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