Full of Absurdity or 10 Things to make Zagreb Airport More Functional

Total Croatia News

July 23, 2019 – So what is it like travelling through the new Zagreb Airport. A frequent international flyer offers some opinions and suggestions. 

Last week, we reported on the very pleasant passenger experience through the new Split Airport terminal by TCN’s Pyatigorsk correspondent. This week, a different airport, a different view and lots of helpful suggestions from a world traveller who sent this to us: 


World-class travelers enjoy comparing their travel experiences in different countries, sights and of course the airports they use to get there-

Having enjoyed the services of over 50 international airports worldwide and talking to my friends who travel a lot, I am confident to say that Zagreb has one of the most dysfunctional services for its visitors. Even the services at the old terminal were much better and the airport was organized in a more efficient manner, many would agree.

Although Zagreb airport has recently won a global award for quality of service, it looks like the surveyed passengers never left the transit area. There are many issues which could and should be taken care of in order to reach the standards of similar medium-size airports around the globe. If someone is even thinking about that? Let’s start.

Parking – more or less, one of the most expensive parking ticketing in the region if not much wider as TCN as reported earlier. The last ridiculous move was the introduction of a fee for parking under 10 minutes which was free of charge and normally used for pickups. Now, to enter this part of the parking, you need to pay 27 kn. And don’t count on waiting outside of the terminal as security will immediately accuse you of undermining airport security and perhaps even terrorism. You can do what other people do – go to the Kiss and Fly zone for departures and ask your beloved ones to come upstairs to be picked up. Now, how stupid is that? Very. How much does it cost? Zero. If you decide to pay after all, don’t count on the paying machines at the exit ramps will work 100%, as they only work with no problems occasionally. So, it’s probably better to use the machines inside of the airport building not to have to return anyhow if the system at ramps is down. Parking is not user-friendly, to say the least.

Toilet facilities – they are made for XS and S size people who travel without any carry-on luggage. The cabins are so small that you can hardly bend if you accidentally drop something. I personally witnessed big people getting stuck while trying to get out. Considering the spaciousness of the new terminal, one can only conclude that the architects have imposed the small measurements trying to save on the square meters of used material. Or they were tiny people themselves. Moreover, it’s always messy and slippery in the basins part as the hand driers and paper towels are far from the sinks. So that the poor cleaning ladies must be there all the time if they are to keep the toilets clean and dry. And they are not.

Departure area – impossible to sit and rest there if you are neither a person with special needs nor willing to observe ridiculously high prices in the one and only cafe. Let’s say you came to escort your unaccompanied minor who is flying abroad. As a parent, you are obliged to wait until the aircraft leaves the airport. Or you simply came too early and want to read a book or some materials about Croatian tourism destinations? You can only do it on the floor as there are no sitting areas for ordinary passengers. And sorry, there are NO promo materials about Croatia on this floor. So, if you are travelling from Zagreb to Split or any other domestic destination, use your mobile device and surf for sights and other interests. At least the internet is good.

The Café – perhaps it got a bit better over time, but this is a prime example of how Croatian tourism works. Unreasonably high prices for self-service with rather slow coffee & snacks preparation. Glasses are usually dirty as well as the terrace which is cleaned only occasionally. So, it’s very likely that you will enjoy your drink at an uncleaned table as services operate like in some fast food restaurant. But the prices are Hilton high. Disgraceful.

Queuing Belts – although the system mostly works fine, I always wonder how hard it is to remove those belts when there are no passengers queues? Looks like this is a highly sophisticated operation as the belts are there not too be adjusted. Ever. So, just keep walking and – enjoy our belts for no reason and purpose. Walking is good for you. We care about your health.

Food and drinks, shops in gates area – Want to buy a book about Croatia or a postcard? Perhaps some travel accessory or an international magazine? Wrong area, sorry. The initial offer at the terminal opening did not diversify. No need to say that the prices are sky high which is a both contrary to the company running all gastronomy facilities and that the offer is rather limited. Shameful for a country which wants to promote its food, culture and everything else. And there are very few vending machines so your small bottle of water might cost you up to 4 EUR. Not to mention that the small drinks kiosk between the gates does not have running water which absolutely represents a potential health hazard. I don’t know whether the rental prices are too high or what, but Zagreb and Croatia have so much more to offer.

Electricity and electronics in Tesla and Rimac country – Is it so hard to fix and sync all electronic clocks at the airport to show the exact time? No, I am not talking about minutes or seconds. Today at around 9 am, several clocks were showing 8 pm or so. Although we all have mobile phones and watches, this piece of information might be rather useful if you are trying to catch your flight. It looks like there is a general problem with electricity though. The majority of plugs, beyond those for mobile phones – do not work. As my laptop battery was running rather low last month, my close scrutiny shows that only 1/8 are working. If you are able to locate one. It’s a new terminal, right? Did anyone professionally check those plugs ever? Or are they there for decoration purposes only?

Arrival area – the same as in the departure area, there are rather few chairs though it got better than when the terminal initially started to operate. Considering that the baggage system is incredibly slow (my personal statistics is around 20-25 minutes from plane landing compared to Brnik Slovenia – 10 minutes), there are passengers who might be prompted to sit, but hey – did they just not sit in the airplane??? This shows an incredible health concern policy for the airport management. Sitting is bad! That’s why they put very few chairs very far from the baggage belts. Once you finally get your bags, I hope you have an umbrella if raining. I don’t really understand how an airport, which does not have a roofed pick up area (not even for taxis), got this prestigious international award for quality of services?! I don’t trust the survey sample at all. Looks like it has been completed by people who never visited this airport. The terminal is like Croatia – beautiful from the outside, rather dysfunctional internally. So, pray for no rain on your arrival and that taxis will accept credit cards as they usually don’t. 21st century still to arrive.

The name – many people are still confused these days about different names of the Zagreb airport and the new terminal. The traffic signs read Pleso as it was the name of the old airport operating since 1962 with only one passenger terminal. The French were given the concession to build a new passenger terminal, not the new airport. The name debate was so heated after the terminal was opened that even the Government had to interfere naming the entire airport after the former President of Croatia Franjo Tudjman. However, the official web site reads Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb, whilst the entrance displays Franjo Tuđman Airport. It was very simple at he old airport terminal – Zagreb Airport, but not anymore. I guess people don’t need to know where they have landed – Zagreb, Croatia or whatever else. Not a big deal but would be nice the real name of the airport once you are there.

A tourism country – one would think that the airport should, could and would be used to promote your beauties, Croatia. Wrong. Its advertising areas show that foreign companies are more attracted to airport marketing than tourism authorities and/or local entrepreneurs. So, the airport today looks like an Uber display with many uncontracted/blank areas. There is a Zagreb Visitor Centre in the arrival area, but you are rather likely to miss it as it will be behind your back as you are leaving the airport building. No, you cannot ask a question about Međimurje hotels here, sorry. There are two employees sporadically interrupted by tourists and very few brochures stretched to cover the empty shelves. For comparison, Serbian Tourist Board, as well as Slovenian, has a simple stand in the departure and arrival area where you can find promo materials in several languages 24/7 from all over these countries. Is that so hard??? Any why only Zagreb and selected neighboring areas where the space is specious enough to accommodate the entire country? Hell, the airport itself could be an exhibition of Croatia’s cultural and industrial heritage, cuisine, wine, investment. Sorry, no big investments in Croatia going on in this century. And no strategical thinking about the promotion of Croatia obviously. 

And the next steps, please. I am rather pessimistic that ANYONE responsible will read this article and treat it as a constructive criticism rather than an attack on their professional integrity. They know it all and the airport shows it rather well. Is it the French company who got a concession to build the terminal and run it for 30 years, is it the Turkish company which was hired to manage the services, or is it Zagreb or Zagreb county or any other level of authority or institution – I don’t really care. As long as someone in that circle understands that airports are the first contact tourists and visitors have with beautiful Croatia and should serve the promotion services, and not exclusively the money-making and makes some steps to remedy the abovementioned absurdities.

What are your experiences travelling through Croatia’s airports? Send us your stories to [email protected] 

For a guide to the new airport, check out the Total Croatia Zagreb Airport in a Page guide


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