By Nancy Todd
1. BOARDING PASSES - The Spain Scoop is to get a preprinted boarding pass. One time, in a rush, I did not print my boarding pass at home. “Oh well,” I calculated, “I will just get it at the airport kiosk.” I always take carry-on for the obvious who-wants-to-stand-in-line-to-check-your-baggage reason. I arrived at the airport, breathless running from a wrong terminal, and there were 187 Japanese teens trying to figure out how to use the computer kiosk. And of course they are taking pictures and giggling which added to their efficiency. Ok, it is now modern Spain. I always remember to preprint my boarding pass.
2. CUSTOMS – Smile. Be nice. Have your paperwork filled out. Customs is customs.
3. AIRLINE REGULATIONS – As savvy travelers in and out of Spain often, our best Spain Scoop is to read the fine print, and we repeat, READ THE FINE PRINT about airline regulations. Guess what? They change all the time. Guess what? Different airlines have different regs. Guess what? Different countries have different regs. You can end up paying a fortune for three pounds overweight. You can end up having your new organic make up confiscated and don’t you know, some German security woman agent is now wrinkle free because she used your face cream and you didn’t.
Recently I flew Lufthansa. Last time I read their regulations, they stated all liquids in carry on luggage must be in four ounce containers. Unbeknownst to me, the regs had changed and one could only carry on three, three ounce bottles. I was bringing back a huge bottle of Aveda shampoo from the States which had cost me a month’s salary. I had carefully poured my expensive volumizing shampoo into 37 four-ounce bottles. Yes, we women are particular about our shampoo.
I had numerous jars of creams, make up, and stuff for friends in Spain, all were neatly packaged in four ounce containers. All in little zip lock plastic bags. The long security story short is that in Munich, after the security guard told me they were going to confiscate my goods, I sweet-talked this guard, with tears in my eyes, into letting me keep my precious cargo. She told me not to tell anyone she was letting me through. ”Vis ess Germany. Vis ess security.” She clicked her heels together. Ja Vold! And you should see how wrinkle free I am now! One question: why do security agents need to put the wand detector up your crotch?
4. BAGGAGE – In most airports, the baggage area is cut off from the ticket area. Only passengers can go into the baggage claim area. Plan to meet your party by the terminal exit. Once I waited for arriving friends for one an one half hours, thinking that their plane was late. The digital board showed the flight had arrived an hour ago. I asked the agent if the luggage for my friend’s flight was delayed. “Oh no, it here baggages come hour ago.” Right. Friends borrowed a cell phone to let me know the luggage from the entire flight was delayed. In the meantime, I had thought they missed their plane. The right hand in Spain doesn’t always know what the baggage department is doing.
5. AIRPORT BUS - There are two terminals in Barcelona, which makes it the most confusing airport in Spain. There is T1 and T2 and they are not close to each other. Make sure you know which terminal you need to be at, or you could miss your plane. We recommend Aerobus to get you there.
6. CAFES – Airports serve delicious Spanish coffee, tapas and the usual sandwiches. Prices are moderate. There are no three-stars.
7. SHOPPING – Most airports have great shopping. For example, the airport on the Island of Menorca sells Island-made gin and cheese. The Scoopettes love these. Now there is a good combo for fun on your flight. Zara and Mango, clothing stores for women, are in the large airports.
8. BATHROOMS – Many Spanish airports have bathrooms so obscure you need a guide dog and a GPS. Persevere! In a few waiting areas in the Barcelona Airport, you take an elevator to the bathroom. The elevator is slow. Plan ahead. Hand dryers usually blast cold air. Moderately clean. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Have you had any wacky airport experiences?