With a modern, future-proofed terminal at its core, Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport stands ready to welcome – and bid farewell to – the many foreign visitors drawn to Jordan’s historic sites and natural attractions. In this report, we’ll see what departing passengers can expect from the facility that was named the Middle East’s best airport (5-15 million passenger category) in the 2018 Airport Service Quality Awards.
Note: For the sake of brevity, I’ll refer to Queen Alia International Airport (“AMM”) throughout this post using its three-letter IATA code.
The coverage of this report is limited to the departures area of AMM. A brief description of the arrivals zone can be found near the end of this related flight report.
The information and pictures presented here are drawn from my own experience of using AMM on 03 April 2019. Facilities, check-in procedures, flight schedules and other details may change at any time without prior notice.
Airport name : Queen Alia International Airport
IATA code : AMM
ICAO code : OJAI
Country : Jordan
Major city served : Amman
Year opened (airport) : 1983
Year opened (present terminal) : 2013
Terminals : One
Passenger traffic : 8,400,000+ (2018) – source
Related links : Official Site / Twitter / Wikipedia / Skytrax
Date of visit documented in this report : Wednesday, 03 April 2019
Foster + Partners have done a fantastic job with AMM’s new terminal, which can handle 12 million passengers a year (more than triple the airport’s original capacity). The project description on the architectural firm’s website is worth a read in its entirety, but here’s a brief snippet to help outline the structure’s appearance and overall layout:
The tessellated roof canopy comprises a series of shallow concrete domes, which extend to shade the facades. […] The domes branch out from the supporting columns like the leaves of a desert palm and daylight floods the concourse through split beams at the column junctions. […] The terminal is glazed on all sides to open up long views to the aircraft on the apron and aid orientation. Two piers of departure gates run along either side of the central building, which contains the main processing areas and shops, lounges and restaurants.
In the commentary and pictures that follow, we’ll see how this design ethos was translated into the glass, steel, and concrete reality of Jordan’s main gateway to the world.
LANDSIDE ZONE (before immigration/security)
The terminal’s relatively compact footprint is apparent even from a distance.
But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in terms of design – especially where the interiors are concerned. We’ll have a look at those shortly.
After getting off at the spacious disembarkation area…
…our next stop is the terminal’s entrance lobby. It’s not really meant for extended lingering, but there are several shops available if one needs to pause here for a snack break.
All set? Right, let’s carry on.
After passing through the first security checkpoint…
…we’ll find ourselves in the terminal’s check-in hall. There are two long banks of counters, labelled A and B – the flight information board will tell us which one to head for.
The check-in counter arrangements will vary depending on the carrier. In the case of our Dubai-bound flight with Emirates (EK 904 / AMM-DXB / 03 April 2019), separate lanes were opened for different passenger classes, with high-tier members of the airline’s frequent flyer programme entitled to use either the First or Business Class queue depending on their status.
Boarding passes in hand? Excellent. Time to make our way over to the immigration counters…
…and to the main security checkpoint beyond. The chaps over there can seem rather fussy – even my iPad was inspected and swabbed (drugs? explosive residue? not sure what for exactly) – but it shouldn’t take very long.
AIRSIDE/RESTRICTED ZONE (after immigration/security)
The floor map in the next picture is highly simplified, but it’ll do as a summary of the shopping and dining options available in the central section of the terminal.
There’s renovation work in progress. Even so, that hasn’t stopped the airport’s duty free shop from keeping their merchandise in full display.
Let’s wander around a bit more. Cafés, fast food joints, shops and so on – all the usual suspects are present. Royal Jordanian Airlines’ Crown Lounge is on the mezzanine above.
The boarding gates are arranged along the piers on either side of the terminal’s main structure, with spacious corridors tying the different sections together.
There are additional options for retail and food/beverages in the piers, so it may be worth poking around here if nothing strikes one’s fancy in the larger midsection. For example, the northern pier has a lounge – specifically the Petra Lounge – and (according to the sign) a transit hotel.
Now if you’ve had your fill of shops and lounges and cafés (or simply don’t want to spend extra), there are spacious seating areas close to the gates.
The massive windows offer excellent views of the tarmac, making this a good observation point for some casual planespotting.
Here’s one example for the post: an Airbus A320-200 (registration JY-AYW) belonging to Royal Jordanian. Great livery on this aeroplane.
Something to bear in mind, especially if your devices are running low on power. Most seats are like the one in the next picture, which are perfectly fine for sitting down and … well, not much else.
A small number of charging points are available, but they’re few and far between. (In fact, I only saw one bench so equipped in the area near our boarding gate; I’m only assuming there are others like it further away.) Both conventional sockets and USB ports are fitted.
Let’s have a look at one of the boarding gates.
Forget the gloomy, dimly-lit, all-metal aerobridges I’ve seen in some airports. There’s plenty of glass here, which means lots of natural light and excellent views to the outside.
(JUST A PEEK AT) ARRIVALS
AMM’s arrivals facilities are beyond the scope I’ve laid down for this report, but here are a few pictures to give readers an idea of what to expect.
AMM isn’t a perfect airport, let’s be clear about that. I’ve hinted at the detailed security screening, which some might view as a tad excessive – although such measures should be expected in a region as volatile as this. I also touched on issues at baggage reclaim in a recent flight report, and it might be worth mentioning that the queues at inbound immigration seemed rather long on our arrival. (We had special fast-track arrangements in place thanks to the way our group visit was organised, so there was no opportunity for us to experience the issues with entry processing that I’ve read about in some passenger reviews.) In terms of facilities, the rather long distance between lavatories comes to mind, and there’s also the shortage of charging stations I mentioned earlier.
All that considered, AMM still managed to make a very good impression on me. The general design is quite well conceived, and brilliantly executed; for a compact terminal (compared with larger facilities like ICN T2) this building seemed very spacious indeed. I especially liked the palette of colours they’ve chosen for the interiors, with different shades of brown set against the grey of the ceiling and structural members – all echoing the natural tones of the Jordanian desert landscape. On the more practical side of things, I appreciated the terminal’s easily navigable layout, as well as the consistent and readable signage. For an airport of this size, the available dining and shopping options seemed more than adequate. The complimentary WiFi was also fast and reliable enough for light tasks like checking messages or uploading the occasional Instagram post.
Unless I’m trapped here for more than a few hours because of an extended layover or delay (during which this small terminal’s limitations are likely to become more apparent), I certainly wouldn’t mind passing through AMM again in the future.