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The Key to Success Is Knowing All Your Options
Dalaman Airport, Turkey (DLM)
Member Name: B_Whiting
Dalaman Airport, Turkey (DLM)
Advantages: Very Structured
Disadvantages: Can sometimes leave a sour taste
I currently work for one of the major UK tour operators that operate from Dalaman airport. I have been working at Dalaman airport for two years now as an airport controller, and have lived in Turkey for a total of three years. As you can imagine when being based at an airport you will encounter many a problem. The purpose of my review is to try and aid anyone that is thinking of travelling to Dalaman airport, mainly through hints and tips. It is very easy to become nervous when in a foreign country, especially when you have no idea where you are going or what you need to do next, but hopefully with the right information it will make for a much less stressful experience.
**There are many tour operators located at Dalaman airport as it has a full 7 days a week flight programme, with flights landing all throughout the day and night. For example, Thomas Cook, Thompsons, Jet 2 Holidays. You can also purchase international flights with Monarch, Pegasus, Free Bird, Onur Air, just to name a few. Each year these flight programmes and operators do alter due to operational needs, sometimes extra destinations are added, or there may be the need to include flights that are not direct but this is all explained when you make your booking with your travel agent.
**Prior to 2006 all flights were directed into one terminal, by this I mean both domestic and international flights. However, since 2006 a new terminal has been built to cope with the demand for international flights. The old building remains the same and is solely used for domestic flights now. The new international building is much larger and more modern, probably not as modern in comparison to Uk airports but it is a start.
**Dalaman airport is also a military airport, there is a military base on site, the entrance of which is just at the bottom of the ramp to departures, marked by a statue of a fighter jet. So if you find yourself wondering why there are more armed police officers than what you are used to seeing, now you know the answer.
** Dalaman is used for the holiday resorts of Marmaris, Içmeler, Turunç, Fethiye, Ölüdeniz, Hisaronü, Çalış, Kaş and Kalkan.
**When landing at Dalaman airport, you can make one of two approaches. Either over the mountains or over the sea. The runway is very close to the coastline, so it can seem as though the airport has snuck up on you when you cross a small beach and then all of a sudden you have touched tarmac.
**As far as I am aware, all aircraft now have walkway access from the each aircraft, you do not climb down the stairs on the runway. It is a very short walk through arrivals to visa control. Here, if you do not have a residency permit or a Turkish Kimlik card you will need to pay for your visa. For UK citizens the price is 10 pound sterling per person. (TIP: from my experience, ensure that you each have a 10 pound note and that you are not paying with a 20 pound note for two people. This does sound a little double dutch, however, I have come across situations where people have had issues with this. As the police at visa control only allow one person to the window at a time, they can get quite annoyed when you try paying for two people).
** The next bank of desks is passport control. The police here will check the visa that you just paid for and then they will stamp you into the contry and send you on your way. Beyond these desk will be escalators to take you down to the luggage carousels. This is quite a speedy process, from my experience of working at this airport, I would expect to see my first guest only a short 30 minutes after the flight has landed.
** Inside the baggage hall, there will be airport staff offering you trollies for your suitcases. These trollies are available for one pound, one euro or three turkish lira. The price has never changed, so I can pretty much guarantee it will still be the same when you make your trip.
**You will also find your last chance duty free shop here in the baggage hall, a little idea whilst your here is to pick up a bottle of Chivas Regal Whisky, I can bet my life on it that there will be at least 5 Turkish men in the coach park willing to buy this from you, which means there will be at least 5 Turkish men willing to give you the best service and the best help in the coach park.
** When you leave the baggage hall, and exit the airport there will be no representatives waiting. As I mentioned before Dalaman is a military airport, so the police do not allow anyone to wait outside the entrance, you will find everyone down the ramp in the coach park. Be sure to take care on the ramp as it is very steep and can be quite a task if travelling in heels with a heavy suitcase.
**Once at the bottom you will see a large semi circle of desks, this is where you will find all tour operators and transfer companies. There are cash machines available in the coach park that provide pounds, euros and turkish lira. You will also find a cafe with an outside seating area, but be warned this is quite expensive, a bottle of water will set you back around two pounds and can of pop can cost around three pounds. (TIP: You will also find that the airport runs on a lower exchange rate, so if you were to pay in lira it would be more expensive than if you paid in pounds). If you are travelling with a UK company you will find that they have water available on the coaches, this is much cheaper and the going price is two bottles for one pound sterling. The only toilet facilities in the coach park are on the side of the cafe, these are not the most pleasant.
**When deciding on a transfer company, the options are pretty simple. If you have booked a full package holiday with a tour company that had transfers included, you should find your way to the Tour operator desk and the representative will check your name and send you over to your coach. UK tour operators aim to have thier coaches out of the coach park just one hour after the flight has landed so there is no waiting around. The only time these will be slightly delayed is if a passenger unfortunatley has missing luggage and needs to make a report. Other tour companies such as ResortHoppa, United Blue, A2B etc need to be booked online prior to arriving at the airport, these all have a desk. The downside of these private hire companies is that they may have combined your flight with another so they can fill the seats on one coach and save money. So you may find that you have to wait in the coach park for a while to meet the guests from a later flight. UK tour operators also have a limited amount of drop offs as the transfers are quite lengthy, and they will make a short comfort stop along the way. Private companies also have a comfort stop and this depends on how long the driver wants a break for, they also have no limit on how many hotel drop offs they have on one coach. There will also be no representatives with private transfer companies to give you the welcome information that you may want. No transfers can be booked from the airport, if you arrive at Dalaman without having booked transfers your only options are to either take a private taxi, or to wait for the local service. Private taxis at Dalaman airport are very expensive and od not have fixed prices, they charge whatever they feel. The local service is called the Havaş coach. This only arrives 50 minutes after a Turkish flight has landed, and will only take you to the bus station in resort, meaning you will then need to make your own way to your hotel from there.
**There is a lot to be said for having a rep service at the airport. For instance, if your are having any problems with luggage on arrival you will have a rep waiting for you, that will hold the coach for you and be sure to answer any questions that you may need answering. (TIP: If you were to lose a suitcase on arrival, make sure you report this before leaving the baggage hall, there is a lost and found office in there that will take all your details and print out your relevant documents. If you leave the airport to tell the coach to wait for you it will take you another 15 minutes at least to try and get back inside through security. If you are travelling with a UK tour operator they WILL know that you are inside reporting lost luggage without you having to go outside).
**When coming back to Dalaman for your departure flight you will find things are run slightly differently, again, due to Dalaman being a military airport. When you arrive at departures and you enter the main doors, you will be met with your first set of security. Here they scan your suitcases as you enter the airport. (TIP: If your suitcase is checked they will take your passport information, do not panic, this is just to make a note that they have opened your suitcase). You CAN take water through this security to drink in the check in queue.
**Then you will need to make your way to your check in desk. Check in desk 1-31 are to the left and 32-60 on the right, you can find your check in desk numbers on the television screens provided. Above each check in desk is the number and another screen displaying the flight number. Sometimes the queues can get a little muddled as there are very inappropriate pillars placed in the strangest of places which can make it hard to queue sometimes.
**Check in is very slow at Dalaman airport, not just for one tour operator in particular but all of them. For some reason the system that Dalaman uses takes an age and the wait can be quite long. Do not let this put you off, whilst waiting in the queue it can be a perfect opportunity to pre-weigh your suitcase, as at Dalaman airport they are very strict and will charge for every kilo that you are over. (TIP: The empty check in desk can be used to pre weigh your suitcase so you don't get any nasty surprises).
*Burger King, McDonalds, KFC - be expected to pay around 15 pounds for a standard meal. Dalaman is quite possibly the most expensive airport in the entire world.
*Cafe Turka - Still very expensive, however, it has a very nice seating area, and considering there is only one bench for the whole of the check in hall it may be worth splashing out on a cup of tea to be able to sit on thier luxury leather sofas.
*Telephones - There are telephones at either end of the check in hall, however these are not coin operated and you will need a phone card to use them. If you do not already have one, then you would be able to purchase these from a UK representative.
*Escalators - The escalators at Dalaman are motion sensitive. If the sensors are not activated then the escalators do not move. You need to step onto the escalators for these to move, make sure you hold on because sometimes it can be a little unusual and send you into a little bit of a wobble.
*Tax Return - If you have purchased any gold, or leather in resort and have a certificate of authenticity, then you can claim your tax back at the airport. After you have checked in, but before you go through passprt control and into departures there is a Tax returns office you can visit. You will need to take your reciept and ID and they will refund the tax you paid on your items.
*Smoking - Up until this year there were no smoking areas at Dalaman, but since October 2012 they have opened up smoking areas. There is one next to check in desk 60 and one next to departure gate 27.
I really hope that these tips will help anyone thinking of using Dalaman airport to get to thier holiday destination. Sometimes an airport experience can make or break someones holiday memories. An excellent first impression when arriving at the airport can set the stead for an excellent holiday, and a well informed departure can finish a holiday perfectly. The key is preperation, so hopefully if you were to read my review you now know what to use and what to avoid, or sometimes it is just nice to know what options you have so you can make your own journey.
Thank you for reading my review, and maybe if any of you are travelling through Dalaman airport summer 2013, we may even meet :)
Summary: Preparation and knowledge is definatley very important for this airport