London is a very big city and is served by 5 airports. For those coming from abroad, they may not realise how many airports there are near London. It is important to choose the right one as you do not want to spend too much time travelling to your hotel or hostel especially after a long flight.
1) Gatwick (LGW)
2) Heathrow (HRW)
3) Luton (LTN)
4) Stansted (STN)
5) City Airport (LCY)
This airport is London’s second largest international airport and second busiest after Heathrow. There are two terminals – North and South covering an area of 75,000 metres squared. Charter airlines fly into Gatwick such as EasyJet, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways, Monarch Airlines as well as British Airways and Virgin Airways.
This is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and in the EU by passenger traffic. There are 5 Terminals at Heathrow and it is the main destination for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Cross Atlantic and long distant flights such as to Dubai and Australia arrive and depart from London Heathrow. For those looking to pick up friends and family, beware the parking charges, it can by up to £6.70 for one hour in the car park. Alternatively pick your friend/family member up from the “drop off” zone , saving you a small fortune.
Stansted is in Essex, 64 km north-east of Central London. It is 3rd largest airport in the UK after Heathrow and Gatwick. Many of the low cost air carriers serving mostly European and Mediterranean destinations fly out of Stansted. It is ideally situated for those in East London or in Essex. The Stansted Express from Liverpool Street to the airport takes 45 minutes and costs £20 for a single journey and £27.30 for a return if bought online. There is a train that leaves the airport every 15 minutes. Trains stop at Tottenham Hale on the northern line before arriving at Liverpool Street. There is also a Stansted coach called easyBus. It takes 1 hour and 15 mins from the airport to Baker Street and costs as little as £2 one way if bought online.
Luton is located about 55 km north of London in a county called Bedfordshire. It is just off the M1 motorway, and is the 4th largest airport in the London. Many of the cheaper airlines such as EasyJet, Thomson Airways, Ryanair and Monarch Airlines fly out of Luton. For those living in Milton Keynes or in the midlands it is conveniently located. However, for those in the south of London or even in London itself, it takes a long time to arrive at the airport as there is often traffic round the M25 and on the M1.
London City Airport
The airport is located on a former Docklands site, just 11km east of London. It is one of the closest airports to London and can be accessed with your Oyster card as it is only in zone 3. Despite having just one runway and being one of the smallest airports I have flown out of, it served nearly 3 million passengers in 2011 and is London’s 5th busiest airport. They aim to serve a maximum of 8 million passengers by 2030. City airport is very easy to get to for those who live in Central London and the fact that it is only in zone 3, means it is very cheap to take public transport (if you already have an oyster card or a monthly/annual travel card).
I really like Gatwick and Heathrow and often fly between those two airports. Connect with me on Twitter at @Being30com and let me know which is your favorite airport.