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Very early flight time back home - when do you head to the airport?

JustJack

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF: May/June 2023
VDLP: April/May 2024
My flight home from Madrid is at 6am. It's an international flight, so presumably should be there 3 hours prior, which means 3am.

For anyone that has been stuck with an early departure time from Madrid, how did you deal with it? Did you have a room booked for that night and check out at 2:30am to head to the airport? That's probably the best choice, it just sucks paying for a room that I'm not going to sleep in...

I'll be coming from Santiago. Haven't checked any of the bus/train times yet, but perhaps there's a late departure from Santiago on a slow train that would get me into Madrid late enough that I could just head straight to the airport without stopping in Madrid. Is the Madrid airport nice as far as airports go?

First world problem I know, and certainly not a serious concern. I'm just curious what others do in this same situation.
 
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Here's a tip from recent experience. Our last three flights home to the US three years in a row from Spain were cancelled or dramatically rebooked. Watch out for this as you travel.

In Madrid, we try to arrive early. But when you arrive too early there may not be a desk open for check in showing on the signs and unless you are first class, any line may move quite slowly early in the morning until more desk clerks arrrive to help. When you do finally get checked in, don't plan for your gate to be posted once you get through security until a very short time before departure (30 minutes or so). Basically it is hurry up and wait. If you're a Veteran that it will all come back to you quickly.

As far as staying overnight, you can pull an all nighter and then taxi, train, or bus to the airport from town or I would consider a short night at a budget place near the airport like Hostal Vicky. You can also stay a short night downtown and take one of the C trains or the Express Bus from Atocha to save a little money.

Now that we are older, wiser, and crabbier we attempt to break up the trip a bit with an overnight in Germany. This year that also backfired as we awoke to another cancelled flight the next morning.
 
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Since I just went through Madrid 2-3 Oct:

Everything J Willhaus says is true, including the within 13 hours cancellation of the second leg of my flight home.

If you book Hostal Viky, be aware that you'll call the hotel to send a small vehicle to pick you up, you'll wait a half hour for it, and if you cancel, there's no refund;

Hello Sky is in Terminal 4, and was full when I tried it,

Madrid is a brutally uncomfortable airport to sleep in ( marble floors, cold, very few outlets that work, and the few metal benches were full). That being said, all the " good" sleeping spots were taken when I tried for one at midnight.

BL. Reserve Hello Sky now, if you're still looking at a early flight.
 
Hostal Viky on booking.com says it operates a free 24 hour shuttle and a 5 minute drive to the airport. So is that not the case? USD67 per night. Hello Sky 215USD per night. I also have a 6AM flight time.
 
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If at all possible, I would check with the local staff what time they will open the check-in desk. My experience over the past two years with a combination of Air France, Iberia and Ryan Air at SDC, Porto, Lisbon and Seville has been consistent. Check-in desks opened two hours before the advertised ETD. When I raised the discrepancy with the Ryan Air check-in staff at SDC, the woman at the desk basically said they keep telling the company not to tell people to arrive three hours early, and that they will be open from two hours before the advertised departure, but it appears without any effect. Three hours might be the norm for larger and busier airports, but it certainly doesn't appear to be the norm from the places I have listed.
 
Spain is a late night country, the Madrid area especially so. You can hang out in the little town where hotel Viky is located, eating and drinking until they close and then take a cheap taxi to the airport or even walk! (We did - it was delightful and not that far).

If you’d prefer an early bedtime and wake-up, Hotel Viky does provide cheap rooms and a shuttle driven by the front desk clerk. You can preschedule it for 3am and you’d get to the airport at 3:05am.
 
I think the cancellation fee to Hostel Viky is strict.
I think they do do a free cancellation if you scroll down under ‘other options’ on booking.com and pay a slightly higher price. This may vary by date of course and their ‘need’!
 
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I do this a fair bit and tend to ‘split it’ in terms of staying in a late bar near the night bus route and then get a bus to airport to arrive 3am ish.

Thi is my tactic for most parts of the world. Saved a fortune though of course it take a certain type of mentality!

I also sometime get the bus in from another place that goes to airport. So recently I was in Düsseldorf and had a 6am flight out of Frankfurt so got a bus that arrived FRA airport at 0320. Carries risk though!
 
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If at all possible, I would check with the local staff what time they will open the check-in desk. My experience over the past two years with a combination of Air France, Iberia and Ryan Air at SDC, Porto, Lisbon and Seville has been consistent. Check-in desks opened two hours before the advertised ETD. When I raised the discrepancy with the Ryan Air check-in staff at SDC, the woman at the desk basically said they keep telling the company not to tell people to arrive three hours early, and that they will be open from two hours before the advertised departure, but it appears without any effect. Three hours might be the norm for larger and busier airports, but it certainly doesn't appear to be the norm from the places I have listed.
Very very generally it tends to be 3 hours from the bigger airports and 2ish from smaller though varies for alot of different reasons.
 
Spain is a late night country, the Madrid area especially so. You can hang out in the little town where hotel Viky is located, eating and drinking until they close and then take a cheap taxi to the airport or even walk! (We did - it was delightful and not that far).

If you’d prefer an early bedtime and wake-up, Hotel Viky does provide cheap rooms and a shuttle driven by the front desk clerk. You can preschedule it for 3am and you’d get to the airport at 3:05am.
Yes great option. I really like the town of Barajas and often go there. From memory, the two bars opposite the metro station open late and are very cheap! Other options too!
 
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Hostal Viky on booking.com says it operates a free 24 hour shuttle and a 5 minute drive to the airport. So is that not the case? USD67 per night. Hello Sky 215USD per night. I also have a 6AM flight time.
All I can say is that you have to call for the shuttle to get you, and when I did ( they didn't answer WhatsApp), they stated that traffic was so bad that it would take half an hour. At midnight on a Monday night.
 
I have just booked a flight from Santiago to arrive at 11pm in Madrid. I leave Madrid at 8am so probably 5am check-in and decided six hours at the airport was not that big a problem. I'll be doing 6 hours in Istanbul and 9 in Singapore, so what's a little more! I'll wrap myself up in my sleeping bag if necessary.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
My flight home from Madrid is at 6am. It's an international flight, so presumably should be there 3 hours prior, which means 3am.

For anyone that has been stuck with an early departure time from Madrid, how did you deal with it? Did you have a room booked for that night and check out at 2:30am to head to the airport? That's probably the best choice, it just sucks paying for a room that I'm not going to sleep in...

I'll be coming from Santiago. Haven't checked any of the bus/train times yet, but perhaps there's a late departure from Santiago on a slow train that would get me into Madrid late enough that I could just head straight to the airport without stopping in Madrid. Is the Madrid airport nice as far as airports go?

First world problem I know, and certainly not a serious concern. I'm just curious what others do in this same situation.
Last time I did it was just before Christmas. I just went there around midnight, I think. The airport bar was open quite late (not sure exactly). The airport is fine, but nothing special, as far as I recall.
 
A guide to speaking Spanish on the Camino - enrich your pilgrim experience.
They told me that my flight to madrid from Santiago was overbooked and I couldn't get on the plane.
I was so upset, as I was meeting a pal flying in from uk in madrid.

Id never been bounced before so was unsure if i had any rights. I protested but the guy just blanked me.

What had happened is that they had sent me an email to check in the day before but because it was my birthday (68) and i was celebrating arriving at the end of the camino, i didnt see the email.

So I arrived at the airport ready to check in, but they gave me a ticket marked standby.

I had to stand by the gate till the last person went through and then i asked again to be allowed on. They said yes

Those two hours of stress almost undid all the joy of my camino, but I recovered quickly once I was on the plane.

From now on, I will always pay for a seat so that it is then harder for them to bump you onto standby.
 
My flight home from Madrid is at 6am. It's an international flight, so presumably should be there 3 hours prior, which means 3am.

For anyone that has been stuck with an early departure time from Madrid, how did you deal with it? Did you have a room booked for that night and check out at 2:30am to head to the airport? That's probably the best choice, it just sucks paying for a room that I'm not going to sleep in...

I'll be coming from Santiago. Haven't checked any of the bus/train times yet, but perhaps there's a late departure from Santiago on a slow train that would get me into Madrid late enough that I could just head straight to the airport without stopping in Madrid. Is the Madrid airport nice as far as airports go?

First world problem I know, and certainly not a serious concern. I'm just curious what others do in this same situation.
I have both slept in the airport, and most recently stayed at a hotel in Barajas with taxi always waiting outside. I usually catch a cab at 2 or 2:30. I've missed a couple early flights when I haven't done that. I always misjudge how long it takes to get to airport.
 
I have both slept in the airport, and most recently stayed at a hotel in Barajas with taxi always waiting outside. I usually catch a cab at 2 or 2:30. I've missed a couple early flights when I haven't done that. I always misjudge how long it takes to get to airport.
Not tempted to stay in a bar until 2am and save the money?
 
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Not tempted to stay in a bar until 2am and save the money?
I thought I could do that the first time, but it was mid week and places seemed to close early, plus luggage. That was the trip I took the Metro to the airport and fell asleep on my backpack. Woke up with a line to check in snaking around me.
 
I thought I could do that the first time, but it was mid week and places seemed to close early, plus luggage. That was the trip I took the Metro to the airport and fell asleep on my backpack. Woke up with a line to check in snaking around me.
Cool sure ! It’s not for everyone !
 
I had a similar early flight in July. I stayed at Hostal Viky and when checking in I booked a 345am trip to the airport. We arrived at the desk about 330 and the driver grabbed the keys and off we went. We were the only ones on thr shuttle. The Air France desk was open and it took about 45 minutes to get through check in, only a fee clerks at the time of the morning. If you stay at Viky there is a little town square a 5 minute walk away and the metro is 10 minutes the other direction. We came back to madrid/Viky the day before our flight.

Bob
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I do this a fair bit and tend to ‘split it’ in terms of staying in a late bar near the night bus route and then get a bus to airport to arrive 3am ish.

Thi is my tactic for most parts of the world. Saved a fortune though of course it take a certain type of mentality!

I also sometime get the bus in from another place that goes to airport. So recently I was in Düsseldorf and had a 6am flight out of Frankfurt so got a bus that arrived FRA airport at 0320. Carries risk though!
Yeah I think this is a great option. Glad to hear it's possible to take a bus to the airport that late.
 
All I can say is that you have to call for the shuttle to get you, and when I did ( they didn't answer WhatsApp), they stated that traffic was so bad that it would take half an hour. At midnight on a Monday night.
The hotel clerk suggested using Uber, the hotel shuttle where I stayed isn't currently operating, he thought it might be cheaper than a cab. All the cabs are flat rate 20 Euro to the airport from Barajas, but they are at the curb 24/7. I took the Metro from the airport to Barajas. Also a bus, if you know where you're going. Not sure on middle of night schedule, if at all.
 
Hostal Viky on booking.com says it operates a free 24 hour shuttle and a 5 minute drive to the airport. So is that not the case? USD67 per night. Hello Sky 215USD per night. I also have a 6AM flight time.
I stayed at the Ibis hotel, slightly less expensive. Also mentioned a shuttle service on website, but think that info is out of date. Taxi at the curb outside.
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
I have an Air France flight out of Barajas tomorrow morning at 6am. Since I only have my backpack with me and already have my boarding pass thru online check-in, I plan to go to the airport late this evening and hope that the airport lounge will allow me a little longer overnight time in there.
 
Most of the airport lounges in Madrid are airside, and depending on the terminal, may not be accessible to you or open overnight. Look it up before you go.
 
I may be a bit masochistic (or maybe just a cheapskate), but when I have a flight at 06:00 or earlier, I go to the airport the evening before and find an out of the way corner to sleep in. I suppose there may be an airport somewhere that doesn’t allow this, but I haven’t encountered one. I did have a uniformed guy in a Spanish train station tell me that lying down wasn’t allowed. (Implying that sleeping in a chair is OK?) I use my carry-on for a pillow with the zipper downward to deter theft.

I have not tried this at Barajas.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I have an Air France flight out of Barajas tomorrow morning at 6am. Since I only have my backpack with me and already have my boarding pass thru online check-in, I plan to go to the airport late this evening and hope that the airport lounge will allow me a little longer overnight time in there.
Here's info about the lounges at Barajas. It appears that most allow a maximum stay if 3 hours.

 
The hotel clerk suggested using Uber, the hotel shuttle where I stayed isn't currently operating, he thought it might be cheaper than a cab. All the cabs are flat rate 20 Euro to the airport from Barajas, but they are at the curb 24/7. I took the Metro from the airport to Barajas. Also a bus, if you know where you're going. Not sure on middle of night schedule, if at all.
From hostel fly (same area as Vicy) uber was 7€ in August and took 20 minutes.
 
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I may be a bit masochistic (or maybe just a cheapskate), but when I have a flight at 06:00 or earlier, I go to the airport the evening before and find an out of the way corner to sleep in. I suppose there may be an airport somewhere that doesn’t allow this, but I haven’t encountered one. I did have a uniformed guy in a Spanish train station tell me that lying down wasn’t allowed. (Implying that sleeping in a chair is OK?) I use my carry-on for a pillow with the zipper downward to deter theft.

I have not tried this at Barajas.
There are some airports that deny people access overnight… they are certainly in the minority. Some airports have some some terminals close but not others. Some airports are a hive of activity. Barajas can fall into that category!

Also there are a few trains stations that close too.

Always worth checking.
 
I got to Barajas past midnight (for a 6am fight) and I saw some passengers sleeping in areas before and after security. The guy in the Puerta de Alcala Lounge in terminal 2 originally told me that they only allow entry 4 hours before the flight. Since it was just around 1am, I asked kindly if he can make an exception on my part. He did and maybe because the place was almost deserted. There was only one couple in there beside me. I got myself more than 2 hours of sleep before having a nice breakfast in the lounge.
 
We asked the guards at Barajas airport where we could sleep, and they showed us a nice area with charging points for phones. We slept in our sleeping bags and though the floor was a bit hard, we seemed better rested than the people who slept sitting up...
 
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