Grenoble airport is the best-kept secret in the Alps, perhaps because it is so far from Grenoble and so badly signposted that nobody can ever find it! But it is the perfect YSE-style airport. Its runway is one of the longest in France, and its weather record the best in the area: it was not closed once last winter for snow, ice, fog, wind or anything else. Our aircraft parks right by the terminal so there is no waiting for buses to take passengers to a distant terminal, or walking miles along corridors or walkways!
Passengers walk straight to the small terminal to find passport control about 100m from the plane, their bags 10m past passport control, and the YSE transfer coaches just outside. While tightened security measures for non-Schengen Zone countries slowed down passport control at all of the Alpine Airports, including Grenoble, last season, as our aircraft stops just a couple of hundred yards from the buses, coming through Grenoble is still usually the quickest option.
The journey from Grenoble airport to Val d’Isère is exactly the same as from Lyon airport: about 2 hours 45 minutes. Geneva is slightly closer, but the route is circuitous, and the journey takes longer. Chambéry is about half an hour closer, but is so difficult to land at, and so often closed for bad weather, that we wouldn’t go there even if our aircraft weren’t too big to use it.
The arrangements for departure from Grenoble are also straightforward. Our staggered coaches drop passengers just outside check-in, and four check-in desks whip a busload through every fifteen minutes, so queues are short and quick-moving. The departure area is 50m from check-in, the aircraft another 100m. This is the sort of rapid system Geneva could offer thirty years ago and Lyon perhaps ten years ago, but which is no longer possible when airports become huge. Just parking the coaches near Departures and Arrivals is a nightmare at Geneva or Lyon nowadays.
The final nice feature of Grenoble is that it is privately owned, and run by a small team who want it to be a success. Whereas in most airports it is practically impossible to find someone who can actually take a decision or help you, there are only about half a dozen people at Grenoble who run everything. They are incredibly hands-on. We have their mobile numbers. They have ours.
For the coming season, Grenoble Airport is making great efforts to improve the experience for its arriving passengers. There will be more customs staff checking passports; a new computerised system is being tested over the summer; the waiting area is being improved; even the antediluvian loos are being replaced!