Taking a flight to Umrah can be a spiritual rebirth of the soul or a gut wrenching jet lagged turmoil. It all depends on:
Who you are going with
If the pilgrim is travelling alone then this postulate is not that relevant. However, if the pilgrim wants to leave for Saudi Arabia with a family that has infant children, this article is of the utmost importance.
Children usually are more sensitive to environment and time zone changes. They would either be visibly put off or would become irritated. Most children also do not respond well to new faces, crowds and unknown social conditions. The child would value the Umrah more when he becomes aware of himself, his responsibilities as a Muslim and his goal to please Allah. So, probably it would be best to defer the journey of a life time for a child who has yet to learn to appreciate it.
However, when there is an absolute need to bring along children, senior citizen or the disabled to perform the Umrah, the best flight to choose is in the night, one that takes off at around 10 to 12 pm, preferably a direct flight to Saudi Arabia. This would allow the passengers along with you to remain asleep through the night, and by the time they reach Saudi Arabia they would be fresh and would be able to face a new day with renewed energies.
When are you going
It depends on how much are you willing to spend. The Umrah season in Ramadan can become prohibitively expensive for some. The Christmas season is also very expensive. All Muslims in Europe and the US especially, tend to make Umrah then, since it’s cooler and the children are all off from school. On the other side Umrah flights booked right after the New Year and in March or April tend to, but not always, be more economically friendly.
Which Airlines are you choosing
This also depends upon your budget. If you think of aeroplanes as flying boxes that just need to transport you from Location A to Location B, any low budget airline can work. Usually, the cheapest airlines on this route are Egypt Air, Middle East Airlines, and the Royal Jordanian. However, if the traveller requires a better treatment, a service that has a class of its own, an airline that has a young fleet and an immaculate safety record, airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways also fly people on these routes.
And where are you landing first
Usually, an Umrah package contains visits to the cities of Makah and Medina. It is the choice of the customer to choose where to go first. If the traveller intends to perform Umrah with his family, then it is perhaps a good idea to first go to Medina. There are two valid reasons for that. First, this would allow you to not be in the state of Ihram when you leave the UK. By going to Medina which is only partially inside the Meeqat domain, you can choose to not wear the Ihram, and that would be a great plus. In the Ihram state, the pilgrim is bound. He cannot use deodorants, scratch his head when it itches, quarrel or even cover his face. Remaining in the Ihram state for the entire flight and chaperoning your family and small children through immigration and customs is not a good idea. Secondly, children, elders and the infirm would also get the time to readjust, if they land in Medina first. Children would be able to acclimate to their new surrounding without seeing their parents hurry towards the Ka’abah, as soon as they land to perform the Umrah. You would also get the time to recuperate and do Ibadah not thinking of how tired you are and how constricted you feel in the state of ihram.
Please also note that Saudi Arabian Airlines and British Airlines are the only airlines that would provide a direct flight to and from Saudi Arabia. Using these airlines would also help. Please also note that there are certain airports in the Middle East that are not that ‘family friendly’. Contact your travel agent regarding this and ask them not to get you flights that have overly long stays between transit flights.