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Islamabad airport

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London
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Islamabad airport

Be warned! If you are flying on Emirates, Qatar or Etihad or any other flight that leaves ISB between 3am and 5am, get to the airport early. There are invariably huge lines just to get into the terminal, then another long line to have your bag searched, then another line to get into the cheick in area, then yet another line after immigration. It is a very poor airport; dirty, small and although it has lots of staff, seemingly inefficient. Do not arrive an hour before the flight thinking you will be able to get through fast

islamabad
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1. Re: Islamabad airport

Thanks for sharing first hand experience with fellow travelers.

London, United...
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2. Re: Islamabad airport

Thanks for that advice mate.

You mentioned specifically 3 Arab airlines. Would the delays be any better or worse if travelling on BA or PIA or any others?

UK
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3. Re: Islamabad airport

Actually I think BA stopped flying there after the Islamabad hotel bombing in 2008 and haven't re-started flights. But maybe day-time flights are processed more quickly? Not that I'll ever find out - it looks like I might be about to get my visa application refused (application via 'Gerry's' at a non-refundable price of £140).

London, United...
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4. Re: Islamabad airport

UKit

Sorry to hear that you might not get the visa. Lots of Europeans go there all the time, but maybe they're return visitors and so aren't that bothered about travel insurance and visiting "danger" zones.

islamabad
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5. Re: Islamabad airport

Yeah,British air ways doesn't fly to Islamabad after Marriott hotel bombing in 2008.

UK
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6. Re: Islamabad airport

Hi the_musafir

No, not connected with my insurance concerns/security concerns - it's because I failed to supply a hard copy of confirmation of my hotel booking in Islamabad, which I now have but it seems to be too late to include it. Because I applied via Gerry's, it's virtually impossible to add anything once your application has been sent to the Visa Section in London.

My friend, who applied two days later, did include a confirmation letter which we obtained in the meantime and she got her visa last week. Now my tour operator (well-known worldwide, recommended in Lonely Planet, etc) has received a letter from the High Commission "asking about our company. That's the first time they've asked for any background from us."

I'm guessing this is directly related to my visa application for which they provided the Letter of Invitation.

Maybe the lesson to be learned is don't just ask your tour operator for an LOI, ask them for a letter from the hotel they've booked for you as well. Otherwise, it's £140 down the pan and a cancelled holiday. I could re-apply of course (another £140) but by that time it would be too late - I should be going on 27 May.

Islamabad, Pakistan
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7. Re: Islamabad airport

Thanks for sharing the information Mark, Hope you enjoyed your official tour to Islamabad other than the airport!

Pakistan
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8. Re: Islamabad airport

Islamabad airport, yes. it's a small and old airport relative to the number of passengers it deals. It's actually located in Rawalpindi but given the name of Islamabad. A site for the new Islamabad airport is reserved since long but I am not sure if construction work has actually started.

Middle Eastern airlines (Qatar Airways, Emirates etc) land and take off roughly from midnight till sunrise, which happens to be the busiest time at the airport and it takes a long time to go through the queues given security issues and the need to search passengers/luggage thoroughly.

The last time I was at ISB, it took me just over 3 hours of continuous and frantic activity from getting off the taxi to taking my seat on the plane. I knew it was going to be extremely busy and so I reached the airport three-and-a-half hours before departure time. That was in July 2012.

@ Ukintrepidtraveller, may I ask for an update? did you get your visa on time and are you travelling as planned?

UK
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9. Re: Islamabad airport

Yep! We both got our visas eventually (but we're both female and older travellers so this might be something in our favour. I think it's harder this year for male travellers). We're flying out via Islamabad to GB, finally arriving in Gilgit on 29 May if domestic flight up to GB isn't cancelled due to bad weather.

Lost Horizons, our tour operator, has supplied everything we needed to get visas so I'd give them the thumbs up - but would suggest that anyone else trying to get Pak visa should encourage your tour operator to supply in advance hard copies of hotel bookings on arrival in Islamabad, etc. Don't rely on what the websites say (either Gerry's Visadropbox.com or Pakistan High Commission) - just send everything you can think of which might convince them that you are a genuine traveller. I sent original + photocopy of my driver's licence, Council Tax demand on my property for current year, 3 months' worth of bank statements showing my current address in UK, e-ticket for my return flights, details of travel insurance, etc.

Thanks to OP for warnings about ISB airport - will make sure we arrive there in good time for flight up to Gilgit!

UKIntrepidtraveller

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10. Re: Islamabad airport

UKit

That's great news mate. Tbh, I knew you'd get there cos you seemed so determined.

What did you do about the insurance?