Airports, London

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  • City airport, London, UK.
    City airport, London, UK.
    by planxty
  • Caution! What can you bring along?
    Caution! What can you bring along?
    by Jerelis
  • Airside: part of the departure lounge
    Airside: part of the departure lounge
    by leics
  • Tripack's Profile Photo

    London Airport City

    by Tripack Written Jun 28, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    What a good surprise to flight to this airport, which is located in the Docklands close to the City center. I flew with Swiss from Geneva and land to this very convenient airport. My LCY airport approach on board of the Swiss AVRO RJ100 was quite impressive with great views on the city before landing after a stunning but normal dive in direction on the runway. In fact the approach is done at 5.5 degrees or steeper (this compares with 3 degrees at most other airports).

    The way out was quick as only small aeroplanes are allowed to land (usually less than 100 passengers on board), currently test are made with an Airbus A319 in prospect of airport development. To reach quickly the city take the Docklands Light Railway London City Airport extension open since December 2005. Direct travel time to Bank in the City of London is a speedy 22 minutes and Canary Wharf is just 14minutes, via Poplar. Which is convenient for business purposes and travellers as well.

    London City Airport is situated just 10 miles (16km) from the West End (the major shopping centre) and Westminster (location of main government offices), six miles (10km) from the City of London (the financial district) and three miles (5km) from Canary Wharf (London's newest business and financial centre).

    A really quick and convenient experience... too bad that my return flight was from Heathrow...

    Swiss AVRO RJ100 in LCY DLR London City Airport station A quick 22 minutes trip to Bank station
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    London’s airports

    by toonsarah Updated May 10, 2008

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    If you fly to London you may arrive at any of five airports. Here’s a brief overview of each:

    Heathrow Airport is London’s busiest and possibly best known. And by busy, I mean really busy – it is the world's busiest international airport and handles 471,000 air transport movements per year. A new fifth terminal has just opened (to much controversy as environmentalists questioned the need to make the airport even busier, while travellers suffered as baggage handling systems broke down under the extra strain). If you land here you have several options for reaching the city centre. The cheapest and slowest is the Underground, but I find that as good as any unless you’re in a real hurry. The Piccadilly Line will get you to central London in about an hour and is a pretty reliable service, with trains every few minutes at peak times. A faster though more expensive option is the Heathrow Express, which will take you to Paddington Station in 15 minutes – but bear in mind that depending where you are staying you will probably have to transfer to the Underground network at that point in any case. You could also take the mainline stopping service, Heathrow Connect. Otherwise there are taxis of course, but these are very expensive and with London traffic not necessarily quick.

    Gatwick Airport lies to the south of London, and although almost as busy as Heathrow I find it a bit pleasanter to use. It does tend to be dominated by the package holiday and charter flight crowd, but there are only two terminals to navigate, queues seem better managed, and the shopping facilities are good if you find yourself at a loose end. It is apparently the busiest single runway airport in the world, and is the seventh busiest international airport in the world, with 79 airlines serving 227 destinations. The airport’s two terminals, North and South, are linked by a shuttle train, and mainline trains leave for London from a station at the South Terminal. The most expensive of these are the Gatwick Express trains (current charge £16.90 one way). Despite the name, these are only a little quicker than the cheaper stopping services, taking exactly 30 minutes, but do have the advantage of having plenty of room for luggage and a very regular timetable (every 15 minutes). All trains from Gatwick terminate at London’s Victoria Station, from where you can catch the Underground or a bus to various parts of the city.

    London City Airport is the only one of London’s airports to be actually situated in the capital itself. It’s a relatively small airport, serving just over 30 European destinations, which makes it a pleasure to use if you get the chance but harder to find a flight to. If you do manage to find one, be warned – the airport’s runway extends into the River Thames, so you may get the uncomfortable sensation that you’re landing on water! Its relatively small size means there are fewer shops than at other airports, but you will find all the facilities you’re likely to need, such as places to eat and drink, buy travel essentials, change money etc. The best way to travel to and from London City is on the Docklands Light Railway, usually known as the DLR. Trains leave the airport every 8 to 15 minutes, with journey times of just 7 minutes to Canning Town, 18 minutes to Canary Wharf and 22 minutes to Bank.

    Stansted Airport lies to the north-east of the capital, and is served by many of the low-cost airlines, including Easy Jet and Ryan Air. It has good facilities and a light modern terminal building designed by Norman Foster. The fastest way to reach central London from here is on the Stansted Express. Trains depart every 15-30 minutes, with an average journey time to Liverpool Street Station of 45 minutes. From there you can catch the Underground or a bus to various parts of the city. Alternatively, as with Gatwick, there are cheaper stopping services, but the difference in journey time is a little more marked.

    Luton Airport is north of London and is used by charter flights, package tours and some low-cost airlines, e.g. Easy Jet and Monarch. I have to say it is my least favourite of London’s airports and I avoid using it if possible. For one thing, I find it less accessible – there are trains into the city, but to catch these you have first to take a shuttle bus to Luton Airport Parkway station. This service runs every ten minutes between 05:00 and midnight (and also connects with all trains calling at Luton Airport Parkway during the night), but it adds to the journey time and is the last thing you feel like doing after a tiring flight. The alternative is to take the bus into town, but this means driving on the very busy (and consequently often slow) M1. At the time of writing (Spring 2008) the motorway is undergoing extensive road-works in the Luton area and journey times are badly affected.

    Plane at Heathrow Airport Shuttle to North Terminal, Gatwick

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    'London' Stansted Airport

    by aaaarrgh Updated Oct 21, 2007

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    '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

    busy airport
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    Arriving by plane

    by easyoar Updated Feb 12, 2005

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    There are at least 5 London Airports. The City Airport only really takes small short distance flights so you will probably not go to this airport.

    The best Airport to arrive at is London Heathrow (LHR), I believe it is the busiest airport in the world, and it certainly isn't the worlds nicest airport, but it is extremely convenient for getting in to the centre from as it is possible by bus, taxi, train and underground.

    The next best bet is London Gatwick (LGW) which is a bit further out of London (well it isn't really London at all, but near enough to make it reasonable).

    By the time you get to London Luton, you're starting to have a bit of imagination in terms of calling it a London airport.

    London Stanstead is a bit of a pain in the butt as it really is quite far away!

    A BA 747 comes in to land at London Heathrow
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  • dejavu2gb's Profile Photo

    Jetting in

    by dejavu2gb Updated Feb 18, 2005

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    London has 5 international airport located at various spots around the city.
    The airports are:

    London Heathrow (LHR)
    London Gatwick (LGW)
    London Stansted (STN)
    London Luton (LTN)
    London City (LCY)

    London Heathrow and London Gatwick are the biggest airport and are served by most major airlines. London Heathrow is served by the Underground, and also many bus services.
    Regular train services run between Victoria Station and Gatwick Airport.
    London Stansted and London Luton are served by many budget namely Easyjet and Ryanair. These airports are located towards the North of the city, and have regular train connections to the city.

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    Free Transportation to Hotels Around Heathrow

    by riorich55 Updated Jun 20, 2008

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    Based on suggestion by VT'er Leics here is the link for London Bus Route 285 from Heathrow. The first 2 stops after Heathrow are Harlington Corner and Hatton Cross Station which are free of charge as they are both close to hotels surrounding the airport.

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  • RhineRoll's Profile Photo

    Stansted Airport

    by RhineRoll Updated Dec 8, 2008

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    Being the main hub for Ryanair and other budget carriers, Stansted clearly puts emphasis on low costs and maximised efficiency. It is not necessarily the most convenient airport to use. This is apparent in the main terminal with all the check-in booths lumped together leaving so little space that a queue in front of a check-in desk will seriously impede peoples' ability to get through. They also seem to save on the electricity bill, very dim light everywhere making one sleepy and uncomfortable.
    The airport is pretty far out of town, much closer to Cambridge than to London. It is well connected to the railway network; the travel time of 45 minutes to London Liverpool St. is not that bad, comparing it with other large city airports. But the price -- 22 quid for a return ticket -- is outrageous. There are also coach services with various routes available.

    Please note that most no-frills airlines open their check-ins no sooner than 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time, so it is absolutely unnecessary to arrive at the airport earlier than that only to hang around in that unpleasing terminal.

    For disabled travellers, there is a special seating/waiting area. It might be advantageous to use it -- if there is no power wheelchair or scooter occupying the electric plugs, you might be able to use your notebook computer without needing to rely on the batteries.

    Thanks to VTer HORSCHECK, I am now aware that the central terminal building actually was designed by Norman Foster, the architect who made those wonderful conversions of the German Reichstag and the British Museum. The question is why? Given the cheap and people coralling interior design, a large nissen hut would have done the job. As such, the airport's terminal is a perfect example for today's hypocritical approach to human resources and services.

    Waiting area at the gates, Stansted Airport
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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    London Heathrow

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jun 23, 2011

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    At some point or another, if you are making any connections in Europe, you will most likely connect through London Heathrow, Europe's largest airport!!

    With that said, it is crazy, mad at the airport!! I fly American Airlines and when I am flying on a conncetion, it is always from one terminal to another which can take up to 1 hour just getting there. I do like the fact that Heathrow has a fantastic waiting area with some of the best shops, espeicaly if you find yourself with some extra £s and need to buy some last minute items.

    The Harrod's shop always has the items you find at the store for a few £ less, which I found out after paying the Harrod store prices. The signature Harrod's bags were £11.95, while at Harrod's I paid £14.95 for them...makes a big difference when you are purchasing more than one.

    There are plenty of places to eat and to sit at while waiting for your connection. Make sure to check the monitor for you gate, as it does take some time to reach your gate from the main terminal waiting area.

    Waiting area gate monitor Another gate monitor Large shopping arcade area

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  • SLLiew's Profile Photo

    Heathrow Airport

    by SLLiew Written Nov 3, 2006

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    Most tourists first arrival to United Kingdom is London's Heathrow Airport.

    Have been to Heathrow several times when I am not using Gatwick Airport. Over the years, there is now an underground tube sstation that will get you to London in less than an hour or by the express train which is 15 minutes to downton Paddington Station.

    At times, you will think you are in London when you are at the airport as there is a large number of ethnic groups living in London welcoming or seeing off family and friends.

    Check for latest airport advisory on hand luggage. Below is today's from the official website:

    "Security restrictions remain at UK airports. Liquids, gels or pastes, toiletries and sharp items are still forbidden from hand luggage.

    Travelling from 6 November onwards?
    The Government has adjusted the liquids, gels and aerosols hand baggage restrictions."

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  • sourbugger's Profile Photo

    The backdoor into London -LCY

    by sourbugger Updated Apr 7, 2014

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    London City airport in Docklands is easily the closest airport to the centre of the city as it is only in Zone 3/4 on the travelcard.

    It was mainly aimed at business users, but you can sometimes get cheap fares, especially if you get a choice of airports on your ticket following an intercontinental leg (eg to Amsterdam)

    When you take into account that the Stansted express train is a complete rip-off it often works out reasonably.

    You can now get to LCY directly to about 50 cities, nearly all on the continent of Europe (as if the UK wasn't !)

    Don't go for the blue bit
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  • Jim_edmonds177's Profile Photo

    London Heathrow

    by Jim_edmonds177 Written Dec 20, 2007

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    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!!

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    Cigarette lighters at Gatwick.

    by planxty Written Apr 30, 2005

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    I recently posted a similar tip on my Hamburg page, and I thought it was just something that was peculiar to Lubeck airport, but apparently it isn't. It's also appear to be the case in Belfast.

    You cannot take Zippo style lighters on flights out of London Gatwick airport. If they are not in your checked baggage, they will be confiscated.

    If there was some way I could post this as a general Europe thing I would, but it looks like I'm going to have to put it on every page I construct.

    Be aware, if you are a smoker (and there are still a few of us about) don't carry a Zippo or you're liable to lose it.

    Zippo lighter.
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  • marielexoteria's Profile Photo

    London-Heathrow airport (LHR)

    by marielexoteria Updated Oct 31, 2007

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    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.

    Radar tower @ London-Heathrow

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    by viddra Updated Apr 4, 2007

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    Heathrow is London’s major airport. It opened in 1929 as a small base for flight tests and became an international airport in 1946.

    There are 4 terminals and a direct underground rail link which takes an hour to reach central London.


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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Easily my favourite.

    by planxty Written Dec 1, 2013

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    To my knowledge, there are six commercial airports calling themselves "London" and this is, frankly, a lie. We have London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, London Southend and London City. Only one of them is technically in London and it is this one which is undoubtedly my favourite. Part of the reason for this is that it is physically very close to me, a 20 minute taxi ride or about 40 minutes on public transport but it is much more than that.

    As the name suggests, it is fairly well in the centre of the city, being located in what is now generically termed "Docklands" and has been built in what was the old dock area of the city during the huge regeneration there in the 1980's and 90's. Because of this location the runway is not long and this means that there are no long haul flights from here as a 747 would try to land here and end up in the river Tahmes! Also, being a very built-up residential area there are only certain types of aircraft allowed to use the place for noise pollution reasons, namely propellor planes and what I believe are known as "whisper jets (i.e. those with very little engine noise)".

    Haing suffered, and I use the word advisedly, the horrors of Heathrow on the return from my recent trip to Madrid, it is a joy to travel through this place. LCY, to give it it's proper designation, is primarily designed for business travellers who generally fly out early morning and return either that evening or possibly next day. This raises a few points. Firstly, it gets busy at those times and secondly it means that very few people have checked baggage which, in turn, means that you never have to queue for more than a couple of minutes at the limited amount of check-in desks as most travellers only have cabin baggage. Also, I believe that the flights from here only fly to the E states so the passport control is quick and cursory at best which saves time.

    LCY is just like a major airport only in miniature and much more comfortable. Yes, there are all the facilities you would expect like a bookshop, cafes and restaurants, bars etc. but it is all so compact and easily negotiated that it is actually not a trial to go through. I should mention that the W.H. Smith bookshop is short on music / motorcycle / canal boat magazines etc. although you can buy any amount of books on business management. I suppose it is a case of playing to your audience.

    For me VT is all about personal experiences and I shall share one with you here. Some years ago I was travelling to Vilnius via Frankfurt on a morning flight. I had left plenty of time and my taxi turned up bang on time at 0730. We drove to LCY, which was going against the early morning traffic, and I walked in, checked in, went to the bookshop and had a decent browse and not just a "grab the first thing I see" moment, then went outside for a smoke. Like all public buildings in UK, it is regrettably a no smoking area. I chanced to look at my watch and it was 0810. Forty minutes from home to being checked in, reading material bought and ready to go. That is my kind of airport.

    I do apologise for the images but they are the only ones I can find in the wreckage of my computer filing system. I am sure I have others elsewhere which I shall post when I rediscover them. I have also posted a video which I hope give some idea of the wonderful views of East London as you take off.

    If you are in central London and want to take a short haul flight, I really do suggest that you consider LCY, it is an excellent facility.

    City airport, London, UK. City airport, London, UK.
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