Malaga "Costa del Sol" Airport opened up in 1919, making it one of the oldest airports in Europe, and the world. It has become the third busiest airport in the Spanish mainland, but fourth overall behind Madrid Barajas, Barcelona El-Pratt and Palma de Mallorca. The airports busiest route is to London Gatwick.
Malaga Airport is one of the oldest in Spain.
The airport is not a hub for any airlines, but they do have large presence from Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Iberia, TUI Group and Jet2. As you can tell it gets a lot of traffic from the holiday airlines, as well as regular business from major European airlines including Lufthansa Group, British Airways, Aer Lingus (who use an A330 during the summer) and KLM-Air France Group. At one point Delta Airlines offered a direct seasonal route to New York JFK using the Boeing 767-300.
The Airport's original 1972 Terminal 1 which dates back to the era of the first package holidays has now closed for good and operations are split between the brand new 2010 built Terminal 3 and the older Terminal 2 which is named in honour of Pablo Picasso, the famous Spanish Artist who was born in Malaga.
Prior to the global pandemic in 2020 the airport would see a rise from 16,672,000 passengers in 2016 to 19,858,000 passengers in 2019.
The main lounge facility is the VIP Sala Lounge. It is located airside at Terminal 3 in the centralised Food Court before you branch off to your Gates in either the Schengen or non-Schengen area. Entry to this lounge can be complimentary with the relevant airline status, a business class ticket with a partner airline as well.
First impressions are nice and spacious with plenty of seating with various seating options. My first round of snacks bellow!
I had a good 3 1/2 hour wait in the Airport, so I opted to do the Airport Lounge and pay for entry at 35.95EUR (£31.66p), now paying for lounges can be a bit of a pros vs. cons debate, but if you have a long enough stay, or even travelling solo, it can be worth it instead of paying for a meal and drink in the Airport at a decent restaurant or bar that isn't a chain café or Burger King.
Whilst the lounge doesn't offer facilities like a shower (the similar Madrid one does), it does offer a nice range of self service food and drink from the bar including ice cream, spirits, beer/wine, soft drinks, coffee/tea facilities, fruit, cakes, pastries both sweet and savoury. The website offered hot food, but I didn't see any available or a means of ordering through a QR code, so my assumption was it was not yet fully reintroduced after CV-19, but I'll keep my eyes open.
A pair of pictures from my GoPro showing some of the selections from the SALA VIP Lounge.
The views offered by the Lounge include one overlooking a section of the Gates by the Air Traffic Control Tower, the other side offers a comparable view of the landside and airside sections of Terminal 3 at Malaga!
For an Airport like Malaga, the Lounge was quite big and offered various types of seating as well as a large amount of space. I do assume it gets very full at peak travel times- especially during the holidays. However given budget airlines and holiday airlines tend to dominate the Airport, the amount of "legacy" or "full service" airlines with business class- probably makes this lounge a nice level of business most of the day.
There are a nice number of places you can plug in to charge devices from phones to GoPros to Laptops, etc whilst you refuel yourself on some nice Spanish DYC Whiskey- which I took a bit of a liking too on this trip both in the city and in this lounge! The Lounge had a electronic board for people to watch their flight status, as well as the check in staff at the Lounge making brief announcements when necessary in both English & Spanish.
Onwards with the flight back to Bournemouth then!
We boarded the flight at the B-Gates section, at Malaga Airport the B-Gate and C-Gate piers are behind the Passport checkpoint meaning all non-Schengen Flights will leave from there- which includes North Africa, USA, Ireland and the UK just to name a few.
Boarding commenced as soon as the flight from Bournemouth landed, so everyone de-planed and we were all hustled into the jetbridge, until they finished cleaning the Boeing 737 ready for us to be walked in. It took a good 10-15 minutes before they released us on the plane, but some of us had to wait at the bottom to allow some airport vehicles and the que to die down, which gave me a chance to grab some final shots of the Retro looking Spanish Airport building!
My flight to Bournemouth from Malaga was operated by the based Boeing 737-8AS(WL) at Bournemouth Hurn from that day which was EI-ENT, delivered on February 9th 2011 it has flown with Ryanair ever since its delivery. 2 days later the aircraft changed its base over to Malaga, where it appears to be based now at the time of writing, being replaced at BOH by Boeing 737-800 (EI-GJS).
I mistakenly thought the rear door had been sealed off by the ropes by the plane, and boarded from the front door to enter the aircraft- even though I was seated in Row 28, Seat F. I found my seat and took it, which offered a great wing view and enough space to observe the scenery of the take off.
As you can see, the aircraft had been retrofitted with the new seat design and still retained the older cabin. These half job aircraft are becoming quite common in Ryanair as planes go in for maintenance. I don't know if the Sky Interior will be retro fitted fully on these older aircraft?
We pushed back a few minutes later than scheduled, which wasn't a big problem as we'd make up the delay enroute to Bournemouth. We were held up as a Wizzair Airbus A321 from London Gatwick arrived and parked next to us, meaning we couldn't push back until it had arrived and was secured.
We pushed back and taxied over to the runway for take off. We taxied past the Airport which I observed various aircraft from all over Europe. We got to the end of the taxiway for Runway 13 where we held before taxiing onto the runway and immediately went into a rolling take off, we had a long run along the runway before we began to power out of Malaga and out towards the Mediterranean Sea.
There was a beautiful evening view as we departed out of Malaga, zooming out over the sea with the coast and its holiday towns getting further away, we did a full turn back on ourselves and flew back over the Malaga area at a high altitude as we headed across the Spanish mainland.
We quickly ascended to our cruising height and the crew began preparing for the on-board service, the flight was quite full and the 2 hour flight time would likely by the crew some business tonight for drinks and snacks.
The crew even handed out copies of the Runway Retail magazine on this flight, which wasn't done on the Malaga based outbound flight!
Opting for a 10EUR (£8.70) Meal Deal with a hot main course, I chose the beef and tomato pasta dish with the usual can of pringles and for a change up a can of Fanta. For those eagle eyed- yes that is a retro Gameboy Advance SP, which I was using for IFE! Whilst the meal was enjoyable and a good filler for my flight, I found the wooden fork a little flimsy for doing its job…
The flight continued on its Northern track across Spain, crossing into the Bay of Biscay near Bilbao. We headed towards the Brittany region of France as the sun gradually began to set on us, being held back slightly by the UK time zone being minus 1hr.
A while later into the flight, I went to use the rest room, after finishing I then enquired about ordering another drink, which I got sorted out and enjoyed during the final segments of the flight- a Green Tea.
The sun had almost fully set by the time we were descending along the coast of Southern England as we made our final approach into Bournemouth Hurn. We came in from the East, meaning we had a run in over the port city of Southampton, The New Forrest then over the small villages Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst
Flying at dusk over Southampton and the docks that lead into the Solent.
We rolled to the end of the Runway and did an "about turn" at the end of the Threshold before taxiing back down the runway and exiting at the turn off for the main Terminal facility. This method is used at the moment as the main taxiway is closed for maintenance work- which will allow four parking stands for the freighter Airbus A340-600 fleet for European Aviation.
I grabbed one final shot inside the cabin of the Boeing 737-800, before disembarking the plane by the rear stairs- bidding a good night to the two cabin crew stationed at the rear door.
Leaving the aircraft I was able to bag some photos of the aircraft on stand- despite the darkness that covered the sky.
I was at the end of the que for passport control, so I waited a good 15 minutes before I was seen too, but getting past, I sat down in the arrivals hall at Bournemouth Hurn, which is quite basic, for about 20 minutes whilst I waited to be picked up from the airport by my dad. It was interesting seeing all the local tourist attractions displayed for the benefit of tourists visiting the area. Two vending machines are on offer if you want a cold drink, snack or hot drink- but only the snack & cold drink machine takes card.
Malaga was quite a nice experience for an Airport that sees most of its trade from the "Bucket and Spade" business. The lounge was quite a nice all though staying there would require a long enough stay to make use of the £30 entry.
Ryanair was as good as it was going to get for a £20 flight, though I found it convenient that it was a cheap flight from my local Bournemouth Hurn Airport rather than London Stansted!
Bournemouth Hurn arrivals aren't that special or exotic, but it does the job for a short wait.