Barajas is a pleasant little airport with good transport links to the city: lots and lots of taxis, airport bus every 15 minutes or so (24/7)and Metro. I can only speak of Terminal 1.
I was very impressed at being able to pass border control very quickly using my electronic passport and my fingerprint: it is rare that the equipment available for such entry is actually working so it was a pleasant surprise to be able, in effect, to just 'walk into Spain' with no hassle at all. My bags arrived very quickly too.
I like the ease of catching the airport bus (just outside Arrivals) and the small sitting area around the statue of a large lady on a donkey, where i sat and read in the sun until it was time for me to check-in.
A word of warning though: on my return the airport was very busy (too many school groups on their way home). Queues for Easyjet check-in were huge (this is the reason I *always* pay for speedy boarding) and security was pretty chaotic. They only have very small trays which you have to fill then carry to the scanner..not easy if you have more than one tray (which is essential if you have a laptop/netbook with you).
The other word of warning is that, food and water both pre and post-security is grossly overpriced. But that is nothing new in airports, and certainly not unique to Barajas!
Barajas sure has changed since the days when I flew in and out of here on a regular basis. Not only is it much larger but it's beautiful! From the undulating formation of the ceiling to the abundance of shops and restaurants, it's now a world-class airport.
If you arrive in Madrid Barajas's Terminal 4, it's easy to take the Metro, because the Aeropuerto T4 metro station is right beneath the terminal.
However, if you arrive at Terminal 1 and want to take the metro, you need to walk to T2 and then to the metro entrance, then down into the metro. All in all, it's about 700 yards. Not a bad walk, but if you are jet-lagged or carrying a lot of stuff, it can wear on you.
A good alternative is to take the "Línea Exprés Aeropuerto" airport express bus (it even works well for T2 and T4 also)
Timetable To airport
Timetable From airport
Cost = 2 Euros (same as metro), paid in cash to bus driver
Airport pickup/drop off, at ground level, right outside T1, T2, and T4 terminals
City pickup/drop off, at ground level, in 3 locations having good public transport access:
--- Calle O'Donnel (metro Line 6, city bus)
--- Plaza Cibeles (metro Line 2, city bus, and night bus)
--- Atocha Railway Station (metro Line 1, city bus, and suburban/long distance/high speed trains)
Service is 7 Day/week, 24 hours/day, every 20 minutes [1130pm-0600am only goes between airport stops and Plaza Cibeles, which has night bus service to much of the city]
Bus can accept luggage up to 23kgs/50lbs, which is the standard acceptable checked bag weight
Bus travel time stated as 40 minutes between T4 and Atocha station, however of course this is dependent on traffic situation.
If you're like me, one of the ways you make traveling affordable is by taking public transport to/from airports whenever feasible. Madrid's Barajas is served by Metro Line 8, costing just 2 Euros [1 Euro standard Metro fare + 1 Euro Airport Supplement], which is like 1/20th the price of a cab.
Taking the Metro can be more of a hassle if you are sleep-deprived after a long flight and/or you have too much luggage. For example, to take the Metro to the center of the city [the "Sol" stop, at Puerta del Sol, near Plaza Mayor], by metro, you must change trains twice....the first change is at Nuevos Ministerios, which is the end of Line 8 coming from the airport. Nuevos Ministerios is a big station and you must walk a long ways to get from Line 8 to Line 10.
(Note: the new 2-Euro Línea Exprés Aeropuerto bus now travels between T1/T2/T4, and O'Donnel, Plaza Cibeles, and Atocha Railway station. If you arrive/depart @ T1, it will save you lots of walking!)
However, if you spend another 1,3 Euros, you can get to Sol 15 minutes faster, walk less, and change trains only once. How? Once you arrive at Nuevos Ministerios, take the "Cercanias" suburban railway [like the RER in Paris] to your destination.
Getting off of the Metro at Nuevos Ministeros
When you disembark, on the platform, look for signs to the "Cercanias" suburban railway [like the RER in Paris].The Cercanias logo is a solid red circle containing a reversed white letter "C." The interchange between the Metro Line 8 and Cercanias is easy, with lifts and escalators, and actually requires less walking than from Line 8 to Line 10 within the Metro itself.
Follow the signs and exit the Metro and go to the Cercanias ticket machines or ticket window. Buy a ticket [the 1,3 Euros I mentioned above].
Going to the new Sol railway station in Puerta del Sol
Look for the directions to "Sol" or lines C-3 or C-4. Because other Cercanias trains pass through Nuevos Ministerios, be sure you get on the C-3 or C-4 train only. They are marked "Aranjuez" and "Parla" respectively, because those are the last stops on those routes. Sol is the next stop, and takes only 5 minutes.....rather than 18 minutes, 6-7 stops and another train change on the Metro.
Going to Atocha Railway Station
For Atocha station, you can get on any southbound Cercanias train [follow signs that say "Atocha" on them]. It will be the second stop and the journey will take 8 minutes rather than the Metro's 22 minutes, another train change, and 10 total stops.
Going to Chamartin Railway Station
For Chamartin station, you can get on any northbound Cercanias train [follow signs that say "Chamartin" on them]. It will be the next stop, and the journey will take 4-6 minutes rather than the Metro's 14 minutes and four stops.
East of the city is Madrid’s busy Barajas Airport - around 13kms (9 miles). It is Spain’s busiest and largest airport. It was opened in 1928 and new runways and terminals were continually added over the years. Today the airport has 4 terminals and services major airlines such as American, British, LAN, Air Europa and Spanair to name just a few. It was voted the Best Airport in 2008 in the Conde Nast Traveller Reader Awards.
Barajas airport's new terminal 4S is very, very large.
It is also very far from anywhere else.
After landing and passing through immigration one must take a special metro shuttle to T4 to collect one's luggage.
The metro shuttle is located down a few flights of stairs.
There is also an escalator and a lift to reach it.
Once there one cannot return upstairs again. The shuttle is free.
It is a high speed metro that travels for a good 4 minutes.
Just how far away is it really I wonder?
It is located 13 km north-east of central Madrid. From Terminal 1,2,3 it is very easy to come to the center of Madrid. Madrid metro is connected with airport and with only 10 minutes of rides and only 2 Euro you will be in the down town.
Madrid Barajas Airport is Spain's busiest airport, handling more than 40 million passengers a year. Madrid airport is a host of many low budget airway companies such as Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizzair..
Our arrival in Madrid was after a 3-hour flight to Toronto, followed by a 7-hour wait there before catching a 7-hour overnight flight to Frankfurt and then an almost immediate a 2.5 hour flight to Barajas airport, arriving just before noon at our hotel. We continued onward the next afternoon and did not return to Madrid until 19 days later. At least we had two nights in the city on our return trip, so made use of the extra time to do a bit of exploring.
On the initial booking of our flights from Canada to Spain, we had ended our flight reservations in Madrid. I was thinking that I would pick up a rental car there and enjoy a scenic countryside drive to the coast somewhere in the Malaga area, similar to what we had done in Lisbon, Portugal five years earlier. However, when my wife's sister booked her flight from England to meet us way up the coast in Alicante, I realized that too much driving would be involved.
After debating whether to take a train, bus or flight from Madrid to Alicante, I came to the conclusion that a flight would likely be the simplest and fastest way to go, given our lack of Spanish while trying to figure out all the details of the other modes of travel. Surfing the internet, I managed to find the "EDreams" website based in London - an outfit that offers cheap tickets for sale. They were fast and efficient, charging me 32 Euros (including cancellation insurance) for the booking fee and securing us two round-trip seats on Spanair for another 98 Euros. The total price of 65 Euros each for round-trip tickets seemed quite reasonable by Canadian standards!
The flights themselves were on-time and smooth with very good service on the McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft servicing this route, with a flight time of 1-hour. I was really pleased that we decided to fly to the coast - had some great views coming into Alicante as well.
The Barajas airport is located 12km away from the city center. There are 4 terminals. The 4th terminal is a beautiful new terminal, a bit further from the others and usually the airlines I use go there. There is a free shuttle bus between T1,T2,T3 and T4.
How to go to the center:
-taxi. I never used one but it’s useful when there is no bus or metro. The cost is about 25 euros to Puerta del Sol.
-bus. There is bus that takes you to Colon square for 2,50 euros 4:30am-02:00am but also local buses that go to Avenida de America bus/metro station.
-metro. The best and cheapest option. 6:00am-01:30am. Take the pink line(N.9) and change at Mar De Cristan for the brown line(N.4) or at Nuevos Ministerios for the blue (N.10) or grey(N.6) line.
The metro ticket costs 1 euro but the best options is the metrocard that costs 6.70euro for 10 trips (metro or bus). Have in mind that going/coming to/from you have to validate an extra ticket that also costs 1euro. I took the metrocard from the machines and the menu is in English so there was no problem using the touch screen. I always travel light so I don’t have any problem with escalators, many changing lines but if you have a lot of things maybe it’s not the ideal transfer for you.
If you use Iberia for oversea flights go to the “Madrid Amigo” desk (T4). Usually, because they offer free transfer/accommodation for those who have to wait the night there for their transit flight.
Arriving in Madrid from the US, I was alerted to the fact that the time that I thought we landed was off by an hour when I saw the large clocks (photo 5) that there are everywhere in the terminal. There were stairs (escalators), trains and elevators to get us to immigration where they stamped our passports and took the top half of the form we had to fill out. Then we went through security again to get to our next flight.
On the way to that flight, we went down two flights of stairs to a bus, the bus took us to the plane, and we had to walk up a flight of stairs to the plane.
On the way back to the states, we came into Madrid from Venice the day before we were to fly out. Photo 4 is the terminal from the plane as we landed. The baggage collection places (photo 2) were in the new T4 terminal where we arrived and we retrieved our luggage without a problem.
The next day when we flew out, we had to be sure that we told the taxi driver which terminal to take us to, as they are fairly widely separated.
After we found the AA airline counter, we got into a long line of people waiting to check in. I sat on my cane and we waited. Eventually one of the line herder ladies came and asked me if I wanted a wheelchair. I said I thought I'd be OK. So she went away. A little later, she came and asked again, so I said I would surrender to the wheelchair.
The wheelchair lady took us to the business class check-in. First we had our passports validated that we had had our baggage for "years, months, days" and we said years, and that we packed them ourselves etc. She put a sticker on the passport. Then we actually checked the bags and got our boarding passes. The wheelchair lady then walked us very fast up elevators and down corridors (where yesterday we just rode the people-mover photo 3) to security. She horned us into the front of the security line.
Here for the second time at Madrid, when my grandson went through the magnetic doorway, it beeped. The procedure seems to be that they ask me how old he is (in Spanish so it takes me awhile to figure out what the question is and then they look at his passport to verify), and then ask my permission to search him. Then they pat him down - they don't use the wand. I don't know why he sets the detector off here as he has not done so anywhere else even wearing the same clothing.
I walked through the doorway and was fine. We did not have to take off our shoes anywhere in Europe. We repackaged ourselves and the lady, walking briskly took us to the gate and said she would be back in 40 minutes. It was now 9:45. They pulled us out of the regular line at 9:00, and with priority handling, it had taken us 45 minutes to get to the gate. So I was glad that I had opted for the wheelchair.
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