Airport and Air Travel, Lisbon
Because of a major ice and snow storm on the east coast of the United States, we were forced to fly from our hometown of Charlotte to MIami instead of to Philadelphia, which was our scheduled route. This change of plans would cause us to arrive late in Madrid, but better late than never!
Because of the inconvenience, we were upgraded on our Iberia flight (US Airways endorsed our ticket on Iberian, a Spanish carrier) to Business Class. The seats were much wider than Coach Class and they reclined to almost horizontal, which enabled me to get some good sleep. When we boarded, the flight attended immediately asked us, "Quiere un jerez?" (she wanted to know if we would like some sherry).
Of course, this was an offer we were not about to refuse, and the drinks and comfortable seats made for a great flight.
On our way to Lisbon, we also had a slight mishap when Pav's luggage was temporarily lost! Fortunately, there are many flights between Madrid and Lisbon each day and his bag arrived in a couple hours.
Lisbon's airport is the largest and by far the busiest in Portugal and offers connections all over Europe. I flew in on the Portuguese carrier, TAP Air Portugal. When you fly out of Lisbon, there is a tax that is charged, but it will be included in the price of the ticket.
This is a photo of the airport information booth in which you can get all kinds of information, including free street and metro maps and well as hotel and transportation info. The lady that was working when we arrived hooked us up with our hostel and it turned out great!
You might want to check on flights into Madrid first. Sometimes you'll find a better deal by flying to Spain and then into Portugal, but not always. I took this photo in front of the Gulbenkian Museum in northern Lisbon. Ever since September 11, 2001 when I was sitting in my highrise office building in Charlotte watching the unfolding of horrible events in New York, I can't help but remember that day when I see a low flying plane. Fortunately, this plane was safely descending into Lisbon on a beautiful, clear day.
I've never seen such a difference in time between back and forth. Newark to Lisbon took 5h40min. whereas Lisbon to Newark took 7h30min. Isn't that odd? Anyway, it's a long flight for the 757: no choice of movie, no little map on demand... Still, Continental is offering many tempting point-to-point destinations (Glasgow or Guayaquil anyone?), and it's much faster than changing in Paris, London or Frankfurt.
Lisbon airport is very modern, clean and one of the nicest I've seen. A lot of light, space and utilities like restaurants and cafes. It's main runway, measuring 3,805 meters, orientation 03/21 (NW) can land a 747, the airport has also the capacity of dealing such large number of passengers. The airport has a second shorter runway oriented 17/35 (NE).
Airplanes come for landing from south, passing over the 25 de Abril Bridge then for the last 5 minutes flying very low right over some neighborhood in order to land the big NW oriented runway.
This is the main hub for the Portugal national airline - TAP Portugal. It is located very close to city center, depending on traffic you can reach in 20-30 minutes. The position within the city, being one of the few airports in Europe not located well near the city, was theme for debates about safety and the final decision about building a new airport was taken in 2008, designating Alcochete - 50 km north of Lisbon, as the planned site for the construction of the new Lisbon International Airport, which will be finished in 2017.
There are a couple of daily flights to the most important European cities. Lisbon, unfortuantely, is one of the most expensive destinations in Europe if you consider the average fares. “Aeroporto de Lisboa” is conveniently connected to the city by Aero-Bus #91 (every 20 minutes). The fare includes the day ticket for the public transport in Lisbon already!
The company “Carris” is managing buses and tramways and “Metropolitano” is offering a small but well enough underground system. Together that makes a very good network to discover the whole city. Fares are rather cheap but check the latest on the web because I only know the old Escudo-based ones. For the cable cars you also need the bus tickets. Please queue up at the bus stops or you will cause angry reactions by the Portuguese! Even if you don’t want to use the underground, just visit the very nice stations with magnificent painted tiles (azulejos) everywhere. On the page on the left you see the Elevador da Gloria.
Lisbon’s airport handles both domestic and international and is located about 6.5kms (4 miles) away from the city centre. Many airlines service Lisbon including British Airways, Continental, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, LAM, BMI, Alitalia to name a few.
Lisbon's airport lies close to the city centre in the northern suburbs about 6km out. After a few days in Lisbon you get used to seeing low flying planes over the city as they arrive and depart. The best way in to town from the airport is by bus or taxi. The 91 is the quickest bus but also the most expensive at 3 Euro. The 45 and 44 buses also go to the airport and a ticket on these is the standard bus fare of 1.20 but the journey as much slower with frequent stops. When I arrived in Lisbon I jumped on a bus straight away without checking if I had enough euro. The busdriver let me on even though I was 20 cents short - you wouldn't see that happening in Dublin or London.
If you arrive to Lisbon airport after 23:00 you can go downtown by:
1) Getting a cab. The airport is quite close to the city centre so it is not all that expensive. (0,42€/km+2€ base fare+1,60€/bags+20% of night service). So it should be more than 10€.
2)Getting the nightbus 208 (passes in the airport around 23:40, 00:10, 00:40 and goes to Praça do Comércio, Figueira and Cais do Sodré). Ticket on board costs 1,35€. http://www.carris.pt/horarios/a208_2.pdf
3) Getting the 745 bus (passes in the airport at 23:20, 23:45, 00:14) stops in Marquês de Pombal, Av Liberdade, Rossio, Terreiro do Paço. Ticket on board costs 1,35€. http://www.carris.pt/horarios/a745_2.pdf
The Portuguese national airline, TAP, is a very comfortable, affordable and safe option when flying to Lisbon. They currently offer really good deals, which include open jaw tickets taking in a different city of return for the same price as a normal ticket. They are backed by the might of Lufthansa, and so offer the same level of service and reliabity as that giant. Unlike Lufthansa, though, they have never had an accident.
That said, they came pretty damn close to one when I flew into Lisbon from Frankfurt. The take-off was like grand prix with high speed right turn that had all the passengers careening over to one side. This was followed by a crisis in flight, when I saw the passengers jump up in alarm and start staring out onto the wing. There was a panic and the co-pilot came down to have a look too. Then it dawned on me that they weren't looking out of the window at the wing at all, but at a passenger who was obviously very sick. At first, and then feared they would turn the plane around, but after a while she seemed to recover.
To top everything the landing was buffeted by strong winds, rocking the plane from side to side. The landing was the second scariest yet, after my Garuda Airlines 747 bumped down the runway at Jakarta touching down half a dozen times before finally landing. This caused the Muslims who were returning from Mecca to start praying to Allah, while I sat grim faced and clutching my arm rests. This time the passengers all applauded after we came to a halt following sharp braking.
They can't be blamed for that (apart from maybe the sharp turn at the start) and the flight back from Porto was much calmer and altogether more pleasant.
The cheapest way to arrive to Lisbon by plane is using the low cost companies such as vueling (www.vueling.com, from Barcelona and Madrid), clickair (www.clickair.com, from Barcelona), Air Berlin (www.airberlin.com, from Palma de Mallorca), Easy Jet (Berlin, Basel, Berlin, Geneva, Liverpool, London, Lyon, Madeira, Madrid, Milan and Paris), BMI Baby (Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester).
The places with the cheapest prices are normally Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva, Milan and the UK.
Normally a plane from Madrid is less expensive than the train and save you some hours.
There are several buses that drive to and from the airport. One trip price s 1,20 euro, but you can also use a 5 day network ticket. They are on time, and it takes around 20 minutes to get to the city center. There are several buses:
N.º 5 - Estação do Oriente / Aeroporto / Areeiro – Operates only Monday to Friday
N.º 22 - Portela / Aeroporto / Marquês de Pombal – Operates every day
N.º 44 - Moscavide / Aeroporto / Cais do Sodré - Operates every day
N.º 45 - Prior Velho / Aeroporto / Cais do Sodré - Operates every day
N.º 83 - Portela / Aeroporto / Amoreiras - Operates only Monday to Friday
To get to the bus station at the airport you just have to follow the signs.
You can find list of all stations and exact time tables for all buses, night buses and trams on this page:
There are three different Aerobus routes from the airport. Line one goes to the city centre. We used line three to get to our hotel in the financial district. The ticket costs 3 Euros 50 cents and is valid on carris buses on the day of purchase.
We found, that flights to Portugal - and especially Lisbon - are quite expensive. We were lucky to get a rather cheap return flight for 140 € p.p. including all taxes and fees.
The airport is modern and very conveniently located. We took the bus into town (*44 or *45 to Praca do Comercio) for € 1,10 p.p., and the ride was about 30 minutes. The express bus *91 (AeroBus) costs 3 €, but this is a day ticket, that you can use for the rest of the day on all buses, trams, lifts and the metro!
I must say …. to and from the airport in Lisbon is one of the simplest and cheapest in all of Europe. On arrival you can purchase a taxi voucher from the tourist information center literally in from of the doors as you exist the customs area. A taxi to the old town section of town cost 15 euros. Or you can take the Aerobus which has several stops on 2 different routes. The Aerobus cost 3.50 Euro's per person and depart every 15 minutes right outside the doors. The journey to the center of Lisbon take about 20 minutes.
On the way back to the airport we waited for almost 30 minutes for a bus on Ave. de Liberade at 7:00 am and a bus never came so we jumped into a taxi and was charged only 8 euros (try that in Paris or London) either way the airport is 4 miles northeast of the city center and it makes it for a simple experience ….
You can also take the metro for 1.5 euro's ….. the metro goes right into terminal 1, the departure terminal for all the major airlines.