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We think all air travelers can agree on one thing and that is – Fly non-stop to your final destination whenever you can.

Unfortunately for those who are travelling to Madeira, there are very few non-stop flights to Madeira from outside of Portugal. Last year, our trip to Madeira from Geneva required us to stop at Porto for almost four hours. On our return trip via Lisboa, we had to wait almost 5 hours for our connecting flight! Enough time for us to visit the aquarium nearby and see the penguins and the otters.

Thankfully, the Porto airport (also known as Francisco de Sá Carneiro airport or OPO) is one of the better airports I(Chris) have visited. It is named after a Portuguese Prime Minister, Francisco de Sá Carneiro who was killed in an airplane crash as he was heading to this airport.

For six years in a row, it received Airport Service Quality awards as one of the best in Europe. In 2011, it was placed 3rd Best Airport in Europe after Malta (1st) and Edinburgh (2nd). In the same year, the best airports in the world are all in Asia: Seoul Incheon (1st), Singapore Changi (2nd), and Beijing Capital (3rd).

In the departure hall, these two musicians played non-stop almost an hour of flamenco and fado style music. The tempo was just right – not too fast to hurry the travelers and not too slow to retard their paces. There were chairs strewn about with a small audience for the performance.

Look at these “recliners” ! – while they seem a bit too aerodynamic to suggest a cushy rest, they were actually quite comfy although they do not recline.

Free wifi and charging station.

They also offer computer terminals.  ! Accesso gratuito. Obrigado.

As for shopping, not just duty free shops or the same international brands (like all airports these days), they also have something different.

I like the modern and playful bright green icon-like graphics that are used on all the signs. They are particularly effective as a frieze to decorate the huge panes of  otherwise boring plain glass around the airport.

See the graphics printed on the glass wall (top left of the photo below) …  and the cut I-beam and columns was an interesting decorative object.

Here’s a self-check-in sign in Lisbon airport – it appears that the “ANA Aeroportos” graphics are deployed nationally. Upon some googling, the signage and brand identity was done by Brandia Central.

About three hours after this picture was taken, we boarded our flight to Madeira which departed on time at 18:40.



  1. I think I will slide off one of those non-reclining recliner chair. BTW, I met David Schoenhaut at a Mount Sinai function and he says hi.

    • Thanks for all your comments. Small world.

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