Jeddah Airport - General Information
We will mention here procedures for those pilgrims that will be arriving by air into Jeddah. Many pilgrims arrive by ship or some pilgrims go directly to Madinah. The procedures for them are marginally different.
Jeddah IS NOT a meqaat. Only the residents of Jeddah can adopt their Ihraams from their homes in Jeddah.
There is no air transport between Jeddah and Makkah. Madinah has its own airport and you are able to go there by aeroplane. Over the last few years some flights go directly at Madinah. If you can be on one of these flights, that will be great as you can save plenty of bags of patience not mentioning time.
Jeddah's King Abdul Aziz International Airport has three terminals:
1. Saudi Arabian Airlines Terminal;
2. Foreign Airlines Terminal (about 15min by car from the Saudia terminal);
3. Hajj Terminal (located next to the Foreign Airlines Terminal).
The Hajj terminal is known as "Tent City". It is constructed with huge tent-like structures.
The customs at all three terminals are extremely strict and thorough. Be prepared to have all your bags unpacked and checked with a fine tooth comb. (Unlock all your suitcases before you arrive at the customs desk.)
This is where you need to produce the two cheques you were required to have to obtain your visa. One is for the Mutawwif office and one is for the United Agents Office (bus coupons).
All three terminals have restaurants (expensive), bathrooms, showers, toilets, telephones and salah facilities.
Now is the time to “cash in” the rest of your patience that you have “saved”. When you arrive, you may be tired and exhausted and in a hurry to get to Makkah. Keep in mind that the authorities have to process visas for thousands of pilgrims like you in one day. It will take time as you may expect.
Meanwhile, sit, relax, read Qur'an, and make Dhikr, Tasbeeh, Istighfaar, and recite the Talbiyah. There is no hurry. Also, try to extend your help to others.
There are delays of all kinds. There is no specified time as to how long it will take from the time you land until the time you depart for either Makkah or Madinah. It could take from 1 to 12 hours or more.
If you are fortunate to arrive as early as Shawaal then you may not be processed at the Hajj terminal. After about the first week into Dhul-Qada, all pilgrims are processed via the Hajj terminal, even if you arrive on a non-Hajj scheduled flight. All pilgrims will be requested to stay on board the aircraft after landing at the appropriate terminal. All other passengers will disembark and you will then be taken to the Hajj terminal.
Change your money into riyals at the airport. Calculate how much you require and change as much as you can. Queuing in banks later on is not much fun and the time could be better spent in Ibadah.
Unfortunately and sadly, I need to mention that there are pickpockets during Hajj. So, like any other trip you need to take care of your money. Do not be careless because you are on Hajj. Buy yourself a good money belt. Good belts (canvas type) are available in Makkah and Madinah.
When you change your money, obtain some small denominations (e.g., 1 & 5 riyals). These are extremely useful when buying small items (such as drinks) when the shops are very crowded. This way you do not have to wait for change.
Take your luggage and settle down in a good spot. The Hajj terminal is huge and comfortable in its own way.
There are also banks for cashing your cheques and obtaining sacrificial vouchers. Check with your agent if they provide the sacrificial service and compare their price to that of the banks. The bank’s price is normally higher as it includes the slaughtering, cleaning, packaging and the transportation of the meat to the Muslim countries in need.
If you are going to Madinah first, the bus will depart from this terminal once it is full. You should use your bus coupons for this journey. If you plan to go by aeroplane then you will have to go to the Saudia terminal. The authorities will make the transfer arrangements for you.
Some pilgrims plan to travel to other countries after or before Hajj and thus may have two passports (different countries/nationalities) with them. Be aware that to enter Saudi Arabia with two valid passports in your possession is illegal. If you are at the Hajj terminal, normally, no friends or family will be able to meet you, as they are not allowed to enter this terminal.
If you arrive a few days (5 or less) before Hajj, there is a very high probability that the authorities will not allow you to go to Madinah first. This is regardless of what bookings or tickets you hold. Normally all pilgrims from abroad must be in the Kingdom before the 5th of Dhul-Hijja. So plan carefully.
If you arrive during the peak arrival time (1 to 2 weeks before Hajj), there is a high probability that you will not be able to leave the Hajj terminal to go to Madinah by aeroplane, even if you have the tickets. They will put you on a bus, which in actual fact is easier and more practical.
This is another reason why we suggest that you purchase your Madinah air tickets separate from all your other tickets. This way you can get it refunded if you do not use it. If the ticket is part of an excursion or special fare ticket, you may have difficulty in obtaining a refund.