The more you travel, the more you come to appreciate the modest perks you can grab on the way. Your airport rituals and routines begin mattering more and more, if anything also to keep you sane. Also, you start mapping out different airports as you go through them. You start finding your own spots in each airport. All that to reach this: from the European airports I know, Warsaw is an hidden gem. I had that impression from previous times, but I was more convinced by the two times I passed by WAW last July. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. It’s unassuming. This is often overlooked, and it shouldn’t. I was once stuck for 45 minutes in an otherwise-routine security check at Bologna airport because they were trying out some automatic security doors. In a small airport like BLQ, is it really needed? WAW keeps it simple. It has cheap food options, free wi-fi, plugs and decent seating – coupled with the occasional great couch you might be lucky enough to find free.
2. It’s probably bigger than it needs to be. And that’s great. Because it is in those excess areas that the best spots are. My absolute favourite spot in Warsaw airport is pre-security – it’s a seating area that must be invisible for everyone else (near the entrance in front of the Courtyard). It has plugs and a bathroom closeby – and it’s all empty, all the times I was there. There’s many similar areas post-security, too – the airport is large and it is reasonably clear it does not need all the space it occupies. But while it’s there, enjoy it. Here’s another tip: the area before passport control and the non-Schengen area is also surprisingly pleasant. I hope the grand piano they had in there last time is still there when I pass by Warsaw again in October. Another tip about WAW: in the post-Schengen area, there is a free, comfortable, rest-zone. They really have a lot of space.
So yeah, all in all WAW has great areas, and it’s so spacious there’s many spots you can call your own, for free. But you feel like treating yourself to a little something, even if you’re travelling WizzAir…
3. …It has great pay-for-access lounges. And while they’re not Heathrow’s or Gatwick’s No.1, they are pretty decent, and relatively cheap, at around 30 eur per access. The food is decent and the drinks selection is fine. Not bad value for money. The lounges also grant shower access, and that’s always welcome…especially for you, guy sitting on 14D (also, LOT’s own lounges are something exquisite, I hear – but I never actually was in any of them, so I’ll abstain from commenting).
4. Great connectivity. I’m not talking about the wi-fi here, but of the routes the airport offers. Warsaw is arguably the best connection point between Western Europe and anything to its East until right about Central Asia. I know that for a fact regarding Armenia and Belarus and a basic search tells me that Warsaw is on par, price-wise, with Moscow’s three airports in connecting to some other former communist countries. Plus, stereotypes aside, it saves one the always-potential hassle that it is connecting in Russian airports. LOT, especially, offers many routes to destinations that would otherwise be costlier (I swear they didn’t pay me for this bit of free advertising). Their flight to Chicago is at a bargain price most of the time. A hint, though: you must look for those fares in the right places, and that takes time. Most tickets from Barcelona to Yerevan when I booked my ticket were nearing 450 eur, but I got a fare almost 100 eur cheaper. But about that, check this.
5. It’s well-linked to the city, because it’s in the city. And that’s so underrated today. I find that one of the best features of Lisbon’s airport – it is in the city it claims to serve. I like having that sort of casual relationship with an airport, and that requires that it is in the city or in its immediate outskirts. Things like Gatwick don’t make any sense to me. WAW has that. And all in all, it’s a sweet airport. I look forward to my next visit there.