Once we purchased our new Summer season dwelling close to Sotogrande in Southern Spain, there was a really fascinating facet to it: we might fly into Gibraltar airport as a substitute of Malaga, and our switch time could be below half-hour, versus over an hour. And one other plus, we might fly from Heathrow Airport (as a substitute of Gatwick, as Gibraltar being a British Abroad Territory is just not a bucket and spade vacation spot), which meant quite a bit to us. (You possibly can fly to Malaga from Heathrow too, however most flights are from Gatwick, however you may all the time combine and match).
However clearly when one thing sounds simply too good to be true, it all the time is, and clearly flying to Gibraltar is just not as easy because it sounds.
My household and I’ve used this feature over 10 instances within the final yr, and 80% of our guests additionally selected to fly to Gibraltar (for the above talked about causes) – so the data I’m offering under relies on that, supplied in good religion and completely freed from any political features or commentary.
So, first issues first…
The place is Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is a British Abroad Territory and metropolis positioned on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an space of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. (you may google this simply).
On the time of writing, and actually not moving into any element, Gibraltar is just not a part of the European Union or the Schengen space (similar to the UK, who was a member of the EU previous to Brexit however was by no means part of Schengen). There’s a laborious land border between Gibraltar and Spain the place your ID/passport is checked and also you additionally undergo customs.
The map under (which I plan to populate over time) provides you an concept of the precise location of Gibraltar and, on this case, Gibraltar Worldwide Airport – which is positioned in all probability 100 metres from the Gibraltar Spain border.
Which UK airports fly direct to Gibraltar?
Presently solely scheduled flights originating from the UK are touchdown in Gibraltar (or non-public jets from elsewhere). Presently each British Airways and Straightforward Jet fly into Gibraltar from Heathrow (BA), Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol (Straightforward Jet). Yow will discover out extra particulars at Gibraltar Airport’s web site.
Anybody is free to fly into Gibraltar (so long as you are taking a flight from the UK). Passports are required by all guests to Gibraltar, besides EU nationals who’re in possession of a sound nationwide identification card. As a basic rule, these individuals who require a visa for entry into the UK will even require a separate visa for entry to Gibraltar. Yow will discover out extra info on the Gibraltar Borders and Coastguard Company web site.
The place is Gibraltar Airport positioned in relation to the Gibraltar Spain border?
The Gibraltar Airport terminal is positioned in all probability 100 metres from the Gibraltar Spain border. This may very well be very straightforward, however it’s not in case you have baggage or kids.
How do I cross the border between Gibraltar and Spain?
If you’re fortunate to discover a single taxi exterior the Gibraltar Airport terminal (I’ve seen queues however by no means greater than a taxi), don’t get too excited: these taxis can’t take you over the border. Gibraltar taxis can solely transport you round Gibraltar (the city centre is positioned round 2km from the airport).
For those who would not have a buddy who can kindly cross the Spain Gibraltar border, await you on the terminal automobile park after which take you over the border by automobile together with your baggage or have rented a automobile with Avis (solely), you solely have one choice, utilized by probably the most passengers who land at Gibraltar airport: you stroll throughout the border.
The stroll appears very quick, however sadly nobody in Gibraltar cares concerning the passengers who simply use the airport and pay the related airport taxes. If in case you have greater than 1 merchandise of baggage, it’s not going to be straightforward. And in case you have a small youngster travelling with you, it’s much more difficult.
Why? Nobody appears to have walked the ‘route’ and see how suitcases and strollers would fare. I travelled for the primary time alone lately, with one single suitcase and palms free and it may very well be quite a bit simpler.
For instance, you can not take the trolley from exterior the airport space. For those who attempt to take it to the Spanish border, it gained’t get you very far as a result of the flooring are so dangerous, it gained’t go up and down the pavements and crossings. As I stated beforehand, with a 4-wheel suitcase and alone, it required some muscle.
You then cross the highway in the direction of the border and you can see the door that takes you into Spain (actually!). For those who cross from Gibraltar, you should have completed passport management and customs on the airport, so the formalities are only for Spain.
You’re going to get your passport checked by the Spanish authorities – and stamped in case you are a non EU citizen (UK residents are usually not anymore and due to this fact must have the passport stamped). EU residents don’t have to be stamped however all of the automated machines solely settle for Spanish IDs. Spanish authorities do have a tendency to identify these with European ID playing cards and wave them by means of.
You then depart the primary constructing and stroll to a second one following the indicators to Aduana (Customs). We bought requested about what we have been taking into Spain (by automobile and on foot) however nobody ever checked something.
The border is open 24 hours a day and you may cross as many instances as you desire to.
You stroll 50 metres extra and also you get to La Linea and also you see the Taxi rank which is able to take you anyplace you want to go in Spain.
Gibraltar Airport Taxi Transfers (from Spanish border)
I have no idea if there are all the time taxis – we had no points twice, however now we are inclined to pre e book an area taxi (as we all know he will probably be there and what automobile he has). Fortunately we’re very fortunate that we now have a buddy that may decide us up if they’re round (and has many instances).
We’ve used a taxi driver referred to as Domingos (+34651990328) who to date has been dependable and costs round 40 Euros and have used a luxurious switch firm referred to as Luxurious Autos Estepona – it’s the firm utilized by Finca Cortesin and So Sotogrande. They’re costlier however the vehicles are clearly nicer. From our place, they cost 70 Euros to Gibraltar however solely 120 to Malaga (which is similar cost as a taxi). The quantity we now have is +34670884394.
Gibraltar Airport automobile rent
Renting a automobile at Gibraltar Airport may also be enjoyable! All automobile rental companies are positioned throughout the border in Spain, so once you cross the border you will note the varied places of work (not all corporations standard corporations are current at this location).
We are inclined to hire with Avis and one ought to decide up the automobile on the Santa Barbara automobile park in Spain. Nonetheless, Avis doesn’t have an workplace in Spain: their workplace is at Gibraltar Airport concourse – and final time I travelled… I left the airport and Gibraltar with out selecting up my automobile key. I forgot about it.
I walked to the automobile park and requested the attendant if there was an Avis workplace, who advised me I had to return to Gib to get it, so I did. Spherical journey was 20 minutes, as I had no queue crossing both border however was a little bit of a ache. However be aware to Avis – you must actually make this clearer on the emails you ship prior to choose up. I requested the gentleman working there and he stated this occurs on a regular basis because it says decide up in Spain. This additionally means by the way in which in the event you simply occur to be in Spain and must hire a automobile from this location, you’ll have to go to Gibraltar Airport to get the keys.
However Avis now affords one thing extraordinary – value each pound of the 30 Euros it costs for this service. For those who select to, you may decide up AND drop off your automobile at Gibraltar Airport’s automobile park and save your self all the trouble when returning to the airport. However this solely works IF there isn’t any queue to cross the border. To verify we make the most of this, we permit an additional hour to cross the border (most it has taken us was 45 minutes, however we didn’t need to lug round any baggage or strollers).
EDIT: I’ve lately realized that in the event you name Avis 2-3 days earlier than, they will even now present a decide up service at Gibraltar Airport for an extra 30 Euros (I needed for this all Summer season however it’s now a actuality). The quantity to name is +34657984535.
Our associates have additionally used Autos Aguirre, an area firm, which hearsay has it you may truly decide up your automobile at Gibraltar, however all our associates who’ve used them have picked up at Sotogrande Port (because it was 300 Euros cheaper every now and then and well worth the 40 Euro taxi journey). I’ll replace this bit when somebody I do know has rented a automobile from this location!
Crossing the Gibraltar border by automobile
That is the simplest approach, however unattainable to organise in the event you would not have any native associates keen to do that for you. Gibraltar Airport may be very small and the automobile park is true exterior the terminal constructing.
You possibly can park, load the automobile and drive the quick distance to the border the place you’ll be a part of the opposite Gibraltar visitors crossing into Spain. You’ll have your passport checked and stamped in case you are not from a EU nation, after which you’ll get your automobile checked by customs. Our automobile has all the time been full to the bream (with the quantity of stuff we introduced from the UK), however as they have been private objects, we stated so and by no means had a problem.
Responsibility Free in Gibraltar
Gibraltar is Responsibility Free and you will get vital financial savings on objects like alcohol and tobacco merchandise. You’re restricted to 4 litres per particular person (I believed it was 1!) and a bottle of Martin Miller prices £19.50 on the Gibraltar Airport Arrivals Store (a really small store by the baggage belt the place you aren’t allowed to go in).
It’s a must to ‘research’ the inventory by way of the window earlier than finding your prize (and the outliers because the gin for instance isn’t all aspect by aspect). If in case you have the blonde woman working once you land, she will not be very nice (it has occurred to us each time we requested ‘if she had this or that’.)
Crossing into Gibraltar from Spain
Doing the reverse route, i.e. crossing from Spain to Gibraltar is as third world because the reverse route, i.e. uncomfortable to the trendy traveller in 2023.
For those who don’t take your Avis rental into Gibraltar (or drop it off on the Santa Barbara Automobile Park), you may be dropped off at an space the place your baggage is just not welcome and zebra crossings don’t matter. When you elevate your baggage to the primary highway and again on the pavement, you then stroll to the Spanish border management constructing (the place queues can start exterior as a result of too many British are crossing and must have the passport stamped, and there’s no approach exterior to distinguish between EU and non EU guests exterior).
You then have some Spanish who completely know what they’re doing and appear to be they’re slicing the queue, however they really are usually not as there isn’t any queue for them.
You then depart that constructing and undergo the Gibraltar Passport Management (they only wave you thru in case you are British or have a EU ID card) and eventually customs.
You could have formally entered Gibraltar and if you wish to go to the airport which might be in your left, nobody kindly added a zebra crossing there (there may be one 100m away which nobody actually makes use of). So what you will note, is individuals crossing the highway with their baggage (lifting it up and down the pavement) to make the journey to the airport terminal shorter.
By automobile, you undergo Spanish Immigration (and customs). Please guarantee you could have your passport stamped once more in case you are a UK citizen – in order that your EU keep days finish there. That is actually vital (and applies to any airport too).
For information, since Brexit, UK residents can solely be within the European Union 90 days out of the earlier 180. Many haven’t had their passports stamped on departure (from any airport in Europe), to then discover themselves not allowed to reenter the EU on a subsequent journey as a result of the earlier journey by no means ended formally and the 90 days have been reached).
When you drive previous Gibraltar Immigration after which Customs, there may be now a roundabout which seems momentary… nevertheless it isn’t. Once more it’s that lack of consideration to element – you enter Gibraltar by automobile and take a look at some ugly concrete limitations.
The great factor is that you simply now would not have to cross the runway to show left to the airport.
Climate points touchdown into Gibraltar
Nicely, these occur and generally is a ache. If winds are stronger than they need to be, or if visibility is just not as anticipated, your flight could be diverted to Malaga. That may be a ache for each motive on the earth, largely as a result of the entire level of this train was to keep away from flying into Malaga. Clearly security first – however simply bear in mind that that is attainable.
Additionally currently plainly Gibraltar Airport is having some air visitors management staffing points and if somebody is sick, the flights get diverted to Malaga (it occurred a couple of days in September 2022 with the night Straightforward Jet flight). This prompted some uproar in Gibraltar as clearly displays badly for tourism. I hope they will kind this out.
What occurs in case your flight to Gibraltar is diverted to Malaga?
On a latest flight to Gibraltar, we have been advised by the crew that there was a 25% likelihood we might be diverted due to robust winds. As BA foresaw this, they proceeded to take away everybody on a flight who required a Schengen visa (i.e. cruise employees from exterior the EU who have been becoming a member of a cruise stopping in Gibraltar).
While you land in Malaga, you might be then handled as a standard passenger touchdown in Spain (undergo passport management, get your baggage and so on) however technically the airline will organise a bus to then take passengers again to Gibraltar Airport.
I all the time questioned about this, however you do NOT need to take that bus, and might supply various transportation in the event you would want to take action (however have to inform the airline reps in order that they don’t await you).
Fortunately, we did handle to land in Gibraltar on this event and I didn’t take a look at this situation myself (however I do know now to organize extra for it). Renting a automobile with Avis could be nonetheless an excellent name as they’d allow you to work some magic if there have been vehicles accessible). I referred to as to examine they usually stated they’d cancel the unique reserving with no penalty however you’d need to get a brand new automobile on the new fee (which may very well be higher or worse). Avis quantity at Malaga Airport is +34 902 10 93 84.
EDIT: We’ve been now diverted as soon as and it was fairly chaotic at Malaga. There was an Iberia particular person ready for us, however took ages for our flight to be listed on the baggage belt and the buses would take an additional couple of hours. We booked a automobile for a day with Avis to be dropped off at La Linea and Avis Gibraltar kindly delayed our rental with no penalty for 24h. They are surely wonderful on WhatsApp.
What’s Gibraltar Airport like?
Gibraltar Airport is trendy and it’s quiet – and it affords fairly a pleasant expertise. There will probably be a most of two flights checking in, everybody working there has all the time been very nice and it truly is stress free.
While you depart, after examine in, it’s a must to present your passport earlier than going up the escalators to safety – there generally is a bottleneck right here.
There isn’t any quick monitor safety (a disgrace, as there may very well be), and we now have had 20 minute queues every now and then (which we don’t usually have), however often you might be completed below 10 minutes.
One factor value noting: the workers are very good they usually don’t scream at you want at different airports. They observe their guidelines, we do as we’re advised and all of it works. Everyone seems to be all the time very nice with our daughter and we’re grateful for it.
The terminal itself is a bit restricted – it has an obligation free store, a cosmetics store and, a world first, girls and gents: a newsagent that doesn’t promote newspapers. The native department of WHSmith is exclusive in that sense. I hold asking why however they stated ‘since covid, they didn’t hassle getting them again in’. I can’t touch upon this as I have no idea the place to start.
There’s a little cafe and there are bathrooms with child altering services. However the ready space is made nicer as there’s a viewing balcony and you may simply sit there and catch the final rays of solar.
There may be additionally a lounge (additionally open to Precedence Cross + Lounge Key members) which is fundamental however completely useful. They serve restricted meals (sandwiches, toast), have crisps and drinks (wine not nice, gin OK). They do have excellent espresso (Delta), which is all the time a pleasant deal with for us.
There’s a viewing balcony and bathroom services – however none for little ones. That pissed me off a couple of instances as they’ve a disabled rest room and will simply add a altering desk like they did within the regular terminal… so in case you have kids who want a nappy change… you’ll have to queue in the primary terminal, which is a disgrace and pointless.
Is that this all value it?
When you get your head round it and completed it as soon as, it’s easy. And for us, it means we are able to depart dwelling in England within the morning (very early), drive to Heathrow (40 minutes away), land at 11am native time in Gibraltar and every part going effectively, we will probably be dwelling by 12.30pm prepared for a dip within the pool or with sufficient time to unpack earlier than lunch.
If you’ll Estepona, a taxi will probably be 70 Euros from La Linea as a substitute of 120 Euros from Malaga (plus the tolls). To Sotogrande, a taxi is 40 Euros most.
It will be very nice if somebody from both aspect of the border retraced the passenger steps and made it nicer because it wouldn’t be unattainable (and both sides doesn’t even have to talk to one another).
It will be a dream if somebody truly had a trolley service (costing no matter) serving Gibraltar Airport passengers that might can help you cross the border and drop it off safely on the opposite aspect, however that might be asking for an excessive amount of.
Simply getting the pot holes and pavements fastened could be an excellent begin.
However we’re grateful for Gibraltar Airport (and it definitely helped us make the choice to purchase in Spain).
Till the subsequent time!