Why are Spain’s Airports So Hot in Winter?

Connecting off an overnight flight with a day of travel yet ahead I want to stay cool and fill up. Walking through Madrid’s Airport I was slow to take off my jacket and was soon dripping in sweat. Over to Las Palmas, Grand Canary the airport was also boiling. As so on in Barcelona.

Barcelona Airport

I am accustomed to energy-conserving warm European airports in summer. In early March this was a bit of a surprise and not reflected in their Iberian neighbor with my swings through the chaos of Lisbon airport, and also Madeira and Porto.

So what’s the deal?:

  • Unseasonable warmth and not able to adjust?
  • Some counter-intuitive energy conversation?
  • Spaniards like it hot? (Maybe the most likely. My British colleague nearly rolled into a ball at the sight of the group of four women at the restaurant table across late last night in Barcelona as they had triples of gin along with packs of cigarettes.)

Readers, what airports have been a sauna for you?

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  • Autolycus

    I find Lufthansa’s planes and FRA to be far too warm. I also thought all the museums in Vienna were way too hot in December, which was doubly weird because all the German-speakers left their heavy coats on. I was roasting in just a shirt or sweater without my jacket. Somehow they were all fine with wool or down on top of sweaters!

  • When I went to Spain a few years ago, it seemed like the Spanish did not deal well with weather that is not hot. I didn’t spend much time in airports, but I went to a beach in Barcelona on a beautiful, 70-degree day. I wore a t-shirt, while all of the locals were wearing heavy winter coats.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Everybody Hates a Tourist – I think you are on to something. Yesterday I nearly wilted on the steamy shuttle between Mobile World Congress venues. The driver was a young, big, fit guy.

  • Erik

    In general, I think that many Europeans prefer a warmer indoor environment. It seems like their airports, offices, etc. are warmer in the winter and also during the summer. Even in offices that have air conditioning, they set the thermostat much higher than you would normally expect (like 24C/75F). My European colleagues would always give me a hard time when I set a conference room to 70F/21C on a hot day. They would complain that the chill in the air was “unhealthy” and would make them sick.

  • Laura

    Where are you from and how cold do you like it? In other words, it depends on the weather to which you’re accustomed. I’m a native Spaniard but have lived in the U.S. for almost 20 years now. The past two-years prior to my move to L.A. I lived in NYC. The two winters I spent there were the COLDEST in my entire life. I have never experienced cold like that. (Someone from the Midwest is likely laughing, but I’ve never been to the Midwest in winter, since I would probably die there!). Basically, most Spaniards (except those who live in the North of the country –i.e. Galicia, Basque country, Asturias, etc.) are not used to extreme cold. The winters in Spain (again, there are exceptions) are not too cold and temperatures in the 30s (F) are unusual. So in sum, when it’s cold in Spain the thermostat is turned up to reach temperatures that people from colder climates think are too hot. It’s all a matter of perspective.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Laura – well said. Yesterday by noon strolling Barcelona it was mid-20s with full-on sun, I had stripped layers to my T-shirt while everyone else had heavy coats and looked to not be expiring from heat. I am from Minnesota so a polar bear though over the years in hot climes have gotten better at tolerating heat, half a year in Hong Kong really pushed me.