Airports can evoke myriad emotions. You may feel sad when you see off a loved one. But if you are welcoming a guest, the anticipation of arrival can make airports an exciting place to be. Things are of course different if you are the traveller; you look forward to take-off on one hand while on the other, you dread the tediousness of formalities.
Think about it – you need to go the airport three hours in advance, stand in never-ending queues, negotiate your way with fellow travellers carrying the world with them and if god forbid, you are delayed, you race against time to reach the boarding gate. I am among those who love to travel but hate the logistics of baggage clearance, check-in and so on. The only part I enjoy is shopping at duty free!
But that was until I took up Ahlan, Dubai International Airport’s premier Concierge service for a recent trip. The exclusive and highly personalised meet and greet service – a favourite with celebrities from Bollywood - makes you look at airports in a new light.
I was first welcomed by two representatives right outside the airport. The next few minutes were magical. Taking the burden of my heavy suitcase off me, I was led to the airline counter. In a matter of minutes, my suitcase was checked in, skipping all queues and the boarding pass handed to me. This, despite me not having bothered to check in online. Such a relief!
The next stop was the luxurious Ahlan Lounge (they even offer to accompany you to duty free but for once, I was more interested in getting pampered in a lounge than add more weight to my bulging bag!). The lounge was plush. Away from the crowd and the boredom of staring into a mobile phone waiting near the boarding gates, this was a space meant for R n R before my flight took off. It offered everything – swank chairs, quiet reading spaces, books, a fantastic menu and even a spa! I immediately ordered some lovely, fluffy dimsums and soup and relaxed with a book. It seemed my holiday had begun without even taking flight!
But the spa beckoned and noting that I had enough time for a quick foot massage, walked into it. It was rejuvenating as the masseuse kneaded my feet, figuratively melting away every bit of stress. Energised, I realised it was nearing time for boarding. Once again, the friendly representative was there to escort me to my gate.
The warmth of the reception, the seamless way in which the formalities were handled and the comforting ambiance of the lounge made it the best pre-flight experience ever. I was informed similar services are available for exit as well. That is, the representatives meet the traveller at the end of the aerobridge, lead you through the arrival formalities, collect your luggage from the baggage counter, welcome you with refreshments and escort you to the car.
As a discerning traveller, you couldn’t ask for a better introduction or a warmer send off from the city that loves its luxury, could you?