Prague Ruzyně shows Eastern Europe the way
Prague Ruzyně rules the roost over other Eastern European airports. Travellers voted the Czech Republic’s biggest international hub top among central and Eastern European airports in the influential SkyTrax World Airport Awards in 2006 and 2007, and first in 2009.Time and again on Internet travel forums surprised passengers expecting to find a crumbling Soviet Block-era facility praise Prague Ruzyne for its short security queues, clean facilities, courteous staff, clear signage, and the wide range of over 85 shops and restaurants to be found across the airport’s three terminals.
Behind security in Terminal 2 is the new Luxury Lounge where shoppers will find many brands not readily available in the Czech domestic market such as Porsche Design accessories for men and Vertu mobile phones. There is also an above-par choice of fragrances and cosmetics, as well as a decent selection of premium spirits, Champagne and fine French Bordeaux wines.
Unlike many much larger international airports each terminal offers travellers a choice of competing duty-free shops, some run by national flag carrier Czech Airlines and others by global firms, Dufry and Gebr Heinemann. This should be good for keeping prices down, but frustratingly only one operator, Heinemann, has a website where prices are listed ( www.travel-value.cz ), allowing passengers the chance to check prices before travelling.
You will find prices are labelled either duty-paid (if you are travelling inside the EU) or duty-free (if you are venturing further afield). Prague Ruzyne scores highly for making at least an attempt to cater for those travelling with young children. It has recently opened two children’s play corners in Terminals 1 and 2. There is also an older play area in the airport’s Bambule toyshop in Terminal 2, which has a climbing frame, board games and a model helicopter.
The Czech Republic is famous for its high quality crystal and glass, and while there are many places to buy downtown, there is a lot of fake merchandise out there too. The airport boasts several outlets selling top quality, genuine crystal, ceramic and glass products. Our pick of the bunch is Moser (in Terminal 2), arguably the country’s most prestigious producer of fine stemware, glassware such as candlesticks, vases and ashtrays, glass gifts and art engravings.We also like the quirky Manufaktura outlet in Terminal 1, which is partly inspired by the Czech Republic’s long tradition of health spas, and stocks cosmetics made from herbal essences, and even local beer and wine. The shop also sells wooden toys, puzzles and games and traditional handicrafts such as eggcups, wooden combs and spice boxes.
If travellers have one consistent grumble about the airport, it is the high prices charged in the cafés and restaurants. That might be soon to change as a new international company is now in charge of the airport’s 19 food and beverage outlets. It has promised to drop prices on key product lines and raise customer service levels.
Air travel can be a stressful experience so it is nice to see airports reaching out to their frazzled customers with facilities such as Prague airport’s new Sky Relax centre, located in the connecting corridor of Terminal 2. Treatments available here include a Thai or shiatsu massage, manicures, pedicures and even a hairdressing service.
If you are still feeling virtuous after your beauty treatment, why not head to the airport’s Icecube bar situated in the same connecting corridor? The outlet has broadened its drinks selection and travellers can now buy a range of fresh fruit juices, shakes, smoothies and low-alcohol drinks.Alternatively, if you are in need of something stronger, sample some Czech beer at the Air Pilsner Urquell bar in Terminal, or relax with a coffee in the airport’s Lookout Terrace in Terminal 2, which has great views over the airport’s runway.
Prague Ruzyne Airport Fact file:
Prague Ruzyne Established: 1937
Number of terminals: 3
Passengers: 11.7m (2011).