✅ Trip Verified
| My husband and I are still getting over our experience at the Madrid airport after 3 days home. All I can say is, arrive at least 3.5-4 hours early, and don't attempt it unless you are able-bodied in every way. I would also advise not bringing a heavy carry on bag because of what you have to go through with it (luckily, we didn't). We arrived for an international flight on Iberia (from Madrid to San Francisco) at terminal T4, 2.5 hours before our flight. There was a long line to check in bags, but that was not unusual. The security check was normal. Then the fun began. First there were about 8 escalators down to navigate. Then you get on a train to TS for a 10-15 minute ride (standing up of course and squished amidst confused and harried travelers). Then you are supposed to ride up an escalator, but it was broken. Carry your bags up the steep escalator with steep steps. Then the best part. Enter a passport control area. I hope this was unusual, but 100s of people (my husband thinks it was 1000s) are packed like sardines into a very wide and very long waiting area inching forward, with no lines or organization. People were starting to scream and freak out. A woman next to me had been separated from her husband a while back and had no idea where he was and she had already missed her flight, even though she had a boarding pass and had checked her bags. As you can imagine, this was a scenario for possible crowd panic. Finally, you are funnelled into a series of lines that move very slowly to have your passport stamped. After all of this, we now had 20 minutes until our flight departed. But you are still not done yet! Run through the perfumed duty-free shop and make your way down a very long terminal - in our case, to the last gate in the terminal. Even though there were moving sidewalks (thank God!) we were running the whole way. We made it to our flight for "last call". The flight pushed away from the gate on the dot - no waiting for stragglers. No time to go to the bathroom, fill a water bottle, or get any food for the flight. If we hadn't run the whole way, we wouldn't have made it! I will never fly out of this airport again!