that the ATMs weren't working. I am a little surprised that, given the international nature of the passengers using the Hajj terminal, that the taxi stand guy only spoke Arabic, but I guest most Muslims devout enough to undertake the Hajj probably know a little Arabic from reading the Quran.

  50. Ehud Gavron Guest

    Frankly that's the funniest thing I've read today. Beats the heck out of terrorists killing jews and counterfeit olive oil and amazon pretending IBM are the bad guys.

    - It's also funny you chose to review third world airports and third world airlines. They don't speak English in Jeddah or most of the world. Don't expect everyone to speak your language. When in Rome, speak Italian, not English.
    - ATMs are the last resort...

    Frankly that's the funniest thing I've read today. Beats the heck out of terrorists killing jews and counterfeit olive oil and amazon pretending IBM are the bad guys.

    - It's also funny you chose to review third world airports and third world airlines. They don't speak English in Jeddah or most of the world. Don't expect everyone to speak your language. When in Rome, speak Italian, not English.
    - ATMs are the last resort of the unprepared. YOU should know better, as should everyone who reads YOUR site. If you don't have cash, just stay home.
    - The "friend who will be riding with us" is just as nice as the "let me take you in my private taxi, which is in a parking space, not a taxi space". You said you SHOULD have known better. You DID KNOW BETTER but you ignored your better advice. If we were hanging out it would be nothing to mention again, but your SAGE ADVICE ON THIS FORUM is followed by hundreds of thousands of people. Don't let them think this was a nothing burger.
    - DO NOT ACCEPT UNSOLICITED RIDES FROM WOULD-BE TAXI DRIVERS.
    - And finally, you are very fortunate not to have been arrested and held in prison until you could cough up more money from the recalcitrant ATMs. The arab countries are only as friendly to foreigners as they need to be... until they perceive an insult... and then you are seriously f'd.

    Don't go to Saudi Arabia.
    Don't go to the UAE.
    Don't fly Etihad or Emirates.
    Don't take loosey-goosey unsolicited taxi guys.
    Don't EXPECT and DEPEND on ATMS.
    I'm not even touching your distaste for "cutting in line." The LOCAL told you that's how it's done, so that's how it's done. What did you do? Be American. Fail.

    Like I said, if this was just the two of us sitting around enjoying an afternoon, I'd just not and say not very much. The people reading OMAAT deserve better.

  51. Lee Guest

    Living in the middle east, i can tell you that you just had the quintessential pathan experience. Surprised you haven't had this before travelling to AUH, DXB, DOH and Oman. HA!

  52. Mick Guest

    I was expecting more hassles with immigration!

    I’ve travelled a lot too and tend to do my research (over a scotch 6mins before takeoff usually). But have had tons of experiences like this and have made tons of mistakes. Part of travelling. I’m not getting ripped off buying rials for a country I’m going to visit for ten mins. Would cost more than the ripoff taxi.

    Keys for me are crime safe country and long...

    I was expecting more hassles with immigration!

    I’ve travelled a lot too and tend to do my research (over a scotch 6mins before takeoff usually). But have had tons of experiences like this and have made tons of mistakes. Part of travelling. I’m not getting ripped off buying rials for a country I’m going to visit for ten mins. Would cost more than the ripoff taxi.

    Keys for me are crime safe country and long layover. If the guy was the best option there and I know I’m being “ripped off $10 or $20” then I would have done the same. In the end it worked out fine. Cost a little bit and you got there in plenty of time. Cheers to you for sharing

    1. Mick Guest

      Everything has risk reward. It’s like seeing a report of someone getting injured by turbulence and 100s of reply’s saying “on a plane I always wear my seatbelt all the time to avoid this”.

  53. Luke Guest

    I would only rely on "I'll take money out when I arrive" in western countries and places with lot of tourism such as Dubai, Singapore, Cancun, etc.

    Recently had a big time hassle in Kolkata, India recently where at 3am the airport had no functioning ATMs, places to exchange currencies, and any vendor there generally will only accept cash payments in Indian rupees so my having US dollars was of no help. Needing a...

    I would only rely on "I'll take money out when I arrive" in western countries and places with lot of tourism such as Dubai, Singapore, Cancun, etc.

    Recently had a big time hassle in Kolkata, India recently where at 3am the airport had no functioning ATMs, places to exchange currencies, and any vendor there generally will only accept cash payments in Indian rupees so my having US dollars was of no help. Needing a ride from the airport was trying to book Uber where different drivers kept confirming the ride then continued to stay put at whereever they were outside the airport property. Finally after struggling for almost an hour managed to book a uber where person actually came to pick us up!

    Technically its illegal to leave India carrying any local currency as well so kind of out of luck if the suggestion would be to have local Indian currency prior to reaching there by international flight arrival!

    1. crosscourt Guest

      Why wouldn't you ask th hotel to arrange one of their cars to pick you up in Kolkata? I would think that is the sensible thing to do for a 3am arrival (or any time) in a place like India and charge it to your room.

  54. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    Ben, really enjoyed this post and we’re all human. Wish I had a video of the “discussion” at the ATM. All's well that ends well.

  55. 305 Guest

    Driver experience sounds like the average uber ride in Miami.

    Jokes aside, thanks for sharing. And screw the overly critical folks who lack reading comprehension. You're on this insanely exhausting review trip (for us!) and they can't grasp that you might make a mistake 72+ hours into an around the world journey.

  56. Chilangoflyer Guest

    The transfer by car between the terminals in Seoul is 18km....

    1. Icarus Guest

      Except it’s efficient, there’s a frequent free bus and there is also an airside train.

  57. Bob Guest

    Great post, it's really interesting content and also shows a lot of character. :)

  58. Simon Guest

    How is everyone missing the BIGGEST red flag??? As soon as you learned that there would be another person joining you in the vehicle, unless they were obviously a non-local, that would have been a huge no. 2 against 1 is not a struggle you can expect to win. Anything could have happened. Forget about you, you owe it to Miles not to endanger yourself that way.

  59. Andrew Diamond

    Hah, that ATM screen looked apocalyptic. Thank you for sharing!

  60. Karim J Guest

    I just went to the bank to take out US$50 in 5s, $50 in 10s and US$200 in 20s. Rest in crisp US$100 bills. That is my standard travel cash pile for travel in places like Asia, Caribbean, etc.

    At an airport (and sometimes the rest of the country), you can never assume an ATM will be available and/or work, ever. On top of that, twice I have been charged for cash that was...

    I just went to the bank to take out US$50 in 5s, $50 in 10s and US$200 in 20s. Rest in crisp US$100 bills. That is my standard travel cash pile for travel in places like Asia, Caribbean, etc.

    At an airport (and sometimes the rest of the country), you can never assume an ATM will be available and/or work, ever. On top of that, twice I have been charged for cash that was never dispensed and had to dispute it.

    The "I'll take money out when I arrive" approach works fine in Europe, for example, but anywhere else you could be a gamble. A small USD cash pile protects you from any issues on arrival.

  61. Expat in Jeddah Guest

    As an Expat in Saudi, you accurately described the immigration, taxi driver cellphone and driving dilemma, and distance between 2 airport in Jeddah :-

  62. InternationalTraveler Gold

    It is just one of the memorable adventures of travel.

    In the end Ben go to his terminal, made the flight and wasn’t robbed. The driver did what he said he would do. Maybe the lack of change caused the trip to be more expensive than quoted, but a pre-arranged travel might have cost even more.

  63. Jay Guest

    Oh well in the end it wasn’t actually that bad. But I do understand the anxiety in the moment.

  64. I S Guest

    Why not use Google translate with the taxi guy at the counter? This whole situation is avoidable in the first place

  65. Jerry Diamond

    Ben, the people criticizing you here have never been to Saudi and are missing what happened to you that is truly odd…

    1. No Uber/careem. That is not typical. I’m curious if any of the “experts” out there know if this is unique to the Hajj terminal

    2. No English at the taxi desk. The person working the desk certainly wasn’t a Saudi. Did they even speak Arabic? English is the lingua Franca in KSA....

    Ben, the people criticizing you here have never been to Saudi and are missing what happened to you that is truly odd…

    1. No Uber/careem. That is not typical. I’m curious if any of the “experts” out there know if this is unique to the Hajj terminal

    2. No English at the taxi desk. The person working the desk certainly wasn’t a Saudi. Did they even speak Arabic? English is the lingua Franca in KSA. This is a head scratcher

    3. The driver should have cut the line on your behalf. He knows you’re not familiar with local customs. Pakistani drivers in KSA are generally very service oriented.

    4. This wasn’t a Hajj flight, why did it arrive at the Hajj terminal?

    You really got hit with a series of unfortunate events.

  66. CXTraveller Member

    Ben, thanks for the story! It's always good to share experiences and learn from it for us all!

    I am visiting KSA later this month, so the ATM situation alarmed me a bit. Is it normal in KSA to have trouble getting cash from the ATM, especially using a foreign ATM card? What are the fees like for ATM in KSA? Thanks!

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      I spent a week in KSA, in Riyadh, Jeddah & Medina and never touched a physical rial.

      Used USD$ a couple times when a credit card wasn’t accepted. Your mileage may vary!

    2. Daniel from Finland Guest

      Forget ATMs and just make sure you have riyals in cash when you get there. Changing them in Saudi is not very easy as there are few change offices, but you can easily get them abroad, in Dubai, in Bangkok etc. Ask for small bills, too, so you can pay taxi drivers. There is not much public transit to speak of, and taxis want cash and might not have change.

    3. Ryan Guest

      Yes, it’s actually quite common. 6 years here in Saudi and nothing works as it should. Incredibly frustrating place because you have mouth breathing cave dwellers who do all the work (not Saudis) who just sit around and eat their boogers all day. (That’s not a joke!)

    4. Elizabeth Guest

      I went to KSA and had no issues with my Amex and backup Visa. Both were alerted that I would be traveling to KSA during certain dates. Rates were same as well. A few places may not accept card but there are many that do. It's easier to track where your money goes as well.

  67. Jackson Guest

    Sounds like nothing but neglect on the writers part. Why would you not plan ahead by booking a transfer or a taxi? Why would you travel to an emerging society without any cash? Rookie mistakes.

    1. James Guest

      Maybe because even seasoned traveller's make mistakes - particularly when exhausted - and it's good of him to share when things go wrong?

    2. Expat in Jeddah Guest

      Definitely not. Have you ever tried to book a taxi in Saudi? They cancel at the last moment or simply do not show up...

  68. globetrotter Guest

    If you can navigate the transit system in Japan, you will never have problem getting around anywhere in modern countries. It requires Google translation, Uber account, Google map. My knowledge in these areas is elementary. Regarding your trip in Indonesia in the airport, does it still require Covid test and entry visa? I plan to visit Bali late next year and want to avoid any possible hiccup.
    To other commentators, chill out and think...

    If you can navigate the transit system in Japan, you will never have problem getting around anywhere in modern countries. It requires Google translation, Uber account, Google map. My knowledge in these areas is elementary. Regarding your trip in Indonesia in the airport, does it still require Covid test and entry visa? I plan to visit Bali late next year and want to avoid any possible hiccup.
    To other commentators, chill out and think before you post. Ben already acknowledges his flaws in the first two paragraphs of this post. Ben's blog allows us to share our experiences, knowledge and constructive advice. Do not abuse it to spew your anger, name calling, and blame game. Saudi Arabia has a public square where they punish/ execute people for petty and violent crimes on Fridays after praying. It also has a slave market where humans are sold and bought like commodities on exchange markets. It was the reason that I chose not to visit it while living and working in Kuwait three decades ago. Crimes are virtually non-existent. So many readers express their deep ignorance in foreign cultures at an unbelievable level. Travel blogs are supposed to attract knowledgeable travel enthusiasts. But then there are two types of travel. One is traditional travel where it emphasizes the destinations. The other is alternative/ artificial travel where it focuses on the journeys.

    1. CXTraveller Member

      I was in Indonesia for about 2 weeks about a year ago, and no need for COVID test. Visa on arrival is easy to get. I've been to Indonesia a few times, so I see the visa fee from US$100 on my first trip there in 2014 to now $35. In Jakarta, it's a separate line for visa on arrival, and then I went to immigration for the visa on arrival line. It was easy...

      I was in Indonesia for about 2 weeks about a year ago, and no need for COVID test. Visa on arrival is easy to get. I've been to Indonesia a few times, so I see the visa fee from US$100 on my first trip there in 2014 to now $35. In Jakarta, it's a separate line for visa on arrival, and then I went to immigration for the visa on arrival line. It was easy and painless. However, Bali was a different situation (mind you that was 2014 when I entered the country through Bali, but talking to other travellers in various times since COVID, it doesn't sound like that has changed much. Hopefully there are others can give you an update on Bali's entry). The lines were long and took over an hour (closer to 2 hours) to go through. Hopefully, they have improved since.

    2. Patti Guest

      Was in Jakarta a few months ago. Didn't even look at my covid info and the VOA was easy.

      Last year in Bali, it was a bit different. They checked everything and the lines were Long. BUT 75% of the tourists either didn't have their info ready or hadn't paid attention to the requirements.

      I assume Bali is about like Jakarta now and everything has eased. Still doesn't help when tourists don't inform themselves on what they need.

      VOA about $35 now.

    3. Mick Guest

      Nothing required for Covid

      You can get your voa online before arriving (ironically). Costs $35 and is fairly straightforward.

  69. jcil Guest

    Ben has insulated his overseas travels for the past many years in a world of first class flights, 5 star hotels, and limo transfers back and forth (and even directly to the plane). A world that doesn't even require him to have any cash for transactions. This makes it all the more shocking to him when he is confronted with the reality of life and what the average, or below average person, deals with every day all around the world.

    1. Fed UP Guest

      Absolutely agree... OMAT and Ben with his world travels... he uses US based hotels, eats western, i.e. American food, even on the plane (totally afraid of anything resembling local food), takes taxis, limos, flies first class, and simple see the world, inside of airports, US based hotels, eating bland nondescript western food. Some travel blog

  70. Rekha dedhia Guest

    Take the money with you when you travel to rest of the world.keep 2000 credit card at home.i take rupees when visit familly.only cash is the king.

  71. Ralph4878 Guest

    Curious why the airport is set up this way...anyone know?

    1. Dusty Guest

      Probably cost. I'm surprised there's no bus service, but not surprised by the lack of an underground peoplemover. First time I flew to Japan I entered the country at Fukuoka, similar deal there. International terminal was the long way around the airport from the domestic one (I had a connecting flight to Haneda) and you take an airport bus around the airport perimeter to change terminals.

    2. Trey Guest

      Probably expansion of airport at a later time. No so uncommon. Similar examples include Manila (MNL) and LaGuardia (no as severe).

    3. Sisyphus Guest

      He landed in the Hajj airport, a seasonal airport made specifically for flights with high volumes of pilgrims that would be continuing on to Mecca.

      This isn’t the usual airport people land in when traveling to Jeddah and isn’t meant to cater for the business/leisure travelers.

  72. Marco Guest

    Seems so staged. Lots of red flags were evident but he still chose to go ahead. The absolutely horrible vehicle to begin with. Not traveling with basic cash. Lots of hours available to transit and not like the next flight was leaving in an hour to be pushed to continue with the ride lol. Lots of sensationalism with OMAAT. Yet I am here everyday to read this blog lol. (wink)

  73. Snake777 Guest

    The thing reads like a first time traveler writing a blog vs the expert traveler that he is. Not using Uber, google translate and researching the terminal are not things you expect from someone who has left the country at least once before.

  74. GBOAC Diamond

    I'm amused/depressed by the number of postings by so many who decided to leave a comment without bothering to really read Ben's post
    eg Why didn't you use Uber (duh)
    my favorite (paraphrased) from the pictures it seems you landed at the Hajj terminal and not terminal 1 (really big duh)

    1. Santos Guest

      It's really quite amazing/disturbing.

      Also, let's see all these arm-chair QBs do this kind of whirlwind itinerary (including the work of taking pics and notes for the HUGE amount of trip reports coming from this) and not make a single mistake. Exhaustion and lapses in judgment happen. Made for a great story at least.

    2. Julia Guest

      It was also bad planning before he arrived.

  75. gsd101 Member

    @ben Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen this many comments on a post in a while, so it was clearly worth the effort.

    The vast majority of your readers are seasoned travelers, and as such should know that when you are incredibly jetlagged and exhausted, mistakes will be made (e.g., speaking the wrong language at your destination, brushing your teeth with sunscreen, arguing with a driver when you are clearly wrong, etc.). So, thanks...

    @ben Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen this many comments on a post in a while, so it was clearly worth the effort.

    The vast majority of your readers are seasoned travelers, and as such should know that when you are incredibly jetlagged and exhausted, mistakes will be made (e.g., speaking the wrong language at your destination, brushing your teeth with sunscreen, arguing with a driver when you are clearly wrong, etc.). So, thanks for letting us know that you too can make traveling mistakes, so that we can avoid them (even when we know they are traveling 101 issues). It was an entertaining and ridiculous story.

    As for the trolls, there is a reason they are called trolls.

    1. NedsKid Diamond

      Absolutely agreed 100%. Any of us who has crossed so many time zones so fast, or even felt under the weather (as with my travel nightmare story in Turkey), has had their own moment like this or will.

  76. James Guest

    The commenters on here really got out of the wrong side of bed today and decided to be mean girls to Ben. Yes, in hindsight, he should have done better. But it sounds like his was really concerned about whether his visa would work and didn't expect the transfer to be the big issue.

    Guess what, we all make mistakes? We're not perfect. And when these things happen, it's a reminder that even the...

    The commenters on here really got out of the wrong side of bed today and decided to be mean girls to Ben. Yes, in hindsight, he should have done better. But it sounds like his was really concerned about whether his visa would work and didn't expect the transfer to be the big issue.

    Guess what, we all make mistakes? We're not perfect. And when these things happen, it's a reminder that even the most well travelled people can trip up sometimes.

    Maybe all the judgy people out there could take a chill pill.

  77. Never In Doubt Guest

    Uber & Careem? (works fine in KSA)
    Google translate? (it works!)
    Basic research on a potentially tricky transfer? “getting from Haj terminal to terminal 1 in Jeddah” (duh)

    For someone who travels for a living, wtf?

  78. derek Guest

    I was expecting some sort of immigration problem. Instead, this is a taxi problem and not that bad. It seems to me that transit through the Hajj terminal is feasible but slow.

    I consider ATMs to be reliable only in the most modern countries.

  79. CP Guest

    You are an experienced traveler and the rookie mistakes confound me. Google translate to communicate with the official taxi stand and/or use Careem.

  80. jsm Guest

    I'm wondering if the ATMs were not out of cash but were responding to the card you were using. Simply rejecting some cards would case significant legal problems, but 'out of cash' could be an innocuous response to discriminating against the card/country of issuance?

    1. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

      I find, generally speaking, in the Middle East (especially in more rural areas) finding a working ATM can be a struggle.

  81. Daniel from Finland Guest

    Frankly, Ben, this sounds like it was your first international trip ever :)

    When I went to Jeddah, I made a point in exchanging some riyals beforehand because in most countries of the world, you need cash to pay the taxi drivers and I don't want to rely on non-working ATMs. However, I am a bit surprised you didn't offer to pay in USD cash. Or maybe you didn't have any? In most parts of...

    Frankly, Ben, this sounds like it was your first international trip ever :)

    When I went to Jeddah, I made a point in exchanging some riyals beforehand because in most countries of the world, you need cash to pay the taxi drivers and I don't want to rely on non-working ATMs. However, I am a bit surprised you didn't offer to pay in USD cash. Or maybe you didn't have any? In most parts of the non-Western world, everyone will accept USD if you pay a little extra.

    Jeddah is full of non-legit taxis, and if you know the going rates, they are handy and not unreliable (in that they will take you where you are going, for a fair price; but they don't know their way around the city so you need to give them directions, and their driving is, well, as you described...)

    1. Antonio Guest

      He had the 1234 credit cards in the wallet but no currency in any form.
      Honestly to have a car accident with a saudi citizen could mean a big big big trouble.... Extremely naive for me.

  82. Charlie Guest

    Ben, your comments on the design of the Hajj terminal are a bit unfortunate. It’s a really interesting structure which fulfills a challenging design brief, given the way it’s used. The tent-like roof is clever, efficient, and references nomadic homes. There’s a nice piece on it here, complete with photos of Garuda 747s!

    https://www.archdaily.com/777599/ad-classics-hajj-terminal-king-abdulaziz-airport-som

  83. Daniel B. Guest

    @Lucky. You mentioned that the taxi stand attendant did not speak English. Last time I travelled to Oman, before the trip I downloaded a free Arabic-English app and it worked great when I had to communicate with people there who did not speak English.

  84. dweins New Member

    Yes, that wasn't Ben's finest hour, but is it unreasonable to expect one or more transit options between terminals, even if they are ridiculously far apart? I would expect at the very least a bus and taxi service.

  85. Mateen Guest

    Brother always take exchange at ur home country

  86. JonNYC Gold

    I'm very glad you shared, Ben! Wild read. Your commenters are a bunch of a-holes.

    1. Kayla Guest

      Sorry, this is the most clueless series of events. Ben sits on flights doing f-all on these flights (muh 'working') on this almost-straight-line **w i l d** (lol) trip.

      Couldn't find fifteen minutes to research basic destination information?

    2. James Guest

      Good job you've never made a muck up before when travelling. It's the perfection we all aspire too.

      Well done I say to Ben for sharing his pitfalls and not pretending he's 100pc right the whole time.

    3. Kayla Guest

      >Good job you've never made a muck up before when travelling.

      Children argue like this, Jimmy. Also, it's not my job to travel. It is, however, Ben's job.

      >not pretending he's 100pc right the whole time.

      We're not close to 10% right here, so let's calm ourselves right down, shall we?

      This level of gross negligence would be a fireable offense in most corporations. I'm not kidding.

    4. Super Diamond

      @JonNYC Agreed! Did everyone wake up and choose to put their critical thinking skills back to bed? This is Ben's blog (remember the definition of blog??) - he's sharing a story from his perspective. He started off the story by owning up to his own mistakes. It's a lil adventure we've all either heard about or experienced first-hand when in a foreign place. Despite all our experience and knowledge, we all sometimes make mistakes. Relate...

      @JonNYC Agreed! Did everyone wake up and choose to put their critical thinking skills back to bed? This is Ben's blog (remember the definition of blog??) - he's sharing a story from his perspective. He started off the story by owning up to his own mistakes. It's a lil adventure we've all either heard about or experienced first-hand when in a foreign place. Despite all our experience and knowledge, we all sometimes make mistakes. Relate to the story or don't and move on... jeez!

  87. LarryInNYC Diamond

    Seems like the need to acquire cash could have been entirely avoided by using Uber. In fact, seems like the perfect use case for Uber. Do they not operate in Saudi Arabia?

    1. derek Guest

      Uber is in India but often you cannot get a car to pick you up. Maybe the same in the Kingdom?

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      Plenty of Uber (and Careem) all over Jeddah, including at the airport. Never had a problem.

  88. Dan Guest

    Did you not bring any USD that you could use to pay?

  89. icarus Guest

    I find it hilarious when so called experienced travellers are so naive

    Honestly.. what do you expect ? Why not chill stopover and stay in a hotel ?

  90. RC Guest

    I did not visit and ATM during my brief trip to Saudi. Just paid in USD when they wouldn't accept credit card. No issues, especially in the airport and vicinity

  91. Andy Guest

    From your pictures, it seems the flight landed in the Hajj terminal rather than the north terminal. The Hajj terminal is basically for pilgrims in groups, and i understand if there was no taxi stand. This is close to, but not the same as the north terminal. Thats also why there were no ATMs, as the pilgrim group will have everything set for them.

    Yes, it can be tricky to find a working ATM in...

    From your pictures, it seems the flight landed in the Hajj terminal rather than the north terminal. The Hajj terminal is basically for pilgrims in groups, and i understand if there was no taxi stand. This is close to, but not the same as the north terminal. Thats also why there were no ATMs, as the pilgrim group will have everything set for them.

    Yes, it can be tricky to find a working ATM in a highway, but fairly easy in the center of the city. The road between both terminals is actually the highway to Jeddah.

    I have witnessed that sort of drivers before in Jeddah. Not the norm, but not an exception either. Some drivers can be very reckless. I would expect to pay 70 sar between both terminals.

  92. TheBestBlackBrent Diamond

    So a guy drove you to your destination, did not charge extra for the waiting time and you made your flight. Harrowing experience indeed!

    This sounds smoother than your average transfer in the US coming off an international flight...

    1. Daniel from Finland Guest

      Well, he did charge quite an overprice for that ride. For my 10 km rides in the city, I routinely paid 5–6 USD.

  93. Sisyphus Guest

    The title makes it sound like transiting in Jeddah is the problem, it isn’t. By your own account, the immigration process itself was seamless.

    The problem here is you made a mistake the most inexperienced of travelers wouldn’t make, so own up to it and admit it was wholly your fault. Uber exists and is easily accessible pretty much in every major city worldwide, why didn’t you go with that?

    The transit experience wasn’t a disaster, your decision making was.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sisyphus -- Well, I mean, I wouldn't say transiting in Jeddah *isn't* a problem, since it requires a minimum of a 20km drive between terminals. What other airport has that? Seriously, please, name one airport. As far as why I didn't go with Uber, I opened the Uber app, but it said there were no cars available.

      And I've acknowledged that this was largely my fault...

    2. icarus Guest

      I would research . I have never been and yet know it is one of the largest airports in the world, you arrived at the Hajj terminal and it is a 20k + trip by road to the other terminal

      per Wikipedia the vast majority of the complex, called "Terminal Support Area", is a flexible, open area, conceived to function like a village,.... Not enclosed by walls,

      I think I had the same driver from LAX once.

      Now do a transit at Lagos.

    3. JJ Guest

      Why didn’t you take the official taxi which runs on meter? I did when I arrived at Jeddah.

    4. Arnaud Guest

      While not as bad. CDG is pretty bad. Going from T1 to T2, or vice versa is not feasible airside. The train is not that reliable. And the traffic if hoping on a bus or cab is horrendous….

    5. Sisyphus Guest

      Except this isn’t the same airport my guy, that’s like landing in LaGuardia and heading to JFK for a second leg.

      So to answer your question, many cities around the world have that, you just didn’t know it beforehand.

    6. ma'am Guest

      LAGOS. quite a mess as I remember, but it's been since pre-covid days.

  94. Tom Guest

    Hard to understand why this was so “harrowing” - no different than taking an unlicensed cab from JFK. Would you ever do that? No, obviously anyone with two brain cells would not. So why is it a good idea in Saudi?

    Further it sounds like the immigration aspect was perfect - that’s where I was assuming the problem was. Hard to understand you taking down the whole city because you got in a car with some dude who walked up to you in an airport!!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Tom -- I'm not "taking down the whole city?"

    2. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

      (inspiration for a new music video)

  95. Sonofdad Member

    It’s crazy that they won’t let women drive, but they’ll let this bonehead guy drive a taxi.

    1. RC Guest

      Blatantly incorrect. I've been to Jeddah and women drive all over the city. The fact is the liberal western media refuses to acknowledge real changes in Saudi

    2. T- Guest

      It was pretty big news when Saudi women got the right to drive. This experience sounds like a tired traveling man getting the thrill of a lifetime. Not a fun thrill either.

  96. Trey Guest

    Haha...two modes of driving - I swear we had the exact same driver in Queens, NY a few months back getting from JFK to the US Open in traffic! 5-minutes in, we wanted to get off but we were on Grand Central Pkwy. The guy also had a smashed rear windshield on his SUV, so I was joking to my wife that he probably used it as a getaway car the night before.

  97. SMR Guest

    This is a known scam world wide. You should know NEVER accept a ride from taxi touts in airports. Rookie mistake :)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ SMR -- I'm not sure there was a scam here, really. There was just a really bad driver, non-functioning ATMs, and a lack of transport options.

    2. TheBestBlackBrent Diamond

      The driver literally cheated your change and took another passenger too, but sure, no scam really! Whatever makes you sleep at night...

  98. Tim Dunn Diamond

    I have to commend you, Ben, for being willing to share what was clearly not one of your finest travel moments.
    Glad it all worked out.

  99. David Diamond

    Like everyone had said, not accepting random solicitation from strangers is a rule that applies literally anywhere in the world. Dude in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok? Girl in front of a bar in Shinjuku/Roppongi in Tokyo? Some guy in an airport that isn’t official vetted or maybe even licensed? Just say no, always.

  100. flylikeaG6 Guest

    As others have mentioned, this entire experience was your fault. I also think there are some cultural differences (you’re coming off borderline racist) that you are not used to that might have added to your stress.

    Either way, Saudi Arabia is probably the safest country I have been to. And Uber/taxis were widely available at the airport so I’m not sure why you felt this taxi driver was your only option. You mentioned you...

    As others have mentioned, this entire experience was your fault. I also think there are some cultural differences (you’re coming off borderline racist) that you are not used to that might have added to your stress.

    Either way, Saudi Arabia is probably the safest country I have been to. And Uber/taxis were widely available at the airport so I’m not sure why you felt this taxi driver was your only option. You mentioned you were tired so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this article seems to indicate Saudi/this taxi driver are to blame for your experience when in actuality…it’s all you and your mindset.

    1. digital_notmad Diamond

      lol the taxi driver is objectively to blame

      you're coming off borderline homophobic

    2. NFSF Diamond

      You’re not sure because you didn’t read

      “I first opened the Uber app, but it said there were no vehicles available”

    3. Daniel from Finland Guest

      What part of Ben's text exacly would you describe as racist? I see nothing there.

  101. Amritpal Singh Guest

    Mistake #1: visiting the Islamic nest during the barbarian pilgrimage.
    Mistake #2: trusting a Pakistani

    1. DaBluBoi Guest

      Mistake #3: Letting this goofer comment on your site

    2. Jason Guest

      Are you drunk? You don’t have to be rude my friend.

    3. Manson Guest

      This is just experience. india is just more worse.

    4. Daniel from Finland Guest

      Okay, well this is racist. I spent a week in Lahore, Pakistan and had absolutely no problems. No Pakistani tried to trick me in any way. One tuktuk driver wanted to overcharge me (as in before the rice, he quoted an inflated price), and that was resolved by another local who quickly came there to defend me without me even asking or needing it.

    5. Santastico Guest

      Racist? Since when Pakistani is a race?

    6. Jacobin777 Guest

      Mr. Sing, keep your bigoted, racist, stupid, childish asinine tripe comments to yourself.

      Such a pathetic small-minded individual you are.

  102. Emad Guest

    Well, it's your own fault.
    1. Every rooky traveler knows to never accept a ride from a hawker.
    2. Pre-arrange a taxi or use Uber
    3. Get cash before you travel or use credit card.

    You Sound like someone who never has traveled before.

  103. InceptionCat Gold

    Two things Ben.
    1. While in normal life i always pay using cards, i do keep some cash next to my passport when travelling. The hassle of trying to find an ATM at the airport (with usually high charges) isn't worth it. You're a seasoned traveller. I'm astounded that you didn't have any cash on you for this exact reason.

    2. What were you thinking accepting the offer to ride with that goon? I'd...

    Two things Ben.
    1. While in normal life i always pay using cards, i do keep some cash next to my passport when travelling. The hassle of trying to find an ATM at the airport (with usually high charges) isn't worth it. You're a seasoned traveller. I'm astounded that you didn't have any cash on you for this exact reason.

    2. What were you thinking accepting the offer to ride with that goon? I'd think that there's an official Taxi stand at the airport where Official taxis can be booked.

    Sorry for your experience but i did laugh at that scene at the ATM drive-in. Comedy gold!

  104. Morgan Diamond

    As others have highlighted seems like a pretty rookie (which you are most certainly not) error to make to not either book a driver or catch an Uber or even find a proper taxi ranks and ABSOLUTELY DO NOT accept a ride from a random guy that comes up to and especially when you can't see his vehicle.

    1. Mick Guest

      I was expecting more hassles with immigration!

      I’ve travelled a lot too and tend to do my research (over a scotch 6mins before takeoff usually). But have had tons of experiences like this and have made tons of mistakes. Part of travelling. I’m not getting ripped off buying rials for a country I’m going to visit for ten mins. Would cost more than the ripoff taxi.

      Keys for me are crime safe country...

      I was expecting more hassles with immigration!

      I’ve travelled a lot too and tend to do my research (over a scotch 6mins before takeoff usually). But have had tons of experiences like this and have made tons of mistakes. Part of travelling. I’m not getting ripped off buying rials for a country I’m going to visit for ten mins. Would cost more than the ripoff taxi.

      Keys for me are crime safe country and long layover. If the guy was the best option there and I know I’m being “ripped off $10 or $20” then I would have done the same. In the end it worked out fine. Cost a little bit and you got there in plenty of time. Cheers to you for sharing

  105. A K Guest

    I don’t think this is a North terminal but rather the Hajj terminal. In any case I really don’t understand why you couldn’t Uber or pre arrange thru Blacklane. Can’t say rookie mistake!

  106. Tony Guest

    From my experiences in traveling over 30 countries. Cash is king. Crisp US Dollars are universally accepted. I usually carry $200 in twenties for such occasions. It got me out of a bind many times in Asia, South America and the Middle East. Especially after a natural disaster such as hurricanes and power outages.

    1. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

      So true.

  107. Johan F. Guest

    Next time you call me, i drive you for free, and we can talk about miles and more during 30 min :)
    Indeed, no risks to be kidnapped, i would say that after living for 2 yrs here, this is probably the safest country ive ever been (and yes, immigration ppl is very friendly and nice in general)

  108. Bri Guest

    Ben I love ya, but dude you are a seasoned traveler why on earth would you take a gypsy "cab" from the first random that approaches you?! Why not Uber, book a driver in advance, oy vey...

    1. UncleRonnie Member

      So much this!! Tired or not, that's very reckless Ben.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      Yeah no. It’s easy for us to criticize that from the convenience of our couches. It’s a different story when you’re actually there. Random person offering a ride to another terminal for $32 says it all.

    3. UncleRonnie Member

      Ben is a hugely experienced, global traveller who does this stuff for a living. He shouldn't be this reckless. Although maybe all those complimentary limo rides to First Class lounges has warped his common sense?

    4. Abidjan Gold

      Agreed. Not Ben's best moment.

    5. NFSF Diamond

      “I first opened the Uber app, but it said there were no vehicles available”

  109. Lewis Guest

    If you or anyone else plans to this in the future have a driver pre-arranged. Save time, hassle and hopefully keep you alive.

  110. Sean M. Diamond

    Umm, Uber?

    I've used it extensively in Saudi without any issues (including at the airport).

    1. CXTraveller Member

      Glad you said that! I am heading to KSA later this month and my research indicated Uber is quite popular. But the question is that some airport do not allow Uber in some cities, so I'm wondering is that the case in Jeddah?

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @CXTraveller - Both Jeddah and Riyadh airport even have special Uber pickup zones at arrivals. There is no issue with it not being allowed there. Also, there was free Wifi.

    3. Chris W Guest

      I'm guessing there was no wifi at the airport

    4. pstm91 Diamond

      My first thoughts:
      1) how in the world did a regular traveler accept a taxi solicitation in the arrivals hall from a random person?
      2) I don't care how long the walk is, I would never get in a car in that poor condition.
      3) why would he not use Uber??
      In this day and age, there's no reason not to have data, so wifi shouldn't be an issue (and I highly doubt Jeddah airport didn't have it).
      Ben, this is one of the strangest blogs/decision making you've posted.

    5. Dusty Guest

      Am I the only one here that actually read the article and saw where Ben said that he tried Uber first, but there were no cars? Given he's a seasoned traveler, I doubt cell service was the problem.

      Second, doesn't sound like he got picked up by an "unlicensed" cab either. It seems to me like the dude saw him standing there needing a ride and offered, since he and his buddy were going in...

      Am I the only one here that actually read the article and saw where Ben said that he tried Uber first, but there were no cars? Given he's a seasoned traveler, I doubt cell service was the problem.

      Second, doesn't sound like he got picked up by an "unlicensed" cab either. It seems to me like the dude saw him standing there needing a ride and offered, since he and his buddy were going in the same direction.

      Seems like people are making mountains out of molehills given the circumstances, and Ben got a fun story to tell.

    6. Never In Doubt Guest

      We used Uber all over KSA, including Jeddah airport, no problem.

  111. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    Wow, while nowhere near as bad as your adventure I've had a few of these as well, in Tbilisi and Quito.

    It always seems to be at the destinations that have arrival/departure times in the middle of the night.

    Out Tbilisian driver kept falling asleep, when he wasn't hacking his lungs out (yes I am almost positive this is where I finally caught COVID after 2.5 yrs of being so safe) and in...

    Wow, while nowhere near as bad as your adventure I've had a few of these as well, in Tbilisi and Quito.

    It always seems to be at the destinations that have arrival/departure times in the middle of the night.

    Out Tbilisian driver kept falling asleep, when he wasn't hacking his lungs out (yes I am almost positive this is where I finally caught COVID after 2.5 yrs of being so safe) and in Quito our driver was auditioning for a spot in the Ecuadorian Grand Prix while texting the entire Southern Hemisphere.

  112. Jim Guest

    You're lucky you weren't kidnapped, robbed, and/or extorted. Safety rule #1 - NEVER accept an offer of transportation from someone who approaches you in a terminal!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jim -- I hear you in general, and accepting a ride from a non-official driver usually isn't a best practice. However, that's not generally my concern in many Gulf countries, especially when you're dealing with foreigners on work permits. While these countries have a lot of issues, personally I don't consider those to be among them. I'm at higher risk of being robbed by a stranger in Miami just walking to my car than...

      @ Jim -- I hear you in general, and accepting a ride from a non-official driver usually isn't a best practice. However, that's not generally my concern in many Gulf countries, especially when you're dealing with foreigners on work permits. While these countries have a lot of issues, personally I don't consider those to be among them. I'm at higher risk of being robbed by a stranger in Miami just walking to my car than I am being kidnapped by a Pakistani driver in Jeddah.

    2. Khatl Diamond

      Ok, probably true... but that doesn't address the real Q of what possessed you (other than you actually being possessed!) to take a ride with someone who approached you in an airport. An action that no semi-regular traveler, let alone a travel blogger, would ever consider doing. You definitely got off lucky if all it cost you was ~$40 (surprised it wasn't $100+) while giving you a tale us all

    3. D3kingg Guest

      @Jim

      Sorry big daddy. (:

    4. Takhliq Khan Guest

      While Saudi Arabia may have lot of problems if one is judging by western standards but getting kidnapped or robbed in KSA is not one of them. However, driving there is pretty bad.

    5. TheBestBlackBrent Diamond

      This scenario is 10x more likely in the US than it is in the GCC, but thanks for voicing your prejudices!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Sisyphus -- Well, I mean, I wouldn't say transiting in Jeddah *isn't* a problem, since it requires a minimum of a 20km drive between terminals. What other airport has that? Seriously, please, name one airport. As far as why I didn't go with Uber, I opened the Uber app, but it said there were no cars available. And I've acknowledged that this was largely my fault...

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Tim Dunn Diamond

I have to commend you, Ben, for being willing to share what was clearly not one of your finest travel moments. Glad it all worked out.

11
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Tom -- I'm not "taking down the whole city?"

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