They lied to us! They lied to you, they lied to me, they lied to everybody when they said that half the fun is getting there! What they meant was half the fun is getting there as long as you’re flying First Class or perhaps, maybe, Business Class. Quaffing Champagne, door-to-door limousine service, reclining beds, one can only imagine!
What is definitely not fun is travelling halfway around the world in Economy Class with two children aged five and eight. Now don’t get me wrong, my children are wonderful and are the apple of my eye, but when it comes to long-haul travel in Economy that apple is rotten to the core. The entire flight is mini-battles of who sits next to the window, who sits next to daddy, who should have the iPad, who’s leaning too much into the others area – you get the idea.
This, of course, was not our first rodeo, and anticipating this my wife and I conjured up a plan - buy lots of sweets and snacks to keep the kids happy and distracted – boy did this backfire. They were like little junkies on an overdose of Skittles and Haribo, chocolate and crisps and apple juice and all this, of course, after the nightmare of horrendous lines at check-in, horrendous lines at security, horrendous lines at the loo - this was just the beginning of our fabulous family holiday to Dubai!
For those of us who do not have the luxury of flying First Class I have a secret which I’m confident will become the answer to all your future travel prayers and that is the marhaba Meet and Greet services.
Like a knight in shining armour on a white steed or at least a white golf buggy there was our host waiting for us as we de-boarded the plane. The sign they held aloft on the iPad simply read ‘Mr A. Asghar’ but it could easily have said, ‘I’m here to take away all your stress and pamper you like royalty for the next 15 minutes.’ And so we climbed aboard our buggy, our luggage was loaded and we were whisked off to immigration - past all the lost exhausted souls and to the front of the immigration queue - our holiday had truly begun in earnest. The marhaba staff are incredible – smartly attired, polite, super pleasant and they take it all in their stride even keeping the kids entertained during our short buggy ride - I wish we could’ve taken the buggy straight to the hotel lobby but sadly the service ends once you are through customs and they get you to the front of the taxi queue.
marhaba, which means 'welcome' in Arabic, was launched in 1991. The popularity of Meet & Greet services has grown exponentially in line with Dubai's growth as a major international travel hub, and marhaba has continually expanded its product offering with a growing list of services and extra options designed to make the passenger airport experience as comfortable as possible. From a convenient home check-in process to fast-track clearance through arrivals or departures and helping with transfers and baggage, marhaba delivers a smooth and safe experience for travellers throughout their journey.
marhaba currently offers Meet & Greet Services at eight airports globally, and has 17 departure airport lounges in six countries. The thought of not using their service and greet us, and to stand in immigration lines and luggage halls for hours on end to begin our vacation doesn’t bear thinking about.
As Carly Simon once wrote, ‘Nobody does it better’ and thus the 15 minutes I spent with marhaba might be the best vacation I think I have ever had!