Cairo International Airport (CAI)
V300 to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), economic system
Cairo’s primary airport was on town’s north-east fringe, but it surely’s now effectively and actually engulfed by the suburbs. Set 22 kilometres from downtown Cairo, the bus is a down-at-heel expertise and the metro to the airport is not anticipated to be completed for a couple of years. Take a ride-sharing automotive like Uber or Careem, or organise transfers via your tour firm. Avoid the road taxis except you actually know what you are doing. A Le Meridian lodge is positioned throughout the airport, with a swag of rivals together with a Novotel and JR Marriott close by.
Once a shabby affair notable for its feared squat bogs and voracious taxi drivers, Cairo’s newer Terminals 2 and three fall in with worldwide expectations, although the indoor date palms and lavish use of gray marble are a giveaway you are not in Europe, Toto. I’m departing from Terminal 2, which loved a much-needed, $500 million renovation in 2016.
Cairo has all the time had two queues at safety – one for males and one other for ladies and kids, which is invariably a bunfight of prams and undeclared liquids. For the primary time I can bear in mind, we’re all passing via the identical gate collectively, and it is a scrum as a result of an absence of workers to pat folks down. At one level, my passport is left sitting on prime of the bags screener whereas the enormously irate safety guard yells for a feminine officer to verify us feminine passengers. It takes 20 minutes to get via this brief queue, and everybody’s getting jumpy. There is one other, a lot quicker safety clearance after check-in, which is a breeze.
After delays on the first safety verify, it is a mad sprint to my check-in counter with Saudia airline… and into one other monumental, meandering queue with no discernible motion. At least I’m right here – the airplane cannot take off with out 100 passengers, can it? It’s one other 20 minutes to get to the counter. If solely Cairo’s famed tea boys delivered to the queue.
FOOD AND DRINK
In all, it takes 70 minutes from getting into the airport to get via safety, check-in, extra safety, after which customs, and the reward is a small flat white from the Costa chain cafe – at $6.70, it is steep by native requirements, but it surely’s an honest cup on a pleasant couch the place I can cost my cellphone. The omnipresent McDonald’s and a handful of cafes are scattered across the terminal, which is far quieter than in its halcyon pre-COVID years.
The airport has some nice souvenirs, together with present containers of Egyptian sweets emblazoned with the Pyramids of Giza (as a result of in the event you’ve bought it, flaunt it, proper?) and actually good Egyptian cotton clothes at native model Cottonil – males, fill up on their underwear. The King Tut tat is in full pressure, anticipate to pay at the very least 5 instances the road worth. I spy a brand new Wine of Egypt stand within the alcohol part, the place you might choose up an Omar Khayyam crimson or perhaps an Obelisk white for $US8. On my “gindex”, Bombay Sapphire is available in at $US22 ($30) a bottle and is in a “buy 2, get 1 free” promotion, however I’m flying into Saudi Arabia, the place alcohol is against the law, so I cross on the deal.
Allow loads of time to get to your gate. Due to all of the delays, I’ve little time to spare, which is simply as effectively, because the WI-FI right here is all the time an elusive beast. Sometimes it really works for worldwide mobiles, principally it would not. Bring a e book.
The busiest airport in Africa, Cairo has all the time been a serious hub for the area. Just enable time – and endurance – for the numerous safety checks, and all the time go for appeal or tears over anger at any disruptions.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Belinda Jackson travelled as a visitor of Alula, experiencealula.com