Thursday, June 23, 2011

Traveling with kids: Las Palmas airport, Gran Canaria, Spain

On our trip to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands this year, we traveled through Las Palmas airport (airport code: LPA).

Layout of the airport
LPA is a fairly small airport, and all departures and arrivals come into the same terminal. Instead of different terminal buildings there are three different zones:
  • Zone A is for flights within the European Union
  • Zone B is for international flights, meaning flights outside the European Union
  • Zone C is for flights to other destinations within the Canary Islands
It's fairly straight-forward to navigate the airport and between the zones, since everything is contained in one building. Just follow the signs and whatever your boarding pass tells you.

The staff at the check-in counters (at least Spanair's counter) were also extremely helpful and friendly, so ask for help if you need it!

Sunset in Arguineguin, Gran Canaria.
 Facilities and services
There are several banking machines in the airport. There's also a bank on ground floor.The airport pharmacy is located in Zone A, in the public area, so if you're in need of anything, make sure you go there before you head through security.

The washrooms are plentiful, roomy and very clean: always a plus when you're traveling with kids. There were also diaper change facilities located near the washrooms.

There are lots of restaurants, bars, and cafes in this airport. There's also a Burger King. Which is where we ended up with the kids, not so much because they especially wanted to eat there, but because there was a small play area with slides and climbing equipment right outside. Not a bad spot to sit down and relax if you're traveling with kids.

Odd fact for a Canadian: the Burger King did not serve apple juice, but did serve beer. Got to love those cultural differences.

Getting to your hotel or other island destinations
Las Palmas Airport is actually located about 18 km from Las Palmas. Just outside the airport you can taxi cabs, and also regular buses headed for Las Palmas, Maspalomas, and other destinations. Many of the hotels also have their own bus service, ferrying tourists to and from the airport.

When we arrived, we were not on the "list" for our hotel, so we had to pay cash (no credit cards accepted) for the trip. Since we had no Euros on us, that meant a mad dash to the cash machine inside the airport. So, getting some cash before you head out from the airport is not a bad idea.

If you want to rent a car, there are several rental car companies right at the airport, including Avis and Hertz.

The beach at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria. And yes, I do miss this place!
Shops
Long wait times at airports are made for souvenir shopping, and there are a lot of interesting boutiques and shops at LPA. However, with two restless kids it's not always easy to take your time and look around.

I especially regret not heading into the Productos de Gran Canaria store to buy some local food. Apparently they sell a spice mix you can use to make the lovely, spicy mojo rojo that is very popular in the Canary Islands.

The kids did like the store that featured a gigantic fake shark-head busting through one of the displays. (Not sure what the name of it was.) They had a good selection of somewhat unusual stuffed animals and we ended up with a couple of souvenirs there, both marine creatures: one sea horse and one octopus.

Hotels
There are no hotels at the Las Palmas airport, but several are located close by. JustGranCanaria.com lists some of them on its web page.

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