Forget the immigration line-ups and inevitable jet-lag – here are some top attractions at the new Muscat International Airport that will have you flying high during your next layover.
We’ve all been there: you’ve just flown into an airport on layover and your next flight is a mind-numbing 10 hours away. For most – and by most, we mean those travelling in Economy – this would mean lying back on the wafer-thin cushioned seat and… well… catching up on lost sleep.
But, today, we aren’t talking about an average run-of-the-mill airport – we’re focusing on the new Muscat International Airport.
And, let’s be clear here: it’s designed with you – the avid layover-specialist – in mind.
It’d be a shame if you slept through it and didn’t explore the many fun activities that you could partake in while you’re waiting to board your next flight.
Pfft! Long layover? We say, bring it on.
No, we’re not pulling fast ones on you. If you’re up for it, you can head to the gym in the recreational area for a spot of cardio, and then top it off with a few hours by the pool. The Aerotel – a transit hotel –which is located at Level 5 in the Departures arena (behind the security checkpoint and immigration counters) is the place you’re looking for. It’s possible to avail yourself of these facilities without booking a room at the hotel but additional fees may apply. Either way, this should prepare you for the long journey that lies ahead of you.
Spoiler alert: if you haven’t been to the new airport yet, you’ll be in for a wild surprise when you walk into the Muscat Duty Free outlets. It’s the ultimate spot for window-shopping (unless you’re open to buying exclusive watches worth thousands of Riyals), and it offers everything from chocolates and sparkling beverages, to electronics and toys. The experience begins when you walk into the ‘Departures’ area after your security check. Our personal favourite must be the electronics store, which offers everything from ear- and headphones, speakers, smartphones, hard disks, and much more. All that, and it’s all at remarkably low prices.
3) Binge-watch videos on Netflix or YouTube
The 21st Century marvel: Wi-Fi and a smartphone should help ease your nerves a bit. The new airport’s ‘Muscat Airport WiFi’ is free for everyone, and should provide you with super-fast wireless Internet. You can always use this to browse through your social media, or better, binge-watch your favourite Netflix shows.
Note: If you can´t receive an SMS with a code, passengers can approach one of the two information desks located on the left and right sides of the central Duty Free (where they sell perfumes) and they’ll issue you a ticket with a code.
4) Get a massage
Ease your stress with a relaxing massage. There are walk-in-massage services in the West Pier (near the C-Gates) that’ll take care of your needs. But if you’re an Oman Air business- or first-class passenger, you can enter the Oman Air Lounge. This is a truly magnificent space for those looking to enjoy some quiet time. The lounge offers you relaxing long chairs, which you can separate with curtains or even a small suite with a sofa to lay down on. It also includes a spa-area upstairs – which should open its doors soon. Needless to say, after a long, relaxing evening, you really won’t care if you’re sitting at the aisle or the window.
5) Grab a bite (or two) to eat
There are several eateries for you to choose from. Your only concern would be to keep track of your flight timings. Moreover, you needn’t be taking a layover to enjoy these services; they are available to all. Our favourites are the Tickerdaze and McDonalds – both offer a great view of the airside and have tables located directly in front of the windows. Other outlets include a Noor – which is famous for its Arabic food; Kahwaji; Tim Hortons, Mazoon Café, Caribou Coffee, and Nero among many others.
Note: People are not allowed to sleep in the central Departures area. The airport has removed the soft-cushioned seats to stop people from sleeping there. However, you can find resting zones at the end of each pier with comfortable seats wherein you can stretch your legs. The airport staff has been instructed to wake up people sleeping on the floors or any other seats in the terminal area. You can also find closed “lounges” in every Pier (marked with ‘reading a book’ signs), that can provide a quiet environment with sofas and chairs to read and relax.