We had a late afternoon flight from Barcelona to Granada and requested a late check-out from Le Meridien, taking advantage of my SPG Gold elite status. Taking the taxi back to the airport was just as convenient as it was on arrival and well worth the ~€35 in my opinion. (The Aerobus is a good alternative and departs a few blocks from the hotel.)
Trip Report Index:
- Two Weeks in Spain
- Is the British Airways Travel Together Ticket a Good Deal?
- British Airways Concorde Room – New York
- British Airways First Class – JFK to LHR
- Transferring at London Heathrow
- Le Meridien Barcelona
- Places You Need to Visit in Barcelona
- Restaurants in Barcelona
- Vueling Airlines – Barcelona to Granada
- AC Palacio de Santa Paula Granada
- Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville
- AVE Preferente Class Seville to Madrid
- Day trip to Cordoba
- Westin Palace Hotel Madrid
- British Airways Concorde Room – London
We booked Vueling, a discount carrier that was not only much cheaper but also much more convenient than competing service on Iberia, which connected through Madrid. But you do need to watch out for hidden fees. Carry-on luggage is limited to 10 kg (22 lbs), and there is no free checked bag for most passengers unless you purchase a premium fare. We elected for an Optima fare that cost ~$75 per person and includes a free seat assignment and one checked bag of 23 kg (50 lbs). If you want to splurge, an Excellence fare provides a checked bag, a larger carry-on limit of 14 kg (30 lbs), and an empty middle seat.
Vueling departs from the newer Terminal 1 where we had arrived with British Airways, and since we had the bags we needed to check-in at the counter. At first I was confused because I couldn’t tell why some passengers were grouped in one area (economy check-in?) and other counters were empty (Optima/Excellence fares?). Why not walk an extra 20 feet to skip the line? It turns out there is no difference. But as you’ll see at the gate, the behavior of Vueling’s passengers doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Security was fortunately much simpler. We were in and out without any complications and headed over to the large outdoor courtyard we noticed on our arrival. A bar and a coffee shop both operate in this large post-security space so you can continue to enjoy the warm Barcelona weather before your flight. Just know that it’s also a popular spot for those trying to fit in their last cigarette. The main concourse has some pleasant dining spaces, too, if you want to stay inside.
After an hour of that we decided to head to the B gates for our flight, where we found that the flight was delayed an hour. But I had plenty to amuse me. Remember the lines at check-in? Everyone was waiting again, except there was no plane — not even anyone at the counter to speak to. The flight was delayed, but these people were lined up, patiently waiting to board their flight.
We grabbed one of the dozens of open seats along the concourse and watched as the line continued to grow. There was a plane at a remote stand, but it wasn’t ours. I really had no idea what these people were doing.
When boarding finally commenced, we just waited for everyone in line to go first. After all, we had selected seats near the front and were in the last boarding group. It was really the most bizarre thing I’ve seen in a while at an airport. I remember waiting an hour to board a Southwest flight, but that was years ago when you had to get there early for a good spot in line!
The flight itself was uneventful. Space was a little cramped, but not that different from regular economy. (I’m used to variations on EconomyPlus seating with a few extra inches.) Megan and I were in a row of three when we got on board, but apparently the plane wasn’t full so the guy next to us got to move. We had plenty of elbow room.
One other notable difference was that everything onboard cost money, even a cup of water. I have no objection to that on a ~2 hour trip. I just bought water from a vending machine before we got on board. Upgrades were also for sale, including an XL fare with extra legroom that I don’t remember seeing when I purchased the tickets.
Eventually we landed at Granada, which was another interesting sight because it was possibly the emptiest commercial airport I’ve ever seen. I’m used to visiting small airports in the U.S. that get only a few daily flights operated by regional jets or propeller aircraft. Even so, they’ll often have a large number of private, single-engine aircraft somewhere on the property. In Granada, our Airbus A320 was parked out all by itself, and there might have been four other aircraft on the far end of the airfield. That’s it.
Overall it was one of my more interesting flights only because how different it was from the usual routine. I like different …as long as it doesn’t become the new normal. 😉
We walked into the terminal, waited for our luggage, and headed out to the parking lot for a ride. There were a couple of rental car desks that looked closed even though a flight had just landed. Instead everyone was out boarding a commuter bus to the city.
We elected for the convenience of a taxi since I was unfamiliar with Granada, but the bus was probably a smarter move. Granada is so compact that it’s pretty easy to walk anywhere from the bus stop, which was actually just a block from our hotel. The taxi cost us €30, and the airport bus is only €3. Finally, you don’t have to worry about waiting around — there are so few flights that the bus is scheduled to leave immediately after each arrival. One of the best travel tips out there when it comes to food or transportation: follow the crowds.