With Hajj 2019 almost upon us, the experts here at Skyscanner have created a guide to flying for this pilgrimage.
Those of you taking on the pilgrimage to Makkah (also known as Mecca) and traveling to Saudi Arabia may feel a little overwhelmed. Worry not, the Skyscanner guide to flying for Hajj 2019 aims to provide some clarity for your trip this August, highlighting areas of ambiguity – you’ll need to speak to your airline or travel agent directly – as well as general information to help with your travels.
Please note: Skyscanner has tried to simplify the process and requirements, however, travelers have very different policies to follow depending on their Hajj and Umrah packages, airline and the country they are flying from. This should only be used as a general guide so please always contact your agent, airline and embassy with any queries. We’ve also included helpful information such as dates, how much Zamzam you can take on the plane and this year’s ‘must-have’ Hajj app!
When is Hajj 2019?
Hajj 2019 will be from Friday, 9 August 2019 to Wednesday, 14 August 2019.
Where can I go on a Hajj visa?
If you’re traveling on a Hajj visa, you’re only 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, you’ll not be able to board the flight or receive a refund.
The three different visa types are Hajj, Umrah and Visit and where you can go is determined by which visa you are traveling on. With a Hajj visa, you must disembark in the cities of Jeddah or Madinah (also known as Medina) and are not allowed to travel to other parts of Saudi Arabia. There is also the flip side to this law that means anyone on a Visit or Umrah visa is not allowed to enter Jeddah or Madinah during the Hajj period.
|Visa type and nationality||Jeddah||Madinah||Taif||Other Saudi destinations|
|GCC nationals holding Hajj permit||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|GCC nationals without Hajj permit (not able to perform Hajj)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Other nationalities holding Hajj visa||Yes||Yes||No||No|
What is the baggage policy for Hajj flights?
Airlines all have their own standard baggage policies. However, there may be a specific Hajj 2019 allowance imposed by Saudi Arabian authorities that you must follow. These differ depending on the country you are departing from, the airline and agent. For example, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C. states the maximum baggage weight is 32kg and size is 56x45x25cm, regardless of airline policies that allow larger luggage. However, traveling on SAUDIA airlines from the UK it is possible to take up to 2 x 23kg, a total of 46kg.
Any excess baggage must be shipped and to make this easier there is now Authorized Hajj cargo service centers in Makkah (Mecca) and at King Abdulaziz International Airport. Our advice: make sure you contact your Hajj and Umrah package agent and airline directly to check the baggage policy. If in doubt speak to your local Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Can I bring back Zamzam (holy water)?
Most airlines allow passengers returning from this pilgrimage to bring up to five liters of Zamzam as checked baggage at no additional cost. But again, we would strongly recommend you check with your airline, they may even have organized complimentary Zamzam for you. Make sure your 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?
When it comes to checking-in at Jeddah and Madinah after completing the pilgrimage, there are different rules for different airlines. In general, passengers traveling on international airlines, such as Emirates, must report to the airport check-in desk six hours before the scheduled departure time. While, travelers flying on a Saudi based airline, such as SAUDIA, need to arrive at the airport three hours before departure time. However, as the rules vary so much from airline to airline, national or international, please always consult with your airline directly to make sure you arrive at the airport at the correct time. Word of warning: during the Hajj period airports can be extremely busy and lines long so it is advised to be prepared for a lot of waiting around. You are encouraged to arrive as early as possible!
Can I take photographs?
There are certain rules regarding photography that you should follow in Saudi Arabia. It is forbidden to take photos of any government buildings, military installations or palaces, so make sure you know what is around you before taking a snap. Authorities also advise avoiding 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 definitely a must-have this year! It was launched last year by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj an Umrah and is available in several languages, including Arabic, English, Urdu and Malay.
It offers a variety of features, such as maps of Makkah (Mecca), 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 your location in real-time. You can even find prayer times, weather conditions, currency conversion and news.
There are also other apps available for Hajj 2019 from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah including Hajj Services, and Umrah Services. You can download them here.
*Updated July 2019. Information based on desktop research, speaking directly to airlines and the UK Saudi Arabian Embassy. Whilst the information was, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of publication, we’d recommend that you check the details with your Hajj and Umrah package agent, airline, embassy and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah directly.
Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car rental.
If you’re looking for some more helpful tips and the best deals, then you should check out these other popular reads:
Not traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year but still want to get away for Eid al Adha? Check out this article for the best Flight and Hotel deals!
Get up-to-date info on all the UAE’s public holidays 2019 with this handy guide.
If you like the idea of visiting this incredible country outside of the Hajj 2019 dates, check out this destination guide to all the must-see destinations!