Airports around the World – Security, Lounges and Food!

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As I visit different airports, I figure it may be helpful to share a few tidbits on things like what security is like, is there decent food and what the lounges are like, so that you can better prepare. I’m not taking secret sauce here (and I won’t post security photos)… more like shoes on/off; iPads out and liquids in a baggie or not.

So far, the shoes off seems to be an American thing and the electronics vary. I also receive access to Priority Pass through a couple of my credit cards, so I’ll share some lounge details as well. I’ve been pretty bad at taking pictures, so I’ll try to improve in that area (although I have well over 4,000 photos from the past two months!).

Helsinki, Finland (HEL)

Really nice airport. Easy to get in and out of and friendly. Good duty-free and fresh food options. Visited the Priority Pass lounge, which was super-homey and probably my favorite of the trip so far.

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Laptop and iPad mini had to be put in bin
  • Liquids: In baggie but didn’t take out

Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)

Modern, updated airport with high security. I’d recommend carrying on as little as possible as everything here needs to be swabbed including electronics and shoes. They also ask a lot of questions, many of which are personal. My friends who left a couple weeks after me, didn’t experience the “swabbing” but I’d still recommend carrying-on light if you can. OK Priority Pass lounge.

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Everything including chargers and electronics taken out and swabbed
  • Liquids: In baggie and separate

Basel, Switzerland/Mulhouse, France (BSL)

Nice airport. Easy to navigate… and as a bonus you get to visit two countries in one building! Although housed in France, there is a Swiss area as well, complete with Swiss souvenirs and payment in Swiss Francs. Decent food. Good wifi.

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Laptop and iPad mini in bin
  • Liquids: In baggie and removed from bag

Marrakesh, Morocco (RAK)

Very modern airport. Nice art in the welcome area. First (and so far only) airport where you had to scan your bags before entering the building. Perhaps because of this, we didn’t need to remove as much from our bags. Good wifi, but limited timing.

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Remained in bag
  • Liquids: In baggie and remained in bag.

Madrid, Spain (MAD)

For a huge airport, I really like it. It’s easy to navigate (you use a train and it gives you times between areas) and has lots of quality food and shopping options. If you have a few hours to kill, you can entertain yourself. Good priority pass lounge with lots of (packaged) sandwich options and some fruit (was so welcome after two weeks in Morocco!)

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Laptop and iPad mini in bin
  • Liquids: In baggie and removed from bag

Bari, Italy (BRI)

Small airport, so relatively quick to get through security and to your gate. For a small airport, it had good food options and lots of Peroni beer – it is Italy after all! My eye shadow (which has a mirrored exterior) prompted a full backpack search. The security team got quite a chuckle when they realized what it was. In a separate bag, my scissors got a bit of scrutiny, but once they took them out and realized they were about 15 years old and as dull as XX, the gentleman proclaimed, “not dangerous!” If you have Priority Pass, lounge access is rather challenging. Never quite figured out what the process should be, but managed to get in with an airport official and used some broken Italian to show her my card say that the woman next to me’s husband was getting whatever slip of paper we needed.

  • Shoes: On
  • Electronics: Laptop and iPad mini in bid
  • Liquids: In baggie and removed from bag

I’ll continue to update this post as I travel (next airport will be Glasgow!). Any tips to share? Favorite or least favorite airports or lounges? Please post in the comments!

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