Wednesday, December 12, 2012
When I used to think of airports I would always relate it to dealing with the stresses of travelling: going through security, waiting in lines when you want to be running, the fear of being late, how strict security is, and in general everyone in a bad mood. Maybe that was just my idea before in the states but out here only the first couple of times this happened. When I was going to Portugal I was the first person to be the “mom” of the group. I kept on telling my friends we are going to be late let´s leave now, we need to get on the metro, we need to do this and that etc. I´ve learned though, that airports are not the same in Europe.
I have flown to five places in Europe so about twelve times in the airport due to layovers. The first thing I noticed is the airport security is not that strict at all compared to the United States. I´ve also seen that the lines are a lot shorter and faster as well, maybe it is because of this. With the exception of every airport excluding London-Heathrow, I´ve felt like they aren’t as strict in a few ways. The first is the general screening both bag and body.
Although a lot of the same rules apply as the United States I don´t feel like they are as heavily forced. For example you aren´t allowed to bring lighters on a plane but I have every single trip I´ve been on and have got stopped once. When I was going to Portugal I thought they were going to throw it away but my friend reassured me that it isn´t that big of a deal. Turns out he was right: I´ve never had one confiscated. I´m not trying to tell you it is ok to break the law, I´m just saying it´s really easy to. The first time I did it I was actually completely oblivious to the fact that I had one and was surprised I got through. That is also what happened last weekend when I flew to Barcelona. I got to the hostel and took out my dob-kit to brush my teeth and saw that I brought not only one but two pairs of scissors with me. Whoops! It was a total accident but I also got them back to Madrid with no problems either.
The 100ml or 3oz in a plastic bag is also not as strictly forced. I have only been to one other airport besides Heathrow that made you take the bag out of your carry on. Also last weekend in Barcelona I bought a little pack of six shots to bring to some friends back home and I totally forgot about security and the law about liquids, let alone alcohol in your bag. I also got those back to Madrid. Once again, I´m not trying to advocate any of this I´m just comparing how different it is to what I was used to. I pretty sure these crimes are punishable by hangings in the United States though.
Last Sunday night in Barcelona, I was denied entry into a casino because I didn´t have a proper ID even though I had three cards with my age on it-it wasn´t official enough to get in. That didn´t bother me to much at all because I don´t like to gamble. The next day we went to the airport and my friend couldn´t find his passport. They ended up letting him in anyways with just showing a credit card. I know it´s a very big difference comparing an airport to a casino but I was still surprised that he was allowed to go on a plane.
Another thing that I have learned is that you don´t need to rush as much. One time when me and my friends were late to our plane I was freaking out thinking that we were going to miss the flight, but even though the plane was boarding they still had time to wait in line and get some food. At the time I couldn´t believe that they were doing this. I think that now that I have traveled a little more I too have become more relaxed. There have been times where I´ve showed up to the airport only twenty minutes before my flight. This is cutting it pretty close and I don´t recommend it, but sometimes you don´t need as much time before the flight as they advise. HOWEVER, (this is capital for a big reason) if you are flying Ryanair get there early! This airline is seat yourself and if you arrive late you are not going to like your seat.
Ryanair is a decent airline but you should be careful when getting you tickets. If you don´t print your ticket beforehand you are forced to pay a 60€ fine. My friend told me that last year alone they made something like 38million euros from this and that’s how they can make their flights so cheap. I tried finding some valid facts to back this up but unfortunately I found none after reading article after article. Also when flying Ryanair it is important to look carefully at what airport you are going to. For example I had a cheap flight to London, but it was actually London-Stansted. This is actually about forty-five minutes away from the center and can cost 25€ to get there.
If you bag isn´t too big, you have your ticket, and are on time to the airport Ryanair is not that bad. My favorite airlines so far Alitalia, it was a little more expensive but it had free wine, comfortable flight, and TV to brush up on some Italian before getting to Rome. My favorite place to buy tickets online is definitely skyscanner.es. It is very easy to use as well as a list of cheapest flights to most expensive.