Bus stop airport

Bus stop airport

Bus stop airport

Santorini
Greece
30 Aug 2017

Bus stop airport

( made a booking for a ride to the airport from our Santorini cave suites. “Our flight’s at six-thirty, it’s just a domestic flight to Athens, half past five should give us plenty of time to get there and check in.”

“I’ll order a taxi for four o’clock,” she replied.

I bowed to her local knowledge. Our taxi – a minibus, actually – dropped us off outside Santorini airport, and it was immediately obvious that this wasn’t going to be a normal experience. The kerb wasn’t so much a spot to jump out of the cab as it was a series of queues. Jammed solid with frazzled tourists.

Sixties charm

The airport is from another era, one where air travel wasn’t that big, and Santorini wasn’t such a tourist mecca. It’s actually less than fifty years old, but in that time passenger movements have at least doubled and doubled again, to the current mark of nearly two million a year.

Bus stop airportThe check-in hall is about the size of a tennis court. Into this space are crammed check-in counters, a separate luggage drop-off, security, and a cafe. There is physically no room for passengers to queue more than four or five deep. So there will be several planeloads of passengers waiting outside under scant protection.

There are some efficient officials keeping everyone in order, but it’s still an uncertain experience for first-timers like we were. And last-timers too – if we ever return, we’ll take the ferry both ways!

It took an hour before we were through the four queues and contemplating the even smaller gate area. Every seat was taken and we still had an hour to go.

Bus stop airportLuckily, I spotted a set of stairs – marble slabs, like they do in Greece without a trace of self-consciousness – to the smokers’ area. It was heaven upstairs, with a pleasantly shaded deck, a small cafe, plenty of seating, and a view out over the apron.

A mystery

I have no idea why the huddled masses downstairs didn’t overflow, by sheer force of human pressure, up to our sweet haven, but they didn’t, and I was able to planespot in peace.

Bus stop airportNo jetways here: passengers board a bus to take them twenty metres to a waiting plane. Small fry of Airbus 320 or Boeing 737 size, with a turboprop or two thrown in.

Eventually, our turn came, we boarded our Olympic Airways flight to Athens, and I’ve got to say that flying the short hop over the Aegean to Athens is a pleasant experience, with islands and ships a-plenty below.

What’s yours?

That’s probably my most offbeat airport. Not that weird compared to some, I guess.

Pete
Bus stop airport

 

8 Comments

  1. My most off beat is Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Its stunningly beautiful of course however the airport is on its own islet so you basically hop right off your plane and onto a boat waiting to ferry you to your accommodation. Security is kinda non-existent.

  2. I remember arriving at that airport early in the morning, thinking that there would be no queues. Boy, was I wrong! I can’t believe this tiny little airport manages to herd so many people through (without too much chaos).

    1. No money to upgrade it, apparently. You’d think they would make it bigger, add in a bunch of bars and souvenir shops, make some money out of it.

  3. Hmm. I’d say the airports I’ve been to were normal but, on my way back from London we had a medical emergency on board and had to land in Newfoundland. The airport was a step up from a private airstrip – imagine landing in a jumbo jet.

  4. My most offbeat airport experience was probably Timbuktu, Mali, when all Western foreigners were flown out of the city courtesy of the English government after our auberge had been attacked and three of our friends kidnapped*. I don’t even know whether there was any civilian traffic coming via the airport, even though we were flying on a regular small passenger plane.

    Happy continued travels!
    C

    *It’s fine now – Steve, the last of the three, came home last month!

    1. Yikes! That’s an experience you don’t want! Glad to hear that all we released, though still, it’s probably one of those bits of the travel insurance document you hope never to have to read for real.

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