Barcelona’s new Terminal T1 recently debuted at Barcelona Airport solidifying its position as one of Europe’s top ten airports. Native son, Ricardo Bofill, has designed a sleek sword-shaped structure that is flooded with natural light from its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Some 100,000 passengers a day will pass through the 5.8-million-square-foot terminal, which is expected to welcome 30 million a year.

The US$1.7 billion building is spacious and elegant and boasts a spa, fitness center, hair salon, four VIP lounges, and a multi-faith chapel. In the airport’s 256,181-square-foot shopping area, there are 51 shops and 30 bars and restaurants. Business travelers will have access to the 28,000-square-foot business center that has five offices and a multipurpose section with five board rooms. The center also has a gym and a rest area with 10 rooms with beds, baths, and TVs. For people with reduced mobility, 49 moving walkways, 26 mechanical ramps, 48 escalators, and 125 elevators provide accessibility, and travelers can request assistance at eight meeting points and other information centers. There is Wi-Fi access throughout the terminal.

Made of polished white granite, the sustainable structure allows light to filter through the glass curtain walls creating a “Mediterranean-style” terminal. Ceramic-tile ceilings are slightly arched lending a futuristic effect. The architecture of the interior of the terminal, known as the “sky center,” blends straight and curved forms, and the glass walls allow for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscape.

The terminal is one of the largest civil engineering projects recently undertaken in Europe. Bofill designed the structure with sustainability in mind, placing hundreds of solar panels on the aluminum roof. Thus, 70 percent of the water in T1 is heated using thermal collectors. Curtain walls, designed to resist air, water infiltration, wind, and its own dead-load forces are composed of an aluminum framing filled with glass to provide an architecturally-pleasing and light-filled structure.

The opening of T1 has created 3,000 jobs in a terminal where over 6,000 will be employed. Many will work in the new processing building, which has 166 check-in desks and 52 auto check-in machines. The Barcelona Airport is now able to serve 55 million passengers per year. Improvements have also been made in regards to flight operations. In 2004, the airport facilitated 64 operations per hour. Flight operations will now increase to up to 90 per hour.

A total of 19 airlines are currently based in T1 including: Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Spanair, Swiss International, TAP Portugal, US Airways, and Egyptair. At the beginning of September, One World (Iberia, American Airlines, and Vueling), will move to the new terminal, and by the end of the year, SkyTeam (incorporating Air Europa) will relocate there. Every seven minutes, a shuttle bus connects passengers from T1 to T2. For further information about the Barcelona Airport, go to

Get VAT Refunds at Barcelona or Madrid Airports

In other airport news, travelers can shop tax free thanks to the Global Refund Service at the Barcelona Airport or at Madrid’s Barajas Airport. Travelers in Spain should request a Tax Free Check from participating stores where they shop. They should look for the “Tax Free” or “Currency Choice” logos. At customs they should show their receipt of purchase, with their passport, and get the Tax Free Check stamped. They can then proceed to the Global Refund Service and receive VAT and GST tax refunds on purchases that they are exporting. Travelers will either receive a refund in cash or on a credit card, or it can be directly deposited into their bank account. For more information, visit or email

For further information about Spain, contact your travel provider or the Tourist Office of Spain in New York (212-265-8822), Miami (305-358-1992), Chicago (312-642-1992), or Los Angeles (323-658-7195) or go to