As the start of the Hajj season nears, leading travel metasearch engine Skyscanner has created a guide to help pilgrims chart out their journey and enjoy a seamless travel experience.
The guide includes helpful information such as dates, how much Zamzam one can take on the plane and details of this year’s must-have Hajj app.
Below is an excerpt from the guide:
When is Hajj 2018?
Entry and exit dates for those travelling on Hajj visa:
The last date for entry is August 15.
The first date of exit is August 26 and the last date of exit is September 25.
Where can I go on a Hajj visa?
Those travelling on a Hajj visa will only be permitted to travel to certain areas in Saudi Arabia. Responsibility for obtaining the correct visa and booking the right flight does fall on the passenger, and without the correct documentation, one will not be able to board the flight or receive a refund.
What is the baggage policy for Hajj flights?
Airlines have their own standard baggage policies. However, there may be a specific Hajj 2018 allowance imposed by Saudi Arabian authorities that travellers must follow. These differ depending on the country of departure, the airline and agent. It would be best to contact the Hajj and Umrah package agent and airline directly to check the baggage policy. If in doubt, speak to your the local Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Can I bring back Zamzam (holy water)?
Most airlines allow passengers returning from this pilgrimage to bring up to five litres of Zamzam as checked baggage at no additional cost. But again, it is strongly recommended to check with the airline as they may even organise complimentary Zamzam to carry home. Travellers must also make sure their Zamzam bottle is properly packed in the special plastic Zamzam bag to avoid leakage.
What time should I check-in at the airport when leaving after Hajj?
In general, passengers travelling on international airlines, such as Emirates, must report to the airport check-in desk six hours before the scheduled departure time. Travellers flying on a Saudi based airline, such as Saudia, need to arrive at the airport three hours before departure time. It is best to always consult with the concerned airline directly to make sure one arrives at the airport at the correct time. Word of warning: during the Hajj period airports can be extremely busy so it is advised to be prepared for a lot of waiting around. Travellers are encouraged to arrive as early as possible!
Can I take photographs?
There are certain rules regarding photography that one should follow in Saudi Arabia. It is forbidden to take photos of any government buildings, military installations or palaces, so make sure to check what is around before taking a snap. Authorities also advise against taking photos of Saudi locals. Binoculars can be confiscated if brought into Saudi, so best to leave those at home.
What is this year’s ‘must-have’ Hajj app?
Manasikana is a handy app to provide guidance when on a Hajj journey and is definitely a must-have this year. It has been updated for Hajj 2018 and is now available in several languages, including Arabic, English, Urdu and Malay, and offers a variety of features, such as maps of Makkah, Jeddah, Madinah and Holy sites, highlighting places of interest. The map feature helps to identify the current location and provides the journey time to the next destination. There are also safety features such as important telephone numbers and allows family and friends to track one’s location in real time. Travellers can even find prayer times, weather conditions, currency conversion and news.