Time stands still. The Arrivals board at Baghdad's airport that has not functioned since the first Gulf War.
Air travel in and out of Baghdad has always been tenuous, but lately it’s been particularly bad. Frequent biblical sandstorms and airline maintenance/crew issues have made traveling by plane to and from Iraq’s capital truly a hit or miss venture. It’s not uncommon for travelers to wait several days before they can complete their journeys. The lucky ones are able to stay in modern hotels in Amman or Dubai waiting flights into Iraq, the damned are stranded in the skeleton of Baghdad International Airport waiting.
This makes me laugh. The Information Desk can only tell you were the bathrooms are, which is pretty obvious if you simply just follow the smell.
Getting a traveler to the Baghdad airport requires a good bit of security and is often very expensive. Once you’ve been dropped off at the airport, the security team leaves, and you’re there to stay, all to often for a few days. In a large, modern international airport that’s no great pain as there are hotels, restaurants, VIP clubs, and other diversions to help pass he time. Baghdad has practically none of that, and the stranded are forced to sit and wait in a crowded, dingy, smoke-filled room with a few hundred other perspective passengers often reeking of the sweat of humanity. The chairs are mostly broken plastic, the carpet is beyond stained, and to add to the discomfort there is never any flight information. The airline employees have less information than you do, rumors are move around like the plague, and quite frankly no one even cares.
Off to one side of the terminal “lounge” is a Muslim prayer room. Every time that I walk past I can’t help but wonder how many believers have gone in there and prayed to Allah to deliver them from the hell that is the Baghdad airport.