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Heraklion Airport

Loch Lomond
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Heraklion Airport

After a gap of about seven or eight years we returned to Crete this month for a week's holiday. We had a good time but I had forgotten how totally unsuitable and disorganised Heraklion Airport is for the amount of traffic it handles.

There are not enough people designated to organise the intolerably long queues for check in and when you are inside the airport you cannot move around with your cases because people are queuing everywhere. It can take three hours to be processed in this airport, which IMO is totally unacceptable.

The authorities clearly know about the problems but they do nothing about them. The surprising thing is that the last time we were in Crete it was just the same. No improvements at all have been made over the years and it is so bad that much as we love Crete, we will not be coming back. Heraklion airport is one little piece of hell that can be avoided by going elsewhere.

Surrey, United...
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for Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Crete
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11. Re: Heraklion Airport

Yes I am lucky living in the south of England :-) and having access to Easyjet cheap direct flights were we pay on average £100 per flight return and the flight only takes 3 hours 40 mins....

London, United...
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12. Re: Heraklion Airport

HI MG100

> I really don't see a problem with the airport, its no worse or better than any other airport in Greece....<

I just don't see how you can say that! I know only three Greek airports (in recent times, I mean: I knew others many years ago and that doesn't count) - that is, Athens, Heraklion, and Chania.

Athens is a very good airport: efficient, well-designed, user friendly. The pleasantest airport for getting delayed in that I know, with so many good shops, including a bookshop with a good selection of English books, that the time flies by. I remember once actually being sorry when my flight was called.

Chania is a good airport: still just about adequate for the traffic it has to cope with. There are rarely long, slow queues for check-in or security, and there is a lovely park just outside where you can wait until your departing flight arrives from wherever it's coming. The park is new in the last few years, but even before it I was always perfectly happy and never stressed out in Chania airport.

Heraklion airport is a chaotic airport, inadequate for the use it gets, and by any reckoning it's worse than either of the other two, and not to be compared with either of them. I hesitate to say that you've just been lucky. But I suspect that after a couple or more years of five trips a year, you've learned the ropes so expertly, and managed so cleverly to develop coping strategies, that maybe you don't notice the ghastliness any more, as those who use it less frequently do. But it can be quite ghastly (sometimes more than other times, I know). And whatever the reasons, the justifications, or the excuses, it's a terrible airport to depart from. I don't think we should make light of that: it's better for prospective users to at least know what they can expect.

I Heraklion were Crete's sole airport, I'd use it for my twice-yearly visits and suck it up. But I have a choice, and after my last experience there three years ago - hundreds outside in the sweltering heat, hopelessly long queues for check-in and security, people panicking right and left about missing their flights and tour reps encouraging them to go to the front of the queue (thus causing lots of necessary but unpleasant aggro) I've avoided it. I've almost always used Chania anyway, since I stay in the south west, but occasionally I like to spend a little time in Heraklion, and often the flights are cheaper. No more, though. For me it's worth whatever it costs to avoid Heraklion airport, and my visits there will be by bus from now on.

13. Re: Heraklion Airport

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Surrey, United...
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for Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Crete
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14. Re: Heraklion Airport

Over the last three years I have travelled to and through Athen, Heraklion in both summer and winter, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos and Preveza airports.

I still stand by my comment that Herkalion is no better or no worse than any other Greek airport,....apart from Kos of course, which is horrendous ,.................You stick to Chania Alabastron , but I am more than happy to fly into Herkalion airport five times a year :-) :-)

Holstebro, Denmark
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15. Re: Heraklion Airport

Hi

Will just add that Rhodes airport this May was super fast, arriving & departing. We were really impressed. Samos airport is really laid back, again no hold ups. Heraklion, hmmmm...chaos! But it wouldn't stop me going to Crete, Chania was, last July almost as chaotic!

So, we love Greece, they have no money for new/improved airports right now...but the airport experience is well worth the holiday imo:-)

Janice

Toronto
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16. Re: Heraklion Airport

Would someone please tell me how early I have to arrive at Herakion airport for my return flight to Athens?

Loch Lomond
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17. Re: Heraklion Airport

Thank you for a good post Alabastron. I too love Crete but we should not let our fondness for any place influence our opinions on the bad stuff. Heraklion airport is a nightmare. This month was the first time I had used it for several years and that is what prompted me to make this comment.

In the intervening period I have been to Turkey (several times), Thailand, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Sri Lanka (twice), Rhodes and Fuerteventura, I saw nothing in any of the airports in these places that got even close to the hell that is Heraklion airport.

We should not be making excuses for it. It's quite simply a terrible airport and I am sure it could be improved by some better organisation. As soon as I arrived for my flight home and saw the queues I got flashbacks to all the other times I had used it in the past. Absolutely nothing has changed in 20 years. That the authorities have allowed it to go on like this for so long shows a shocking disregard for their visitors.

London, United...
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18. Re: Heraklion Airport

Kalimera MG.

I defer to your knowledge of Greek airports, so much more extensive than mine. ;-0)

> You stick to Chania Alabastron , but I am more than happy to fly into Herkalion airport five times a year :-) :-)

<

You're more than welcome to it! But I'll bet if we conducted a survey, 9 out of 10 people who know both airports, would agree that Chania offers a less stressful experience. :-0)

Edited: 27 July 2013, 07:59
London, United...
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19. Re: Heraklion Airport

>I too love Crete but we should not let our fondness for any place influence our opinions on the bad stuff. <

Alex_Andraya, I agree. I think it's important rule of life generally that we should see it as it is, and tell it like it is, and not make light of stuff that is obviously - in most people's experience - bad.

Looking back on my last and possibly final stint in Heraklion airport, which was similar to the other 10 or 12 over 30 years (as I explained, I use Chania almost always) the worst part of it was the attitude of the staff members with whom I came in contact. The woman at check-in was extremely surly. I had arrived in very good time, but had had to queue for an hour. By then I was concerned about missing my flight, and said so, but the woman just shrugged and said "You have plenty of time". There should have been plenty of time, but by then the queue for security was snaked three times around the hall, and continuing on outside: there should bhave been plenty of time, but the queue was barely moving, and there was clearly not plenty of time.

I joined it, and stood in it for about another hour, during which time I covered approximately half the distance to the end. I would not have caught my flight had I not heard a tour rep advising some of her flock to jump the queue and go straight through security, and that's what I did. I won't attempt to describe the scrum at security, my memory has blotted out the specifics, but I recall the fury of those being jumped over, a great deal of pushing and shoving, and desperate passengers shrieking at disgruntled, over-worked, over-tired, seemingly (but who knows?) un-caring staff. That was the point at which I decided, Never Again.

But who knows? I repeat that will use Heraklion airport if there is some good reason to or if I have no choice, because nothing is going to stop me getting to Crete. But I'd much rather not.

I have lots of sympathy for those who have had bad experiences at Heraklion airport, and am very sorry if it puts them off coming to Crete. But I think it's better to suggest they use Chania, which really IS much better, than to make light of the chaos at Heraklion.

Edited: 27 July 2013, 08:20
Devizes, United...
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20. Re: Heraklion Airport

One issue about Iraklion that we haven't mentioned yet is that the vast majority of tour operators that serve the island choose just two days per week for most of their inbound and outbound flights which only makes the scrum on those days much worse. You might think that after all this time, the tour operators "might" sit at a table and agree that " you fly in/out on Mondays", " you Tuesdays" and so on to spread the load of the package changeover days. That's why we always go to Crete with easyJet these days, it means that we are only checking in for one flight with at worst a further 150 or so passengers, rather than being in a half mile long conga line.

What also causes a major time issue is the three different check ins. At most international airports, you check your bag, it gets weighed, tagged and you wave goodbye to it. It will then be screened en route to the plane. At Iraklion of course, the scanners are to the side of the check in desks, so you check your bag, but keep it and then join the queue for the scanner.

Alex, the points you make are totally valid and I can see why you would want to avoid Iraklion, but I would just like to politely ask what you would like the airport to do about the situation it finds itself in? The reason the authorities can't change anything is because there is no further room for expansion. An additional bank of check in desks would be wonderful and would ease the congestion and the aggravation, but where can the authorities put them, there's simply no more room.