During my current wild review trip, I had the chance to check out Jeddah Airport Terminal 1. This is Jeddah Airport’s new terminal that started to open in 2019, and it represents a massive upgrade for the airport. It’s amazing how many airports in the Gulf region have gotten new major terminals in recent years, so I always like to share my thoughts on them when I pass through them…
In this post:
The basics of Jeddah Airport Terminal 1
Terminal 1 at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) is the airport’s new primary terminal. It’s massive — it has a floor area of 810,000 square meters (8.7 million square feet), and it’s roughly a mile from the check-in area to the furthest gates. The new terminal is home to Saudia, and to most (but not all) international airlines.
Jeddah Terminal 1 handles both international and domestic flights, and has 46 gates, with 84 boarding gates, as many gates have two sets of jet bridges (with gate numbers having an “A” or “B”). Because of the number of jet bridges, that also means a vast majority of flights use gates rather than remote stands, which is awesome.
The terminal has the capacity to handle around 30 million passengers per year, which covers most (but not all) of the airport’s traffic.
Jeddah Airport Terminal 1 layout & design
Below you can see the map of Jeddah Airport Terminal 1. I don’t know how you want to describe the design, but it’s almost like there’s a boomerang on each end connected by a central corridor, with international flights being on one side, and domestic flights being on the other side.
There’s no denying that the design and architecture of Jeddah Airport is gorgeous, as you’d expect for a new terminal. This is true in both the check-in area, and airside.
Once you clear security and immigration, it is quite a distance to the international part of the terminal, and you can either take the train system, or you can walk, if you prefer.
The terminal has consistent architecture and design, with moving sidewalks in both directions. The building certainly feels grand, with high ceilings and some cool design elements (in particular, the support beams).
In the international portion of the terminal, there’s one central, circular area, which is where most of the shopping and dining is. From there, you can go in one of three directions to the terminal’s gates.
Jeddah Airport Terminal 1 amenities & features
While Jeddah Airport Terminal 1 has beautiful architecture, don’t expect it to have quite as many frills as Singapore Changi or Doha Hamad, for example.
The only real standout feature is that Terminal 1 has the world’s largest airport aquarium. However, this is in the international arrivals hall, so it’s not something that departing passengers will see.
Both the duty free shopping and dining at the airport are a bit pared back compared to somewhere like Doha Hamad Airport, where the shopping selection may make you feel like you’re on Rodeo Drive. Dining options were rather basic, and included things like Sbarro, Smashburger, etc.
While gate areas had plenty of seating, there wasn’t much in the way of seating variety, and there weren’t many power outlets in the gate areas.
What I found surprising is that the Wi-Fi in the terminal wasn’t working. I had asked at the information desk about this, and was told it was down due to “technical malfunction.” That’s ridiculous at an international airport.
During my time in the terminal, I had two sets of people come up to me and just hand me their phones without saying anything, presumably because they wanted me to help connect them to Wi-Fi, since that’s something many people rely on. Talk about an airport not being able to get the basics right. Hopefully that was just a very temporary outage.
As far as lounges go, the international part of the terminal has just two lounges — there’s the Saudia Lounge (for Saudia and partners), and there’s the Wellcome Lounge (for all other airlines and Priority Pass). I could only use the latter, and it was pretty no frills.
I appreciate how the terminal has an Aerotel, which is supposed to be a full service transit hotel. That’s a terminal feature that I find to be quite useful, since you can’t beat something like this for an extended layover.
Unfortunately this has to be one of the crappiest airside transit hotels I’ve ever stayed at. While the “bones” are good, it seems that no thought went into the design of this otherwise. For example, Aerotel doesn’t have Wi-Fi in the rooms, but rather only in public spaces. I’m not sure if this is for moral reasons, an oversight, or what?!
As an additional example, when you’re in the guest room corridor, the sign to reception and restaurants points toward a door…
…but when you get to the door, there’s no handle, and no practical way to open it. For how long has the handle been missing, and why does no one care to fix it?
Terminal 1 represents a huge improvement for Jeddah Airport, as the airport is completely unrecognizable compared to the old setup. The new terminal is large, has great architecture, and has lots of gates, so remote stands are rarely needed. The terminal also has a transit hotel, lounges, and an aquarium in the arrivals hall.
Aside from that, though, don’t expect this to be the most luxurious connecting hub in the region. That’s ultimately perfectly logical, given the crowd that Jeddah gets, which includes a lot of pilgrims. I imagine Riyadh’s new mega-airport will be a lot higher end. The only major complaint I had about the terminal was the lack of Wi-Fi, though I’m not sure for how long that issue has been there.
What do you make of Jeddah Airport Terminal 1?