In the last month, I’ve flown into and out of Alicante Airport in Spain twice. As a travel writer and a frequent international traveler, flying into any airport for the first time, I always appraise them with a critical eye. With Alicante Airport though, my critical eye didn’t get much use. A thoroughly modern airport that manages to serve almost 10 million passengers every year, Alicante Airport is fast, efficient and, actually, quite fun.
Where is Alicante Airport? – Located just a few miles outside the city of Alicante and 10 kilometers from Elche, on the Costa Blanca in Spain, Alicante Airport is one of Spain’s most traveled through airports. With almost 10 million passengers currently traveling through Alicante Airport, Spanish authorities are in the midst of adding another airport terminal (there are currently two in operation), which means in the next few years, up to 20 million passengers a year will be able to fly into or out of Alicante.
Terminals at Alicante Airport – Depending on which airline you’re flying with will depend on which of Alicante Airport’s two terminals you end up flying in and out of. Most airlines fly into Terminal 1 with Easy Jet, Monarch and Ryan Air flying into both Terminals 1 and 2. It doesn’t really matter though, if you end up at the wrong terminal, as they’re next to each other so it’s easy to get from one to another.
Check-in at Alicante Airport – Both times I’ve checked in at Alicante Airport, it’s been smooth, efficient and easy. Yesterday, I checked in with a large tour group on a Monarch Airlines flight. Thirty four of us arrived all at the same time, yet check-in for myself and my parents was less than five minutes, including standing in a line for three of those five minutes.
At Alicante Airport, bags are weighed in quickly, your hand luggage is weighed and checked, your passport is scanned and you’re handed your boarding pass in record time. From walking up to the counter to walking away with boarding passes in hand for myself and my parents was less than two minutes. Not bad timing for an international airport.
If you find yourself with a suitcase that’s overweight, the desk attendant will give you a pink slip, which you must take to an office at the end of the airport to pay for your excess baggage charges. Be aware, your luggage will not be checked onto the flight until you’ve paid for the excess baggage charge but, once you have, it’s just a case of showing the original desk attendant your receipt for payment and your luggage will be processed onwards immediately.
One of the women who was on our flight had excess baggage charges. She told us, from having her bags weighed to being issued a pink slip to pay, paying and returning to the attendant to show proof of payment, was around five minutes. No great hardship really.
Passport Control at Alicante Airport – One interesting thing about flying into Alicante Airport is you’ll rarely have to show your passport. Both of my flights into the airport and on both flights out, I didn’t see a passport control once and my passport was only checked by the Monarch Airlines staff.
Our tour guide told us this is because, if you’re flying in from Europe, which just about every airline through Alicante Airport is, your passport has already been checked at another European airport. Spain being in the EU, your passport information is sent on to Alicante Airport so, by the time you take off from your originating airport and land in Alicante, Alicante Airport security personnel are fully aware who’s on board the plane, so no point checking passports in or out.
Security at Alicante Airport – In only one respect does Alicante Airport fall a little short and that’s with the security area.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very secure airport, with each person checked carefully before being allowed through the security area and into international departures. But, where Alicante Airport security staff fail, is unlike in most other countries, where only one person is allowed through a gate metal detector at once, and no-one else is allowed through until that person is cleared, at Alicante Airport the security staff allow one person after another to walk through the detector, without waiting to see if the first person through it clears without beeping. So, when the beeper sounds showing there’s a problem, people begin to mill around like cattle in mass confusion, with the person who’s causing the detector to beep having to go backwards and forwards through the gate, while removing successive layers of clothing, belts, shoes etc.
Yesterday, my father had to go through the metal detector five times with, every successive time, more people being allowed through the gate right behind him. This finally caused such a huge backup, half the line was getting frustrated and annoyed as my father, and several others, were repeatedly being sent back through the metal detector and being pushed into other people being sent through.
Food and Drink at Alicante Airport – The only other thing we had a minor complaint about was the cost of food and drink at Alicante Airport. With a large cafeteria, several restaurants and Burger King, Haagen Dazs etc. there’s definitely a large enough choice. In fact, food and drink are plentiful and there’s something for every taste. But, the cost of food and drink was so high, much higher than comparable airports, we chose only to buy a bottle of water and get the rest of our food on the plane.
A can of coke in the cafeteria was 3 euros 60 cents ($5) and a small bottle of water, which was 30 cents (28 cents US) in any Spanish supermarket, 1 euro 90 cents ($2.67). With high prices like these, I’d suggest either bringing food and drink with you (buy it at a European or Spanish supermarket before you leave for Alicante Airport), or wait until you get on the plane. Even with high plane prices, they’re still cheaper than at Alicante Airport.
Shops at Alicante Airport – I’m not a shopper of airport merchandise but, if you’re looking for last minute gifts, want to spend the rest of the euros they have, or just like to shop at airports, Alicante has a good selection of things. Books, magazines, alcohol, DVDS and CDs, clothing, bags, belts, jewelry, electronics, phones – pretty much everything you expect at airport shops is at Alicante. Again though, prices are high, so unless it’s a necessity it seems a bit pointless buying here.
Overall, traveling into and out of Alicante Airport is a nice experience. The staff is efficient and friendly, you get checked in and through security in record time and all the facilities you’d expect are there. Plus, like most places in Spain, the toilet facilities are spotlessly clean – not something that can be said for many American airports, unfortunately.