Flight 6J707 to Mogadishu
Getting to Hargeisa was long and tiring, but now that I’ve arrived safely, I can look back on my journey and have a good laugh. Let me tell you a little story about Dubai Airport Terminal 2.
Most people probably have an image of Dubai International Airport as being world-class – think luxury shopping, fine dining, and five-star hotels and health clubs within the airport. Indeed this is the case – for Terminals 1 and 3,where most people pass through.
But Terminal 2 is another story. It’s like the poor cousin of Dubai Airport. This podunk terminal (separated from the other terminals by a 15 minute taxi ride) is used mostly by small, “fly by night” airlines serving, well, shit destinations – Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and the like.
The departures board, rather than inspiring fantasies of exotic vacations to be taken, is reminiscent of the nightly news war reportage circa 2003. Half of the destinations listed are places you’ve never even heard of – where on earth is Ekaterinburg? Or Basram? Or Ashgabat? Do they have beaches there?
With a long wait ahead of me, I sat down for a coffee at Starbucks (the only retail establishment before check-in) and found myself surrounded by rough looking middle-aged red necks sporting military issue backpacks and Mississippi drawls. I got to chatting with them and discovered that they were all military contractors or workers on oil rigs and they were off to Kabul or Baghdad for work.
Everyone else in the airport appeared to be Indian or Pakistani or Iraqi or Somali, probably migrant workers, laden down with seven bulging sacks held together with duct tape and string, returning to their respective countries on airlines that may no longer be in operation by the time you read this blog post. (In a spontaneous act of kindness, I did give three safety pins to a man whose overstuffed backpack had burst.)
I became slightly nervous when my 6:00am flight to Berbera (Somaliland) on Jubba Airways did not appear on the departure board; the only Jubba flight showing was a 6:30am flight to Mogadishu (Somalia). I was warned that the airline is not the most reliable and has been known to change its flight times and even destinations at a whim. Jubba’s motto is “The Happy Way to Fly.” I was not going to be a happy camper if my flight was landing in Mogadishu (war zone) instead of Berbera (peaceful democratic enclave). Of course, it did stop in Berbera (on the way to Mogadishu) and I made very sure to get off at Berbera.
I later met a co-worker who was on the same flight. She had lived in Dubai for 14 years and had never even known that Terminal 2 existed. It seems to be the black hole where all the obscure airlines flying to “bad” destinations are relegated to.