How To Save At The Airport In Spain

Passports and suitcase at the ready, flights paid for weeks ago, but how can you avoid paying over the odds at the airport before you even arrive at your destination?

Take a look at our tips on how to save when travelling by plane from Spain.

Getting To The Airport

Most people won’t think twice about calling for a taxi. In big cities such as Madrid or Barcelona a round trip costs, on average, 60€.

Alternative 1: Download the Uber or Cabify app, newbies usually get a discount. Already used it before? Get another member of the family to download the app and create a new account with a different credit card.

Alternative 2: Madrid and Barcelona airports are served by Aparca&Go, an alternative to official (and expensive) airport car parks. Shuttles to the airport are available 24/7.

Alternative 3: Reserve online at the airport car park and compare short stay areas (normally for up to 5 days) with long stay.

Most expensive option: Don’t reserve early and pay top rates for airport parking. Some airports have designated “first class” parking areas due to proximity to terminals. Be prepared to pay even more for the privilege.

Remember Your Boarding Pass

Most low cost airlines charge high tariffs if you show up without your boarding pass, so before you leave home remember to print it. But for your return flight many hotels have caught onto this need and charge for printing.

Avoid all charges by downloading your boarding pass to your smartphone.


Drinking Water

Since 2018 Aena (Spanish Airport Authority) has made it mandatory for all new airport concessionaire contracts to include bottles of water at 1€. These cheaper bottles must be 33cl in shops and 50cl in vending machines. Already available at many airports, the system will be rolled out over the next year.

Aena is also increasing the number of free drinking fountains. There are currently 200 located across airports. Bring your empty refillable bottle in your hand luggage, use a drinking fountain and avoid paying for bottled water (added bonus: less plastic waste).

Alternative: If you just want water and can’t find any 1€ bottles, don’t buy it from expensive cafeterias. Try a shop or fast food outlet.

Recharge Your Electronics For Free

You’ve no doubt seen that locations with sockets are invariably occupied by travellers. So what can you do if you desperately need to charge your mobile?

Take a look around to find “secret” sockets. These tend to be on electronic ad displays or near ground level on walls / columns. However make sure that you’re in a public area, if in doubt ask before using.

Use WiFi For Free

Aena offers Airport Free Wifi for all passengers. Log on with your Facebook or LinkedIn account, or via a short registration form. You can also register with Aena Client Club, which lasts for one year.

There’s no time limit on usage and, even better, no ads!

Currency Exchange

What do you mean you always get your currency at the airport? If so, you must have money to burn. Don’t be fooled by the “no commission” sign at the counter, it’s the exchange rate that will eat up your hard-earned cash.

Even if you’ll be using your credit card whilst abroad, for some countries you’ll probably still need to take some notes in the local currency.

Alternative 1: For the best exchange rates, use a multi-currency card (full details in our dedicated post). You’ll get one or more free ATM withdrawals when abroad in your chosen foreign currency each month.

Alternative 2: Order online with your Spanish bank (after checking the exchange rate and commission). Collect at your local branch and check the buy-back details in case you have some cash leftover on your return. Some banks will also deliver currency to your home for larger amounts. Tip: The buy-back deal will normally only cover a percentage of your cash, not the full amount.

Alternative 3: Order online from a currency exchange company and get the cash delivered. Before ordering, compare the total price, including delivery, with your bank.

Alternative 4: For less popular countries, currency exchange fees may be excessive in Spain as banks charge extra for bringing in the currency. In these cases you could consider exchanging at the airport when you land. Some airports allow you to pre-order currency, in this way you can check and compare the rates with your bank in Spain.

Don’t forget: When paying abroad by bank card always pay in the local currency to avoid the Dynamic Currency Conversion rate added by the intermediaries (stores). Paying abroad in your home currency could add up to 10% on your purchases!

Free Access To VIP Lounges

With free food and drink, comfortable sofas and even showers, a VIP lounge can be a great way to start a long-haul holiday. But with luxury comes a hefty price tag (unless you belong to an airline premium club).

Alternative 1: If you belong to RACE Spain (auto club), just show your card along with your boarding pass to get access to loungers at Spanish airports.

Alternative 2: Get an American Express Gold card. The first year is free, but remember to cancel otherwise the annual fee costs over 100€! You’ll get two free visits to VIP lounge as long as you spend 1000€ on your card during the year.

Alternative 3: Reserve and pay. VIP lounges cost from around 20€ upwards per person per visit, but visiting without a reservation costs even more.

Image courtesy of: chuttersnap on Unsplash