Your close to booking your Hajj trip, now what do you need to look for from your Hajj operator?
You’ve nearly your place on a trip of a lifetime, and inshallah in a few months you’ll be on your way to perform the sacred rites of Hajj. There are a few things you still need to be wary of before you take those final steps and find yourself at the airport ready to leave.
Know where you’re flying to
I know this sounds like the simplest of things, however make sure you know where you’re flying to first. Many operators prefer to fly direct to Madinah, and this makes sense as you avoid the lengthy waiting times at Hajj terminal in Jeddah. The difference can be up to 6 hours waiting around in Jeddah for your journey to Makkah or a connecting flight to Madinah.
Wherever you are going, make sure you have your e-ticket well before travel. This is important as then you’re assured of no nasty surprises when you get to the airport and find out you’re not booked onto a flight. Most reputable carriers have a ‘manage my booking’ section on their website, where you can check your flight details if your booking allows
What does the 5 days of Hajj include?
Make sure of the services you will be provided with during the five days of Hajj. The Ministry of hajj have now made it much more stringent that packages include bedding and are offered on full board. Finding meals in Mina can be difficult, and can be a walk in the heat of the day, therefore having them included can make a difference.
The location of your tents are also important. If you’re fit and able, then the 45 minute walk to the Jamaraat from the European tents may be ok, but for those less able then the VIP tents may provide a better alternative, located only 10 minutes away.
Finally, transportation is a key factor in the journey of your Hajj. Although the distances between Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat are quite short, without private transport the waiting and congestion can mean it can take hours to get from one place to another. If you have paid for air-conditioned transport then your operator has to provide you with the matching service. Check with your operator to ensure private transport is provided for the five days of Hajj and for transfers in Makkah and Madinah. Some operators don’t include the journey from Muzdalifa to Mina on 10th Dhul-Hijjah, however this journey can take a long time with pre-organised transport so ask if it’s included.
Accommodation in Makkah and Madinah
Ideally you want to be as close to the holy masjids as possible, as during Hajj time, not much will prepare you for the volume of people congregating for the same purpose. Depending on the rating of the hotel and the proximity to the masjid, these hotels can fetch a premium. In order to reduce the cost per person, many operators operate a room sharing basis. Find out how many people are sharing a room – anything over four in a room, it goes without saying is most likely to be uncomfortable and crammed especially with luggage.
Who is your escort?
Most Hajj operator should, and do, assign a dedicated tour guide to travel with the group. Some also offer a religious guide as well, however it’s important there is a logistical guide to refer to during your trip. This person would be helpful in aiding your Hajj and ensuring the services are delivered whilst on your trip. Find out who this is beforehand, and if the company holds a briefing prior to your departure to meet and get acquainted.
Check your Visa
Once you’ve booked your trip and you receive your passport back from the Hajj operator, check to ensure your name is spelt correctly and there are no other errors. Also worth checking the company has their own name on Hajj visa. If not then they have bought the visa from elsewhere and they will not be responsible if they do not fulfil their services.
The above article is provided by Serendipity Tailormade, the halal friendly travel experts. For more information on your next halal friendly holiday to Cambodia, Jordan or even Tanzania visit www.serendipity.travel