Things I wish I'd Known...
Arrival: I wish I had known what to expect on arrival at Heraklion on a Sunday at the beginning of June. We had to wait on the tarmac in full 30 degree sun for half an hour on arrival with nothing to drink and no access to shade or sunscreen. I felt sorry for the young families struggling to keep their kids cool and calm. The arrivals hall isn't really big enough to fit a planeload of visitors.
Next time I;ll bring a bottle of water from the plane to drink in the queue, and I'll know that the quickest moving queue is on the left of the arrivals hall, or at least its for EU citizens. Of course when you're queueing outside there's no way of knowing which line you're in unless you've been before.
Departure: When departing we had to queue for ages outside in the heat of the day, coralled by our tour reps until our check-in desk was open. I later read someone on Tripadvisor advising not to be herded by reps. There is no reason why you can't go inside in the cooler airconditioned airport and use the facilities/rehydrate/wait for the check-in to open. Independent travellers had the upper hand at this point.
I was more than a little surprised at the facilities or lack of them at the airport. In the airside waiting area the flights were displayed on a couple of really ancient tv screens, one of which we could barely read, the screen was so useless.
Everest Catering was responsible for fleecing customers of their last few euros for takeaway fodder - no dining tables to sit eat your food at, and no trays to carry your purchases back to the family. What a shambles and very awkward when trying to juggle drinks, food and snacks for everyone. I'm pretty laid back when travelling but Everest Catering and their dour looking counter staff got me somewhere close to angry for charging me 17 euros for 4 bottles of iced tea and an equally stupid amount of money for an inedible feta pastry, a couple of spinach and cheese triangles and an aging baquette and a 4 euro bag of crisps. The food and drink on our plane looked cheap by comparison!
I loved Crete and its people so very much, but the airport experience seemed designed to ensure that visitors don't return. I wish I had known what to expect on departure, as I would most definitely have brought a picnic, and ensured we had enough drink for standing in the queue. On the plus side, there were free samples of raki in the duty free, just a shame we didn't have time to avail of it.
I hate to think what transitting through Heraklion airport will be like in the busy months, but perhaps it helps if people know what to expect so they can be prepared.
Has anyone got any tips on how to make this part of the journey go more smoothly, or perhaps had a more positive experience than us?