“ Warsaw, Poland „
Warsaw Chopin Airport.
During my many recent trips to Poland's capital city Warsaw I have had many encounters with the city's airport; Warsaw Chopin Airport including simply passing through, tearful see you soons and even a few hours sleeping in a rather uncomfortable red plastic chair!
Ok, this feels like I will be writing the review backwards as I will first arrive at the airport by plane and tell you about leaving the airport.
The first time I arrived at Warsaw Chopin Airport was in April 2011 on a Wizz Air flight. After the flight landed we were taken by bus to the terminal building. The bus was one of the bendy bus ones and although it was large it didn't seem so big when they managed to squash a plane full of people into just two of these buses. The bus dropped us right outside the terminal door and as mentioned in my Wizz Air review, everyone pushed and shoved to leave the bus and be first to passport control. Unlike in the UK where we have barriers to queue around there was just a medium sized hall with about 6 passport control booths, however usually only about 2 or 3 are staffed. Taking this into account though the border control staff worked fast and the queue soon disappeared. After passing through passport control you will enter the baggage hall, there are actually two baggage halls but as they are only separated by a glass door it is more like one massive one. There are plenty of information boards around the hall and above the carousels to tell you where to find your baggage. I have taken hold luggage with me once and had no difficulty in locating the correct carousel to wait for my luggage. The transfer of luggage from the plane to the baggage hall was very fast, by the time we had come through passport control the carousel was already moving with cases coming through. After collecting any luggage and walking through the Nothing to Declare you will come out into the entrance hall. Here is where you will find a variety of shops including newsagents where you can buy tickets for the local buses, a couple of souvenir shops just in case you want to start your shopping early and also quite a few tour operators and information desks are spaced out around the hall. Upon leaving the hall and walking outside you will find plenty of taxi's waiting around as well as signs to the bus stops, it is also useful to know that as well as being able to buy your ticket in the shop inside the airport there is also a ticket machine located outside the building that accepts both cards and cash to purchase your tickets from and the language on the screen can be shown in Polish, English, German or French. The bus stops all have timetables on them which clearly show where the bus is going to and what time it will arrive. My experience of buses in Warsaw is they are very punctual, can be crowded and I wouldn't recommend trying to travel without a ticket as there are conductors who regularly check tickets.
After my time in Warsaw it was sadly time to return to the airport. The first time I returned to the airport was by car as we had friends visiting so they gave me a lift, getting to the airport we got a little bit lost as it wasn't sign posted too well, at this point I was getting excited that I might "accidentally" miss my flight! However no such luck and we eventually arrived at the airport, finding the car park was easy, however finding our way out of the car park and into the terminal building wasn't so easy, we found ourselves following signs that lead to no-where and in the end we walked out of the car park the way that we had driven in as it seemed like the logical thing to do.
There are two main entrances to the departures areas of the airport, Terminal A and Terminal B. I was flying from terminal A however I managed to end up entering through terminal B, but this was ok as you can walk to terminal A inside. Terminal B was a very large area with lots of check in desks, all of which were clearly signed with the different airlines and tour operators. There are also some tour operators information desks around the edge. There is plenty of seating available, it isn't the comfiest in the world but since when do airports have comfortable seats? As you walk through to terminal A there is a large section of red plastic seats which look comfier than they actually are, I know this because when, due to unforeseen circumstances I ended up spending a night sleeping at the airport I decided that these looked the comfiest and managed to fall asleep in them only to wake up with back ache and feeling slightly irritated by the squeaky noises the seats made every time you moved. As you enter terminal A there are a number of gift shops and newsagents, mostly selling "I heart Poland" t-shirts, mugs and key rings, the usual "souvenirs" There are also a number of coffee shops and little cafes, including Coffee Heaven, which I can highly recommend due to them not raising their prices just because they are located inside the airport. Around the edges of terminal A are all the check in desks, there isn't as many as terminal B, however again they are all clearly signed with the various tour operators and airlines to make it clear where you are checking in. Also to save you looking at every desk until you find the right one there are a number of boards around the terminal with check in information clearly displayed and also a massive board hanging in the middle of the terminal with all flight information clearly displayed. Terminal A also has a rather large model of a plane suspended from the ceiling which in my opinion looks pretty cool and not something that you see in every airport.
I have used the check in desks once at Warsaw Chopin Airport. I found the queue to be of a medium size and once the check in actually opened the queue moved faster than I thought. When I was called up to the desk the lady there was Polish, however when she saw I was English from my documents she spoke to me in very clear English and was very polite and told me to have a pleasant trip. With the check in complete I headed towards the security area to proceed to the departure lounge.
Each time I have been through security at Warsaw Chopin Airport there has never been too much of a queue and they have always had 3 or 4 out of the 6 security check points open so the queue is constantly moving. The security area is the same as most airports, remove any coats, belts, shoes and any large pieces of jewellery and place them in a tray along with your hand luggage and any liquids under 100ml in a resealable bag. These will go through the scanner while you walk through the body scanner. If the scanner beeps you will be searched by a member of security who is the same sex as you, if not then simply continue to collect your baggage and put all your bits and pieces back on.
As soon as you have gone through the security area you will find a wide variety of shops including duty free shops, more newsagents and gift shops. I have had a nosey around most of the shops while killing time and although the most I have purchased is a bottle of orange pop I noticed the prices are pretty reasonable, only a little higher than the shops in the city. The duty free looks to be good value with regards to special offers, however I noticed the prices of items not on offer doesn't vary too much from the city centre prices.
After shopping and browsing it is time to head to the departure gate, there are plenty of boards around giving flight information and departure gates and all of the gates are very clearly signed and easy to get to. Due to the airport being very big some of the departure gates can be a bit of a walk and take about 10 minutes to walk to, so make sure you allow enough time to get there in time for your flight. Depending on which gate you are flying from you may also pass through another passport control point on your way to the gate so also allow for a small queue here too. All of the departure gates have TV screens giving flight information and boarding time. All of the gates have plenty of seating and for a change from earlier in the airport the seats are padded and very comfortable. On the flights I was on the boarding gate staff were employees of the airline, so although they are not direct Warsaw Chopin staff they are kind of part of the airport so it is worth saying that they were polite and organised and ensured that everyone was through the gate in plenty of time to board the two buses waiting to take us all to the plane. Again the buses were crammed full for the short ride to the aircraft and everyone pushed and shoved to be first onto the plane... much to my amusement to end my Warsaw Chopin Airport Experience.
Overall I have been impressed with the airport other than the crammed bus transfers to and from the planes and the uncomfortable seats before you go through security. The airport is very big and this would lead me to think it would be harder to find your way around however with very clear signage I don't think getting lost is an option. There is a good variety of shops all with reasonable prices and various vending machines also located in public areas. The toilets are have always been clean and smell ok as far as a public toilet can go! The toilet paper isn't very nice though so keep a nice soft piece of tissue in your pocket just in case ;)
The airport is easily accessible by public transport and also by car, but the car park is a mini maze to get out of. From the city centre it takes around 30 minutes to arrive at the airport by bus depending on traffic.
I would recommend Warsaw Chopin Airport and I would definitely fly there again.
Thanks for reading :)
Warsaw has just one airport, but it is pretty big and very efficient. They have three terminals to split up the flights into intercontinential and Europe, Poland and then cheap flights.
The terminals are in different conditions. Local flights use a slightly run down terminal, while the intercontinental passengers will see a better place with more shops and places to sit down and eat.
This is one of the only airports where I have seen defibralators and medical service stations. While I am unlikely to have a heart attack, it is good to know that if I did, I would be safe.
The staff are very vigilant with security checks pulling things out of the luggage that most other airports wouldn't bother with. In my latest personal case, I lost my bicycle spanner and my travelling partner lost her glasses repair screwdriver - seemingly innocent items, but later I thought better of it because of the potential to damage the aircraft or safety equipment on board.
The one drawback of the airport is that the check in was rather slow. Last time there was only one staff member working on our entire flight with circa 100 passengers.
The airport is extremely easy to reach by bus and taxi. The only consideration is that you need to make sure that your bus lets you off at the right stop. Sometimes in Warsaw the sign on the bus showing the location of the bus is wrong.
Airlines that service the airport (courtesy of the airport website):
Adria, AerLingus, AeroFlot, AeroSvit, AirFrance, Alitalia, Astraeus Airlines, Austrian, Belavia, British Airways, Clickair, Czech Air, Ezy Jet, Elal, Finnair, German Wings, Iberia, JetAir, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, Malev, Norweigian air, SAS, Brussels airlines, Swiss airways, TAP portugal, Turkish airlines, WIZZ
The airport is easy to get to by taxi or public transport. It is expanding quickly and serving more destinations every year. The main terminal building for LOT airlines is showing signs of old age and is being renovated. There is a really good shop there that sells aircraft memorabilia ideal for the plane spotter yes I am one. The usual process of check in passport and control is easily negotiated though I felt a lot of people did not understand baggage allowances . The shops as you pass securirt are small and have a limited range. The restaurant was small and busy and the food was ok and reasonably priced do not expect a banquet. To board the plane you had to get the bus and whether it was cost saving reasons only one bus was used which ensured you got to know your fellow passengers quiet well, yes there is alway someone with BO. Flights in and out were on time and it was an uneventful trip through Warsaw airport
Living in Warsaw and being a regular traveller, I've spent a fair amount of time at Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw (formerly known as Okecie).
Frederic Chopin Airport more commonly referred to as Okecie, has a relatively intersting history, it was used in 1933 to cope with the increase of traffic that was too great for the Pole Mokotowskie Aerodrome (Pole Mokotowskie is now a pleasant park with a fountain, several bars and the National Library). Okecie airport was the home of many a battle between the Polish resistance and the invading Germans during WW2 and this left it in a right old mess. LOT Airlines began flying from it after liberation.
The information you'll probably need if you're flying there:
Taxis immediately outside of the airport, charge about 2 or 3 times more than an average taxi, so you may be best off walking to the nearby road and flagging down one. You should pay about 20-25zl in the day and perhaps 30zl at night to get to the centre. Taxis are metered and there are rarely scams going on, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Alternatively you can take Bus 175 which visits the Central Station, Metro Centrum and the old town. Buy a ticket from a kiosk in the airport beforehand (24 hrs ticket is 7.20zl - although this price will go up slightly on the 2nd June 2008)
Remember if you are flying to another Schengen country, there is now no border control, to and from the UK - you will have to go through customs but they are not particularly strict. In theory you should not take any non sealed products like homemade bigos in your hand luggage, but we've done it before and when explained it's a present for family members, they are always pretty courteous about it.
The Frederic Chopin Airport is only 5km from the city centre and it therefore only takes 30 minutes to get to and from the city centre, as little as 10 minutes when there is no traffic. Due to it's central location, the airport is forced to pay higher taxes and this is leading to the plans of a future airport (Modlin) being built. Though that won't happen for at least 6 or 7 years.
What they do have at the moment is Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Etiuda Terminal as well as future plans for a Terminal 3 to start being built in 2009. Terminal 2 was completed in March 2008, so it's still shining! Etiuda Terminal has been used for cheap flights for the last 5 years, it's really small and unbelievably crowded but the staff work their socks off to allow the queues to progress quickly. There is only about 1 shop on the other side of customs at Etiuda and it's mainly used for buying cigarettes. The section of main terminals (1 and 2) have a better selection of shops restaurants and bars on both the departure hall and the arrival section but it's not entirely riveting.
So where can you fly to? Well it would be rather pointless to write up each individual fight, so here is the full list taken from wikipedia:
Aerosvit Airlines (Kiev-Boryspil)
Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle)
British Airways (London-Gatwick [ends 26 October], London-Heathrow [begins 27 October])
operated by BA CityFlyer (London-City)
Centralwings (Edinburgh, London-Gatwick, Shannon, Varna [begins 7 June])
operated by KLM Cityhopper (Amsterdam)
Serves most departures as well as domestic flights. T2 handles all arrivals.
Adria Airways (Ljubljana)
Air China (Beijing) [begins 7 October]
Air Europa (Madrid) [ends 29 June]
operated by Austrian Arrows (Vienna)
Brussels Airlines (Brussels)
Centralwings (Bologna, Catania [Starts 17 May], Dublin, Faro, Haugesund [Starts May 20,2008], Heraklion [begins 5 June], Lisbon, Rhodes [begins 25 May], Thessaloniki)
Czech Airlines (Prague)
El Al (Tel Aviv)
Iceland Express (Reykjavik) [begins 15 May]
Jet Air (Bydgoszcz, Zielona Góra)
LOT Polish Airlines (Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin-Tegel, Brussels, Bucharest-Otopeni, Budapest, Chicago-O'hare, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Gdańsk, Geneva, Hamburg, Hanover, Helsinki, Istanbul-Atatürk, Katowice, Kiev-Boryspil, Kraków, Larnaca, London-Heathrow, Lviv, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Minsk, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Munich, New York-JFK, Newark, Nice, Odessa, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Prague, Riga, Rome-Fiumicino, Rzeszów, Sofia, St. Petersburg, Stockholm-Arlanda, Stuttgart, Szczecin, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Toronto-Pearson, Vienna, Wrocław, Zagreb [begins June], Zürich)
operated by EuroLOT (Gdańsk, Kaliningrad, Katowice, Kraków, Poznań, Rzeszów, Szczecin, Vilnius, Wrocław, Zielona Góra [begins 28 October])
operated by Jet Air (Bydgoszcz)
Lufthansa Regional operated by Lufthansa CityLine (Munich, Stuttgart)
Lufthansa Regional operated by Eurowings (Düsseldorf)
Malev Hungarian Airlines (Budapest)
SAS Scandinavian Airlines (Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen [begins 15 May])
Sun D'Or (Tel Aviv)
Swiss International Air Lines (Basel/Mulhouse, Zürich)
Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk)
Volare Airlines (Milan-Malpensa)
Low cost carriers (except Centralwings, Clickair, and Volare Airlines) use the Etiuda terminal for departures. It is smaller and its facilities are rudimentary, and accordingly, its airport taxes are lower. While flights depart from the Etiuda terminal, all arrivals are handled at Terminal 2.
bmibaby (Birmingham [begins 27 May], Cardiff, East Midlands)
easyJet (Bristol, London-Luton)
Germanwings (Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart)
Norwegian Air Shuttle (Alicante, Athens, Bergen, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Malaga, Oslo-Gardermoen, Paris-Orly, Rygge, Rome-Fiumicino, Salzburg, Split [begins 28 June], Stavanger, Stockholm-Arlanda, Trondheim)
Wizz Air (Belfast-International, Bourgas [begins 10 June], Brussels-Charleroi, Corfu [begins 14 June], Doncaster/Sheffield, Dortmund, Durham-Tees Valley, Glasgow-Prestwick, Gothenburg-City, Grenoble, Liverpool, London-Luton, Malmö, Milan-Bergamo, Oslo-Torp, Paris-Beauvais, Stockholm-Skavsta)
White Eagle Aviation