Q: I am flying into Barcelona International Airport (BCN) in May on Iberia Airlines. I arrive at 11am. I need to get to Spanair on a connecting flight to get to Madrid, however, the flights were booked separately so my luggage will not be connected. How long will it take me to go through customs in Barcelona, get my luggage and re-check in for my flight to Madrid so I know when to book my connecting flight.
A: This is not such an easy question to answer. Barcelona airport is undergoing significant changes at the moment due to the opening of the new Terminal 1 in 2009 and the airlines are moving around from different terminals. Until everything settles it is difficult to say which terminals the flights you mention will be flying from. The reason this is an issue is because T1 is not walking distance to T2 and you would need to take a shuttle bus if the flights are operating from different terminals. We advise leaving at least 30 minutes for the transfer between T1 and T2 (even though on average it will be quicker than this if a shuttle bus is ready to go).
Regarding your bags and making your way through customs this would under normal circumstances take around 30 minutes. Assuming that there are no stops or difficulties on the way out. Customs periodically stop passengers to check their bags - and if this happens you could easily add another 15 -20 minutes to the customs clearance time.
Therefore to be on the safe side, under normal conditions you should allow a minimum of 1 to 1.5 hours total clearance and transfer time which would be plenty of time to clear customs with your bags and make your way to the ongoing terminal.
The other constraint to consider is with the airlines themselves. Some of them insist that you arrive at checking at least 2 hours before the flight, others only 1 hour before the flight therefore you should contact the airlines directly and confirm with them what is the very last check in time.
I hope that this will give you some idea of the issues involved. For more detailed information see the links below: