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Abu Dhabi International Airport
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrAlthough smaller and not nearly as busy as neighbouring Dubai International Airport, ADIA (as the Abu Dhabi International Airport is often referred to), is still a very popular hub and the leading stopover spot for Etihad, the UAE’s second airline after Emirates. ADIA has been in operation for over three decades and was the first four-starred airport to be built in the Middle East. There are quite a few advantages to choosing Etihad over Emirates when flying between Asia and Europe, many of which have to do with this airport.
ADIA may be smaller and quieter than its bigger sister, but that works in its favour. At the end of the day, how many shops and eateries does one need on a stopover? The airport is much quieter than Dubai’s (especially between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.) which makes it ideal for overnight transits. There are quieter places here which are almost deserted at night, so if you don’t want to cough up for a hotel room, Abu Dhabi’s airport is actually the better choice.
The airport boasts three terminals, one of which is dedicated entirely to Etihad Airlines; several of its gates can accommodate the behemoth that is the Airbus A380 . A brand new terminal and runway are being added at an astronomical cost of 270 million USD, which are set to open in September, 2017. This terminal is set to double the airport’s capacity from its current yearly intake of 12 million to over 25 million passengers.
ADIA was designed by the same architectural firm which built the Mumbai Airport and the similarities are certainly clear to those who have visited both. The sleek, undulating roof design makes it seem as if you’re landing among waves, and the interior, stark-white arches add a little charm to an otherwise minimalist structure.
- ADIA adds an estimated 3.5 billion USD to the UAE’s economy
- The new terminal and runway are set to expand capacity to 25 million passengers, with the option of doubling that if need be. An additional extension is in the pipelines, which will see ADIA handle up to 70 million travellers a year by 2030.
- The airport’s City Terminal is located in the centre of Abu Dhabi and allows passengers the convenience of checking in close to their hotel, and heading to the airport just an hour before their flying time.
- From ADIA you can fly to 85 cities worldwide via 85 international carriers.
- ADIA offers a USA Pre-clearance Facility which allows passengers travelling to the US to clear all customs proceedings here, before flying. Once at their destination they will be treated as domestic passengers, hence drastically reducing their processing time.
Visitor Information & Services
- Various information desks are spread out throughout all three terminals. Special assistance is offered to those with restricted mobility, so if you need to find a wheelchair accessible check-in counter, gate, toilette or lounge, do let them know.
- If travelling with kids, head to T1, 2nd floor, where you’ll find a fun and entertaining kids’ play area. You can also borrow a stroller (free of charge) for the duration of your transit.
- You’ll find free showers by Gate 23 and Gate 27.
- Tosa Spa is an internationally renowned luxury spa with branches in many airports, hotels, and shopping malls the world over. At ADIA they operate two branches: one in T1 which offers brief but great treatments for those on a short transit, and next to T3, where longer body treatments, massages, and facials are on offer.
- There is a free inter-terminal shuttle bus which plies the route between T1, T2, and T3; buses run every 5 minutes or so.
- If you have more than 5-6 hours transit at the airport, consider getting a 14-day transit visa and joining a city tour which is easy to organize straight at the airport. You’ll have plenty of time to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Emirates Palace and, if you have about 8 hours to spare, have fun at Ferrari World.
ATM & Currency ExchangeThere are over a dozen ATMs and currency exchange booths throughout the airport, and half a dozen bank branches where more complex transactions can be made. You can also order your foreign currencies online and pick them up here.
Airport Transfers in/from city centreThere are several ways to reach the city from here (or vice versa). If flying First or Business Class with Etihad do note that you can take advantage of a luxury chauffeured limousine transport, either to Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
- By Taxi: ADIA has recently added a brand new fleet of gorgeous Mercedes Benz Vitos outside their T1 and T3 Arrivals terminals. Outside T2 you’ll find a queue of much-less impressive Toyota Camrys, which still do the job. Air-conditioned and comfortable, some of the taxis boast female drivers for those ladies who wish to take advantage of the service.
- By Bus: express buses leave from all three terminals and will have you in the centre of town within 45 minutes, or thereabouts. Fares are only 4 AED per person, and the ride is incredibly comfortable, thanks to large seats and air-conditioning. The white and green A1 buses leave the terminals every half an hour and run 24 hours a day.
Food & RefreshmentsADIA boasts a plethora of eateries, which run the gamut from fast-food stalls to fine dining establishments. Many of these are located before passport control, so if you have friends or family members wishing to bid you farewell they can certainly tag along and join you for a bite or drink here. From McDonald's to O’Briens sandwich bar, you’ll find something to suit all tastes.
Even more joints are located airside, and the great majority are open 24 hours, for your transiting convenience. The choice of cuisines here is much more comprehensive.
ShoppingOn all three terminals you’ll find an array of shops and boutiques landside, yet where ADIA really shines, in this aspect, is after passport control. The sheer amount of designer and luxury branded outlets here is mind-boggling. If you live in Abu Dhabi and travelling abroad for a short while, consider doing your DF shopping on departure, and leave your goodies here to be picked up on your return home.
Wi-fi/Internet accessWhen it comes to convenient internet options, ADIA has the best facilities of all airports in Asia. WiFi is excellent, free and unlimited throughout the airport and, if travelling without a laptop or smartphone, you’ll find internet terminals in the departure lounges of all three terminals. Use of these is also free of charge.
Transfer LoungesAll three terminals offer supposedly ‘quiet rest areas’ with reclining chairs, however all are annoyingly close to the shopping and dining areas, which are open 24 hours a day. Great if you want to either shop or dine, not so great if you’re exhausted and just need a shut-eye. A better (and quieter) option is to head to the kid’s play areas, which are void of bright TV screens and loud-ish music.
Paid LoungesEtihad has three luxury lounges which are only accessible to passengers flying First or Business class. All others can pay a modest fee of about $ 30 USD to gain entry into one of five lounges, all offering shower facilities, rest areas, free WiFi, as well as food and beverages. You’ll find Al Rheem, Al Dhabi; Al Dana, and Al Ghazal lounges in T1, and another Al Ghazal in T2.
T3 is where you’ll find the GoSleepLounge which offers a very comfortable sleep in their mini-pods. The sleeping pods can be rented for two, six or eight hours, at a cost of $ 21 USD , $ 51 USD , and $ 61 USD respectively.
Airport HotelsThe Airport Hotel is inside T1 and offers day rates for anyone wishing to stay between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Premier Inn is accessible via the shopping complex, Skypark. For a more luxe stay, book yourself a room at either the Viceroy or Radison, which are both only 10 minutes' drive away.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Apr 09, 2015