When flying in/out of London mind that Gatwick and Heathrow are humongous airports and it could take you at least 30 minutes from the plane to kissing your boyfriend at Arrivals (and that's with hand luggage only, a EU passport and at midnight mid-week...).
Not taking into account security measures which can take up to an hour due to the sheer number of people to check and the limited personnel and equipment, there is often a solid 20 minutes walk from Security Control to you plane's waiting lounge.
Give yourself a break and allow ample time. I count 1.5hrs for a european flight at off-peak times (e.g. 7am or midnight take-off) and 2+hrs at peak times. This takes into account the journey from the tube/train station (didn't think of that one did you? Can take a good 15 minutes...), picking up my boarding pass, security and walking to the boarding lounge. I might have time for a coffee but not much more.
You can check the BAA websites for maps of the airports and details of how to access them.
There is a very strict 100ml rule on liquids in place at the UK airports. This means that passengers are allowed to carry only limited quantities of liquids through security control as hand baggage. This includes bottled drinks, suntan lotion, fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries.
If you want to take any liquids on board, observe the following rules:
- Liquid items may only be carried in containers holding up to 100ml. Any items larger than 100ml should be packed in your hold luggage - otherwise they will be confiscated.
- Liquids must be carried separately in a single transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which must be no larger than 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in) and all items must fit inside so that it closes properly.
-At security control the bag must be placed separately on the conveyor belt for screening.
-Exceptions to the 100ml rule can be made for baby food or milk. However, you should only carry what you need for the flight, and you may be asked to taste these items at security control.
-Exceptions may also be made for medicines. However, you may be asked to taste any liquid medicines, or to provide evidence (such as a doctor's letter) that you need them for your journey.
From 7 January 2008, passengers travelling from London Heathrow Airport will be able to carry more than one item of hand baggage through security. Despite this, you should check hand baggage allowances with your airline before arriving at the airport, as the weight and size of hand baggage allowances differ between airlines. Some airlines may allow you to carry one item only.
Whatever the number of items, each must be no larger that 56cm long, 45 cm high and 25 cm deep.
The 100ml rule re liquids is still in place. This means that passengers are allowed to carry only limited quantities of liquids through security control as hand baggage. This includes bottled drinks, suntan lotion, fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries.
London Heathrow, one awsome place to be, the biggest aiport in Europe, this is one crazy place. Well I know I love the large airports and at times I can spend hours and hours just walking around, well London Heathrow is one of those. Anyways if you're wondering how to get from the airport to town, you know you could always take a taxi, as one of the guys said at the airport to Dennis, "quit hasseling me mate just take the taxi", Dennis was so scared! The man was not very found of Americans so it made it sound that way.
Well all in all we figured it out, with a little help realized that you get these things called Oyster cards and it'll take to central london for as little 4-5 Euros, great cheap way of getting to town so get down there my friend and enjoy the ride!!
London-Heathrow is the busiest airport in London and the UK and one of the busiest in the world. From the gate to the passport control is one big, l-o-n-g walk but the airport is well signed so getting lost isn't that easy (IMO). Beware of the long lines at the passport control.
There are some things I found weird about their security procedures (and with that said, this I offer is my humble opinion and not a questioning of these as I'd do anything to come and leave London safely): they won't let you enter the security check if you (1) have more than 1 piece of hand baggage and (2) don't have a printed boarding pass (I usually fly with my Eurobonus card and they know it works as a boarding pass), (3) they have 2 security checks - the first one for you and your hand baggage and the second one for your shoes.
On the first security check I had to wait until the female police (or guard?) was done searching a muslim woman that was covered basically from head to toe (not her face tho - and btw nice fabric and colors!) in case she wanted to do her search with the hand machine device (which she didn't want to do!). The second security check is badly placed basically in front of the tax free shop so it was like being on a traffic jam...of people.
Going to Heathrow by public means is very easy. You can either take their Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect or the good old tube (line towards Cockfosters).
If you happen to fly to or from LHR, please take the necessary time to be there before your flight because the lines are LONG for everything, even buying food.
'London' Stansted Airport is the point of departure/arrival for several of the new cut-price airlines and their flights to/from mainland Europe.
To call Stansted a 'London' airport is a slight distortion of the truth. It is a good 45 minute train ride from the airport to London Liverpool Street station. But the Stansted Express train is regular, fast and only stops at one or two stations on the way.
And the airport not a bad place to begin or end your visit. It is modern, airy, spacious and simply designed. The architect was Manchester-born Sir Norman Foster, who is well-known for the Berlin Reichstag redesign and London's 'Gherkin' tower. The airport was completed in 1991.
There is a national coach service to the airport that continues through the night. But the trains to Stansted stop, the last one arriving at about midnight. If you plan to sleep in the airport, the seating at the airport has arms so it is difficult to find a place to lie down - you may have to use the floor :-)
Stansted Express website
National Express Airport website
A nice airport to break your journey to the US from India.Plenty of window shopping to do here to kill time until the connecting flight.I was happy to see the Concorde in action when I spent a few hours in September 2003 on my way to New York City.
A few months ago we were recommended by a friend that we take a look at this airport parking website (http://www.skyparksecure.com) where you can book airport parking which is close to the airport but not directly in the airport itself. We normally travel out of London City airport but always find parking to be either too expensive or too far out and so we end up on public transport, which is not ideal with all your holiday luggage. This company basically looks around to check that they are giving you the best deal and then arranges it all for you and sends you some details through. Then on the day you can drop off your car at their specially secure car park and they will then take you to the airport and pick your back up after you land. Easy. Anyway the friend gave us a discount code (dis024) to use as well which presumably can be used by anyone.
Heathrow Airport can be confusing mainly because three of the terminals are so close together forming an 'island' in the middle of the Airport. Transportation links are very good with road,rail and underground stations on site.
Major redevelopment is ongoing with the opening of Terminal 5 next year and the closure and redevelopment of Terminals 1 and 2 scheduled to begin at the same time with a combined Terminal,Heathrow East, opening in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Terminal 3 is worst as it caters for most of the Long Haul flights and is always crowded and queues quickly develop.
If you can get a flight going through London Gatwick, take it, you will be less stressed.
I've had the "pleasure" of transferring through Heathrow twice this year to other European cities and if you can possibly avoid doing it, it is advisable. Heathrow may not be the world's busiest airport but I'd be shocked if it wasn't the world's largest and the one it takes the most time to get through.
If you are traveling in and out of different terminals, you'll want to give yourself at LEAST 2 hours, 3 is preferable, to cover the inevitable circling around the aiport waiting for a landing spot, the LONG walk through the terminal, the transfer via either bus or Heathrow Express (from terminal 4 to 1,2,3) and the pass through security. We had 90 minutes between flights and we were literally jogging through the airport to make our flight earlier this year.
Traveling in club or first class on British Airways is an entirely different experience, you can use the Fast Track system to avoid the security lines and you can use the extra time to visit the BA lounge and type notes to your friends on VT.
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