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November 22, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                               Madrid Airport

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Santiago de Compostelaís Lavacolla Airport is located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) outside of the city. The airport is much larger than I imagined, and includes many shops and cafes. Check-in for Iberia Airlines (Spainís national carrier) did not take long, but they do have strict carry-on weight restrictions. Thatís the one thing that drives me crazy about traveling overseas: Most foreign airlines have ridiculously low weight restrictions for carry-ons. I have no problem checking bags (though I try my best not to), but I do have a beef when they say my small carry-on bag must be under a certain weight. In Iberiaís case itís 10 kg (22 lbs). My computer bag is filled with everything a person is supposed to NOT check (the list includes all valuables, medicine, electronic goods such as phones, cameras, chargers -- just about anything expensive and important). I also have a bunch of travel magazines, which add to the few pounds I am always over their limit. My bag usually weighs 12 kg (26 lbs), and my computer weighs 8 lbs itself. The only legal way around this is to put some stuff in your checked luggage -- which I did. FYI: Iberiaís checked luggage limit for economy class passengers is 20 Kg. (44 lb.). That is generous. TIPS: Be sure to check your airlineís baggage policies before leaving home. You might want to buy a travel utility scale from Magellanís Travel Supplies for $8.95 (click here to purchase one) to weigh your bags when youíre not home (and after adding souvenirs). The scale gives weights in kilograms and pounds. It really comes is handy. (Get it? Itís a hand scale!)

My 55-minute flight to Madrid on an MD80 was smooth. Iím not a huge fan of MD80s -- they are old and confining -- but this flight was comfortable, because it was short and no one sat next to me. Beyond northwestern Spain, the climate changed dramatically. We exchanged wet weather for Madridís dry, warm conditions. I was excited to be traveling through Madrid, even for only a few hours. I looked forward to experiencing the new $7.2 billion (no, thatís not a typo) Terminal 4 that opened last February. It took six years to build. This huge ĺ-of-a-mile-long terminal doubled the size of Madrid-Barajas Airport. I loved it -- itís modern, bright, colorful, and emits a happy feeling. The two things I did not like were the 6-minute tram to the baggage carousel, and waiting over 45 minutes for our bags to arrive.

After getting my bag I needed to make my way to Terminal 1, to catch a Germanwings flight. I thought it was going to be either a long walk or a short tram, but boy was I wrong. Transferring passengers need to get on a free shuttle bus, which appears frequently but takes 15 minutes to reach Terminal 1. Luckily I was not in a hurry Ė in fact, I was happy to get outside and breathe fresh air. But wow, is Terminal 1 far, and boy, is it depressing. The check-in area is the complete opposite of Terminal 4. Itís dark with low ceilings, and makes you want to never travel through this place again. Yes, itís that bad.

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Copyright 2006 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Flight to Madrid


Boarding Plane


Flying Over Spain


Madrid Airport


Terminal 4


Going To Baggage Claim


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