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Transatlantic flying time to Barcelona is 7 hours from New York. As there are no direct flights from the western United States to Barcelona or Bilbao, an additional flight is required from Madrid or London (for Bilbao), involving a connecting flight lasting 1 hour from Madrid to Barcelona or 40 minutes to Bilbao. A nonstop flight from Chicago to Madrid is 8 hours. Nonstop flights from London to Barcelona are 2¼ hours.
There are several combinations when flying from Los Angeles; one possibility is to fly from Los Angeles to New York (5½ hours), and then to Madrid (7 hours). There are also numerous combinations when flying from Sydney. One option is to fly from Sydney to Johannesburg (14 hours), and then to Madrid (10 hours).
Regular nonstop flights connect the eastern United States with Barcelona. Flying from other cities in North America usually involves a stop. Flights from the United Kingdom to a number of destinations in Spain are frequent and offered at competitive fares, particularly on low-cost carriers such as Ryanair or easyJet. Beware of low-cost flights to "Barcelona" that, in fact, land in Girona, a 45-minute taxi ride north of Barcelona; often the taxi (or even the bus) costs more than the flight.
Flights to and from the major cities in Europe and Spain also fly into and out of Bilbao's Loiu airport. There are no direct flights to Barcelona or anywhere in Spain from Australia or New Zealand.
For air travel within the regions covered in this book there are numerous regular flights, but rates tend to be high, so consider alternative ways of getting around. Bilbao, Girona, Pamplona, and San Sebastián all have small airports, and flights do run from Barcelona to each of them. However, flights between those cities are less common because of the short distance, and, in most cases, train or car travel is more prevalent.
Iberia operates a shuttle, the puente aereo, between Barcelona and Madrid from around 7 am to 11 pm; planes depart hourly, and more frequently in the morning and afternoon commuter hours. You don't need to reserve ahead; you can buy your tickets at the ticket counter in the airport upon arriving. Note that Terminal C in the Barcelona airport is used exclusively by the shuttle; in Madrid the shuttle departs from Terminal 3.
Arriving two hours in advance is more than enough for Spanish security. Arriving fewer than 40 minutes in advance is no longer possible, for either domestic or international flights.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. Airline and Airport Links.com has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question. www.tsa.gov.
Most flights arriving in Spain from the United States and Canada pass through Madrid's Barajas (MAD), but the major gateway to Catalonia and other regions in this book is Spain's second-largest airport, Barcelona's spectacular glass, steel, and marble El Prat de Llobregat (BCN). BCN opened its new T1 terminal in 2009, a sleek facility that uses solar panels for sustainable energy and offers a spa, a fitness center, excellent restaurants and cafés, and more VIP lounges. This airport is served by numerous international carriers, but Catalonia also has two other airports that handle air traffic, including charter flights. One is just south of Girona, 90 km (56 mi) north of Barcelona and convenient to the resort coast of the Costa Brava. Bus and train connections from Girona to Barcelona work well and cheaply, provided you have the time. The other Catalonia airport is at Reus, 110 km (68 mi) south of Barcelona and a gateway to Tarragona and the coastal towns of the Costa Daurada. Flights to and from the major cities in Europe and Spain also fly into and out of Bilbao's Loiu (BIL) airport. For information about airports in Spain, try www.aena.es
El Prat de Llobregat. Barcelona: El Prat de Llobregat. 902/404704.
Aeropuerto Internacional de Bilbao (Loiu, Catalonia. 902/404704.)
Aeroport de Girona-Costa Brava (902/404704.)
Barajas Aeropuerto de Madrid (902/404704.)
Aeropuerto de Reus (902/404704.)
Check first to see if your hotel in Barcelona provides airport-shuttle service; otherwise, you can get into town via train, bus, taxi, or rental car.
The Aerobus leaves the airport for Plaça de Catalunya every 15 minutes (6 am-11 pm) on weekdays and every 30 minutes (6:30 am-10:30 pm) on weekends. From Plaça de Catalunya the bus leaves for the airport every 15 minutes (5:30 am-10 pm) on weekdays and every 30 minutes (6:30 am-10:30 pm) on weekends. The fare is €4.25 to and from Terminal 2 and €5 for Terminal 1. It is important to remember that Aerobuses for Terminal 1 and for Terminal 2 stop at the same bus stops. If you are traveling to Barcelona Airport, make sure that you take the right Aerobus. The Aerobus for Terminal 1 is two-tone light and dark blue. The Aerobus for Terminal 2 is dark blue and yellow.
Cab fare from the airport into town is about €25, depending on traffic, the part of town you're heading to, and the number of large bags you're carrying (€1 is charged for each large bag). If you're driving your own car, follow signs to the "centre ciutat" and you'll enter the city along Gran Vía. For the port area, follow signs for the Ronda Litoral. The journey to the center of town can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
If you have to get to the airport during rush hour, Barcelona's Ronda del Mig (the middle ring road, aka Ronda General Mitre) is often the way to go, as the ring roads are jammed up.
The train's only drawback is that it's a 10- to 15-minute walk from your gate through Terminal 2 over the bridge. From Terminal 1 a shuttle bus drops you at the train. Trains leave the airport every 30 minutes between 6:12 am and 10:13 pm, stopping at the Estació de Sants, then at the Plaça de Catalunya, later at the Arc de Triomf, and finally at Clot. Trains going to the airport begin at 6 am from the Clot station, stopping at the Arc de Triomf at 6:05 am, Plaça de Catalunya at 6:08 am, and Sants at 6:13 am. The trip takes 19 minutes. The fare is €2.80 but the best bargain is the T10 subway card that gives you free connections within Barcelona plus 9 more rides all for €7.70.
Transfers Between Airports
To get to Girona Airport from Barcelona Airport by train you have to first catch the RENFE train that leaves from the airport and then change at Barcelona Sants station. From Barcelona Sants station you need to catch the train headed toward Figueres and get off at Girona, which is two stops before. If you are going to Girona Airport you will then have to catch a bus from Girona center or take a taxi to the airport. Allow 30 minutes after arrival in Girona to get to the airport.
The Autocares Julià Bus service leaves three times daily (at 8 am, 2 pm, and 9 pm) from outside Terminal B and Terminal C of Barcelona Airport and will take you to Girona center. A taxi or bus to Girona airport will take another 30 minutes. Transport time to Girona is approximately 1½ hours. Ticket price is approximately €20. For further information, bookings, timetables, and up-to-date pricing information, call (0034) 93-402-6900 or (0034) 902-400-0080.
Alternatively, call the Barcelona Airport tourist information line and ask for further information on Autocares Julià: Barcelona Airport Tourist information 9 am-9 pm, call (0034) 93-478-4704.
Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) (Numero 62, Zona Franca, Zona Franca, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08040. 93/223-5151.)
If you are traveling from North America, consider flying a British or other European carrier, especially if you are traveling to Barcelona or Bilbao. Though you may have to change planes in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, or even Rome, savings can be significant.
The least expensive airfares to Barcelona are priced for round-trip travel and must usually be purchased in advance. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable.
If you buy a round-trip transatlantic ticket on the Spanish airline Iberia, you might purchase an Iberiabono España pass, good for major discounts on domestic flights during your trip. The pass must be purchased outside Spain at the time you purchase your international ticket. All internal Spain flights must be booked in advance. On certain days of the week, Iberia also offers minifares (minitarifas), which can save you 40% on domestic flights. Tickets must be purchased at least two days in advance, and you must stay over at the destination Saturday night.
American, Continental, Delta, and Iberia fly to Madrid and Barcelona; US Airways, Air Europa, and Spanair fly to Madrid. Within Spain, Iberia is the main domestic airline; two independent airlines, Air Europa and Spanair, fly a number of domestic routes at somewhat lower prices.
Air Europa (902/401-502. www.air-europa.com.)
American Airlines (800/433-7300. www.aa.com.)
British Airways (902/111-333. www.britishairways.com.)
Continental Airlines (90/961-266 or. www.continental.com.)
Delta Airlines (90 0/800-743 or. www.delta.com.)
easyJet (807/260-026. www.easyjet.com.)
Iberia (902/400-500. www.iberia.com.)
Ryanair (0871/246-0000 in U.K. www.ryanair.com.)
Spanair (902/131-415. www.spanair.com.)
United Airlines (900/813-996 or. www.united.com.)
USAirways (901/117-073 or. www.usairways.com.)
Air Europa (902/401501. www.air-europa.com.)
Iberia (902/400500. www.iberia.com.)
Spanair (902/131415. www.spanair.com.)
Air Pass Info
FlightPass (1-866/978-1810 EuropebyAir. www.europebyair.com.)
Iberiabono España (800/772-4642 in U.S.; 0845/850-9000 in U.K. www.iberia.com.)
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