When traveling in a foreign country your experience at the airport can be confusing, stressful and off putting. Luckily, the Abu Dhabi airport is quite small and with a few tips you can be in and out with little issue.
There are 3 passenger terminals at the current airport (a new airport, the $7 billion Midfield Terminal is under construction set to open in 2017),
Terminals 1 & 2 service most airlines and upon arrival you will be ushered into the main terminal on your way to immigration, baggage claim and customs.
Immigration here is not quite as large as some, but there seem to be an excessive number of options and making sure you get into the right line can be key to your quick exit. The first thing you may notice is a long line of men to the far left. Most of these guys are migrant workers who upon entering are subject to additional scans and checks. Please do not get in this line.
There are lines for Airline Crew, UAE Citizens, GCC Citizens and Other Nationalities. Your safest bet is in the Other Nationalities line. Long cues are not the norm here but be patient as the lines typically move quickly. Once through immigration it’s time to get your bags.
If you have a large number of bags make sure you grab a porter (these guys wear blue jumpsuits) on your way into baggage claim. There are also a large number of carts you can push yourself, but for around 50 dirhams ($13.50) the porter will take you all the way through the airport to your cab or car.
After you make a quick stop in the duty free bottle shop (this is highly recommended as alcohol is quite expensive in Abu Dhabi) it’s a quick walk through customs and off to either your hotel transport or a cab.
Terminal 3 almost exclusively serves Etihad Airline passengers. This terminal is new, large and most services like immigration and customs are far quicker. Though the walk to the cab stand and other transportation services is a bit longer.
Please remember, that when entering Abu Dhabi, this is a Muslim country and a number of everyday items like medicines are not permitted without approval. It’s best to verbally claim items when prompted by customs (though few westerners are stopped). Contact your embassy for an up to date list of restricted and banned items as the list is ever changing.
Want to make your airport experience even smoother? Check out the Gold Class options.