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All the important changes for travel in Spain in 2024

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
All the important changes for travel in Spain in 2024
Airport security will not be as painstaking in Spain in 2024 as previously, but ticket prices may be higher. Photo: Yeray Sánchez/Unsplash

Relaxed airport security, new direct flights, extra taxes on plane tickets, new international train links, free or discounted public transport, good news for drivers and more - there are lots of changes to expect when it comes to travel in Spain in 2024.

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New flights in 2024

New routes to Egypt and Morocco, increased flights between Spain and UK and new schedules to Scandinavia, there are plenty of potential travel plans to get excited about in 2024.

Easyjet, Ryanair, Norwegian, American Airlines, Iberia Express and United Airlines are some of the companies with extra flights next year, which you can check in detail on the link below.

LISTED: All the new flights to and from Spain in 2024

Relaxed rules at Spanish airports

In February, Spanish airport authorities confirmed that from 2024 liquids greater than 100ml will be allowed in hand luggage when flying from Spain, and electronics will be able to be kept in your bag when going through security.

In other words, you’ll no longer have to take your laptop or tablet out of your bag and place it in a separate tray when you go through airport security, and you won’t have to get rid of your shower gels, shampoos and other bathroom liquids if they’re in your hand luggage, or decant them into 100ml containers beforehand.

READ MORE: Spain to relax airport security rules for liquids and electronics in 2024

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Slightly more expensive flights?

Spanish airport operator Aena is looking to introduce a 4.1 percent airport tax which will be added onto Spain-bound flight ticket prices.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet and some airlines and Spanish politicians have vocally opposed the levy, but Aena wishes to push ahead with it and introduce it in March 2024 as a means of counteracting additional costs that it has taken on over the past few high-inflation years. 

A 2014 Spanish law does in theory allow Aena to pass on  to the customer extraordinary out-of-control costs that occur, based on a scale known as the P Index.

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New travel system for non-EU tourists

There are two changes due to come into effect which will affect travel in and out of the European Union for non-EU citizens such as Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians.

EES (Entry/Exit System) doesn't change anything in terms of the visas or documents required for travel, or the rights of travellers, but it does change how the EU's and Schengen area's external borders are policed.

It's essentially a security upgrade, replacing the current system that relies on border guards with stamps with an electronic swipe in/swipe out system that will register more details such as immigration status.

Its launch has already been delayed a couple of times but the latest EU timetable for its introduction is "between quarter three and quarter four of 2024".

The other change is ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. 

It’s basically a visa waiver, so it affects non-EU citizens who previously travelled visa free under the 90-days rule. You can find out more in the article below but ETIAS is currently only scheduled to come into force in 2025.

READ MORE: EES and ETIAS - What are the big changes for travel in Europe?

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Barcelona and the Nightjet sleeper

2024 will see a new Nightjet sleeper service between Brussels-Berlin and Paris-Berlin operate 3 times a week from December 10th 2023, and will become a daily service from October 2024.

This provides a key east-west link, and will help with connecting journeys from Paris, London, and Brussels to Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Prague.

The hope is that in December 2024, Barcelona will join in with a link to Zurich, on a sleeper train network that includes other cities such as Cologne, Florence, Milan, Basel and Hamburg. 

 

New Barcelona-Paris train

In July 2023, Spain’s national rail operator Renfe launched two new train routes between Barcelona and Lyon and between Madrid and Marseille.

Renfe’s next international objective will be to reach Paris from Barcelona by the summer of 2024 to coincide with the Olympic Games in the French capital.

READ MORE: New Spain-France train routes - What you need to know

 

Still no tolls across Spain's motorway network in 2024

In October 2023, the EU allowed Spain to go for another year without imposing tolls across its motorway network.

As things stand, Spain is one of the countries in Europe where drivers currently pay the least for the use of its high-capacity road network, spending 76 percent less on tolls than the average for EU countries.

This lack of funding for maintenance has caused a deficit of €8 billion for the Spanish government which it is now looking to address, especially due to pressure from Brussels.

According to Spanish construction employers’ association APCE, the introduction of tolls on the country’s toll-free network (14,100 kilometres) would generate €12.6 billion a year that could be fed back into public coffers.

But the European Commission has given the Spanish government the freedom to find alternative ways of recouping such funds, such as encouraging train use among commuters and travellers in the country. 

 

New low-cost trains in Spain in 2024

New low-cost train operator Iryo has - together with competitor Ouigo - shaken up Spain’s rail offering after breaking up the monopoly of state-run Renfe over the past two years.

They’ve got a new route between Barcelona and Seville beginning in December 2023, and in 2024 they want to continue their expansion with new links to Asturias and Galicia in the north as well as the ‘Mediterranean Corridor’ running from Barcelona all the way down to Murcia. 

The only thing holding them back from making the move are the high levies of national infrastructure manager Adif.

Ouigo for their part are also planning new low-cost routes from Madrid to Murcia and Andalusia in 2024, as well as linking the capital to the interior cities of Valladolid and Segovia.

 

Free or discounted public transport again

Spain’s government is expected to extend its offer of free or discounted public transport throughout 2024 again, as it has done in 2023. 

That means that Renfe's Cercanías, Catalonia’s Rodalies and mid-distance services will probably be free for commuters again throughout the year, and that tickets for local buses and underground networks will have a 50 percent discount. 

It’s the same Socialist government that’s in power for the next four years after Pedro Sánchez was voted in again in November 2023, but there is a new transport minister called Óscar Puente who is yet to express publicly if he supports the inflationary measure of his predecessor. 

Spain’s free ticket push has proven a success that’s doubled the number of local and mid-distance train passengers in the country in a year, a feat which helps meet EU and environmental targets, so there's a big chance it will be extended throughout 2024.

GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain in 2023

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