In February 2019 we flew out of Marsa Allam airport in Egypt. This airport is one of the few flights that currently connect the UK to Egypt. We couldn’t find any current information about what to expect so we rocked up a whopping 4 hours early and investigated the airport. Here’s what we discovered.
Marsa Allam Airport
There seems to be a few different spellings out there, including Marsa Allam, Marsa Alam and its old name of Marsa Mubarak. It’s pretty irrelevant, but you will need to know these three very important facts:
- It’s 60km north of the city Marsa Allam
- You can ONLY check in 2 hours before your flight and not before (this gives you an indication of how big it is)
- It is not geared for independent travellers and we were one of only two independent groups. The other was a lone, male traveller.
Arriving at Marsa Allam airport
We got a private minibus from Aswan to Marsa Allam airport. We thought it would be around a seven hour journey with some stops but we had no idea about the condition of the road or how able our driver would be, so we left Aswan at 6am!
Arriving into Marsa Allam airport was a bizarre experience. With no real signage to follow and an entirely empty carpark, we pulled up and unloaded our bags only to be shouted at by a security guard for unloading in the wrong area.
We actually wondered if the zombie apocalypse had arrived and we’d missed it because the airport was just deserted. Aside from the male traveller, we were alone. Don’t worry, it didn’t last for long. What we didn’t realise is that Marsa Allam airport is solely designed for package holidays and tourists are bused in and out.
We only waited 30 minutes before four full buses came and the airport queues appeared.
Pre-security at Marsa Allam Airport
If like us you arrive ridiculously early, be aware that unless your flight is within 2 hours, officials will not let you check in and will not let you past security. This means you will be sat in a very tiny airport with just 3 rows of seats and 1 kiosk ‘On the Go‘. Ironic as you won’t be going anywhere!
There is only 1 socket and that is no where near the seats. In fact it’s up close to the offices where you purchase entry to the VIP lounges.
There are some toilets which are relatively clean, modern and supervised (for a tip).
Post check in
There is a small area between check in and security which houses the VIP lounge and a small cafe. It is by far the strangest airport I’ve been to but not the smallest.
If you cannot check in but wish to use the VIP lounge, you’ll still have your possessions scanned but nothing so rigorous as actually security.
The first VIP lounge
The lounge costs £27 per person although you’ll be charged in $. As we had 4 hours, no data or phone connection and no socket for charging our devices, and as we’d already been travelling for 7 hours to get there, we felt as if $108 might be worth it. I think it worked out as £89 and for us it was worth it – although I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not there super-duper early!
This VIP lounge is tiny but you do at least get:
- Bucket, swivel chairs
- Electrical sockets
- Unlimited access to food buffet
- Unlimited access to drinks, including alcohol
The food is not vegan. The only thing we could eat was cold spaghetti pasta and salad however they did make us a hot tomato pasta. Plain but simple and after being in Aswan, where we couldn’t find any nice food, it was a welcome relief.
The wifi speed was d/l 2.21 mbps and u/l 0.73 mbps which was a huge improvement in comparison to everywhere else in Egypt. I appreciate it’s very slow in comparison to most European speeds but in Aswan we’d been getting a d/l speed of 0.30 mbps!!
Sadly there’s no private toilets here and you have to exit the lounge to use the communal loos!
Post security at Marsa Allam Airport
Once you’ve been through security at Marsa Allam airport, you will find:
- 2 duty free shops, one selling food, the other perfume
- Wegi Coffee
- Kai Pizza
- The Garden Cafe
- Cafe & Co
- Jewellery shop
- Pop up art shop
- Second VIP lounge
The second VIP lounge
Once you’ve checked in and been through security there is a second VIP lounge that you can sit in. It is located next to the jewellery shop and is much smaller than the first one but it does benefit from comfy leather-style sofa seats and private toilets.
Here you’ll find:
- Private toilets
- Large, sofa style seating
- A selection of cold drinks
Before boarding to the UK
Before boarding your flight to the UK, you will be required to go through extra security and have your bags scanned for a second time.
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