Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Unexpected difficulty in connecting a flight

I had to travel to Jeddah for a board meeting. My travel agent booked a ticket from Singapore on Riyadh on Singapore Airlines to be connected to a domestic flight from Riyadh to Jeddah. This was a mistake.

When I checked-in at Singapore, I was told that I had to collect my luggage at Riyadh and re-checked in for the domestic flight. There was no arrangement to check through the domestic flight - due probably to the need for custom clearance.

The domestic terminal turned out to be several hundred meters from the international terminal and there was no ground transport. It was a long, never ending walk.

The signage at the domestic terminal was poor. There were many passengers waiting outside for the doors to open. I learned later that all the staff were on prayer and that terminal was temporarily closed. No one was there to tell an unfamiliar traveller like me.

I went through the security clearance into a hall to look for the check in counter. I learned later that it was the departure hall. The security guard allowed me through without a ticket. Later, I had to leave the departure hall to look for the check-in counter, which was "outside". There was a long queue at the check-in counter and the plane was departing soon. I finally managed to get into the plane just on time. It was stressful.

I though that, with this experience, the connection on the returned journey would be troublesome, but not unexpected. I faced some new unexpected problems, but I shall not relate them.

I learned later, that the travel agent could have made the connection at Dubai, instead of Riyadh. As Dubai is outside of Saudi Arabia, the connection would have been at an international airport. I would have arrived at the international terminal in Riyadh.

Lesson: Never make a connection from an international flight to a domestic flight. It is better to arrive at the international terminal of your destination.


  1. Catching a domestic flight after an international flight is inevitable due to various reasons such as an international flight to that destination is not possible, cost and time constraint etc.

    Usually the international airport and domestic airport are not close to each other. Thus plenty of time has to be allowed for such transfers.

    For example:
    (1) Singapore to Seoul then Jeju.
    (2) Singapore to Zurich then Basel, just to name a few.

  2. I can understand your frustration as I had encountered similar situation before. Another lesson is that not to completely rely on the local travel agents too much as some of them are not familiar with the operation system in other airports like whether or not the luggage need to be retrieved before the connecting flight and where the domestic flight is. Yes, they could have made yr connection at Dubai. Hope you enjoy yr trip.


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