How to Fly to Sharm

Sharm plane 750 shutterstock 306985208

How to get to Sharm (and Dahab)

There remains a lot of confusion and misinformation as to the current travel restrictions imposed on Sharm El Sheikh. Some media outlets still refer to the 'travel ban', but there is no outright ban on travel to Sharm – rather, tour operators are not flying at this time.

See our previous articles about the current position Is It Time To Go?

Right now it is going to be more expensive and will probably take much longer to get to Sharm. But as our recent poll showed us divers are a determined lot and plenty of us are ready to jump through all the hoops we have to in order to get to some excellent diving!

You may find that the additional cost of travelling is offset by lower pricing for diving and/or accommodation. However, do not expect that there will be dramatic reductions in prices for dive packages. Margins are very slim even in normal times and the dive centres are already losing money. But good deals can be found on accommodation.

I have looked at the major dive centres in Sharm including Sinai Divers (naturally, because I worked for them!), Camel Dive Club, Elite Diving, Emperor Divers, Ocean College and Red Sea Diving College. There are others, of course, but these are the centres that I know best. I trust them, and I can guarantee that the price they offer is the lowest they can possibly go at this time, without cutting corners with regards to safety and quality of service.

I have focussed on Sharm, but don’t forget the beautiful town of Dahab just a short journey to the north, a place I absolutely adore and which has also been hit hard due to the suspension of flights.

I have to credit some other people for their input to this article –  including Dan Stokes – instructor at Ocean College and former pub-buddy of mine (Daniel Stokes Diving on Facebook) – for the original legwork, Rolf Schmidt of Sinai Divers for his input and advice from the German perspective, and Ornella at Camel Dive Club (thanks for the great infographic - see below).

camelsharmtravel

The information is up-to-date as of the time of writing – early February  – but of course will be subject to change. Any stated prices are the cheapest that I could find for flights from the UK covering the basic cost of the flight and taxes plus one item of baggage.

Current Foreign Office Travel Advice
There is no FCO travel warning concerning  Sharm. The resort is deemed to be 'safe', but air travel to and from Sharm currently has an Amber warning:  'As a precautionary measure, we are advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh. We are not raising the threat level in the resort.' That should clear up any of the immediate reporting of Sharm being a 'no-go' area. 'It’s up to you to make your own decisions based on the information in our travel advice.' There is also an Amber warning for Dahab.

Available Flights
The airlines that currently flying to Sharm are EgyptAir, Pegasus (Turkey), Edelweiss (Switzerland), Meridiana (Italy), Azur Air (Ukraine), Kuwait Air, Soltair (Jordan), Royal Jordanian Airlines, Flynas (Saudi Arabia) and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

The Best Option
According to Dan and Rolf, the most popular option for both UK and Germany is to take a Pegasus flight to Sharm via Istanbul.

For the UK, Pegasus fly from Stansted or Gatwick. For Germany: Berlin Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich; Basel, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland; Vienna in Austria and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The cheapest flight I could find from Gatwick in February was £324.99 (€422) The flights I checked had between a 3 to 6 hour layover in Istanbul, but don’t worry, says Dan, 'there's a great lounge to wait in with WiFi and rather excellent wine, beer and hot food to consume for just €15 all in!'
http://www.flypgs.com/en/

Flying via Hurghada
There are no flight restrictions to Hurghada (just fewer of them). Flights to Hurghada are available in the UK from Monarch (Manchester and Gatwick), Thomson (Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick) and EasyJet (Gatwick). Condor Air in Germany flies from Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. Using EasyJet from Gatwick to Hurghada as an example I found a price of £348.37/€ 452 for a return flight. A connecting flight to Sharm with the EgyptAir would cost £84.99/€110
http://www.egyptair.com/

Other budget airlines
Meridiana is a small Italian carrier that flies to Sharm from Verona, Milan and Rome, but options from Europe are more limited as they service only London Gatwick, Düsseldorf and Munich. https://www.meridiana.it/home/index/en/

 Edelweiss fly direct to Sharm from Zurich in Switzerland. There are reports that they have temporarily suspended flights due to a lack of bookings, but they are still advertising the route on their website: https://www.flyedelweiss.com/en/pages/home.aspx

From Anywhere Via Cairo
Cairo is mostly serviced by national carriers, from where you catch a connecting flight to Sharm with EgyptAir. This is, of course, by far and away the most expensive option unless you can find some special offers or you have a ton of Airmiles. The least expensive is probably EgyptAir to Cairo, and they service London, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK; Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich in Germany. The least expensive return flight I could find from London in February was £467/€610 to Cairo with a £137/€180 return transfer to Sharm

From Cairo by Bus
Finally, for the seasoned traveller, there is a public bus service from Cairo to Sharm. It costs as little as €5 (one way) and takes around six hours. I took this route back in 2009 before all the trouble started, but still we were boarded and inspected by the police at three different checkpoints. The bus was a regular coach – comfortable, air conditioned, and with a toilet. Unfortunately, there is no online booking facility; I arrived at the airport, took a taxi to the bus stop and bought a ticket there. It’s clearly not a good idea if you’re on a tight schedule, but I thought it worth mentioning as an idea for those who are not. I have been unable to find out if the current situation in Sharm has affected the timetables, but you can find more information starting at:
http://www.ask-aladdin.com/Egypt-transport-system/bus_timetables.html

Accommodation
When it comes to hotels and accommodation, ask your dive centre of choice for their recommendations. Some of the centres have an attached hotel, (Sinai Divers and Camel, for example), but all have associated hotel partners, offering a range of pricing options. If there are any savings to be made, this is where they will be most noticeable. The dive centres will know best as to where your budget choices may lie.

There are self-catering options also available: Virgin Property Sharm (nothing to do with Richard Branson) offer apartments from £150 / €200 per week and you may be able to negotiate them down. I’ve recommended them to friends in the past with good results. The Na’ama Bay apartments are in a gated complex just a short walk from the centre, and there is a Carrfoure supermarket nearby. http://www.virginproperty.org/


A note on Insurance
Your dive insurance should be unaffected but you may wish to confirm that your travel insurance covers Sharm airport in light of the FCO advice – not necessarily because of safety concerns associated with flying to and from Sharm airport, but perhaps because you might not be covered for more mundane problems such as flight cancellations and loss of baggage. I can’t really advertise a particular company in this article, but packages are available and there’s nothing to stop people adding links in the comments section....

It’s not easy, we all get that – and I say 'we' because even though I left three years ago, part of me is still there. We need you – the dive centres need you, the Egyptians need you; the Red Sea is calling you home. If your mind was set against diving in Sharm because there is nobody who can convince you that – given the current political climate – it’s safe to travel there, then so be it. If – on the other hand, you didn’t want to go to Sharm simply because you thought that you couldn’t, then perhaps this article will convince you otherwise. It’s not just possible to go to Sharm, it’s a perfect time to visit. Being the only dive team in the water on a reef in Ras Mohamed? Now’s your chance. It’s worth it.

Correction

In the first draft of this article, I didn't make it clear that Dahab is under an FCO Amber warning. I must apologise for getting that wrong. It was based on my prior experience of the region and my assumption that Dahab, like most of the other Egyptian resorts would be designated a 'safe zone'. While the resort of Sharm is classed as safe, Dahab falls under the same Amber warning as Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, and therefore, the FCO advice is against 'all but essential travel' to Dahab. It was not my intention to mislead, and as has already been confirmed by Westfield, the amber warning does not immediately invalidate all travel insurance, but you may need check and change providers if necessary. I maintain, however, through anecdotal evidence, that most residents of Sharm and Dahab do not agree with the travel advisory regarding Dahab! The aim of the article was to provide objective and accurate information to those who - despite the risks - wish to consider Sharm and Dahab as a diving destination this year. 

 

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