No matter how much you may be looking forward to jetting off on holiday, or even on a business trip, it can be very off-putting to think about the first part of your journey: getting to the airport. Large airports like Heathrow and Manchester may boast a huge range of destinations and massive shopping centres, but if you’ve spent several hours getting to them in the first place, you’re unlikely to enjoy the experience of passing through them. Not only will you have travelled a long way, perhaps several hundred miles, but you’ll then have to endure the crowds, noise and sometimes overwhelming size of those airports. Here are three smaller, easier alternatives.
One good option is Belfast International Airport. This is the most modern airport anywhere in Ireland, offering year-round flights to major European destinations like Paris, Amsterdam and Tenerife, as well as Transatlantic services to Newark and – in the summer – Orlando; ideal for Disney World! Access is straightforward, whether you are coming by road or by public transport. There are frequent rail connections, fast coach services, and the Belfast International Airport parking has great options – both long and short stay. That’ll likely be a huge relief if you’ve ever endured the overpriced, overcrowded facilities to be found in the UK’s larger airports. Belfast International also benefits from a simple, single terminal design that means you’ll never get confused about where you’re supposed to be going!
Passengers from Scotland might prefer to use Aberdeen Airport, about five miles north of the city itself. Again, there is just one major passenger terminal, which handles both charter flights and scheduled services. The range of destinations available is relatively small, but they include attractive options such as Copenhagen and Paris, as well as Lufthansa’s services to Frankfurt. In the summer, charter flights can take you to sunnier climes such as Malaga, Ibiza and Dubrovnik. However, it’s the service to Heathrow which is by far Aberdeen’s busiest. BAA, which owns the airport, is undertaking a wide-ranging programme of improvements. The Aberdeen Airport parking system is also convenient and easy to use.
A third possibility for the traveller looking for a less hectic way to fly is Doncaster Airport, named after one of England’s legendary heroes, Robin Hood. This is less than 20 miles from Sheffield, with good connections by rail and road, but is nevertheless considerably less busy and crowded than nearby Leeds Bradford Airport. Despite its relatively small size, Doncaster can still boast all the facilities you would expect, including hotels, a good range of shops and eating places. A small but eclectic range of destinations is served, ranging from traditional holiday spots like Lanzarote, through Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, to a number of Polish cities like Katowice. Again, the Doncaster Airport parking facilities are simple and straightforward to use.
The conclusion that can be drawn from all this is that smaller airports are often well worth considering. They offer a surprisingly diverse range of destinations, sometimes providing options that even larger airports can’t match. They are easier to get to and navigate, thanks to their more human scale and their single-terminal design. Airport parking tends to be easier and quicker, without the huge fees incurred at the likes of Heathrow. And because they are relatively small, these airports will value your patronage. In short, by going to a smaller airport, you are likely to start your flight feeling like a human being rather than a piece of luggage.
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