I've travelled from Luton many times over the past few years.
It's quite a small airport which deals with large numbers of people travelling on European budget airlines and also on UK-originated package holidays.
Most time I've been getting through security has been ok. I always go to security about 1.5 hours before my flight leaves, to be on the safe side, and have usually taken about 30 minutes to get into the departure lounge.
This time (February 2012) I travelled late morning, well outside the early-morning budget airline 'rush'. When I reached the security hall it was absolutely packed with people ....several hundred...and there were only 2 security scanners operating!
Fortunately, I was still outside boarding-card checking so was able to (very grudgingly) pay 3GBP for 'priority' scanning. There are machines which accept cash (coins only) or cards. You can see how crowded the security hall is from where you show your boarding card, so you do have chance to make a decision.
Luton has had this system in place for a few years now. I've never needed to use it before and I still had to queue because other people had the same idea. But it meant I got through security in about 20 minutes.
I watched others arrive. People who had gone up to security well before me took around an hour to get through, and some were *very* late for their flights. In fact, an Easyjet flight had closed whilst people were still...panic-stricken...emerging from security. Fortunately Easyjet re--opened the flight and they managed to get on.
But what appalling organisation! Maybe there were lots of security people away ill, or something, but even so it is simply not acceptable that people should have to queue for so long and risk missing their flights...or have to pay to be sure of getting through in time.
I hoped this was a one-off but I'm afraid it may not be so. Allow a *lot* of time for checking-in and getting through Luton security, and make sure you have the right cash (or a card) so you can use the 'priority' machine if the hall is packed. It will be cheaper than missing your flight!
You may book a flight to 'London Luton', especially if you are using a European budget airline.
Please be aware that Luton is not London.....it is an industrial town 40+ miles away from the capital city.
There are good transport links (bus, train) but it will take you some considerable time to rech central London.
The airport website (see below) will have transport info.
I took the photos with this tips whilst landing at Luton..just to show that not only is Luton not in London, the capital city is not even visible on the far horizon!
ok, i live in luton so i guess i would kno most about this, to be honest it does get a bad press for the crime rates, but ive never had a prob after clubbing in town centre. whatever you do do not go through Marsh Farm at night, or Lewsey Farm or Houghton Regis. besides the fact theyre *** holes, and there'll be no reason for u to go there, you'll prob get mugged by some chavs. :)