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Welcome To Queen Alia International Airport October 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.

Queen Alia International Airport Sign 

There is only one thing I hate about travelling.  No, its not fear of planes; its not worrying about losing my luggage; its not even the extremely heightened airport security at almost every airport in the world.  The one thing I hate about travelling is Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. 

Departing from QUALIA is not as bad as arriving.  Sadly enough, every foriegner arriving in the counrty for the very first time will no doubtedly shape a horrible impression of Jordan.

Let’s put the actual airline, Royal Jordanian, aside for a second.  I won’t go into the poor shape of the planes; the dirty seats, the broken headphone units, and the discoloured screens.  Neither will I mention the constant delays and shitty check-in and on-board service.  Let’s focus on the airport itself for now…

Firstly, as soon as you arrive and walk up to immigration, you see eight empty counters and only two operational ones.  Once they realize that the plane is full, or that another flight has just arrived, they start calling in the reserves.  So, after waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the people in the back of the line run towards to the newly opened counters leaving you stuck to wait it out.  As soon as you get to the counter, there is always some new technological security system they are implementing.  So they either take your picture with a web-cam, or they scan your fingerprints.  Mark my word, in a year or so, they’ll implement a retina scan system, realize its an absurd idea and that it malfunctions all the time, then go back to the regular finger-printing and photo-taking systems which they will have to start all over again.  Typical!

Once you pass immigration, you are greeted by another man, just by the escalator, who’s job is to check that your passport has been stamped.  Talk about hidden unemployment!  Where else in the world do they have a passport stamp-checking man who does no more than create a bottle-neck right by the single small escalator leading to baggage claim?  Completely nonsense!

Then you have the infamous QUALIA baggage claim.  Two baggage carousels dating back to the stone age.  Its either one or the other.  Many a time have I stood long enough at one carousel that clearly shows my flight number and departing city on the monitor, but for some reason, we are all moved to the other carousel.  Anyway, the carousel starts moving and the bags start falling.  Either the baggage handlers pull off all the bags as soon as they come out and pile them next to each other on the floor, or they leave the bags to fall off and sit back watching.  Either way, you’re going to have a horrible time collecting your luggage.  Pure frustration!

And finally, some hot shot at the airport came up with the brilliant idea of buying and installing three baggage X-ray machines of which only one is functioning.  So basically, once you collect your luggage, after a frustrating wait or search, and load them onto your trolley, you have to unload them once again on this X-ray machine where other travellers are coming at you with their trolleys from every direction, which creates yet another bottle neck.  Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

By the time you’re walking out of the airport, almost 45-minutes to an hour have passed whereas the whole process  could have taken 20-30 minutes.  You’re just happy to be getting into your car and heading home.  In fact you’re so happy, the 50 men running up to you asking you if you need a taxi doesn’t bother you one bit. 

Am I the only one who notices all these inefficiencies with our airport?  Do they not have intelligent, able-minded people running the airport who see these inefficiencies and work to fix them?  Isn’t it Jordan’s aim to attract as much foreign investment and tourism as possible?  Well then…you know what they say:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

QUALIA 1970s



1. Tarek J. Khotat - November 1, 2006

Totally agree with you regarding all mentioned points…perhaps in a couple of years once the new huge expansion project of QAIA is completed we shall see a different situation.

2. Caveman52 - November 1, 2006

I disagree with Tarek here, the new expansion project of QAIA is only going to make things more complicated, wait and see

3. Dave - November 2, 2006

I agree that the second Passport Checking Guy is a bit useless, especially when it takes him a good 45 seconds (or more) to find the most recent entry stamp (at least in my overloaded passport, anyway).

Also the x-ray machines that scan your baggage upon exit seem like an unnecessary step. Why couldn’t they just scan the bags as they exit the plane before they get to the carousel?

However, to give the benefit of the doubt, QAIA has become slightly more efficient than when I arrived for the first time a year and a half ago.

While quite a few of Royal Jordanian planes appear to be sub-par, I have managed on my last few flights to be on the nice, new jets. I really enjoy the private, seat-back video screens with plenty of movie and music options.

4. Bilal - November 2, 2006

The inefficiencies have nothing to do with the size of the airport. The core of the problem lies in the people running/managing the airport. QAIA needs an overhaul not an expansion!

5. Saleh - May 6, 2007

I think the purpose of the x-ray machines is to help customes find any thing that should be taxed- ie electronics. If the custome officer think that you are bringing taxable items, he will order a hand search of your bags . Get ready to pay 30%-65% between taxes and penalties and taxes on the penalties. My recomendation is to be cool and always greet customes with a smile and say someting nice, may be they will not search your bags.

6. Sana - July 28, 2007

ok.. i’m suppose to be travelling there in a few weeks.. my first time going to Jordan.. im not Jordanian and neither do I speak arabic.. so this is scaring me.

7. YEZDI - December 30, 2009

I did not find anything stupid as mentioned above. I received a grand welcome by Jordanians at the Airport. I also had a comfortable flight from Dubai to Jordan. It was an extremely homely and relaxing flight.

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