Connecting flights at Brussels South Charleroi airport: Useful tips for transit passengers
Brussels South Charleroi airport (CRL) is located some 50 km south of Brussels near the town of Charleroi. It is a regional airport especially designed to serve low fare airlines. The airport currently handles more than 8 million passengers annually. It is a base of Ryanair, Wizzair and TUIfly airlines, providing links to destinations across Europe and North Africa.
Brussels South Charleroi airport (CRL) is not a hub and does not offer facilities for connecting flights. You will not see signs pointing to "Transfers" upon arrival. You may end up as a connecting passenger at Charleroi airport if you are either self-connecting or have bought a virtual interlining flight combination, most probably involving flights of Ryanair or Wizzair. Making the transit is your own responsibility and you can rely on little or no assistance from the airport staff. In case of limited time between your connecting flights, the key for a successful connection is to proceed as fast as possible to your onward flight. Here are some useful tips:
Boarding pass for onward flight
In order to speed up the process, we recommend that you print or download the boarding pass for your onward flight. This way you will minimise chances of missing the connecting flight and upon arrival, you can head straight to departures.
Ideally, try to travel with hand baggage only. Even if Ryanair (or another airline) collects your hand baggage while boarding your first flight and puts it in the hold, you still won’t need to visit the check in counter for baggage drop-off for your onward flight.
Immigration & Security
There are 4 scenarios related to immigration you can encounter:
In the first scenario you arrive from a Schengen country (e.g. Poland) and depart to a Schengen country (e.g. Italy). There is no passport control at all, so moving is faster.
In the second scenario you arrive from a non-Schengen country (e.g. Romania) and depart to a Schengen country (e.g. Italy). Your passport will be checked upon arrival, potentially there may be long lines.
In the third scenario you arrive from a Schengen country (e.g. Italy) and depart to a non-Schengen country (e.g. Romania). Your passport will be checked prior to departure, before you enter the zone where your gate is located.
In the fourth scenario you arrive from a non-Schengen country (e.g. Romania) and depart to a non-Schengen country (e.g. United Kingdom). Your passport will be checked twice - upon arrival and prior to departure. Hence, you need to allocate extra time for these checks.
The second and fourth scenarios also mean that you are formally entering the kingdom of Belgium and need to have valid papers to be granted access.
Under each of these scenarios, there is security check. The security check is located in the Departures area, just before you enter the airside sterile zone. All passengers pass thru it and lines can be long at peak hours. That’s why our recommendation is to use the fast track service if you are in a hurry.
One way to speed up your departure is to buy a fast track ticket for EUR 4. It is available from the airport website or locally at the information desk. It will allow you to skip the lines at security check when you enter “Departures” and can be very handy in case of short connecting time and/or travel during peak hours.
Long layovers and overnight connections
The airport closes for the night, which means that you are not allowed to spend the night airside. In the public areas, there is space to stay though. Electricity plugs and some shops are also available.
As the food at the airport premises is very expensive, passengers advise of the option to buy food from supermarket chains located in the residential area close to the airport. It will take you approximately half an hour by foot to reach them.
In case you need to spend the night at the airport while waiting for your next flight, we recommend to check and book hotel accommodation, which is relatively inexpensive. In the vicinity you can find Ibis Budget Charleroi airport, Park airport hotel, Hotel Balladins Charleroi Aeroport, Best Western Plus Aero 44 and other properties in the town of Charleroi.
Connecting time recommendations
Here you can see the airport map and what is really cool, the airport interior is visible thru Google street view, so you can actually navigate (simulate) your connecting flight experience at Brussels South Charleroi airport (CRL).
The official minimum connecting time for the airport is set to 1h, but that would relate to a scenario where an airline would offer standard connecting flights. For self-connect, our recommendation is to allow at least 2h.
Generally, you shouldn’t expect a pleasant connecting experience. Apart from the long lines, the airport terminal is overcrowded at peak hours and it will be hard to find seating. Also, prices of food and water are extremely high. Judging that you would most probably be flying low fare airlines which don’t serve free food and drinks on board, we recommend to stock up food from your origin destination and buy at Charleroi liquids only.
It is also good to mention that there are no longer baggage trolleys available at the airport. Mind this in case you travel with a lot of baggage.
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Written by Connectionreview.com editorial team