Before I really got to know Milan, I thought Malpensa Airport was the be-all and end-all of Milan’s airports. I had known about “the other airport” but I had never really given it the time of day. As a U.S. resident, I felt like I had no use for Linate Airport and its solely domestic flights. I did dream of perhaps one day living in Milan, but these fantasies focused more on where I lived, what I wore, what I would do for work, would I learn to ride a vespa?, my social life, etc., and didn’t really delve deep into my Milan airport of choice. However, having now lived in Milan for one year and eight months, it didn’t take long for Linate Airport to earn the title.
Firstly, I of course haven’t written off Malpensa. I still love Malpensa but even if I didn’t, I would have to stick by it for better or for worse as I need to fly in and out of there for my New York visits and, as much as I loathe the necessary cost-effective evil that is EasyJet, many of the budget carrier’s Paris flights depart from Malpensa….from Terminal two that is, about a ten-minute bus ride from the Malpensa Express train station to the land over yonder. Taxis also travel between terminals…I believe the taxi fare between terminals one and two at Malpensa airport is 13 euro.
The thing about Malpensa is that it’s a beast of an airport. Sometimes just finding your check-in area can be harrowing in and of itself. Once you pass the security check, you can easily walk at least another twenty minutes to your gate, and it’s usually ridiculously crowded. Getting to Malpensa, though, is a cinch thanks to the Malpensa Express train which leaves from Cadorna, Central Station and Garibaldi or the buses departing from Central Station. Malpensa is a schlep in and of itself, too, about 30 miles Northwest of Milan, hence the 90 euro cab fare while a Malpensa Express ticket costs 12 euro each way.
Linate, on the other hand, is situated on Milan’s southern outskirts across from Idroscalo, less than one mile from the city’s southern border. For just five euro per person, you can take a bus to Linate airport from Central station. They depart every 20 or 30 minutes or so and have you there in just as much time, traffic permitting. All of the airport buses at Central Station are lined up in Piazza Luigi di Savoia…the mini-buses to Linate are usually last or second to last. Before you board, you’d fare well to make sure you’re getting on the right bus…once I almost boarded a bus to what I thought was Linate (as that’s what the sign on the windshield read) but my gut was telling me to confirm and I’m glad I did, otherwise I would have wound up in Bergamo.
The first time you do Linate, you might feel a little thrown by the”Arrivals” signs everywhere after you de-board the bus. “Where are Departures?!” One level up! Just head inside (use arrivals door 6 if it helps) and head right. You should see a sign indicating “Departures” that leads you to an escalator on your left, which brings you to the first floor check-in area. Also, important to note, most of the TV screens on the ground/arrivals level at Linate show arrivals only so if you don’t see your departing flight, don’t immediately panic and assume you’re at the wrong airport. (Been there, done that.)
I’ve been getting into the habit of carrying-on only and using a mobile boarding pass so I can just breeze through to security. I know I’m late to this game, but wow, what a difference it makes.
Once, you’ve gone through security, the walk to the gate isn’t as daunting as it would be at Malpensa, unless you’re going to Ireland, that is, which requires you to go through immigration located at the farthest little cluster of gates: B25 – 28. If you’re a shopper, though, Malpensa’s Duty Free trumps Linate’s.