Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Useful info for Mothers in Kuwait

I'm not a mom and no nothing about kid's stuff, so when I get asked by readers, "Where do I... yada yada... for my kids?" I usually have to scramble around to find information.

I just stumbled across this blog and thought I would share because it has such great information in such a user-friendly format.

Here ya go, moms....

Link is:  http://www.kuwaitmomsguide.com/

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Bahrain for the Weekend

Since I'm on a travel roll and in the mood to write, I am posting about this weekend's trip to Bahrain.

Like many cities in the GCC,
an ever-changing skyline has emerged in Manama.

I've been to Bahrain a million times (as have a lot of my readers, I'm guessing), but more in the past than I have done in recent history.  The country has grown since then.  A LOT.  We were with friends with a rental car and they had been in Bahrain a few months before and stated, "I have to be careful on the roads because the traffic patterns change constantly and I can't remember where to go since last time I was here."  I remember hearing that from Emiratis when returning from school to their own country;  blink, and it changes.  I was totally confused in Bahrain and even the taxi drivers didn't know some of the new places we wanted to go.

If you haven't been to Bahrain before, I'm going to give newbies some brief tips on what to do, where to go, etc.

Most nationalities can get visas at the airport or now online prior to going.  Drinkers:  Once inside the airport, it is very important to remember to buy a couple of bottles at the duty free because you won't find liquor stores easily accessible in the city.  Alcohol is everywhere, but you can't buy bottles unless you're willing to pay a lot of money.

There is a hotel on every block, everywhere in Bahrain.  Tourism is big in Bahrain; especially on the weekends when people come across the causeway from Saudi Arabia (a 25-minute drive to Dahran).   I usually stay at the Juffair Grand because it is close to where I need to work in Bahrain.  It is an okay/clean/quiet 4-star hotel in the middle of Juffair and in walking distance to Katsuya Japanese restaurant where I had some of the best sushi I've had anywhere.  The hotel is also walking distance to Shebab Avenue ("The Guys' avenue) where there are many little restaurants, mostly frequented at night.  There are also little grocery stores...

Juffair Grand has a microwave and refrigerator in the rooms.  BFF wasn't too happy when I over-cooked (aka burned)  popcorn and we had to air out the room before the fire alarm went off.   (The room service biryani is outstanding - really well seasoned.)  Rooms come with buffet breakfast.

I wouldn't recommend Juffair Grand for nightlife (not my style).  They have Wranglers - which is a Texan off-take.  They've also got a sports bar called, Champs; Busters - a pizza place/nightclub;  Cloud 9 - a nightclub of sorts. If you really want to meet a pretty lady from the Philippines in a very tight, short dress - this is your place!   The US Navy base is right down the street so many visitors stay at the hotel.

You can find good hotel deals online.  Bandar Resort is really nice for the summer with water activities, but it is outside of the city a little.  Rotana rooms are sea-view and it has a nice pool. Ritz Carlton is also sea front with a nice beach (and Trader Vic's on the property).

Most of the clubs are in Juffair and within walking distance of each other.  If  you want Arabic music (Gulf style), try Pulse.  360 is very large and plays mostly Western music. Ibrida in the Rami Hotel is supposed to be good, but we didn't make it there.  Clubs close at 2am all over Bahrain (and then you hit the Shebab Avenue in Juffair for 24 hour dining).  We started early at around 9:30 pm and by 11, there weren't any seats left.

Shebab Avenue
(too early for shebab, but not for women on "the walk of shame" at noon!)

We went to Bushido lounge in Seef area on a Friday night.  It is Budha Bar style and has a nice outdoor seating area.  They play great music, have outstanding sushi, drinks and ambiance.  The only thing that really messed it up was the service.  My recommendation:  Go to the bar.  I wanted to get my drink on and they forgot my order - twice.

Many places have Friday Brunch (most hotels have brochure stands).  We went to Coral Bay.  It's a Lebanese restaurant on the corniche, but has a seafood buffet.  You can sit outside overlooking the water.  It looks kind of weird/dumpy from the outside, but the inside is very pretty (we thought we were in the wrong place!)

View from Coral Bay Restaurant
If you want to shop, City Center Mall in Manama (there are 2 City Centers) is the biggest.  However, if you are coming from Kuwait, you are going to find that most of the shops there are the same.  Seef Mall is similar (but stop for lunch at Aroma Cafe with an outdoor seating area).  Bahrain Gate Mall is similar to Mubarakia (but not quite, with not as few shops and restaurants).  We found some souvenier bargains there and there is also a covered atrium area in the middle where you can have coffee and/or a light meal.

Restaurants:  My Bahraini friend recommends Adliya area and Zoe's (where you can lounge at the back for drinks and music), Barcelona with an open-air areas, and Mirai for sushi.  Senior Paco's Mexican restaurant is also in Adliya (which is well known to the expat community for great margaritas and live music).

So once you're done with your weekend, it is good to know that there is an Irish pub in the airport for that last-minute fix before you return.  Hope you enjoy your trip.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

I'm Promoting Tourism to Qatar

Sometimes in the middle of all my complaining and ranting about every-day life, I forget how truly blessed I am to be able to do some of the things that I get to do.  Like this trip (courtesy of my job).  I try to be grateful for every little thing and then something big like this comes along and it just wows me...

As I said in my previous post, I love it there and I am really looking forward to going back (Qatar Airways just reduced their economy ticket for the 50 minute flight to Doha to KD 61.)   There are so many activities and events going on in Qatar and I am pleasantly surprised by it all.

Below are all the properties and places I visited (with links to their websites) during my brief 3-and-a-half-day trip to Qatar.  (We were busy from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm which is how we were able to do so much.  Thank you, Qatar Tourism Authority!)

Located on a crescent-shaped island and accessible by their fleet of shuttle boats, Banana Island Resort (which you are probably hearing a lot about) is lovely, but no alcohol is allowed – either at the resort or brought in by guests (limiting their market).  All staff members seem to be trained to say, "Salam alaykum" to guests as you pass by.   The above-water villas also don’t have direct access down to the sea nor do they have in-floor “windows” to the water below.  The resort does offer many family-friendly activities (wave pool, bowling, cinemas) has an amazingly beautiful/tranquil spa with views over the sea.  Also several restaurants and the food was very good.

Villa at Banana Island Resort, Qatar
Looks like Malaysia, right?
Standard bathtubs at Banana Island (me WANTS!)

Outdoor seating area in over-water villa next to private pool

Marsa Malaz Kempinski is a true luxury hotel on it's own man-made island, so that every room faces the water (all rooms have balconies).  Every room has a butler at your service. You walk into the hotel through a very large atrium with high chandeliers over decorative marble floors.  Located on the Pearl (which, unfortunately, is not close to the downtown center), it will have the largest nightclub (500 pax) in Qatar opening in February.  The artwork at the Kempinski is phenomenal.  There are 6M Qatari Riyals worth of Dale Chihuly (same artist who created the chandeliers at 360 Mall, Kuwait) chandeliers in the lobby alone!


Dale Chihuly Art at Kempinski
Entrance to Kempinski
Dale Chihuly Chandeliers

Four Seasons – standard Four Seasons high quality and luxury in a beautifully landscaped beachfront property.   Houses the famous Nobu (sushi) Restaurant on a peninsula off the long beach of the hotel.  Well landscaped pool area.  Cigar bar.  The rooms with sea views are extraordinary with doors that open so you can awaken to the sea.

View from a room at the Four Seasons

Beach front area at Four Seasons - Nobu on Right Top
Four Seasons pool area

Four Seasons pool area
Shangri-La Hotel is a cross between Asian and Middle Eastern décor and food selection.  Their rooms had the only welcome tray (really nicely done touch with dates, fresh fruit and sweets).  Nice spa.  It is adjacent to the City Center mall (there will be direct access to the mall soon).  Next to the Convention Center.  The service at the Shangri-La was outstanding. All the staff members just seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Welcoming tray at Shangri La

King bed at Shangri-La
Rotana is next to the Shangri-La. Also adjacent to the City Center Mall.  Next to the Convention Center.  The Rotana is perhaps a lower-cost alternative but still quite comfortable.

The Westin will open in April.  It is huge and very pretty.  Has the largest convention hall in Doha at 1700 theater-style.  Beautiful landscaping.  Villa rooms with private pools.  Wave pool on property next to their Thai restaurant.  It was in a strange area, however.  Not close to most attractions and driving in it does not allow for a 5-star first impression (once inside, however, that changes).
One of the Westin's pretty walkways
DoubleTree –   Walking distance to old town area.  The café (Open Café) has surprisingly amazingly good food for a hotel café – truly a 6-star meal in a cafe environment. 

And by the by - the hotels serve alcohol.

The Qatar Tourism Authority used Qatar International Adventures as their tour operator for our trip.  I was impressed by the quality of activities and their professionalism.  Check out their packages online. They are reasonable and I highly recommend the Msheireb Museum  tour, Katara Cultural village tour (with a stop to L'wzaar seafood restaurant inside Katara), and desert adventure (winter).

Souq Waqif is a must-see.  Similar to Mubarakia in Kuwait, Souq Waqif is an old souq with small alleys, shops and restaurants.  Most of the restaurants are more upscale than Mubarakia, however.  Souq Waqif also houses several small, boutique hotels if you would like to stay in the heart of the old-town area.  The Souq also provides activities and festivals throughout the year (LINK and LINK).

Souq Waqif

Bird houses at Katara

One of the old houses at Msheireb Museum
A listing of Qatar Events can be found HERE.

Visa requirements to Qatar can easily be looked up HERE.  Most Western nationalities can purchase a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I fell in love with Qatar

I have wanted to go to Qatar for forever.  One of my dear Qatari friends, Mr. O, has been inviting me to visit Qatar since I moved to Kuwait and I have just never been down there. Almost every year, he says, "Come to the Qatar Open."  Yeah, ok, but I'm not really into sporting events...  This time, I was offered the opportunity through work to go on a site visit of hotels through the Qatar Tourism Authority and I jumped.  (Do I really have any more excuses?)  I'm so glad I went.

I used to have SO many friends from everywhere when I was living in Washington.  They were all students. Now they're all big shyts and well.... I'm....  here.  I wish I had kept in touch with people like my Sheikh Al-Thani friend.  He was such a wonderful down-to-Earth guy.  We both loved Camaros (I still have one - doubtful he does!).  People now tell me, "Why don't you get in touch?"  Well.... I don't know his full Sheikh-name.  How do  you find an Abdulaziz Al-Thani who used to drive a blue Camaro and  live in Skyline in Alexandria, Virginia and went to GW in I-don't-remember-what-year?  See my issue?  Well, longstoryshort - he was indicative of the type of people I met in Qatar:  Kind, decent, down-to-Earth.  My kind of peoples.

I met O (through his cousin - also a friend) when he was touring the US with a Qatar cultural road show.  Circa 1992 or some'in.  Very well organized.  They had performances (short plays and music), did henna painting, showcased traditional furniture and clothing and handed out dayn al oud (the oud perfume); and NOT the cheap kind either.  Great presentation and it shows that Qatar was promoting their country even back then.

The purpose of my trip was a FAM trip with people from travel agencies.  We went to visit hotels and give our feedback.  We were on the move from 7:30 am to around 10:00 pm. (Do NOT wear heels!) We had a very nice liaison from the QTA who called me, "Princess."  (How DO they know?!)

Flying into Doha, I had a window seat and I was wondering what the colorful sticks were that you could see from the plane.  It looked like someone had placed pick-up-sticks in the land from the air.  Turns out, they were illuminated lamp-posts in different colors.  I didn't notice until the next day that the coverings of the lamp posts have verses of the Quran on them.  They's so cool.

Lamp-posts - illuminated in bright colors at night

We drove around in a bus together from site-to-site seeing some gorgeous properties, cultural sites, restaurants, and museums.  We also went wadi bashing (if you can call it that).  It was more like "scaring the shyt out of a Desert Girl sliding sideways down a cliff in a Land Cruiser (pronounced "landacroose" in local dialect) with a big smile on your face. (More about that later.)

Wadi bashing at Khor Al Adaid (also known as the Inland Sea)

Photo:  Qatar International Adventures Site

I'll write another post about specific sites I saw and my impressions and all that, but this little diddy is about how I fell in love with yet another Gulf country.

Qatar has flavor.  The kind of flavor I found when I moved to Kuwait.  It is a country rich (and proud) of it's own heritage and past.  People are welcoming and open to the opportunity to talk about their home.  It isn't jaded by decades of tourism and development.  Qatar is still on the brink.  And from what I have been told by Qataris - they want to maintain their heritage.  I love that they are so open about who they are and their humble beginnings.  Their history has not been re-written.  It is simple.  As the very nice Qatari tour leader at the Msheireb Museum complex quoted, "You don't know where you are going unless you know where you came from."  That is actually one of my favorite quotes and one I use in Kuwait a lot (especially around National and Liberation days when the younguns should be learning more about their recent history).

One of the old houses at Msheireb Museum

So ok, Qatar is trying to promote tourism in advance of the 2022 World Cup games.  They're doing a lot inside the country (most likely  you're heard the controversial issues, but not the other developments).  They're building infrastructure:  roads, cultural centers, hotels, venues....  There is a long list of activities.  A long list of things to do and see (and eat!)

Qatar hasn't exactly been a tourist destination from Kuwait for several reasons.  I think that is changing.  For example, in the recent past (like, last week) you would pay around 80 KD for a round-trip plane ticket to Doha.  They just lowered it to 61 KD.  For around 80, you could fly to Turkey or Dubai, so why Qatar?  Well, speaking as myself (a long-time expat living in Kuwait), "Been there.  Done that."  I want to explore.  I've done Dubai about a million times and I'm sick of people speaking to me in Russian, thinking I'm a prostitute. ('No honey.... 'Murican.  It isn't that kind of a trip.')  Bahrain - ok, I love Bahrain, but again, I've been there a million times too.  Same with Oman.  I could probably explore more of UAE also, but Qatar has just peaked my interest and I want to fly right back.  You also still have the opportunity (before the expat community blows up and they get jaded/tired) to meet Qataris.

I think Janet Jackson got it right.  Qatar is a great place to be.

I will write specifics in a post to come.  Wait for it... wait for it....

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dog Show Today and Tomorrow at Mishref Fair Grounds

This is open to the public.  22 and 23 January.  Mishref Hall 7.

KK9A Dog Show

Day 1, Friday January 22, 2016

2:30 - Grand Opening
3:00 - German Shepherd Show Line Competition
5:30 - Kuwait K9 Club Association Show
6:30 - Trainer Abdul Aziz Al-Dousary Show
7:30 - Great Dane Competition
8:00 - Obedience Competition

Day 2, Saturday, January 23, 2016

10:30 am - Toy Dogs Competition
1:00 pm - Unique Dog Show
3:00 pm - Rottweiler Competition
4:30 pm - Argentino Competition
5:00 pm - Kuwait K9 Club Show
6:00 pm - Trainer Abdul Aziz Al-Dousary Show
6:30 pm - Doberman Competition
7:30 pm - Akita Competition
8:00 pm - Work Line Competition
9:00 pm - Kennels Show
9:30 pm - Winners Announcements

Thursday, January 21, 2016

UK Boarding Schools, Summer Schools and Language Programs

Act quickly so that your little urchin doesn't start roaming the streets and eventually gets sent to jeuvie! This is a great opportunity to keep your kids away from shabu and all the other temptations out there when they have too much free time on their hands.  Just remember, an idle mind is the Devil's playground....

(as she writes, idle-mindedly....)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nabeel and Ahmed Al-Fadhel

Nabeel Al-Fadhel was an outspoken member of Kuwait’s parliament.  Last year, at about this time, he got in trouble for having the courage to express his personal liberal views on the legalization of alcohol in Kuwait.

January 5, 2015 - KUWAIT CITY (AP) — A member of Kuwait's parliament says he is facing charges of insulting the nation after saying he supports legalizing the sale of alcohol in the predominantly Muslim country.

Nabil al-Fadhl told The Associated Press late Sunday that controversy was sparked after he first proposed repealing a law that bans dancing at public music concerts and festivals. Kuwaiti law bans people from dancing at concerts, though they are allowed to clap their hands and sway.

After his proposal, al-Fadhl said he was asked in parliament by an Islamist lawmaker if that means he would also support legalizing the sale of alcohol during concerts.

"Why not? Historically, many people in Kuwait drank alcohol on many occasions," he said he replied to the query.

The Kuwait Times later reported that several lawmakers swiftly condemned al-Fadhl "for saying that liquor was part of Kuwait's history and ancestors were tolerant toward allowing its consumption in the past."

Kuwait's first parliament banned the sale of alcohol in 1964. It is a sin in Islam to consume alcohol, though it is sold legally with some restrictions in the Gulf countries of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

One lawmaker, Saud al-Huraiji, was quoted in the Kuwait Times as saying that al-Fadhl had "clearly undermined the image of Kuwaitis and the country's history." Lawmaker Humoud al-Hamdan said "the ancestors of Kuwaitis were well known for their fight against moral corruption, including the use of liquor."

Al-Fadhl said an Islamist lawyer filed charges against him for his remarks, accusing him of insulting the honor of Kuwaiti society.

Fadhl said he was only mentioning "facts about alcohol in Kuwait's history." On the black market, he said, people can buy a bottle of whiskey for 120 dinars ($408).

"It's available in ample amounts, but only affordable to the rich," he told the AP. "A good start would be to allow people to bring in their own alcohol from abroad instead of confiscating it."

Al-Fadhl, who is an independent lawmaker, said that despite his personal views, he is not planning to propose a bill to legalize the sale of alcohol.

Unfortunately, Mr. Al-Fadhel passed away while in session in parliament last month.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015
A member of Kuwait’s national assembly has passed away on Tuesday after suddenly fainting while parliament was in session, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Nabeel al-Fadhel, a politician and former journalist, was tended to immediately by Kuwait’s undersecretary of Health Khaled al-Sehlawi and an emergency crew who failed to resuscitate him, al-Qubs newspaper reported.

I’ve just learned through Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait’s blog that his son is planning to take over where his father (God rest his soul) left off:

LWDLIK Blog – January 18, 2016:  Ahmed Nabeel Al Fadhel is running for parliament for his father's seat.
Keep your father's torch burning, be his legacy and voice for change and progress in his beloved country.  You are your father's son in every way. You have his strength, intelligence, honesty, compassion and infinite love for this country. I know you will make him very, very proud.

Ah, if only I could vote, I would be out there waving flags for Ahmed.  This country needs new blood and new perspectives.  Good for you, Ahmed.  Although I don’t know you personally, I commend you for  your courage in the face of what will undoubtedly be difficult times ahead.  You have the support and care of strangers near and far.

Note while I did not believe in the same issues that Nabeel Al-Fadhel was fighting for (I was particularly against some of his ideas on the Bidoon issue); I found him to be someone who had the voice of many liberal Kuwaitis who aren’t or unable to for various reasons of standing their ground to demand change.  I further respect him as he was ill for many years, but literally died doing what he believed in:  speaking in parliament on behalf of Kuwait.  Whether you believed in his politics or not, that is admirable.  Very few would have done the same.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The K-9 Center

How cute is this?!
Business card in the shape of a dog's head!

I had my first experience with the K-9 Center on Thursday.

They are a dog training and boarding center on the seaside/chalet area.  That gives them an advantage  as most of the dog centers are in Kabd where there are issues with insects (ticks and fleas) from the farms (livestock pens) and desert area. 

Sidenote:  I recommend that if you are going to take your dog anywhere for boarding/training, make sure he has been treated with FrontLine or Advantix so that he won't be affected.  It literally took me close to a year to rid my house/dog of tiny ticks after the first time he was in Kabd.

Anyways, the K-9 Center is easy to get to - approximately 30 minutes from Kuwait City (less from Fahaheel).  It is REALLY clean.  (Including their bathroom - which is always something that I check out!)

I knew the lead trainer, Saud, through friends in the dog groups that I frequent.  Everyone spoke very highly of him and now I understand why.  He's a quiet-spoken man who has a connection with the dogs.  (Well, Mikey connected more to the various scents, but Mikey is "special".)  Regardless - he liked Saud.  So did The Romanian and I.

Saud starts by evaluating the dog to see what kind of issues he might be having and asking questions along the way.  Then, we were invited to stay and watch some of the other dogs being trained.  And THAT, my friends, was the closer.  

I've visited quite a few dog training facilities in Kuwait during the past few years.  I want to see how they train the dogs; the attitudes of the trainers; how the dogs are kept; and what methods are used. Rarely do the trainers allow you to actually view other dogs being trained.  

The K-9 Center was an exception.  They invited us to stay a while and watch; gave us soft drinks and chairs and explained techniques as they went along.  I learned more from him in the brief 90 minutes I spent there than I have in a long time.  Saud evaluated Mikey, giving me information that I hadn't thought of and asking me questions. He checked his teeth to see if he might be aggressive because he's cranky from a bad tooth.  He saw how Mikey reacted to another dog being brought in (apeshit, as usual!  But glad to see that a professional K-9 trainer had a hard time controlling him as well.)  Saud also worked with 3 other dogs doing protection training and evaluations.  Very interesting and gave me a glimpse to how Mikey would be handled.

Saud and his group have got their stuff together as far as marketing and PR goes. They're on Instagram.  Their very clean/new facility is branded and can be viewed in their training videos:  It is all name recognition and I was impressed by that.  Most K-9 facilities in Kuwait (and many businesses) don't give marketing enough importance to marketing in any language; however, the K-9 Center has obviously given a lot of thought to theirs and they're doing a great job. Information is also in English which makes it easier for people like me to read/understand.

They have a waiting room which has the same colors as the logo and guests can sit inside and watch the training if they're not comfortable outside; or if they are waiting to pick up their pets. They've also got quite a few helpers on hand to assist with the dogs (something that I look for because I want to see how the helpers will work with/treat the dogs).

Check out their training videos on Instagram if you get a chance.  They train big dogs, but also the little ones too.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Why is your dog so aggressive?

OMG - if I hear this question one more time, I am going to scream.

This stupid question is usually asked by women.  I don't know - maybe guys think a girl with a big scary dog is cool and women don't?  I tend to see more men smile at me when they see my dog having an uncontrollable fit.  Like they want to come to my rescue.  Why the blame from the women?  It's like they're telling me they're a better parent than I am.  (I don't say anything about your shitty brats while I'm in Walmart, do I??)

Mikey goes apeshit when he's on a leash around other dogs.  If he's off-leash, he runs around like a playful puppy with all the other furry friends.  But - he really just wants to play and he acts "inappropriately" by looking like a viscious tazmanian devil; foaming at the mouth, back-hair up, barking and pulling.

I get totally street cred from dudes when I slam him to the ground and push his face down (the latest of a very long list of techniques I have been trying - as advised by many many many trainers).  This body-slam technique seems to be having the best affect so far.

He was shtanky so I took him to PetZone yesterday to get bathed (Why?  Because he weighs a lot and it is really hard on my back and my bathroom when I wash him at home.)  Plus - for 12 KD, PetZone does a mani/pedi, ear cleaning and trim.  I don't do all that.

Mikey wasn't feeling good because the night before, he got into the trash and ate a little alluminum foil that had been wrapping a piece of chicken. The results were a tummy ache (oh and some barf and nasty poos).  Mikey + tummy trouble = barking.  So.... he did.... the entire time.

The only time he stopped barking and was quiet and submissive was when the groomer cleaned out his anal gland (5 KD extra for that - much more on the street).  He seemed to enjoy that and we couldn't stop laughing.  Mind you - not something that I am likely to try in a crowd of people at a dog-gathering or the like, but still got him to be quiet for about 10 minutes.

"Why is your dog so aggressive?"  (Obviously has nothing to do with anal gland cleaning....)

WTF do people think?  That I fight him or something? That he wants to eat other dogs? That I've trained him to pull my L4 and L5 out of alignment just for shits and giggles?

Sorry, not sorry.

If I had been a better mother, I would have known how to train him off-leash at 2 months old like I should have.  But I didn't.  So F off judgmental mothers!

"Why is your dog so aggressive?"

In answer to that stupid question, I have come up with different answers.  (and perhaps you can assist me by providing me with more responses.)"

He is still very upset about Bill Cosby.  He liked Pudding Pops.
His mother and father were first cousins.  (ooooh, no I di' int!!!)
He's gassy today.
He doesn't like your face.
It was a long trip over here from the border.
He was watching Trump on TV.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Last United Airlines Experiences from Kuwait

It seems to me that since United is pulling out of the GCC (last flight from Kuwait on January 13), perhapsee they have a different level of service on their remaining flights.  Just sayin...

December 18, 2015

Full flight, Kuwait to DC.  We were on the ground and the flight was delayed before boarding at the gate.  When the UA representatives finally made an announcement, they told us that the plane was short on fuel and that we would have to stop in Boston for refuelling.  Huh?  We're still on the tarmac.  There is no fuel in Kuwait?  What - have all the reserves dried up overnight?

I kept saying, "Please come to Boston.  She said NO!!!" (but we did anyways).  Chowdah, anyone?

Ok, so we flew (late) into Boston where we sat on the plane while they refueled.  Get this - the passengers who were actually flying to Boston on connecting flights from DC were NOT ALLOWED to get off the plane in Boston.  They had to continue on to DC where they had already lost their connecting flights.  Niiiiiiice.  Everyone on the plane was good-natured; probably because it was around Christmas.  Bahstin dudes waved hello to their moms and we were off to DC, a mere 5 hours late.

(We all received a $100 voucher.)

October 19, 2015

(I will share my letter to United.  I received 2000 frequent flier points for the inconvenience.)

I just had the scariest flight I’ve been on in my 20 years in Kuwait.  UA982 to Kuwait.  The pilot attempted to land in Kuwait during a lightning storm during high winds and heavy turbulence.  Many passengers got physically sick.  Several were crying, including elderly people. 

We were diverted to Bahrain where I am now (where the pilot made a heavy landing in good weather conditions).  We have been sitting here for the past 3 hours.  We were given limited  information on the plane.  We have been given zero information on the ground.  No announcements have been made. We don’t know if the flight will leave from here or if we will stay in hotels. 

To make matters worse, both civilians and military personnel are now being treated rudely by ground personnel.  The only bathrooms and food venues are at the end of the hall.  People who left the gate area are now having to wait behind ropes and not allowed back into a seating area where they might be comfortable – after both a long flight and delays.  No food vouchers have been provided.  The ground staff is rude and shouting at/arguing with at each other from one end of the hallway to another.   There is NO United representative available.

I certainly wouldn’t want to fly with United again if I were any of these people. Passengers – including US military personnel - have been treated like cattle after a very scary ordeal.  It isn’t right.  Everyone (194 returning to Kuwait) on that flight should receive an apology for being treated with zero compassion. 

Follow-on E-mail

As an addition to my earlier e-mail, we were on the ground in Bahrain for a total of 8 hours.  While there, I witnessed 8 loud/angry arguments- several involving (name) a United direct employee.  He lost his composure, shouted back, walked away.    The most interesting of those arguments was between (name) and the Bahraini police, who asked to see him and other members of staff present once the flight was en route to Kuwait.  The police were visibly angry (shouting) because passengers were not allowed into the gate area at the direction of United staff.  Which meant – once you left the gate area to either go to the bathroom or get food, you were not allowed back in;   It wasn’t a matter of a few minutes, but in some cases, 5 hours. 

Through this ordeal, no one gave out water or meal vouchers.  I asked another United staff member (and there were 200 people around so I didn’t get his name as no one had name tags) repeatedly for a hotel voucher (after 6 hours).  He responded that most of the hotels were full and he would “have to check.”  He then went on to assist other angry passengers.

No announcements were made.
No one checked on passengers to see if anyone had been hurt or required medical assistance after the heavy turbulence and a 1500 foot drop in altitude.
The captain made no apology.
No water was handed out.
No food vouchers.
No hotel vouchers/assistance.

It was horrible.  We took off after waiting for 8 hours with no assistance.  The original UA flight crew was exhausted.  The refresh crew (brought in on a Gulf Air flight from Kuwait) was pleasant and the ONLY time anyone apologized (and only for the “delay”) was the purser on the flight from Bahrain to Kuwait.

In all, I traveled for 25 hours from Washington DC to Kuwait.  

- end - 

Ok, I have got to say that United has been very good to me in all the years that they've been flying in/out of Kuwait and that I will truly miss their direct service into DC and their office staff here in Kuwait.  I flew Emirates (see below) on the return trip this time from DC to Kuwait.  The economy class seats are smaller - 17" compared to 19" on UA.  There is no "Economy Plus" on Emirates like there is on United (giving an additional 5" of space between you and the fat guy in front of you, reclining his seat).  But - Emirates business class kicks UA's business class' butt.  Way nicer - plus a Bvlgari (not Body Shop, UA!!!) toiletries set.  NICE TOUCH.

As my mom says, "Move home and you wouldn't have this problem."  True, but then I would be paying taxes and wouldn't be able to afford flying anywhere.  And if that Big Orange Turd gets into the White House, we'll all be paying $5 for gas again so I won't be able to drive.  Sigh.