Improvements at the airport, completed in May 2005, include a new and substantially better departure terminal. There are now ample check-in desks with modern information screens, although the information on the screen does not necessarily relate to the desk beneath it. If a tour rep or other guide tells you that Gatwick checks in beneath the screen that says 'Manchester', and that Manchester books in beneath 'Birmingham', believe the guide, not the board.
There is little flexibility on weight and what flexibility there is will depend on the airline. It is the airline that sets the weight limits, the policy on overweight baggage and the excess charges, not the airport. Depending on the airline, and especially if your hold luggage is close to your allowance, hand luggage may also be weighed. You may well be asked to pay for excess baggage. There are frequent suggestions that some baggage handlers at the check-in overstate the weight and try to charge for excess baggage even where travellers are convinced that their luggage is within the allowance. Many people take their own mini scales to combat this practice. In practice the scam is less likely now that there are modern digital scales. If he does say you are overweight and you didn't think you were, make sure he hasn't got his foot on the scale (it has been known) and that you get a receipt for any payment.
Departure cards are now issued with the boarding card by the check-in clerk. The departure card, similar to the landing card that you handed in on arrival, has to be completed before you go through passport control.
If you are hungry, consider having a snack at the bakery near the check-in desks before you go through to the departure lounge. The prices are marginally lower here than they are after passport control and the seats are more comfortable.
After check-in and completing your departure card, go to the passport control kiosks, where the visa in your passport will be stamped and your departure card will be retained. There is no 'exit tax'.
Once through passport control you go upstairs to a departure lounge that opened in May 2005 and still looks fairly new. You can get there by stairs, lifts or escalators. If the escalators appear not to be moving it does not necessarily mean they are out of order. They have sensors to detect someone approaching and only then do they move.
The departure lounge has a few duty-free shops where you can buy tobacco, liquor, perfumes, cottons, leather, books, gifts and refreshments. Except for the refreshments, which are priced in Egyptian Pounds, other shop prices are marked in US dollars, but they do accept Egyptian currency as well as British pounds, American dollars, Euros and Swiss francs.
Refreshments available include the usual soft and hot drinks and beer, pizza, fish & chips, ices and sweets. The prices of refreshments at the airport are closer to the prices in London airports than Luxor town.
Prices in the book and gift shop are also very high, typically 40% higher than in Luxor town. If you want a book, an alternative to overpaying at the airport is to write down the details and see if you can get it at home more cheaply. Pickabook stock many books on Egypt generally and Luxor specifically, as well as books on the treasures of the country (and millions of other books) and sell most of them online at around 30% below the listed price. And, of course, there is always Amazon.
The prices of traditional duty free goods, such as tobacco and spirits, are on a par with duty free shops at other airports. Local cigarettes (such as 'Cleopatra') are especially cheap. Click here for a link to duty-free allowances for passengers returning to the UK from Egypt.
The duty free area is kept very clean although there are few seats, other than in the eating area, until you get to the departure gate. The toilets are well cleaned and are better than at many British airports. They are also well supervised and the attendants don't always see the notices prohibiting tips.
The duty free lounge has an ATM and a postbox. Overall the airport has become sophisticated, clean and efficient.
Page updated November 2014
Airlines can be very fussy about the weight of bags. Worse still, there are reports of a scam at the Luxor end when you are charged at the check-in even when you are convinced that your luggage is not over weight. You can get a useful gadget for about £10 that includes a 34kg scale and a 1M tape so that you can check, and demonstrate if necessary, that your luggage is not overweight.It could save you a lot more than its cost in luggage supplements.