An occasional series on some of the world’s least known airports, with some practical advice and guidance to those using the airport for the first time.
If you arrive from Europe and are moving on from the islands just make sure that all the necessary information is included on the landing card. Empty spaces result in questions and if these are unnecessary the immigration entrance process is relatively easy and pain-free. This is the same for any customs declaration.
There is the ability to buy duty-free goods on arrival at the airport, before passing through immigration.
There is a tourist information office immediately to the right after passing through customs. Stays open quite late even at weekends. Can provide details of accommodation if this has not been previously booked.
Exchange facilities are next to the Tourist Information Office as well as a number of fast food places, leading up to the atrium. ATM’s are the other side of the atrium, in the passage that leads to the check-ins for departures.
As with everywhere there is no shortage of taxi’s. Expect to pay a minimum of US$10, for the shortest ride and about US$25 to the centre of Port of Spain.
There is a bus to the city centre that leaves on the hour directly across the road from the arrivals exit doors to the wide world. This runs Monday-Friday only, from 06.30, 07.15 and then at 15 minutes past the hour until 20.15. Cost: TT$4 (£0.40p, January 2013), buy tickets at the video arcade on the landside of the arrivals hall.
If you book a hotel in advance many of them will offer free (or reduced price) airport transfers.
Click here for the official website of Piarco International Airport
If you are stuck in Port of Spain overnight, waiting for an onward connection accommodation can be expensive, especially close to the airport. The Piarco International Hotel isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be on the ratings websites, such as TripAdvisor, but is very much overpriced for what you get if you arrive without a prior booking. If you choose to go there make an internet booking before arrival and try to arrange an airport transfer, its only a couple of minutes by road from the airport.
However, there is now another guest house, also close to the airport that has not yet appeared in any of the guide books. This is small, only has 4 rooms, but is only 3 minutes away.
60 Factory Road
Tel: +868 669 8207
Mobile: +868 678 6327
Single: US$80, Double US$50 per person.
Includes: Continental breakfast, airport transfer and WiFi.
Though a small airport and normally doesn’t have a great deal of traffic, check-in can be slow (possibly annoying so) even at quiet times.
For international departures there is no further check of passports, other than that of the airline staff when you board.
When I was there in January 2013 there was an exhibition (as part of Independence celebrations) of the development of the steelpan (what we in Europe know as the steel drums). For the life of me I don’t know why I didn’t take photos, I was there long enough. However, I was given a brochure detailing the development of this distinctive Caribbean musical instrument and if it survives my travels I will provide a pdf version in the future. Watch this space!