Jet2 flight LS934 to Manchester, economy class.
The 15 minute, €18 taxi ride from the city borders on an absolute delight – entering the airport there's a weird, hulking, rock-chiselled statue, a recently-ploughed field and a quite magnificent snow-topped mountain as a backdrop. The number 2 and 10 buses, for €2.50, are the cheapskate alternatives.
A sign on the window says Jet2 flights depart from Terminal 2. After traipsing there to find it empty, a look at the Jet2 website confirms it was Terminal 1 we needed after all. How incredibly helpful (not).
From the outside, there's a sense of modernity – all swooping roofs over the bus shelters. This is not matched at all inside, where things are grimly utilitarian and, frankly, hopelessly inadequate. The departures area in particular has the sense of somewhere that has not kept up with demand, with far too many people crammed into closely-huddled gates. There's not even close to being enough seating to go round. Salzburg gets nearly 30 million visitors a year, but its airport is still in the glorified hangar stage.
We arrive two hours and 40 minutes before the departure time, and the check-in desk isn't open. Everyone is told it'll open two hours before the flight, although in the end, the badgered woman setting up relents and opens it a little earlier. By this stage, a depressingly large queue has formed – one mirrored by the queue at every other desk in sight. Efficient, it is not.
Tiny trays are provided, meaning the two of us have to empty our belongings into seven separate trays. Unsurprisingly, this causes logjams at the other end, which probably contributes to the 25 minutes it takes to clear security.
FOOD AND DRINK
If you want to eat you'd better like what the Marktcafe Bistro and Delicatessen offers because there's nowhere else to go airside. At €4.90 for 500 millilitres of draft beer and €4.50 for a latte, prices aren't outrageous, but variety doesn't go much beyond the standard sandwiches and salads. Though, this being Austria, you can also get a schnitzel and strudel. Good luck finding somewhere to sit down and eat though – people are spilling over from the gates into all the available seating.
One restaurant, one shop, that's it. It's a fairly big duty free shop, however, and it does have some local additions alongside the usual global boozes and confectionary. There's a rack of Austrian wines, should you want a Zweigelt or gruner veltliner to take home, plus Mozart Balls chocolate, Mozart cream liqueur in several flavours and Swarovski crystal jewellery.
The smoking area is about as big as the gates, which probably says a lot about how reluctant Austria was to adhere to smoking bans. But unless you're planning to get back on the ciggies, there's precious little to occupy you. There are a few charging points for electronics, but they're furiously oversubscribed.
ONE MORE THING
Hangar-7 – Red Bull's home of aircraft, Formula One cars and a high concept restaurant which parachutes in a different top chef from around the world every month – is on the airport premises, but not connected to the terminal. See hangar-7.com
Salzburg is justifiably one of Europe's most popular tourist cities, but the airport is clearly struggling to handle the boom in budget airline flights. Those coming from outside Europe might be better off getting a train from Vienna or Munich rather than building in a connecting flight.
David Whitley travelled at his own expense.