Prague is served by a growing number of budget carriers, which connect the Czech capital to several cities in the United Kingdom and across the European continent. These airlines are a great and cheap way to travel within Europe—though since the flights are popular, be sure to book well in advance. Budget carriers, however, are usually not much help in cutting costs when traveling from North America. Most of these carriers operate out of secondary airports (for example, Stansted in London instead of Heathrow, where most transatlantic flights land; Orly in Paris instead of the larger Charles de Gaulle airport). This means travelers must change not only airlines but also airports, which can add frustration and expense. Also, consider limits on both carry-on and checked baggage, which are often more stringent on budget carriers than on large international carriers. For flights within Europe, low-cost airlines are sometimes a viable alternative to bus and train travel.
The nonstop flight from New York to Prague takes about 8 hours, but the entire journey will take longer (12 to 15 hours) if you have to change planes at a European hub. The flight from London to Prague takes about 2 hours; the flight from Vienna to Prague takes less than an hour.
Airlines and Airports
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Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
Prague’s Václav Havel Airport (formerly Ruzyně Airport) is the country's main international airport and lies about 15 km (10 miles) northwest of the city center. The airport has two terminals—Sever 1 (North 1, or N1) and Sever 2 (North 2, or N2)—so make sure to read your ticket carefully to see where you are arriving and departing from. The trip from the airport to the downtown area by car or taxi will take about 30 minutes—add another 20 minutes during rush hour (7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm).
Václav Havel Airport (220–111–888. www.prg.aero.)
There are several options for getting into town from the airport, depending on the amount of time you have, your budget, and the amount of luggage.
The cheapest option is Prague's municipal bus service, Bus 119, which leaves from just outside the arrivals area and makes the run to the Dejvická metro station (on the Green Line, A) every 15 minutes or so during weekdays and less frequently on weekends and evenings. The 24 Kč ticket—plus an extra 16 Kč ticket if you have a large bag—can be purchased at the yellow vending machine at the bus stop and includes a transfer to the metro. To reach Wenceslas Square, get off at Můstek station. It's important to buy your tickets before you get on the bus. Ticket inspectors ride the airport line often.
The Cedaz minibus shuttle links the airport with the central V Celnici street, adjacent to Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square), which is not far from the Old Town Square. It runs regularly between 5:30 am and 9:30 pm daily. The one-way fare to V Celnici is 150 Kč.
A taxi ride to the center will set you back about 600 Kč–900 Kč; the fare will be higher for destinations outside the center and away from the airport. Be sure to agree on the fare with the driver before leaving the airport. AAA Radiotaxi has an exclusive concession to operate from the airport, but you can take any cab to the airport.
Prague Airport Shuttle offers transport to your hotel for a fixed price between 600 Kč and 900 Kč, depending on the number of passengers (one–eight). The company promises to wait up to an hour from your originally scheduled arrival if your flight is delayed or if customs and immigration are slow. Reservations must be made in advance via email.
AAA Radiotaxi (222–333–222. www.aaataxi.cz.)
Cedaz (220–111–111. www.cedaz.cz.)
Prague Airport Shuttle (602–395–421. www.prague-airport-shuttle.com.)
ČSA (Czech Airlines), the Czech national carrier, offers nonstop flights from the United States (from New York's JFK airport) to Prague (daily flights during the busiest season); Delta offers nonstop flights from Atlanta. Most major U.S.-based airlines fly to Prague through codeshare arrangements with their European counterparts. However, nearly all the major European airlines fly there, so it's usually easy to connect through a major European airport (such as London–Heathrow, Paris, Amsterdam, or Vienna) and continue to Prague; indeed, flights between the United Kingdom and Prague are numerous and frequent, including some on cheap discount airlines, though in London most of these leave from Gatwick or Stansted airports rather than Heathrow, making them less attractive options for Americans. Fares from the United States tend to rise dramatically during the busy summer season, particularly from June through August or September. There are many discounts during the slow winter months.
Czech Airlines (239–007–007 in Prague; 800/223–2365 in U.S. www.csa.cz.)
Delta Airlines (800/221–1212 for U.S. reservations; 800/241–4141 for international reservations; 224–946–733 in Prague. www.delta.com.)
Budget Airlines in Europe
Smart Wings (900–166–565 From Czech Republic, toll number; 420/255–700–827 From outside Czech Republic. www.smartwings.net.)