Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Air travel between European countries- a huge hassle?

Air travel between European countries- a huge hassle?

Jan 10th, 2015, 04:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,932
Air travel between European countries- a huge hassle?

We are booked to be in London this spring and would like to take a few days and see another country. Initially we thought we would chunnel to Paris, and still might, but wanted to explore other options. Seems like there are a lot of options for inter-european travel- quick, inexpensive flights.But, is customs in europe like that in the US- a huge hassle and long lines? Specifically thinking Barcelone or Venice. We haven't ruled out paris and it does seem that the chunnel is easier than flying, but would like to weigh all our options. TIA
emcash is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
First I think you are confusing Immigration (entry of people) and Customs (entry of luggage).

For amost anyplace in europe Customs is a non-issue - one just picks up oe bag and walks through the green (nothing to declare door). The only wait is for checked luggage.

However the UK is NOT part of Schengen - so one does have to go through Immigration to enter France, Spain and other countries. How long the wait at Immigration is a function of how many international flights land at the same time,

(For taking the Eurostar from London to Paris one must arrive early at the station and go through Immigration and customs before boarding the train.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Sorry - between Schengen countries there are no Immigration or customs formalities.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 08:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 60
We were in London a few years ago and took the chunnel to Paris - great travel experience - we made reservations weeks earlier and had assigned seats - the London train station was a wonderful experience as well.

TIP - don't take pepperspay with you - long imitating delay from the nice London Bobbys!

We stayed at a Hoiiday Inn in Paris. Have fun- Karen
Portdane is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 10:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,154
" there are a lot of options for inter-european travel- quick, inexpensive flights."

ALL flying in Europe is substantially nastier than getting a train. Customs is a non-issue everywhere in the EU and EFTA, and not just between the Schengen countries. Immigration procedures are almost identical whether you're on a train, a plane, a ferry or cross-border bus : they don't happen at all between the Schengen countries: but can cause border delays between Schengen and non-Schengen (for most tourists, that essentially means getting to and from the UK)

These, though, are trivial compared to the problems of security. Virtually ALL embarking passengers on every plane go through it, however often they've been through security earlier on in the journey: it's almost unheard of on trains (and thoroughly unintrusive and efficient on the rare occasions, like international trains to and from London, that it happens.)

Also all airports are in the middle of nowhere. They also generally have rotten - by European standards - public transport links (unbelievably, most passengers using almost every airport in Europe outside the London area travel to it by car or taxi) while railway stations are almost always in city centres with highly complex and efficient public transport connections throughout their conurbations.

As a result, for most city to city connections under 400 miles, trains usually work out faster than planes door to door, and for most connections under 800 miles they're comfier, though slower. Even then, they may offer a more effective use of time: you can work, think, write or look at scenery far more in a 10-hour train journey than in the constant stops, starts, queues and interrogations of a five plane-based trip.

Self-evidently therefore, low-cost airlines mostly compete by reducing their prices, at least for advance booking, to levels below the train. They're therefore widely used by people to whom price matters more than time or comfort.

That generalisation is a HUGE generalisation though. If you want to optimise a specific connection, you need to check which alternative meets YOUR needs for price, lack of hassle and convenience. And there's never any point taking a plane plus train journey when it's possible to do it all by plane.

Incidentally "chunnel" is a silly journalistic invention, now used only by Americans. Using it makes you sound as naive a believer in trite travel-scribbler cliches as someone calling New York "the Big Apple" in a serious conversation.
flanneruk is online now  
Jan 10th, 2015, 11:46 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 5,465
London City Airport has some interesting destinations, and is much quicker to get through than the larger London airports. Not as cheap as Ryanair, but it saves you a train ride to Stansted.
Have a look at Cityjet's destinations from London City.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 11:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 12,703
Addendum to Flanner's post. Almost all European airports used by cheap airlines are in the middle of nowhere. Those serving most major cities and legacy airlines have excellent public transport links, very often vastly superior to Heathrow or other London airports.
Flying is as much a pain in Europe as anywhere, with security, immigration and just getting to and from the airport, but if you want to visit somewhere other than Paris, Lille or Brussels flying is almost the only option from London. You could get the train and ferry to Amsterdam for instance, but that takes a long time.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 01:03 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
I have flown Paris London. Bad idea, even to make a connection at Heathrow. Just less bad than the other options at the time.

I did it because in my youthful simplicity, I did not know enough about open-jaw flights into one place and home from another.

For Paris-Edinburgh and Paris-Marseille or Paris-Nice, flying makes sense. They are beyond the 400 mile limit. Paris-London by Eurostar is absurdly easy because both terminals are right in the middle of everything.

I would try to arrange my trip so that either Paris or London comes at the end of my trip, and I would fly into one and home from the other, not making a loop.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 01:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,233
Swiss airports have good transport links with trains.
Nonconformist is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 01:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,397
We have flown from Gatwick and Luton to places such as Budapest , Prague and from Ljubljana and Dubrovnik back to those airports. Also from Madrid to Manchester on BA. We catch trains to Luton and Gatwick , fly Easy jet . Only once have we had long lines and that was coming back thru Luton at immigration .
Eurostar to Paris and from Bruges - good travelling
northie is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 03:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,613
"Chunnel" first time I've seen the verb used on Fodors rather than just the noun.

Now all we have to do is fight off those people who consider that "train" can be a verb when associated with railways.

bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 05:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,932
Thanks for all the replies and for the reprimand of using chunnel - as a verb or as a noun. Won't do that again...

Price is not a factor but time is. We would like to fit in one other major city on this relatively short trip. Taking the train to Paris seems like the most logical thing to do, but it is tempting to take a quick flight to barcelona . But that quick flight becomes not so quick once you factor in airport wait time and customs and immigration perhaps. Are the rules for flying in europe similar to that of the US- get to the airport an hour and a half to 2 hours prior?
emcash is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 05:31 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 5,465
If you have only handluggage, one hour in advance is fine. Even less when flying from London City Airport.

For the Eurostar you'll need to get there at least 45 minutes early for passport control and security. But of course once you get to Paris, you're in the center of town with no more passport control or customs.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Time depends on the airport and the airline.

Security lines can be very long and some of the budget airlines have long and VERY strict check in times - they simply cancel your ticket if you're late. Some alos have VERY strict luggage restrictions (one tiny carry-on item only - no extra purse of camera bag - and expensive and limited checked luggage as well).

Not sure what you would take London to Barcelona - have never flown that route.

So I would check with the airline you choose to get their specific rules for that flight. Do NOT assume one hour will be enough.

For flights back to the US usually 3 hours is required.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,459
I do it all the time, I don't know why you are referring to "customs" which is for when you return home. It's more like flying in the US between states. No, it's not a huge hassle, anymore than flying usually is but if you are flying between smaller cities with smaller airports, it's not that big a deal (which is what I often do).

Many airports of cheaper airlines are not in unusual areas at all, as most smaller cities only have one airport. Barcelona, for example, which you mention only has one and it is easy to get into the city from it. That is one airport I've flown to/from within Europe.

All airlines have strick checkin times, it seems to me, yes, I would suggest you get there in time. I was talking to some guy a few weeks ago complaining about how his son was barred from boarding a Southwest flight in COlumbus Ohio because "he was only five minutes after the boarding had stopped". That's the way it goes, there are times for a reason.

Security lines are never long at smaller airports, it's not that possible.
Christina is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 11:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,932
Christina, by customs, i mean immigration. Like when i come home to JFK or LAX from out of the country- it's a long ordeal. wondering if that was the case inter-europe- i.e. london to barcelone? Flying between states in the us you get off the plane and get your luggage- i can't imagine it is that easy in europe, from country to country- is it?
emcash is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,332
Yes, it is that easy. Customs is declaring amount you have spent on purchses when returning to your home country. You are talking about immigration/ passport control.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534

One of the big reasons that passport control lines are so often interminably long at JFK and LAX is that they are point-of-entry hubs for people connecting to other flights within the US. Most people flying in Europe do not "connect-through" Venice to other flights leaving Venice. Barcelona gets more of that, but not as much as say Amsterdam, London or Paris.

The notion that all cheap flights utilize airports located in the "middle of nowhere" is quite untrue. Not only are there many cheap flights into Amsterdam's main airport, or Munich. Milan and Barcelona, it also the case that to get from Treviso airport to Venice is really quite simple, or from Pisa to le Cinque Terre or Florence, etc.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,470
<> Some of the budget airlines do not in fact have any check in desks at the airport. You have to check in online. If you have luggage to check in, you can use bag drop and very often you need to use the kiosk to print out the luggage tag and tag your own bag.

The last time I went thru JFK (October last year), I used the automated passport control kiosk and got thru immigration in minutes.
Odin is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,865
emcash: >>Christina, by customs, i mean immigration.<<

Those are two entirely different things.

>> i can't imagine it is that easy in europe, from country to country- is it?<<

Yes, it definitely is that easy. Most of those countries are in Schengen and there are no passport or border controls between them.
janisj is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:13 PM.