Heraklion International Airport is the main airport on the Greek island of Crete but you could argue the fact about it being truly an international airport. Obv-course, the airport has many international flghts on a daily basis during the Summer however the size & infrastructure along with the facilities don't match those of other international airports.
Heraklion International is a very small airport, from the outside as you approach it, it's image makes it look larger than it actually is and you maybe led to thinking even stood outside it looks large but step through the doors & you realise it's not. Checkin is a very small area, infact domestic departure checkin (thats flights to other Greek airports) is larger & more open than international checkin. On the wall by the entrance doors you find airline & handling agent information/sales desks, Swissport is the main handling agent in Heraklion and you'll find their desk is the biggest and has most of the airlines that fly to/from Heraklion have their logo on there.
Opposite this you have the checkin counters, which look like they were made in the 50's. The queue area for checkin is tiny and if your airline has not paid for enough desks you can guarantee there will be a big queue & it will be a bit of a tight squeeze. First you checkin at the checkin counter THEN, because the airport is so old, the desks are not connected to the baggage belts so you queue up again to scan your suitcases with security before going down to passport control, now if your on a domestic flight, lucky you, I have never seen a queue there yet but for international departures, if your travelling in the height of summer prepare for a big queue & a bit of a wait you see, the airport has about 7 or 8 flights at once yet the departure lounge is only capable of holding 2-3 flights at once.
There is the usual cafes dotted around along with toilets which I find dirty & minging, even though cleaners seem to constantly be cleaning them plus you have the usual duty free shop with a good range of bits & bobs which you would usually find, although a bit more pricey than usual.
Arrivals is not much different, the baggage belts seem to be rather good, only 4 of them but aslong as you dont get too many flights landing at once you should be fine.
Overall though its not a very good airport & should be knocked down and rebuilt but I cant see that happening anytime soon.
Heraklion airport Crete.
I have just come back from a holiday in Crete, it is the first time that I have visited this Greek Island and Heraklion airport was the nearest for my resort.
I had read quite a few reviews mostly about the delays and dirty toilets etc. But I was pleasantly surprised at arrivals and departures; it was no where near as bad as I had been led to believe.
Delays to aircraft can be for many reasons, late arriving from elsewhere seemed to be the main reason from what I saw so hardly the airport itself at fault for that.
Dirty toilets? Not that I saw, in fact they were very clean both in the departure side and arrivals, but I must add here that the departure side was forever being swept and cleaned due to ignorant and lazy travellers just dropping empty coffee cups and paper wrappers instead of walking a few feet to one of many bins provided.
I felt quite embarrassed when I saw a group of young English people just throwing food about and then laughing at the cleaners clearing it up after them. Of course an airport can get a bad name but it seemed to me that it was the travellers themselves abusing the facilities in this case, there was certainly enough cleaners milling about.
It is a small airport on the North side of the Island and about three miles from Heraklion one of the main cities.
Apparently it caters for over five million passengers a year, so it gets extremely busy during high season.
There is one terminal split into departures and arrivals.
A car park is just a few yards away from the terminal entrance and there are numerous car hire companies available.
Taxis are in abundance just outside the terminal but it is advisable to agree a price before actually setting off; I have heard so many stories of tourists getting stung for exorbitant fares but that is normal procedure anywhere abroad.
Local buses run to all resorts on a regular basis until late at night not an option that I would take personally because your hotel could be quite a walk from the main bus route so I much prefer to book a bus transfer when booking the actual holiday.
There is one Information desk in the departure area and open twenty four hours a day, I found the staff most helpful when I enquired about paying for extra leg room for my return journey, the amount of people that they have to deal with in a day must be such hard work but they were cheerful and efficient.
The plane landed and came to a halt quite quickly, the runway is not that long and in no time we were on a bus and being taken to the arrivals door. This took less than a minute thankfully because the sun was blazing and they did pack us in tight, but once inside it was lovely and cool with the air conditioning.
I found a toilet before I went through, it was nice and clean but the hand driers were totally useless, but to be fair they did provide paper towels.
Passport control was a quick walk through and onto the luggage collection area. There were screens displaying the flight numbers for the carousels and every thing was so easy to find.
My case came trundling around the carousel within ten minutes, record time for me that one.
I passed through a glass door and that was it a step out side and I found the transfer firm easily to get my bus to the hotel.
I was impressed with the whole speed of things arriving at this airport, they certainly have things organised to get you in and on your way as quickly as possible.
The bus dropped me right outside the departure door and I noticed quite a lot of people queuing under a canvas area, this was groups of travellers with a holiday firm, obviously the reps were trying to control the amount of people entering the hall due to the small size of the airport.
Not being a part of this I just entered the hall and found my gate number by looking at the large screen showing all departures, it was very busy but every thing was signed clearly and I soon found my check in desk. I was quite lucky because I was near the front of the queue so I only had to wait about fifteen minutes.
I asked about extra leg room at the check in and they allocated me a seat then directed me to the information desk to pay for it before issuing me with my boarding card, I didn't have to queue again to get this they just handed me it straight away after the payment slip was issued. My luggage was weighed and then I put it through the x ray machine.
Looking back at the departure screen I noticed a delay of one hour for my flight, it was delayed at Manchester coming out to Crete so I decided to venture back outside for an hour and enjoy the sunshine for a bit longer.
There are quite a few benches to sit and relax and I soon passed an hour just watching people arriving and departing.
It was amusing to see the airport police patrolling the roadside, if anyone left their car for more than a minute they jumped on them as quick as lightning pointing with frantic arms to the long stay car park just a few yards away.
After spending seven days in Crete the one thing that was made clear to me was a local driver on this island does not park a car in a car park they just stop their vehicle in the middle of the road and leave it there while they chat to their friend or go into a shop.
They have some funny rules these Cretan motorists because if a car with a car hire sticker on even stalls their car let alone double parks they start tooting their horn impatiently!!!!!!!!!
I wandered back into the departure door to make my way to passport control; I did notice a stationery shop and a cafe but decided to wait until I got to the other side.
I went through quickly after being frisked and my handbag searched, I always set the alarm off don't know why but I was not complaining security is very strict at this airport so quite happy about that.
The departure lounge was heaving with people due to another flight as well as mine being delayed but there was two cafe areas to grab a coffee and I soon found a seat. The coffee cost me 3.50 Euros and it was lousy so I only had a few sips before finding a bin. Upstairs had a very large duty free shop but I didn't find any bargains everything was a bit expensive but nice to browse around.
The one thing that did surprise me was a smoking area right outside the duty free shop it was also the viewing gallery to watch planes landing and taking off. Travellers having their final puff before boarding was filling the air with thick smoke, not the best spot to put it but I believe that has now stopped due to the smoking ban in public places coming into force on the 1st of July 09.
A quick walk around to find a paper and magazine for my journey was fruitless there is nothing after passport control except the two coffee bars and the duty free shop. A bit unusual so I will make sure that I buy before passport control on my next visit.
My flight came up for boarding and once again I was on a bus and taken to the plane within a minute, my holiday finally over.
A small airport having to deal with a vast amount of people, it was very overcrowded in the departure lounge, and cleaning was being done all the time but as I said previously some travellers have no manners what so ever, maybe a few of the airport police walking around in the lounge might deter people from acting this way, but on the whole I thought this airport was run very efficiently, and I look forward to my next holiday in Crete.
Heraklion airport's fairly ghastly but not unusually so - it's pretty much standard for a place-in-the-sun destination catering largely for package holidaymakers - it's nothing to be frightened of as there are similar ones just like it all over the Med. Who, in all honesty, worries about the state of the airport they're flying to if they're travelling in Europe? The airport's location in relation to the nearest town or main city is of much more importance, and it's merely for passing through....although I admit, if one were to be stuck in Herakilon Airport for any length of time, one would certainly find oneself, in the common parlance of our time, royally stuffed.
So it's a fairly small terminal with an inbound runway that begins just at the head of the beach, and seems to end...rather abruptly a surprisingly short distance away....so it can feel slightly hairy for passengers during landings but I'm sure - and the volume of air traffic that goes in and out of this place corroborates this - all perfectly safe.
You get bussed from the plane the short distance to the passenger terminal, which is so small and compact that there is little chance of getting lost en route. Passport control is quick and painless, and from luggage collection you step straight out into the reception area of the airport. It's right on the outskirts of Crete's captial, Heraklion (or Iraklio in Greek) and is served by a regular public bus service during the day; the 'main coast road(s)' of Crete (confusingly, there're two running in parallel, and old one and a new one, which they're still working on in parts) run right past the airport, and there are hourly or half hourly buses going into Heraklion and out along the coast road, serving the big resorts (Hersonissos, Malia, etc) and then on to the next big town on the north coast, Agios Nikolaios, that stop at the airport, also many taxi drivers in the area.
Returning to the airport for your return home flight, in high season you are very likely to be met by an insuffrable holiday rep who will try to direct all your movements. Or leave you standing outside like an eejit at 5am in the dark, as one large party of tourists we saw found themselves instructed to do; they were told by the nightmare rep-in-charge that they weren't to come indoors yet presumably as the queues were too big inside and there was no space for everyone. Those poor goons just stood there and had to watch other, less rigorously-controlled tourists wandering in and out freely (there were only six of us on our resort minibus and unknowingly, we slipped under the rep's net). This sort of thing is always tiresome, but then that's package holiday reps for you.
There is only one food outlet before airport security, and only one after, in which they charge you 4 Euros 20 cents for a basic sugar doughnut - in fact, everything to eat there, sandwiches, feta cheese pastries etc. all costs about 4 Euros 20 so at the time of writing, because of that overpriced doughnut, Heraklion Airport takes the prize for the most extortionate airport pricing I've ever seen anywhere, ever, ever. The take home message here is to bring your own food supplies. The airport duty free shop (there's only one) on the other hand sells some fairly OK value stuff - ouzo and olive oil based tat in particular for about the same prices as you'd find outside on the island, which was a surprise.
The airport toilets are however the stuff of nightmares. The baby's changing room is filthy and full of cigarette butts (I don't know why they bother hiding away in there; if the airport is indeed a no smoking zone, nobody seems to enforce it particularly rigorously - they're all puffing away like chimneys in the open on the 'viewing deck'). While the main loos are not especially unclean, in Heraklion airport ladies' toilet I found out at first hand exactly what they do with those bins full of used toilet paper - the soiled stuff with which the Greek plumbing system is apparently unable to cope, that in every other country in the world that has toilets, one just simply flushes down the drain. This isn't what you'd think and knowing what I know now, I may never enjoy complete peace of mind ever again. Let's just say it's a lot like the old joke about Baldrick from Blackadder's job prospects clearing up after horses in the street: 'after two years I get to start using a shovel'....I wonder how long on the job (very unfortunate choice of words there) before those Cretan airport toilet attendants get issued with a pair of gloves.....
Heraklion Airport is one of two aiports in Crete. It is about a 10 minute car / bus journey from Heraklion, which is the capital city of Crete.
It is a small aiport which is mainly used for lots of charter flights full of tourists during the summer months.
We went to Crete in early May, out of season, and we found the following:
Arrival at Crete:
We got through passport control very quickly and after some initial confusion about where to collect our baggage, we were able to exit the airport quickly.
We didn't organise transfers to our hotel and were stumped about what to do next. the Tourist Information booth was closed (too early in the season) and all though we could see the buses, we had no idea which one to get.
Coaches were only available to those who were more sensible than us and organised transport in advance. We had to take the taxi option and pay £25 euros for a 10 minute taxi drive.
Once through the EasyJet check in we had to take our suitcases to the Greek Security Officers. who then put our bags through a scanner. Other passengers complained about this inconvenience and I think if I was elderly or disabled it would have made the journey more difficult.
Once we were inside the terminal, there was one dodgy looking food outlet which sold hard baguettes and pastries with Feta Cheese. There was also one duty free shop.
By all accounts everyone seems to have a downer on Heraklion airport! I live in Crete and have used the airport many times with different airlines. When you arrive, this is the easy part! The tarmac is small and a bus will take you almost walking distance to the terminal where baggage collection is easy and you just walk through to the outside for onward transportation. If you are not with a tour operator there are many taxis awaiting outside and you can also get bus transport (90 cents) direct into Heraklion Centre, which is about 10 minutes ride (dependant on traffic). The departure can depend on what time you leave to be honest. In the winter months, when charter flights are not operational (Oct - April) you will find life easy. The system in Heraklion is that you check in with your ticket first, the bag is then tagged and you then have to go to another desk for the suitcase to be scanned and sent through for your flight. This is where the problems occur when the season is in full pace, as you can imagine there are many flights departing at the same time and the queues are long for both check in and then the scanning. Tour operators make you wait outside in lines for your flights - main ones being Tui (Thomson etc) and Thomas Cook (First Choice etc). This is very frustrating if you are in the daytime heat as there are no seats other than those directly outside the terminal and of course you have to remain in the queue to be told when to check in. This is done mainly due to the small check in area inside, which has air conditioning. Facilities inside are adequate in that there are small bars and cafes to get drinks and kiosk for cigarettes, sweets and snacks. A lot of the tour operators operate in the early hours, so you will amazed (like I was the first time) at the amount of people waiting at 3 am! Once you have gone through passport control the departure lounge is tight for the amount of flights operating. Toilets are reasonably clean and you can also get drinks etc inside. At the present time you can also smoke there. The problems occur as tour operators, even though aware there are flight delays (usually before you are even collected from your hotel) still get you checked through to departures before you get the bombshell you may be waiting hours for your flight. If a flight is delayed outward from the UK this has a knock on effect to the return flight and planes only have 1 hour on the tarmac to refuel etc and prepare for this. The tour operators do this mainly due to the fact that they have to get rooms vacated ready for incoming guests and also to keep the movement of travellers. Obviously when you are in the early hours and usually vacated your room by noon the day before it is frustrating. If you know the town and how easy it is to get there, then if you are aware of a long delay take a busride into Heraklion, but as I say, unfortunately a lot of holidays use the early morning flight slots, so no good then. Dont be put off though. If you were to use Olympic Airlines, Aegean or Easijet you could fly yourself and get good flying hours to do so and then find your own accommdation in Crete as there are many good deals to be had in the current economic climate. Do some research on the internet as Crete is a beautiful, varied island to visit. For the ones looking for a hectic nightlife, go to Malia, but if you want peace and tranquility Elounda is a place to see. Alternatively you can always fly to Chania, which is a much quieter airport and Monarch airlines regularly fly there.
After reading nothing but extremely negative reviews about Heraklion airport we were becoming increasingly anxious as our plane started to decend onto the Greek island of Crete!
We had read about long delays, lack of or broken air-conditioning, cramped, dirty and overcrowded baggage claim areas and many other complaints.
The airport is situated right by the sea and in the capital of Crete (Heraklion). As we landed I was surprised that the airport was actually of a reasonable size, there was nothing fancy about the outside of the building but at least it didn't look dilapidated!!
As we got off the plane via a set of steps we were immediately guided into a bus, which fortunately wasn't too crowded as there were other passengers waiting for the next one. After just a minute on the bus we were walking into the airport, which was to our relief, nicely air-conditioned! There were toilets just before passport control, which seemed pretty clean and not at all crowded. We walked straight through passport control, as there were no queues at all (Although I suppose there would be if more than one flight arrived at the same time).
In the 1st part of the baggage claim area there was a disabled toilet and two conveyor belts. There were a few seats around the room but as there were only passengers from our flight there, there was no fight for seats!
We waited about 15 minutes for our luggage details to be displayed on one of the screens but due to the air-conditioning and seating it was a comfortable wait. The screen told us that our luggage was on belt 4 which was in the next room, similar to the first, where there were a further two conveyor belts. The luggage came out very fast but we managed to grab ours as soon as it came out (other people kept missing it as it flew past them which did provide some entertainment but was probably not so funny for them!!)
A few peoples cases were a bit dirty when they came out but other than that there were no complaints. There were toilets in this area and they were very clean and again there were no queues.
We put our luggage on a trolley and made our way out of the airport where we were greeted by a rep who pointed us in the direction of the coach to take us to our hotel. All in all our arrival had been very pleasant.
After an hour and a half in a coach to get to the airport we were really hoping there wouldn't be any delays (although apparently Heraklion airport is known for its long delays!). When we arrived at the airport we were told that the entrance we were using was very small and so they could only let us in a few at a time! So we had to queue up under a canopy outside while they filtered us in! Fortunately we were quite near to the beginning of the extremely long queue so it only took about 10 minutes before we were let into the airport. Once inside it wasn't too hectic thanks to the queuing method and so we put our suitcases through the X-ray machine and then went to check them in which didn't take too long. In this area there were toilets and a couple of shops. We were then pointed in the direction of passport control where again we didn't have to queue too long! Following this was the conveyor belt for scanning hand luggage and we were in the departures lounge. When we first got in there, there weren't many people and there seemed to be plenty of seating (although the blue metal chairs weren't the most comfortable things in the world!). Downstairs there was a snack bar selling all sorts of drinks and snacks and then some toilets. Fortunately we decided to go to the toilet at this point as later on there were queues of about 20 people! The toilets weren't much to be desired, there were 3 cubicles but one was out of order which left only two and due to the hundreds of people in the departures lounge trying to use them, they weren't in a very nice condition! In fact they were pretty foul! The backs of the doors were also covered in graffiti where people had written how long they had been delayed for which wasn't such a great thing to be reading when you want to get out of the airport as soon as possible and are reading that people have been delayed for 6 plus hours!!!
The departures lounge was beginning to fill up quite quickly so we decided to have a look up stairs where there was a few chairs, a "restaurant" and a duty free shop. The restaurant was hardly a restaurant, there were very few tables and the food and drink was very expensive but being there earlier meant that we managed to get a table and a coffee. The duty free shop was pretty basic, but it did give us something to look at while we were waiting to board. Upstairs was also a long glass window where you could see the planes landing and taking off which meant that we could see when our plane arrived and there was also a nice view of the sea so it did provide some entertainment for about 15 minutes! When we went back downstairs we saw that the departures lounge was now pretty full and people were getting a bit ratty. There were a few screens scattered around and thankfully our flight was still leaving on time but I noticed that some other flights had delays up to 8 hours!! We finally heard an announcement that we could start boarding so we went through to our boarding gate where we were directed down a ramp and into a bus which was pretty full!!! At least it only took about40 seconds to drive us to our plane!
All in all our arrival was more pleasant than our departure but that was because we were fortunate enough to be the only flight coming in at that time. Our departure wasn't as bad as we expected but I could understand that the people standing at the back of the long queue just to get into the airport may not have been too impressed. The toilets in the departures lounge were the kind that you really want to avoid if possible but there had been good facilities on our arrival. The departures lounge was no where near as comfortable as those at Gatwick but considering Heraklion is a small airport it wasn't horrendous. There was sufficient air-conditioning both when we arrived and departed which did make it quite comfortable. The staff were friendly enough and there were plenty of staff and reps that spoke good English. To be honest, although it wasn't the most fantastic airport, both our arrival and departure were pretty good and the only real complaint is the toilets in the departures lounge, other than that the airport was better than we expected! I assume it depends on how many other flights are arriving/departing at the same time as yours but fortunately we had a fantastic holiday and no real problems with the airport. All European flights go in to Heraklion airport so the only way of avoiding the airport would be to fly to Athens and then get a boat to Crete but that is a much longer journey. Crete is such a lovely place that it is worth putting up with the airport, so although I don't "recommend the airport" as such, I do recommend that you use it and go to Crete!
Crete is where we went on our honeymoon so obviously we were expecting the best but that's not always the case! On the way there the airport wasn't too bad as you literally get off the plane, get your luggage then find the coach. On the way back though was a nightmare!!! We were all told to line up for ages as the airport was too full and there was no space for anybody to go que at the check in desks!! The last place you want to be fully clothed with all your hand luggage and suitcases is stood outside with the sun streaming down on you! It was awful. Finally when we did get in there were two lines to two check in desks but they didnt arrange anything well because everyone was merging together and din't no where to go.
Not reccommended to anyone especially not honeymooners!
To summarise in advance, Herakleio Airport looks like it hasn't been rennovated since the 1970's. It is boiling hot, overcrowded and unpleasant for inbound and outbound flights.
For many visitors, Nikos Kazantzakis Airport in Herkaleio will be their first impression of Crete - one of Europe's most beautiful islands. Upon landing, one will immediately notice the backwards nature of the airport facilities, starting with the poorly maintained and overcrowded buses which transfer passengers from the aircraft to the terminal building.
Once inside, visitors will recognize the lack of even a basic passport control system. You will then follow on to the ancient baggage carousels, I have travelled through the airport many times and have never waited less than 20 minutes for the bags to arrive. You may then battle your way through the holiday reps and taxi drivers exit the airport.
On outgoing flights, you may wish to use the duty free shops. Well stocked in cigarettes and cheap alcohol, but not much else. The departures lounge is smokey, warm and overcrowded. There is no visible security. Flights are often delayed, though I doubt whether that is the airport's fault. Even so, there are never any provisions for delayed flights and the on-site caffeteria is horrifically by Cretan standards.
However, whilst my review of the airport is somewhat negative, the airport does not ruin any trips to Crete. The island itself is incredibly beautiful and has plenty to offer tourists.
Greece, islands bathed in glorious sunshine, lapped by a tranquil sea - sounds great......but how you going to get there? Top tip, avoid Crete's Heraklion International airport! I travelled at the beginning of the season in May and the airport was herendous. The apron was full and it seemed everyone was collecting bags off the one conveyor, I think there was 2 in the arrivals hall. Check-in was equally bad, cramped, disorganised and security was poor at best. Shopping facilities, well lets just say buy a good book at home; shopping isn't Heraklion airport's forte. Food, I wasn't going to risk food poisoning as the food was left in the open and uncovered. There were some brave Austrian's who bought sandwiches but they quickly disposed of them in the nearest bin. Prepare for delays at Heraklion, it seemed every flight had a delay irrespective of destination. Fortunately, it wasn't peak period or the hottest time when I was there or it would have been awful. Best bits about Heraklion Airport, leaving it as it really is dire.
Crete is indeed a lovely place, but best visited by boat. Vacant-eyed criminals who have recently under-gone a thorough course of Electro-convulsive therapy, though without much success, comprise the Aiport staff. They seem more interested in their cigarettes, which they endlessly smoke, or in the case of non-smokers, the state of their fingernails. Checking in is a matter of plucking a queue at random then not moving, for at least several millennia. Several aeons’s wheel and pass and eventually you arrive at the front of the queue. Hurray. Once you have checked in there are 3 toilets (with no locks on the doors that open OUTWARDS!) and 2 “pissoires” available for male use. With at least several hundred people at any one time, you can imagine the state they are in. Once onboard the buses, you are in a fever of anticipation that, given the unlikely circumstances, you are actually about to board an aircraft and take to the air. My bus circled the aeroplane warily 3 or 4 times before reluctantly approaching and letting us off. According the holiday rep at my welcome meeting it is the 3rd worst airport in the world officially. I don’t know about that cos I imagine Uzbekistan International is no fun, amongst several other culprits, but Heraklion airport is clearly proof that the highpoint of Cretan civilization was 3 thousand years ago and its been steadily down-hill ever since.