We left Porto early one morning last year and less than hour later we landed at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, our most visited of all European airports.
Formerly known as Madrid-Barajas Airport (Barajas is the name of a district in Madrid that is about 12 km northeast of its central historic district), it was renamed in 2014 in honor of Adolfo Suarez, the prime minister who helped bring Spain to a democracy after decades of Franco rule. It’s one of the two largest airports in Europe (the other is Charles de Gaulle) and the sixth busiest. We first flew to Madrid-Barajas in 2010 from Lisbon and a few weeks later flew to Granada. A few days later we flew back to Madrid and then a day after that flew to London. In 2015 we flew standby on Delta to Barcelona to save some money. We had smooth flying to Spain that year but then we were stranded in Barcelona, perhaps for as long as a week. Delta told us that we might be able to get a flight out of Madrid a bit sooner and so we flew again to Madrid-Barajas. It was a rather expensive flight and we had to pay for two more nights at a hotel and there went all of our savings from going standby!
Now we were waiting to fly on British Airways to New York. We thought we would never fly British Airways again since they cancelled our flight in 2010 when their employees went on strike in the middle of our vacation and we had to purchase tickets on Easyjet to get to London for our connecting flight across the Atlantic. British Airways still hasn’t reimbursed us for the flight that was cancelled. We didn’t buy travel insurance in those days. Now we do.
My wife and I arrived at the upper floor of Terminal 4 and were greeted by a huge 24/7 McDonald’s. We cheered and each of us ordered several Mcbreakfast items for breakfast. We had done very well in an attempt to avoid American fast food on this vacation. We did enter the Imperial McDonald’s in Porto one day just to look at the interior but we didn’t order any food there. We have taken a lot of ribbings over the years from friends and relatives who know about our eating habits while traveling. We go to a lot of places that were frequented by Anthony Bourdain in his Parts Unknown series but we never ate the food he ate. We have been to Burger King franchises in Madrid, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Dublin. Our hotel in Milan was equidistant to two McDonald’s. We went to both of them. We also ate at McDonald’s in Venice (near Piazza San Marco), Florence (near Michelangelo’s David), Rome (near the Trevi Fountain) and Madrid (across the street from the Prado).
Iberia Airlines handles about 40% of the air traffic in Terminal 4. We took Iberia to Madrid from Lisbon in 2010, from Porto in 2017, to and from Granada in 2010, and from Barcelona in 2015. All of these flights were rather short (about an hour to an hour and a half) and rather expensive.
Terminal Four was designed by Richard Rogers (the architect, not the composer), Antonio Lamela and Luis Vidal and opened in 2006. There’s an automated “people-mover” train from Terminal 4 to its satellite Terminal 4S 2.5 km away. There’a also a shuttle bus service from Terminal 4 to terminals 1, 2 and 3.
Oh yeah, why is this Madrid airport always mad? Well, the International Air Transport Association organization (IATA) assigns a three-letter code to all the world’s airports and their code for Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport is MAD. I know, I know. I’m not only the world’s worst eater but the world’s worst punster, too!