a white building with a car parked in front of it

At some airports, all those sun soaked, happy memories of a perfect vacation slip away before you even make it onto the plane. In Greece, that was all but guaranteed for the last few decades, and it didn’t take long to feel like you needed a vacation from your vacation.

Old, airless facilities were standard, and any positive vibes from the trip were quashed as low ceilings gave way to assuredly overheated busses and almost guaranteed chaos upon boarding. It didn’t matter whether you arrived or departed in Mykonos, Santorini, Thessaloniki or any other gateway.

In perhaps the only ‘thanks’ covid-19 should ever get, the wretched virus did manage to speed up significant airport construction across 14 Greek airports, and passengers arriving by summer should begin to feel the new digs, and hopefully less dread.

cars parked cars in front of a building

Greece Upgrades Airports

Greece and Fraport, a leading global airport operator, teamed up for a series of massive infrastructure and airport projects which bring significant improvements to just about everything in the Greek airport experience.

From larger ceilings and airy’er terminals to modern baggage systems and better busses, just about everything should be noticeably better. There’s even more check in desks, not that airlines may choose to utilize them during hard times.

Crete Chania Airport received a brand new terminal, with more security checkpoints and gates too. Corfu got a shiny new terminal as well, with over 100,000 square feet of space including new dining and more security checkpoints. Kos received a huge new terminal, creating one of the more advanced airport facilities in the islands. Santorini underwent a complete overhaul of facilities as did Mykonos, Skiathos, Zakynthos and more.

Airports Matter More Now

For decades, demand outstripped supply in summer travel. Greece, always a perennial favorite never “needed” to upgrade airport infrastructure to attract visitors, and that’s just as well, given the financial situation 2008 left the country in.

But as travel begins to rebound, health, safety and ease of experience play more and more into the destination decision process, and being thrown ear to ear with sweaty strangers hardly fits the new mold.

The arrival and departure experience should be just as positive as the vacation itself. GSTP was incredibly impressed with the arrival experience into Santorini last summer, but has always dreaded each departure from the Greek island. That’ll change.

Closures of regional travel within Greece and blanket travel restrictions made it easier for the country to ramp up airport renovations and passengers should begin to see the fruits of the meaningful billion plus project shape better experiences on their next trip, allowing the good vibes to remain until the boarding door closes.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I’ve been travelling to Greece for many, many years. The airports have always been an issue, no aircon, unclean and unwelcoming. The opening of ATH for the 2004 Olympics was a step change, but the airports on the islands still lagged well behind.
    Then, in October 2019 I travelled through CHQ and -wow- what a difference. Modern, clean, spacious with good aircon. I was flying in J and the lounge(s) had not opened so I assumed this was because the terminal had just opened.
    I never thought it’d be a joy to pass through a Greek regional airport but CHQ definitely gets a thumbs-up. 👍

  2. I hope that you can connect the dots between this post and your post last week about Heathrow charges. Airport charges pay for investment. If airports can’t recover costs (as Greek island airports have long struggled to) then they’ll have crap infrastructure. Clearly you prefer it when airports ‘invest in a good experience’. If you think about it from that perspective, then there is nothing ridiculous about Heathrow raising charges for certain costs… especially when it is losing money hand over fist in all other areas.

    1. Utter b*llsh!t. Heathrow has had every financial opportunity for over a decade to invest dividends and billions in profits into passengers but chose not to. Don’t expect us to lend a hand now!

  3. Just read your interesting and informative article but why the tirade? Mike made a perfectly valid and reasonable comment and you responded with personal abuse. Do you work for Heathrow or something?

    1. David,

      Apologies for the lack of context given in the replies. Heathrow is attempting to charge passengers and airlines extra fees, despite years of billions in profit. It’s sent a variety of its minions to the comments section on a variety of articles to try and unjustifiably make the case for why their egregious charges are a good thing, based on Greece upgrading its airport facilities. You can catch up on the issue with the article below. All the best. The commenter is conflating a variety of issues in hopes of justifying Heathrow’s unreasonable proposal.


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