Friday, 12 June 2015

Airside at Okęcie's 'new old' terminal

Here's a belated look at how things look once you've got through security at Okęcie after the (re)opening of the (new) old terminal. [See this post about the groundside improvements.]

The airport gets better and better. Smaller and easier to navigate than Heathrow, larger and more relaxed than 'hurry-up-and-wait' Luton, it's my favourite regular airport.

Firstly: if you've no cabin baggage to check in, simply pass through security at whichever terminal and head to your gate as advised. If you do have cabin baggage, your ticket or e-ticket will tell you where to do this. Sector A is in the new old terminal; Sector B is between the new old terminal and the old new terminal; Sectors C, D and E are in the old new terminal.

But I should get out of the habit of 'old' and 'new' terminals. Officially, the whole ensemble should be considered Terminal A. Which implies that at some point in the future, there will be Terminals B through to Z.

Once you've passed through security (on either side), you'll need to find your gate. The choice has suddenly expanded from Gates 1 to 28 (as was) to Gates 1 to 45. Bear in mind that the low numbers are for Non-Schengen destinations, beyond passport control. These are to the left as you pass through security, at the northern end of the 'pirs' or pier. The Schengen destinations (countries where there's no mutual paranoia about gatecrashers from  other parties to the treaty) are the higher-numbered gates along the middle and southern end  of the pirs.

There are now new bar-code scanning gates speeding up the time it takes to get to security. So far they work fine.

Below: as the airport's website has failed to annotate its otherwise useful terminal plan, I've done so for you. Gate numbers are approximate (I cannot be held responsible for someone missing flights if they guide themselves solely by my plan); north is to the left of the pic, south to the right. The light green area is beyond passport control and is for Non-Schengen flights. The 'new old' terminal, opened last month, is the triangular bit above the number 32; the 'old new' terminal is the square bit above the number 25.

Below: photo taken with lens set at 40mm lens (60mm full-frame equivalent). The photo was taken at the southern end of the pirs looking north past all the gates. From where I'm standing to the furthest gates in the distance is a nine-minute walk (I'm assuming a minimal wait at passport control).

The new gates mean more shopping opportunities to cater to your spending needs. There are plentiful shops selling clothes, electronic gadgetry (there's a Samsung shop, for example) and food. Below: an FSM Syrena pick-up forms a eye-catching centrepiece at a Premium Food Gate, a food and drink store which offers a wide range of regional Polish specialities. There are now lots more shops, so if you've got used to Okęcie having nothing to tempt you with other than a Aelia, a Keraniss and a Relay, come a bit earlier next time you fly as there's now plenty more to look at.

There's even a Scottish restaurant airside! (there's one groundside, I mentioned it in my earlier post about the new old terminal, linked top). However, unlike the groundside one, this restaurant has a bizarre method of ordering, collecting and paying for your food. First, you join a queue to get a card-like voucher. Secondly, you join another queue to order your food. Your order is encoded on the card you have recently received. You then join a third queue as you wait for your order to be prepared. Your meal is served, you then have to join a fourth queue to pay for your meal, handing back your card-like voucher, which is decoded and the correct amount displayed. After full financial reconcilliation between you and the Scottish restaurant, your transaction is deemed to be complete, and you can leave to catch your flight. If it's still there.

Quite why the Scottish restaurant, usually a paragon of business efficiency, has chosen to increase the number of queues you have to stand in from the usual one (or two in drive-thrus and station outlets) to four is beyond me. Unless it's a historical re-enactment of PRL-style queuing, giving international flyers a brief taste of life in communist Poland. My guess is that this clunky and user-unfriendly system will soon be replaced by something more streamlined. Sack the management consultants!

Still, I miss a butchery-and-wine style restaurant serving grilled pork and lamb cuts at Terminal A. I'd like to see something like this called Chop In A Lotnisko.

A propos of airside catering: if you're flying through "London" Luton and the place is heaving with nowhere to sit let alone sit down and eat, go to Gate 10 where there's a place called Bar Ten, and it's always empty. Don't worry about missing your flight, for there's a display showing the gate numbers for flight as they are called.

This time four years ago:
Thirty-One and Sixty-Three (short story about 19th C. Polish uprisings)

This time six years ago:
Jeziorki to Jeziorki - the big rail loop

This time seven years ago:
Automotive miscellany

This time eight years ago:
South Warsaw sunsets


student SGH said...

Oddly enough, while more people find the very flying stressful, I find getting my head around an airport more stressful, despite not having any troubles though!

The bizarre restaurant - visited a similarly weird place in Wroclaw two years ago. I still wonder what's the point in complicating one's life to such extent...

Michael Dembinski said...

Airport design, and the flow of passengers from groundside to airside and then onto their planes in the optimum manner is a high art. Okęcie is well designed and the new developments make it even more passenger-friendly.

John Savery said...

I haven't tried out the new "old" terminal yet, mostly because it is at the opposite end to the non-Schengen gates. What I have noticed though, is that there does seem to be more of a queue for the barcode scanning gates than there was before, probably because each time someone goes through, the gates have to open and close for each passenger. The old system of "person with scanner" seemed to allow more of a flow of people. (This morning's flight was the exception to prove the rule!) The same seems to be true at Lawica (Poznan) where they have also installed the gates.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ John Savery

Interesting point about the gates - indeed, they take time to open and close. I've yet to see the system at full load, queues were light on Sunday when I flew.