New Bahrain Airport Terminal: What A Nifty Hub!

New Bahrain Airport Terminal: What A Nifty Hub!

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While transiting Bahrain on Gulf Air during my current review trip, I finally had the chance to check out Bahrain’s impressive new airport terminal. While the terminal started to open in 2021, it was officially inaugurated in mid-2022.

This might just be one of the most efficient and functionally designed hub terminals I’ve ever seen. Admittedly Gulf Air is quite a small airline, so the airport isn’t on the same scale as what you’d find in Doha or Dubai. Let me share some of the basics of the new terminal, and then I’ll talk about some of the things that stood out to me.

Basics of Bahrain Airport’s new terminal

In 2016, Bahrain started construction on its new $1.1 billion airport terminal, and the project ended up taking around five years to complete.

In reality, this is more than a new terminal — from a passenger experience standpoint, it’s basically a new airport. That’s because the airport has completely transitioned from using the old terminal to using the new terminal (that’s different than Panama City, for example, where the new terminal complements the old terminal). In other words, for passengers the new terminal is the entire airport.

The new terminal is around 207,000 square meters (~2.2 million square feet), roughly four times the size of the previous terminal. It’s designed to accommodate up to 14 million passengers per year, though it’s nowhere close to being at capacity yet. For example, in 2023, the airport is hoping to serve nine million passengers, only around 65% of the potential capacity.

Bahrain Airport features a total of 12 gates with direct access to the terminal, in addition to some remote gates (though they’re not used much right now, since the airport isn’t at capacity).

Bahrain Airport has beautiful architecture

The Bahrain Airport terminal is mesmerizing, plain and simple. I couldn’t help but look up the entire time, as the ceiling has a unique wave-like pattern.

Bahrain Airport architecture
Bahrain Airport architecture
Bahrain Airport architecture

Bahrain Airport feels like a mini-hub

Bahrain Airport definitely feels like it’s designed to accommodate transit passengers, but on a much smaller scale than other hubs in the Middle East. Arriving flights let off on the lower level, and then you take the escalator up to transit security. There’s a separate transit security line for premium passengers, by the way.

Bahrain Airport transit security

Once through security, there’s a central “boulevard” with a bunch of high-end duty free shops.

Bahrain Airport duty free shops

Once past that, the center of the terminal is a circular atrium, with a massive screen displaying images of Bahrain, ads, and more.

Bahrain Airport terminal center
Bahrain Airport terminal center
Bahrain Airport terminal center

Once you’re past that, you can either turn left or right. Gates 11-15 are to the left, while gates 16-22 are to the right. You really can’t get lost here, and you’re also not going to have to walk that far to get anywhere.

Bahrain Airport gate signage

These terminal “wings” have incredibly high ceilings. There are moving walkways throughout these areas, to cut walking time even further.

Bahrain Airport terminal concourse
Bahrain Airport terminal concourse
Bahrain Airport terminal concourse
Bahrain Airport terminal concourse
Bahrain Airport terminal gates

Bahrain Airport passenger experience highs & lows

As far as the passenger experience goes, there were several things that really impressed me, and one thing that didn’t.

This might just be one of the most kid friendly airports in the world, as the center of the terminal has a huge play area for kids on the lower level. As you can see, this is in a glass enclosure, since the lower level is otherwise used for arrivals.

Bahrain Airport terminal kids play area
Bahrain Airport terminal kids play area

Next, Bahrain Airport might just have the nicest, cleanest public airport bathrooms I’ve ever seen. I actually found the public restrooms to be nicer than the ones in the Gulf Air Lounge.

Bahrain Airport terminal bathroom
Bahrain Airport terminal bathroom
Bahrain Airport terminal bathroom
Bahrain Airport terminal bathroom

Next, I liked the variety of seating options in the gate area, as there was something for just about everyone. From traditional gate area seating, to high-top communal tables, to reclined seats, to couches, there were plenty of spaces for people to get comfortable.

Bahrain Airport terminal seating
Bahrain Airport terminal seating
Bahrain Airport terminal seating
Bahrain Airport terminal seating
Bahrain Airport terminal seating

I feel like so much thought was put into the passenger experience when designing the terminal, with one major catch — power outlets. There are virtually no power outlets anywhere in the terminal. It’s not just that there isn’t one at every seat, but there aren’t even central charging areas where you can plug your phone in. That seems like a major oversight for an airport designed this recently.

Bahrain Airport’s lounges and hotel

What’s the lounge situation like at Bahrain Airport? First there’s the Gulf Air Lounge, which I’ll be reviewing soon. As you’d expect, that’s the busiest lounge, since Gulf Air offers the most capacity to the airport.

Gulf Air Lounge Bahrain Airport

On top of that, there’s the Pearl Lounge, which is the contract lounge used by other airlines. Rather bizarrely, the lounge doesn’t belong to Priority Pass. I can’t make sense of that, because I have a hard time imagining the lounge gets busy, with how few other non-Gulf Air premium passengers there are at the airport.

Pearl Lounge Bahrain Airport

Perhaps most exciting for an airport of this size is that it has an in-terminal hotel. The hotel has proper hotel rooms, sleeping pods, a spa area, a gym, and more. That’s really convenient if you end up with a long layover, or face irregular operations.

Bahrain Airport Hotel

Best of all, the sleeping pods and spa belong to Priority Pass, so you can either enjoy a three hour nap in a pod or a 30-minute massage courtesy of Priority Pass. I’ll be reviewing both of those experiences when I publish the trip report.

Bahrain Airport’s dining & shopping are “meh”

While this isn’t something I personally care all that much about, I’d say that the duty free shopping and food & beverage outlets weren’t particularly impressive. I suppose that’s not too surprising since this isn’t that big of a transit hub.

The central part of the terminal has one main walkway that has all the high-end duty free shops.

Bahrain Airport terminal duty free shops

There was also a pharmacy, which is in my opinion something we don’t see nearly often enough at airports.

Bahrain Airport terminal pharmacy

Then there’s a “souq” selling mostly local items.

Bahrain Airport terminal souq

As far as food & beverage outlets go, there was a central food court (“Food Garden”), a Jamie Oliver restaurant, a deli, and a pizzeria. That was more or less it. Coffee shops were oddly limited.

Bahrain Airport terminal dining
Bahrain Airport terminal dining

Bottom line

I was very impressed by Bahrain Airport’s new terminal. There’s something to be said for Gulf hubs like Bahrain and Muscat, which offer an excellent passenger experience that’s not quite to the scale of Doha or Dubai.

Bahrain Airport manages to have all the amenities you’d expect from a hub, while still feeling more like a secondary airport in terms of size and approachability. The airport offers a great passenger experience for all, and even has two lounges and an in-airport hotel. I’d transit through here again in a heartbeat.

If you’ve visited the new Bahrain Airport terminal, what did you think?

Conversations (23)
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  1. JohnHam Member

    Pharmacy Pic. You should link to your Dr. OMaaT post

  2. Mehran khan Guest

    I like Bahrain airport l love Bahrain king

  3. Abdirahman Guest

    It is one of my best and favourite airport. It normally takes 15 minutes from the gate of the plane to exit gate. Immigration officers are professional and friendly.

  4. Engin Akkus Guest

    Ich habe den elektrischen Supervisor
    ( BMS ) für dieses schöne Projekt gebaut, das für mich in der Mitte steht, wenn ich frühere internationale Projekte Vergleiche Architektur war schön .

  5. Gopal k kurup (Dj Gopz) Guest

    Yes..its been constructed looking at all aspects, design wise, architechral wise and above all keeping the Culture intact. The Giant LED screen on the existing control tower..is the center of attraction. It should be used for all marketing activities & any other events to be telecasted live if it happens in Kingdom. Finally a big round of applause to the people worked for it...yes Job well done..

  6. Irfanullah khan Guest

    It was my son wedding in pakistan I travel with gulf air from London uk I thanks to bahrain authority and government of bahrain to built this amazing airport the structure the look and beauty of this airport amazing the mousques the shops resturent and the glass building of the airport can see runway and the hotel inside very good once again thank you very the bahrain government to built this airport this was my first visit on this airport

  7. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Looking at the photos there seems to be a distinct lack of charging stations/opportunities.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Reading isn't for everyone, but you should try it.

      You might out even more than you do just by looking at the pretty pictures.

  8. THE jetSetter Guest

    I was in BAH in November and spent time in this lovely new terminal and there are a few things you missed in your article:

    First - the old Control Tower was preserved from the original terminal, it's located just above the kids play area. Look up through the ceiling above the giant LED screens. If you fly out at night, you'll miss this and/or not realize it's there.

    Second - the airport has TWO...

    I was in BAH in November and spent time in this lovely new terminal and there are a few things you missed in your article:

    First - the old Control Tower was preserved from the original terminal, it's located just above the kids play area. Look up through the ceiling above the giant LED screens. If you fly out at night, you'll miss this and/or not realize it's there.

    Second - the airport has TWO outdoor spaces, symmetrically located about two or three gates away from the center of the terminal, just above the gates. Each space is a fresh air bar/cafe with great views of the airport (but partially obstructed because it's flanked on both sides by terminal exterior). Look for the signs, it's open to everyone. I was there during both daytime and nighttime trips and even though it's hot and sunny during daylight, there are sunshades to keep it cool there.

    Lastly, the Pearl Lounge is spectacular. The F&B options were very, very good and there were many "stations" within the lounge - including a wood-fire pizza one (it was closed when I was there for my 01:55am departure). Walk around and there is good food for everyone. The lounge can get quite busy depending on the time of day you're there - I had access to it flying in business class on Turkish Airlines. It's not just for GF passengers.

    The shops might be high end, but check out the local crafts and local goods for sale in the 'souk' which is just by the base of the escalators for the Pearl Lounge. Best place to buy local and authentic items if you don't want to hit up the luxury global-branded shops.

  9. Rich Jacobson Guest

    I transited through Bahrain on 1 January returning from Delhi to Israel. The airport, as Ben writes is architecturally outstanding. In my opinion, it's the best new airport in the world, large or small. Great place for transiting. I spent an afternoon in Manama on the way to Delhi and enjoyed the city immensely.

  10. kik Guest

    what do you think about the wifi log settings in the ME? They always ask for a phone number to receive a text message but that is not the case in most EU or UK airports. Sometimes I don't receive sms when I have a number from EU while in ME, not because my sim doesn't get smss but because their system is not good enough to send sms to foreign numbers. Usually, this is...

    what do you think about the wifi log settings in the ME? They always ask for a phone number to receive a text message but that is not the case in most EU or UK airports. Sometimes I don't receive sms when I have a number from EU while in ME, not because my sim doesn't get smss but because their system is not good enough to send sms to foreign numbers. Usually, this is because ME countries are police states, so they like to keep track of everyone, but I know it is not the security risk as european airports are more secure yet offer free wifi without a sim card etc.

  11. Sam Guest

    Complete agreement about pharmacies Ben. They should be in most major airports.

  12. PT Guest

    That ceiling pattern (in fact the entire hall) reminds me of the old HKG Terminal 2 shopping mall.

  13. NycAlex Member

    12 gates seems crazy. USA has small city airports with 12 gates. As much flak as American airports get, I’ve never once been on a remote stand and yet it seems to happen half the time I go other countries. Two weeks ago I had to stand on a bus in Venice in the cold for 45 minutes at the “gate”.

    1. pstm91 Diamond

      Plenty of remote stands here in the US. Sounds like you never got to experience the "joy" of a regional connection at PHL.

    2. Never In Doubt Guest

      Remote stands for "big" jets are a constant hassle at non-US airports.

      I expect them, and when I happen to get a jetway I feel lucky!

    3. Weymar Osborne Gold

      Agreed. Heck, even my local airport, Dayton, Ohio, has 24 gates (granted, not widebody ones) and we handle less than 1.5 million pax per year.

  14. AaronP Guest

    I'm going in March for the Formula 1 race. Is there a OneWorld lounge???

  15. BAHflyer Guest

    BAH is my home airport and I can tell you the new terminal is leaps and bounds better than the old terminal (which, for all its faults, had a certain charm). The separate first/business class check-in area at the far left of the terminal is particularly nice — I made it from curbside to the Pearl Lounge in under 10 minutes.

  16. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    Meanwhile, Doha Airport: much like Jurassic Park, minus the dinosaurs, plus long queues at transit, and with even worse WiFi.

    1. bruh Guest

      I genuinely think the Wi-Fi at DOH is one of the best public airport networks I have had outside of the US/Canada. WiFi had reasonable speeds and I was able to get an online upgrade done over the internet while on the Doha wifi. The crowds are a valid point, yes, and its funny at times when they just let you through the transit security and not really have a thorough screening, but I genuinely...

      I genuinely think the Wi-Fi at DOH is one of the best public airport networks I have had outside of the US/Canada. WiFi had reasonable speeds and I was able to get an online upgrade done over the internet while on the Doha wifi. The crowds are a valid point, yes, and its funny at times when they just let you through the transit security and not really have a thorough screening, but I genuinely think DOH is doing a good job in terms of passenger transit. The WiFi in DXB was absolutely bonkers the last time I transited and was an absolute madhouse.

    2. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

      Hmm, when did you transit? The WiFi did not work at all (in the lounge or the rest of the terminal) when transiting in 2019 or 2022, and was fine but not fast in 2017.

  17. Richmond_Surrey Guest

    Looks much better than the old one, which wasn't too big. I did fly to Oman on Gulf Air and I found their plane and service quite good.

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THE jetSetter Guest

I was in BAH in November and spent time in this lovely new terminal and there are a few things you missed in your article: First - the old Control Tower was preserved from the original terminal, it's located just above the kids play area. Look up through the ceiling above the giant LED screens. If you fly out at night, you'll miss this and/or not realize it's there. Second - the airport has TWO outdoor spaces, symmetrically located about two or three gates away from the center of the terminal, just above the gates. Each space is a fresh air bar/cafe with great views of the airport (but partially obstructed because it's flanked on both sides by terminal exterior). Look for the signs, it's open to everyone. I was there during both daytime and nighttime trips and even though it's hot and sunny during daylight, there are sunshades to keep it cool there. Lastly, the Pearl Lounge is spectacular. The F&B options were very, very good and there were many "stations" within the lounge - including a wood-fire pizza one (it was closed when I was there for my 01:55am departure). Walk around and there is good food for everyone. The lounge can get quite busy depending on the time of day you're there - I had access to it flying in business class on Turkish Airlines. It's not just for GF passengers. The shops might be high end, but check out the local crafts and local goods for sale in the 'souk' which is just by the base of the escalators for the Pearl Lounge. Best place to buy local and authentic items if you don't want to hit up the luxury global-branded shops.

6
Never In Doubt Guest

Reading isn't for everyone, but you should try it. You might out even more than you do just by looking at the pretty pictures.

4
Sam Guest

Complete agreement about pharmacies Ben. They should be in most major airports.

4
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