Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Beware - airports off the beaten track!!

As my sister and I arrived back from a Ryanair flight from Marseille to Torp/Sandefjord airport, some of the French passengers looked surprised on arrival and asked - have we really arrived in Oslo? Ryanair is one of many low cost airlines that do not inform the travelers that you may have to use considerable time from an airport off the beaten track to your destination.

This deception is even cunningly used in their marketing. Oslo/Torp, Frankfurt Hahn, and Paris Beauvais are good examples on how Ryanair market airports off the beaten track. When traveling by a budget airline, be advised to check exact where you travel to, as you may to add a considerable amount of time and money for transportation to the price of that cheap ticket. Here are a few airports off the beaten track.

Norway: Sandefjord Airport, Torp (Oslo - Sandefjord Airport, Torp = 86 km / 54 miles)

This airport is incorrectly called Oslo/Torp by several airlines. It is the 2nd largest airport in South Eastern Norway and serves the city of Sandefjord. It is the major hub for Ryanair in Norway and is located 86 km (54 miles) south east of Oslo.

Ryanair has services to 27 different destinations in the UK and the continent. Wizz air operates from Sandefjord Torp to 6 airports in Poland (4), Hungary (1) and Ukraine. Other airlines are Widerøe (5 domestic, 1 international flight) and KLM (1 flight to Amsterdam).

Around 1,3 million passenger traveled through Sandefjord Airport, Torp in 2006.

There are shuttle bus services to each flight. Be aware that you may use at least 1,5 hours maybe more, and be advised to check what bus that serves your flight. The main road out of Oslo is one of the busiest in the country, and may get congested during rush hour and during weekends.

See the official website of Sandefjord Airport, Torp here

Norway: Moss Airport Rygge: (Oslo - Moss Airport Rygge = 59 km / 36 miles) (Photo Johanroed)

Rygge airport is the newest airport and service the city of Moss and the greater Oslo area. It is in hard competition with Oslo airport and has struggled to get the attention of budget airlines , and both easyjet and Air Berlin has shown interest, but no services has materialized. The only major airline flying from Rygge is currently Norwegian Air Shuttle that operates 5 domestic and 17 (partly seasonal) flights to the UK and the continent.

In addition companies as Iberworld, SunExpress, Flynordic, Spanair, and Pegasus operates charter flights to Cyprus, Crete, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Mallorca from Rygge.

There is public transportation from Oslo. You may take either a regional train from Oslo Central Station and further transportation by a free shuttle bus, or take an express bus from Oslo Bus terminal.

See the official website of Moss Airport Rygge here

Germany: Frankfurt Hahn (Frankfurt Hahn - Frankfurt Am Main = 120 km / 75 miles)

Frankfurt Hahn is off off the beaten track, as it is located close to the cities of Kirchberg and Simmern in Rhine-Palatinate. It is a major hub for Ryanair, and the budget airline operates 48 and domestic and international flights. Other airlines are Wizzair (1 flight to Poland) and Iceland Express (1 flight to Keflavik).

You may get from the airport to railway stations in Köln, Koblenz, Trier, Mainz, Frankfurt, Kirn, Idar-Oberstein and Saarbrücken where you can connect with Deutsche Bahn trains or local transport links. Check with the schedules before you leave to get the right connection.

See the official website of Frankfurt-Hahn airport here

France: Paris Beauvais Tillé Airport (Paris Beauvais Tillé Airport - Paris, Porte Maillot = 79 km / 43 miles)

I remember arriving in Paris in 1983 as a charter tourist. The Star Tour travelers landed at Beauvais airport. At that time it was a tiny airport and there was only a shuttle bus service from the airport to Porte Maillot, between La Defence and l'Arche de Triomphe.

It is a hub for Ryanair with 20 flights to European and UK destinations. Blue Air has one service to Bucharest and Wizzair flies to 6 destinations in Rumania, Hungary and Poland. 2 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2007.

You travel to Paris by shuttle bus or by train (4 km from airport) and the end point for the bus service is now as then Porte Maillot.

See official website of Paris Beauvais-Tillé airport here

United Kingdom: London Stanstead Airport (London Stanstead Airport - London = 40 km / 30 miles)

London Stanstead airport is maybe the largest airport mentoned here. In fact this major hub is the third busiest airport in the UK, and one out of four serving the Greater London Area.

Here Ryanair is the largest airline by far, with flights to around 110 destinations all over Europe. Besides Ryanair there are many other airlines operating from London Stanstead Airport to Europe, the Middle East and to Pakistan, and charter airlines operating services from Stanstead to different destinations.

Around 23 million passengers traveled through London Stanstead airport in 2008.

London Stanstead Airport is the airport with the best links to the nearest tourist destination with coach services and trains from the airport to London and beyond on a regular basis. I have traveled by bus as well as train. I found the coach service slow, and do recommend the train as a quicker and more comfortable way to get to London. When traveling to catch a flight from Stanstead, do allow yourself enough time to get there, as I find public transportation in the Greater London area rather chaotic with frequent delays and interruptions.

See official website of London Stanstead airport here

Italy:Orio Al Serio (Orio Al Serio Airport - Milan = 59,3 km / 37 miles)

One of my most chaotic airport experiences was in the year 2000, when traveling from Oslo to Orio Al Serio to explore Italy with a friend arriving at Milan Malpensa. The flight was operated by SABENA, and I changed flights at Zaventem Airport.

This is also a major hub for many airlines, Ryanair being one, with flights to all over Europe, UK, and Egypt. Around 6 million passengers was estimated to travel to and from the airport in 2008.

I had not checked transportation 9 years ago, and found the transportation to and from Milan to the airport very uncomfortable. I would hesitate today, if thing had not changed, but it luckily has. Now there are shuttle bus to and from Bergamo station and from here trains depart to Milan frequently.

Even though, I would hesitate to travel to Orio Al Serio, and would prefer Linate or Malpensa, the two other airports serving Milan.

See official website of Orio Al Serio Airport here

Spain: Girona - Costa Brava Airport (
Girona - Costa Brava Airport = Barcelona 91,5 km / 59 miles (Photo: Dantadd))

Girona - Costa Brava Airport is also called Barcelona Girona, in spite of the fact that it is the airport most off off the beaten tracks. I have personally not travelled here, but a former colleague told me that traveling from this airport to Barcelona may be challenging due to heavy traffic.

Girona - Costa Brava Airport is another Ryanair hub, and other budget and charter airlines will bring 4,8 million passengers to destinations in Europe and the UK.

Shuttle bus services will bring passengers to Barcelona, resorts on Costa Brava, and Perpignan in France. Travel time to Barcelona is estimated to 1 hour and 10 minutes, but delays due to heavy traffic may occur.

See official website for
Girona - Costa Brava Airport here

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