I read in the papers sometime last month that the management of Dubai’s newest airport, Terminal 3, will be conducting a trial and will need volunteers to act as passengers. Volunteers need to be either a national of the UAE or those on resident visas. So Masood and I applied online, and got accepted. We went to the airport yesterday morning at 10:30 am with our passports and printout of the email.
First off, we received a pink folder, which included a blue “Proud To Be A T3 Trial Passenger” badge, pen, a welcome note and introduction, a script for the departure process, a script for the arrival process, two feedback forms, two e-tickets, and a visa to Damascus. Oh, and we were instructed to get 2 bags as our luggage.
The airport was HUGE, very new (of course) and modern, and very beautiful. It was extremely tempting to get a few quick photos, but the instructions were very clear. However, I spotted a few parents discreetly handing over their phones to the children, while the little ones took photos.
Outside the departure area were loads of old and worn out suitcases and bags. We picked out two somewhat decent looking, not so old bags, and placed them on our trolley. Then we proceeded to the check in counter. I was Michael Kaleena and Masood was Adams something. The lady asked for our passports, checked in our bags, and gave us our boarding passes. She also wished us a safe and pleasant journey.
There was this Caucasian guy, who apparently didn’t want to load the heavy suitcases on his trolley, so he picked up smaller-sized bags. When he approached the counter to check in the bags, the lady accepted the slightly bigger bag and told him that he could hand carry the smaller one. Poor guy. We saw him hand carry that worn out, dirty, old hand bag all over the massive airport.
While we waited for our pretend flight, lunch was served: garden salad, a cup of yogurt, chicken tikka, chicken biryani, fruits, and a can of soft drink. Food was really, really good.
There was too much walking involved in this new airport. It was MASSIVE. It was, however, nice to notice that the management has conveniently arranged for several restrooms, electric cars for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant women, prayer rooms, and customer service desks. The directions within the airport were clear, and passengers could easily find their way around. Security was impressive. There were two ambulances on stand-by outside the building.
Upon our supposed arrival from the Damascus flight, we went through immigration, collection of luggage, and security check. I saw one security personnel open up a suitcase and examine the contents. I realize that the management has randomly placed certain stuff in some suitcases/bags, and therefore the security were screening our dummy bags quite strictly. They were being tested too.
We then filled out the feedback forms, and headed towards the exit gates. There was a huge crowd gathered at the exit, apparently collecting the free goodies from the airport staff. These free gifts would be awesome because it would always remind us of this unique experience, so we joined the crowd.
Not everyone was pleased with this commotion though. The man with a British accent behind me felt agitated with the crowd, and made his point clear as he spoke over the phone in a rather uncomfortably loud voice, “The trial is over, but I’m stuck here in the massive heave of humanity trying to get the free bag of goodies.” Then after the call, we heard him tell his female companion (who remained quiet throughout all this), “I wanted to say something harsh, but I don’t want to take the risk.” Heads turned to look at him. It wasn’t like he was FORCED to be there with the crowd. He could’ve taken the other exit. But no, he stayed there with the rest of us, and picked up his free bag of goodies before leaving the airport!
On our way out, we were given a bottle of chilled energy drink, which absolutely felt good at the moment!
Here are the gifts we received yesterday…