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AIRPORT: arrivals

Kefallinia airport is situated between the two small resorts of Minies and Svoronata and is about 9 km, or fifteen minutes by taxi, from Argostoli, the capital. Lassi, one of the main resorts, is about 10 minutes away.

Some twenty years ago Kefalonia airfield was just that: a field where aeroplanes arrived and departed. The terminal building was little more than a tin hut and baggage handling was all but self-service. When the ‘new’ airport was planned no-one could have imagined the popularity Kefalonia would achieve, perhaps due in part to the international audience attracted by the natural beauty depicted in the film, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Prior to the release of the film the airport closed pretty promptly at 21:30. Any ’plane not in Greek airspace by 21:00 wasn’t going to land at Kefalonia. Due to demand for holidays on Kefalonia, the airport is now open until the early hours of the morning and, at times, it still isn’t big enough. Nevertheless, thanks to the airport staff, police and tour reps, everything is organised to run pretty smoothly and without the chaos I’ve seen elsewhere.

Due to the amount of suitable flat land available the airport is compact and only three planes can be on the tarmac together at any time. Occasionally this results in a few flights circling until space is available, but that’s fairly rare. Even in the summer months, Kefalonia airport is sometimes affected by low mist and flights may have to be diverted: again, quite uncommon.

On arrival you’ll be directed, via passport control, to baggage collection where there’s one baggage carousel.

It’s not unknown for three flights to land one after the other so, if the plane you were on wasn’t the first to land, you may experience a slight delay while the baggage is unloaded and processed. Large and unwieldy items, such as push-chairs and beach umbrellas, are usually processed separately and left for collection on the left-hand corner outside the terminal building (next to the main coach park).

If you’re bursting for a wee there are toilet facilities in the baggage reclaim area and more to the left and right outside baggage reclaim. Once you’ve collected your baggage the building exit is almost directly opposite the exit from baggage reclaim.

A few points to note:

1. Kefalonia airport is now non-smoking in the terminal building
2. There is no exchange facility at the airport (but there is now an ATM)
3. There is no regular bus service from, to, or near the airport
4. There is no medical facility at the airport
5. There are no toilet or refreshment facilities on the coaches
6. If any item of your baggage has been damaged in transit you need to report it to a member of the airport staff, and complete a report form, before  you leave the airport

If you’re travelling on a package holiday the reps will normally be waiting just outside the baggage reclaim area. Check in with the rep for the company you are travelling with as soon as you have reclaimed all your belongings so that they know you have arrived, they will inform you which coach will be taking you on your onward journey and where it is. The main coach park is to the left of the terminal as you exit, additional coach parking is directly across from the terminal building. There may be several tour companies using the airport at the same time, often sharing flights, and there may be several coaches all with the same transfer number, so each coach will prominently display not only the transfer number (or letter) but also the name of the holiday company, e.g. Olympic 3 or Manos B.

Smoking, eating and drinking (anything other than water) aren’t permitted on the coaches: if you’re one of the first to reclaim all your baggage you may have time for a cigarette or to get a sandwich / bottle of pop before the coach departs, check with the rep at the coach. To minimise the delay for other passengers, once all the baggage for the flight has been reclaimed the coach will wait five minutes for the last passenger, then it will depart. If you have a problem that’s delaying you boarding the coach, tell the rep a.s.a.p.

If you’re making your own way to your accommodation (or if you’re not taking the accommodation), inform the rep, so that other passengers aren’t kept waiting for you, and find out which room you have been allocated. If you have a taxi pre-booked through your holiday company the rep will direct you to it. If you have booked a taxi independently the driver will normally be waiting in the arrivals lounge (between baggage reclaim and the exit). The taxi rank is on the opposite side of the road directly outside the airport and, if you don’t have a taxi booked then, during peak season especially, you may have to wait until one returns.

If you have a car booked for collection at the airport the larger companies have either a booth inside the terminal or an office just outside the main gates to the airport. A representative of the hire company will normally be waiting for you, either inside or outside the terminal building.

Transfer times to resorts are normally indicated in the holiday brochures and tend to be fairly accurate, although the time stated may be to the first drop-off in each resort. Depending on where your accommodation is located, the longest you’re likely to be on the coach is 2-2 hours (e.g. Skala). Almost certainly other passengers will be dropped off on the way. Except at hotels, the rep will normally show guests to their rooms, this takes a little longer but ensures guests get into their rooms (i.e. a check that the accommodation owner / cleaner has left the key in the door). Bear in mind that the rep on the transfer coach may well not be the rep for your accommodation and, even if s/he is, will have other passengers waiting on the coach, all of whom want to get in to their accommodation and start their holiday so, unless there’s an urgent problem, don’t delay the rep & other passengers.

If, during the journey, you need to use a toilet / be sick, inform the rep on the coach a.s.a.p. If there isn’t a rep on the transfer coach inform the driver (preferably not when he’s negotiating a hairpin bend around a vertical drop). Otherwise, for safety, remain seated while the coach is in motion.

Wearing a seat-belt on the coach is compulsory, the police periodically stop coaches and conduct spot checks (and hefty on-the-spot fines).

During the journey the rep is likely to provide some information. Some of it may be essential, even if it’s not of interest to you it may be to other passengers and, even if you have been to the island / resort before… things change.

Kalos ilthate

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