Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the only place in Scotland that the late great Elvis set foot on (1960 - my mother-in-law still practically screams every time you mention it!), is actually not in Glasgow.
Now there's a thing!
The reason it's still got 'Glasgow' before its title? I could go into it but, well, who really cares?
Here's my little top ten guide on the City's second airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK).
Click on the tips below
1. CHEAP FLIGHTS TO & FROM GLASGOW - Don't break the bank booking flights - you don't need to!
2. AIRPORT ARRIVALS - Do a fast online check on the status of your flights
3. HOW TO GET TO & FROM THE AIRPORT - Travelling to & from the Airport? - Get the Train
4. CHECK-IN & ARRIVALS - Relax & prevent nervous breakdown at Check-in or when coming off your flight
5. LUGGAGE TIPS - Know what to pack & what Security will pull you up for
6. DELAYS? HAVE FUN AT THE AIRPORT - It all starts here - Make your airport experience part of the fun of travelling
7. AIRPORT CAR HIRE - Find out the essentials on car hire & the only worthy rental firms
8. AIRPORT PARKING - If you've got a car, you'll want to know where to park
9. AIRPORT HOTELS - Scared of the City? Stay for cheap in the best airport hotels
10. AIRPORT MAP - Have a look around the airport before you get there
If there's one thing Glasgow Prestwick Airport knows all about, it's cheap flights. King of the short haul (particularly given its abundent friendship with Ryanair), you'll find that if you're coming in from, or going out to Europe, and if you're doing so just from the change in your pocket, this airport is where you'll likely be going through.
I travel via Glasgow Prestwick Airport all the time, miser that I am, so to save you time & effort looking for cheap flights to Glasgow & back I've gathered some tips and recommendations learned along the way, and I hope to save you time enough to pack!
My first warning though if you're planning on skipping my guide, please just remember that if you're getting a connecting flight (especially from abroad), all budget airlines through Glasgow Prestwick Airport are point-to-point services.
Even if you're travelling on to Glasgow Prestwick Airport by the same airline via somewhere in the UK, you should always leave at least 3 hours overlap at the connecting airport.
As I've learned in the past, the late arrival of one flight could leave you stranded on the second leg (even if it’s by the same carrier) - the budget airlines won’t wait, and you could find yourself buying another ticket for the second leg of your journey.
Read my Top Ten Glasgow Flights Guide and keep your cash to spend on your trip.
Keep it simple - no need to phone Glasgow Prestwick Airport or wait decades trying to find the status of the flight you or your friends will be travelling on.
I use this quick online check for flights to & from Glasgow Prestwick Airport and it's reliable & up to the minute.
Check your latest flight information here
By far the best way to travel from Glasgow Prestwick Airport to Glasgow is by train.
If you're flying into Scotland, as soon as you collect your bags you'll walk out into the main building. Look out for the directions to the train terminal, which you'll get to via a skywalk over the motorway.
If you're travelling out, you get the train at Glasgow Central Station on Union Street / Gordon Street, in the City Centre. Just check the massive platforms screen when you get there to find where you get on.
Apart from Sundays, the trains to & from Glasgow Prestwick Airport run about every half hour, although you'd best check beforehand if you're coming in early morning (try not to if you can avoid it, because it's a much simpler way to get into the City). The journey takes less than an hour and is usually pretty quiet.
As for the cost, well, you might be able to swing a free ticket to & from the airport depending on your destination. Check with Scotrail online. If you're eligible, you can get a travel voucher for each journey.
Usually though, you can get 50% off the train ticket, which is about £5.40, just by showing the conductor on the train your flight tickets, although when it's really busy or really quiet, if you're particularly lucky you might manage it all the way there without the conductor reaching you (shhh!).
If you don't want to get the train, you could drive the 30 miles to or from Glasgow via the main A77 road which Glasgow Prestwick Airport is right next to (see the map below & easily plan your route in advance), or alternatively catch the regular X99/X100 airport express bus to & from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station in the City Centre. As I write this the bus is about £7 for a single or £12 if you're going to or coming from Edinburgh, but I'd check the site for the up to date price.
And hey, don't you hold back telling the bus driver if you're too warm or too cold. Just for kicks they tend to put the hot air on when it's blazing sunshine outside, and the cold fans on when they see snow on your shoulders as you're getting on! Bus drivers?Don't get me started...
Now, if you're anything like me you'll hate standing in a queue. Here's a quick guide I follow any time I'm travelling via Glasgow Prestwick Airport.
The information you'll need about checking in will be on your flight ticket.
The best thing to do is to arrive early to avoid the queues (International & European flights 2hrs before departure & Domestic 1hr) and immediately check the screens at the entrance to see your flight info.
Please beware - Glasgow Prestwick Airport normally does not announce flights, so you should keep an eye on the screens throughout your time there.
Check-in is normally pretty quick - it's a very small airport and they try and whip you through in under 20 minutes even in peak time, so you won't have to bring a fold-away chair! Just grab one of the free trolleys dotted about and you should find you'll be in the pub in no time.
If you have special needs you'd be best telling the airline or your travel agent if you're are a charter. Ramps, lifts and disabled toilets are all there to make the passage through the airport pretty comfortable.
As for when you're arriving from a plane, it's a straight road to the well-signposted baggage area.
I'd suggest that if you're coming from a non-EU Country and have been asked to fill in the wee form, do it on the plane when you're relaxed. Then when you arrive you can dart for your baggage and go through customs hassle-free.
You'll also save time by knowing how Glasgow Prestwick Airport security prefer you to pack. Sort this one out before you travel & you won't anxiously waste time having to read the packing guidelines at the desk.
In short, anything you're not sure about security-wise - stuff it in the luggage you're checking in.
That means things like scissors, needles (although you can take these onboard with you if you prove your medical condition at check-in), razor blades and so on.
The best way to look at it is you should only take onboard with you what you'll need on the flight, for example passports & other travel documents, spare clothes, books, music, sweets, baby necessities etc. Again though, I'd suggest that you take five minutes to read your tickets, as everything should be on there.
Also, put any undeveloped camera film in your hand luggage - I've had a bad experience with this - let's just say that the X-Ray machines at Glasgow Airport didn't like my photos!...
As for how much luggage you'll need? Take one piece of hand luggage for onboard(usually not larger than a hold-all or smaller carry case) and for the weight of the rest you'll need to check your tickets.
All seems pretty straight forward I know, but I'm sure you'll have seen a great number of goons arguing with airport staff about their luggage & holding up the queue.
At Glasgow Prestwick Airport, regardless of its size, rules is rules - I've learned that you can save some hassle by following them in advance!
You might very well be a bit like myself a few years ago when it came to airports and delays.
I always saw being at the airport just the painful operation you get through before the enjoyment really begins. You know?
But then I met my wife Tracey. She gets excited about everything ...yup, pretty much everything. And after a few years of feeling a bit like a boring twat, her raw enthusiasm is finally beginning to rub off on me.
She absolutely loves travelling. I mean yeah, she loves going on holiday (well who doesn't?), but she loves the actual travelling part!
Insane or what?!!
So anyway, Tracey's brought me around to thinking that being at the airport, well, it really is part of the holiday, the beginning of the adventure.
And when I think about it a little, I can see that Glasgow Prestwick Airport, again despite its relatively small size, has a lot on offer to convince me of that.
When you get there you'll find a great deal to keep you amused and entertained, and that goes for those poor parents out there just hoping their kids don't start on that public boredom-borne mania!
I won't show you around in detail, because that'll take away from your time there.
Suffice to say though, that you should check out the following Glasgow Prestwick Airport survival guide -
For those with kids.
Have them dumped in the Gamegrid. It's full of all those crazy video games and fruit machines, and you'll find this before and after you go through security. Age restrictions apply in certain areas though, so watch out for that 100 year-old security guard out to justify his existence!
For the cute little tots though, what I'd suggest is that you don't take anything for granted though. I know loads of parents who take their own games, colouring books & stories to keep their kids from embarassing them at the airport.
For older travellers
Pack some books & magazines or buy them at the WH Smith's at the airport. Stop all this growing up trash & stuff your carry-on bag with games like Travel Monopoly or Battleships. Take a walk around the place, listen to some music, plug into the BT Openzone Wi-Fi place, go shopping in the duty free areas and in Alpha Retail (Tracey forced me to say that!), hit the bar & restaurant...
These days I like to think of it as a small town I'm passing through before I get to my destination - somewhere else to explore!!
The car hire Glasgow Prestwick Airport desks are in the main arrivals hall tucked next to the domestic baggage area.
If you're hiring a car in Scotland you should bear in mind that in the UK we drive on the left!
On roundabouts this means that you should give way to traffic coming from the right.
Many urban and country areas now have speed cameras, so if you speed and are caught on camera you'll find that the car hire / rental company will usually deduct the speeding fine from your credit card (one reason you have to give a credit card security deposit).
Also, in the UK many car hire companies now ask for further forms of identification other than a driving licence and passport.
For example, you might be asked for a utility bill to confirm your home address. This is really because of the problems they've experienced with theft & damage to their cars...
My Top 10 Guide on car hire for Glasgow Airport applies equally here - Check it out
First thing's first, to save money on parking when I'm travelling via Glasgow Prestwick Airport, I always always pre-book. I've found that you can save up to 60% off the standard rates plus you can grab yourself a guaranteed space (pretty useful during busy periods).
Also, it can sometimes work out cheaper just parking at the airport hotel you're staying at, and hey, if anything this could well reduce your stress before the flight!
As for costs, short-stay pick-ups & drop-offs won't set you back much more than £2-£4. If you're parking for a few days, it'll be about £7 per day, and for longer than that you'll be paying £16 per day. The car parks are a short bus ride away so won't be too inconvenient.
Watch out for the upgrade work going on though which started in January 2006. It might be finished by the time you read this, but I've put it down as always F.Y.I!
To be honest, if you're reading this page you're unlikely to be looking to stay around Glasgow Prestwick Airport. You're more than likely planning on staying in Glasgow and are simply travelling via Prestwick.
Having said that, if you are searching for the best Prestwick Airport hotel, I'd suggest you look no further than The Thistle, principally because it's the nearest and most comfortable. The rest are pretty far away, which makes it downright madness to suggest that they could call themselves 'airport hotels'. Full stop!
You won't need a map of the Glasgow Prestwick Airport terminal, because it's pretty small. Best to agree a meeting place if you're travelling in a group though - always a safe suggestion.
As for how to get there, check out this map - Prestwick Area Map
Well that's my top ten Glasgow Prestwick Airport guide. I hope you find that it helps but again, please just let me know if you need any further information.
Arrabest oan yer travels an that!