We left our house near Richmond Virginia at 4:00 p.m. and got to Dulles Airport in good time and with surprising little traffic. Found long term parking and hopped the shuttle to the international terminal.
Our tickets identified our airline as American operated by Etihad. There was very little American involved. By the time the Etihad counter opened there were probably more than a hundred people in line to check in, fortunately we were near the front.
Dulles was originally designed so no traveler would have to walk more than a few hundred yards. Unfortunately, that is no longer true. Next was security, which was a walk but easy and fast. Dulles has the full- body scanner for adults. They have a simple walk-through metal detector for children, which I thought was interesting. More walking to find the trolley which has very few seats. Once we located the gate, we doubled back to a restaurant for drinks and dinner.
We boarded the plane at 9:55 p.m. and passed through Business Class on our way to steerage. Our seats were the last in the section, backed up to a wall, and next to the bathroom. Etihad is not generous with space. We had about two feet between our foreheads and the seats in front of us.
For the next 13 hours, I tried to find a comfortable position to sleep. This never happened, although I did catch a few naps due to sheer exhaustion. The flight staff was very nice and accommodating. In fact they seemed to take it personally when you turned something down. Our fellow travelers were extremely mellow and while we had the requisite screaming babies, they only fussed for takeoff and landing. I have no room complain, having subject my fellow travelers to my screaming children many years ago.
Even with the frequent feedings, movies, television shows, and plentiful bathrooms, thirteen hours is a long time on a plane. I felt fidgety and stiff. Before we touched down in Abu Dhabi an announcement reminded us we are in Ramadan and there would be no food available in the terminal until sunset.
We were nervous about the transfer in Abu Dhabi to our flight to Kuwait, but no need. Other than another long walk, all went well. We boarded the next flight which was on time. Again great service from the Etihad flight staff. The plane wasn’t full so we could spread out a bit for the two hour flight.
Our hosts arranged for a service at the Kuwait Airport that picked up us at the gate and shepherded us through the passport and visa processes. I strongly recommend this to anyone traveling to the Middle East for the first time. Our guide took our passports and led us to the first stop, a big shiny room where our guide obtained our visas at a desk that looked a lot like a DMV counter. Then we lined up to get our photos and fingerprints taken. This uber ID requirement has been on the books for a while but apparently a new airport manager just started to enforce it. This was the longest wait we had on the trip. Despite two stations, there was only one technician and each traveler took about 5 minutes to process. We were lucky to be at the head of the line. Apparently this identification process can take up to four hours on a busy day.
We went back to the counter to get our passports stamped then were finally set free to claim our luggage. This was the point at which we were united with our host who drove us to his home in Jabriya where we were welcomed with fresh fruit, vegies, and hummus dip. Delicious!
Despite the length of the trip, I really can’t complain. We were treated with respect and a varying degree of efficiency at each juncture. My big question is, how do the disabled, elderly, and people with children do this! There was one woman with three small children, one of whom was a babe in arms. The walking, waiting, standing, and prolonged sitting involved in a trip from Dulles to Kuwait are substantial. I was physically and mentally DONE by the time I finally got to my destination. The second thing that struck me was how patient everyone was. Good heavens, don’t you people realize what a pain this is? Shouldn’t we all be grumpy and whining?! My fellow travelers shamed me into behaving myself, especially the children.
That’s it for now, because while my body has no idea what time it is, it knows it needs a nap.
Thank you for visiting.
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