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Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Scotland, United...
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Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

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?

131 replies to this topic
1. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

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2. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

I've never had any difficulty arriving at Heraklion airport (I travel with hand luggage only, which helps) but I could have written the "departure" section of your post myself. Heraklion airport is chaos writ large. I usually travel to and from Chania, a much better airport, but on occasions when I've had to use Heraklion I've had much worse experiences than the one you describe.

So you are not alone (if that is any comfort) and the only advice that can be offered is - avoid.

I know lots of people, including some of the regulars on this forum, use Heraklion regularly and say it's not that bad. Perhaps one gets used to it in time, and learns the ropes. I say it's rock bottom, airport-wise.

My sympathies - I'm sorry you had a bad experience.

Ireland
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3. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Thanks for the info Purple C. I go for the first time in September, package tour also, I shall bear this info in mind. :-)

Sale, United Kingdom
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4. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Tip - you can sometimes buy food and drink - feta, multipacks of canned drinks etc - much cheaper in the tax-free shop than at the extortionate prices charged by Everest, but clearly your choices are more limited. My advice - make a picnic or sandwiches, put it in a cool bag with a frozen 500ml bottle of water, take some crisps/7 day croissants etc., chuck the iced water out (or drink it) just before you go through security. Incidentally, Everest do sell water for €0.70 for 750ml., which judging by the rest of their prices is an outright bargain!!

BTW, this advice is for all Greek airports, though if they only have small tax-free shop they may not have much for you.

But Heraklion is definitely not for the faint-hearted at peak times!!

I have to say that inbound I have never found any problems, once you get used to the fact that your luggage will invariably be on the belt in the further of the 2 baggage reclaim areas.

5. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

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Sale, United Kingdom
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6. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Canarytime, you are travelling in September so the crowds (and the heat) should be a bit better by then.

Scotland, United...
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7. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Thanks for all the replies folks. Steve that great advice and just the kind of thing a newbie to the airport can make good use of. When we were there water was 1.50euros but maybe it was for a larger bottle, I can't remember.

I hope no-one reads my post as being in any way a criticism of Crete as a whole. I hope that future visitors will find the contributions to this thread very helpful. Crete is indeed a wonderful place for a rejuvenating holiday and the people are a delight.

A particular concern was that we arrived at a relatively quiet time, and they struggled to cope, plus it might be handy for a young family to know about the queuing in full sun airside having disembarked the plane. Young children are more susceptible to the effects of heat and dehydration than adults.

thanks again everyone. tips and insights very much appreciated. We might try Chania next time:)

Ireland
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8. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Npj60...no worries ! I an a robust traveller and have a laid back attitude (most of the time!). I just appreciated the tips.

It will take more than a small/disorganised hot airport to faze me. All I want is to travel cheaply, feel the sun, enjoy the people and the culture and as I will be alone, will not have to consider anyone elses welfare. Lookin' forward to it all already. :-))

Devizes, United...
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9. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

Hi P C

Our very first time through Iraklion airport was similar to yours and after that experience many years ago, I too am surprised that we voluntarily endure it most years. The way I look at it, is that it's at worst, an hour at the start of your holiday, and maybe an hour or so at the end of it. Like most Greek island airports, it was built in the 60s at the onset of package tourism when the largest planes to arrive/depart there were Tridents and BAC 1-11's carrying a hundred passengers, and maybe half a dozen flights per day. Now it's 50-60 flights a day, on 200 seat plus Airbuses and Boeings. I've seen 747s in there too, imagine disembarking with 400 people at once......

The good news is that work "should" commence some time soon on a new international airport for central Crete close to Kastelli, which is south of Hersonissos, and once finished, Kazantzakis airport will be decommissioned.

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10. Re: Iraklion/Heraklion Airport - What to expect

GB, is that likely, do you think, and do you have any solid information? The new airport has been mooted for ages but has never happened, and one has to wonder where the money might be coming from.

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