The best airports in London to fly or land is Heathrow Airport. Multiple airports are common in big cities. As a general rule, there could be one worldwide hub and a smaller domestic hub. Because of the city’s immense size, there are six official airports. They are spread out all throughout the city and serve a variety of purposes, as well as offering flights to a wide range of locations.
The COVID-19 epidemic has resulted in a number of airlines suspending all flights out of London’s airports. Consequently, airports with multiple terminals have reduced the number of terminals they have to serve their passengers as a result of this trend. Find out whether the terminal and flight arrangements are different from what is described here.
Best Airports In London Right Now [2023 Ranking]
Heathrow (LHR) is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and a world-famous aviation hub, situated 14 miles west of downtown London. Long-haul passengers traveling in London on a full-service carrier will most likely land here. London’s Heathrow Airport is the only one served by a large number of international carriers.
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The airport’s four functioning terminals see an average of 80 million passengers per year in normal times (2 through 5).
Terminal 1 has been deactivated.
These are the several terminal types:
Some Aer Lingus flights can be found in Terminal 2; the majority of Star Alliance airlines can be found in Terminal 3; the majority of Oneworld airlines (including some British Airways flights) can be found in Terminal 4; the majority of SkyTeam airlines can be found in Terminal 5, and the majority of Iberia flights can be found in Terminal 6. However, American Airlines may make the move permanently and not only for the time being.
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British Airways is the largest airline at Heathrow, with the majority of its flights departing from that location. Virgin Atlantic also has a large presence at Heathrow.
There are plenty of high-end stores and restaurants at a “full-service” airport, which means you’ll have access to the latest technology and amenities.
As well as the numerous airline-operated lounges, there are also numerous independent lounges that charge a fee for access and accept both Priority Pass members and those with a paid membership.
A large number of travelers pass through Heathrow each day and departure security is normally quick, but eGates might lead to long immigration waits if you can’t get in.
It takes just 15 minutes to get from Heathrow Airport to Paddington Station in downtown London by taking the Heathrow Express train. It’s also possible to take the Picadilly line Tube service into the city for a more affordable and slower ride.
There are three stops on the Tube at Heathrow: Terminals 2/3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. It can take a long time to change terminals if you don’t get off at the correct stop.
No matter where you choose to go, getting to the city center will take about an hour by bus or cab.
Those who live or are staying in the west of the city will find Heathrow particularly convenient because of its location. Heathrow’s cumbersome, unappealing terminal transfers are a big turnoff for many international travelers.
When arriving at Heathrow, I was impressed by how well-organized and well-run the airport was, especially given the long drive from the east coast. Terminal 2 is one of my favorite places to visit.
2. Gatwick Airport
Full-service carriers like Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, and China Airlines have long been a presence at Gatwick; however, low-cost carriers that can afford the somewhat higher landing costs at Gatwick than those at Stansted and Luton have begun to take their place.
It’s a 24-mile drive south of central London.
There were some long-haul flights from Gatwick before COVID-19, mostly to places like Florida and the Caribbean, operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Norwegian’s London operations are likewise based at Gatwick, and short- and long-haul flights are frequently scheduled. TUI, for example, offers flights from Gatwick to “southern European sun” vacation spots.
In the absence of more Heathrow slots, some airlines used Gatwick to run additional flights to London. This dual Heathrow and Gatwick operation has been carried out by the likes of Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific.
Short-haul leisure destinations are easily accessible via EasyJet’s major U.K. base, Gatwick Airport.
There are two terminals at the airport, North and South, which are connected with a free shuttle service.
There are many well-known airlines using the South Terminal, including British Airways, Norwegian, TUI, and Vueling. There are several significant airlines based in the North Terminal, including EasyJet, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, and WestJet.
Airlines, as well as non-affiliated businesses, operate a plethora of lounges.
Transport: It takes the Gatwick Express under 30 minutes to get from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station in the heart of London. If you’re not in a rush, the National Rail service will only take five minutes long but will cost less. Buses and cabs can take anywhere from 80 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic, depending on where you are in the city.
The Gatwick Airport is a good option if you’re planning to stay south of the Thames.
Since it serves so many vacation spots, Gatwick may get very busy during the summer as a large number of people try to squeeze through numerous bottlenecks. The new British Airways lounge at Gatwick is one of my favorite amenities in both terminals. Some of the farthest gates can be a considerable walk from security.
3. City Airport
Tiny London City Airport, located just seven miles from Canary Wharf, has long served as a connecting point for business travelers heading to major European business centers like Zurich, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam (AMS). All-business-class service to New York City (JFK) was also available from the airport until recently, when it was canceled.
Full-service airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa, and KLM are the only ones allowed to fly out of this airport.
As a result, the airport now offers flights to a variety of vacation spots, especially on the weekends when business travel is less prevalent. The airport will be closed between 1:00 pm on Saturday and 12:00 pm on Sunday in order to reduce the amount of noise that will be heard by the people of the area.
It’s an airport designed to keep travelers out of it as much as possible, with all flights housed in a single, cramped terminal. As late as 15 minutes before your flight, you can check in and then walk to your plane. At London City Airport, there are no lounges.
Although it is only a short distance from the heart of London, there are no express bus services nearby. The Docklands Light Railway can get you to Bank in just 20 minutes, from where you can connect to a variety of locations in London and beyond. Depending on traffic and your destination, a 30- to 40-minute trip can be accomplished by vehicle or bus.
Canary Wharf and east London are the best places to go around with London City, although there are only a few places you may go.
For AvGeeks, traveling to or from London City is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s an incredible feeling to take off and land in the heart of the world’s most famous city. You might expect to spend more for a flight from there than you would from Stansted or Luton because there are no low-cost carriers operating there.
4. Stansted Airport
This low-cost airport at Stansted Mountfitchet, 42 miles northeast of the city, is home to the main European hub of airline giant Ryanair. More than 100 destinations may be reached nonstop from Stansted, including Barcelona (BCN) and Lisbon (LIS) as well as Kalamata (KLX), Trieste (TRS) and Wroclaw, as well as La Rochelle (LRL) (LRH).
Stansted is a truly low-cost airport, with limited facilities and a lack of amenities. Although Emirates is a full-service airline, the airport only serves a handful of full-service airlines, hence there is only one lounge at the airport, the Escape Lounge (DXB). There is only one terminal building from which all planes leave, but certain gates need extensive walks.
Jet2 has also expanded its operations at Stansted, with flights to places like as Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, and Italy among the destinations it flies to from the airport.
To get to Central London from Stansted, you’ll need to take the pricey Stansted Express service, which takes 50 minutes to arrive at Liverpool Street. Bus or cab rides usually take between 60 and 70 minutes, subject to traffic and the destination.
Stansted Airport is a good option if you live to the north of the city. Travelers often put up with the long drive to the airport in exchange for a cheap low-cost airline ticket.
With Ryanair, I’ve been able to fly from Stansted to and from the airport for as little as $13 each way. However, I must say that traveling through airports is not a pleasant experience. There are some terminals that require a 20-minute walk from security to your gate.
5. Luton Airport
When it comes to a passenger experience at an ultra-low-cost airport, this is by far the worst of the bunch. To get to the airport, you’ll need to catch a shuttle bus from a train station in London, which is a pain.
Now, Wizz Air is the undisputed ruler of Luton Airport, offering low fares to Eastern Europe and popular holiday destinations like Spain and Greece. Cheap flights to lesser-known Eastern European destinations like Kosovo or North Macedonia can be found at Luton Airport with Wizz.
Despite having a far larger presence at the more upscale Gatwick airport, EasyJet’s headquarters are located very near to the terminal.
There are two separate airport lounges at Luton that can be used by Priority Pass members.
Transportation to and from Luton is difficult and time-consuming. You’ll need to take a shuttle bus from the airport to the nearest railway station, and then get a 35-minute train to St Pancras. By car, it takes 60 to 70 minutes, depending on traffic and the location.
Despite a recent facelift, Luton’s main terminal is still little more than a large shed located a long way from the city of London. If you’ve got a great deal or are already north of the city, this is the best option.
6. Southend Airport
Some lists of London airports do not include Southend, which is located nearly 36 miles east of London in Essex. London Southend Airport (SEN) is a low-cost alternative to Heathrow and has grown rapidly in recent years.
From Southend, Ryanair and Wizz both travel to an increasing number of locations in continental Europe.
There were just over two million passengers at Southend International Airport in 2019, which is less than half the amount of passengers in London City and less than a third of the travelers at Luton.
The size of Southend Airport is a perk of flying into or out of the airport. It’s a smaller airport, so expect fewer travelers, shorter lines, and longer wait times than at a larger airport like Heathrow.
With only a few steps, you may be checked in, past security, and on your way to your boarding gate from the railway station.
If you can get a fantastic deal on a flight, Southend might be a good option. You should keep in mind that Stansted and/or Gatwick are likely to be the closest airports to any location served from Southend, so plan accordingly.
Priority Pass holders have access to a shared airport lounge in the only terminal.
Getting from Southend into central London requires taking a National Rail service to Liverpool Street, which will take nearly an hour. Getting around London by vehicle or bus will take you at least 70 minutes, depending on traffic and where you’re going.
As a passenger, you’ll enjoy the trip to and from Southend despite the lengthy travel duration. It’s compact, simple to use, and effective.
Which Airport Is Better To Fly Into In London?
The best airport to fly in London is Heathrow airport.
In London, there is no ideal airport.
Heathrow Airport is the most likely place to land if you’re traveling into London from afar (or maybe Gatwick). Finding a low-cost trip to continental Europe can be a daunting task, as there are numerous options available from London’s four or more airports.
It is generally accepted that Heathrow, Gatwick, and City offer a higher level of service to passengers compared to the other three airports. You should consider where you’re heading in central London (or coming from) before deciding which airport to fly out of. Consider flying out of a less-premium airport or with an airline you’ve never used before if you’re located nearer to one.
For the sake of convenience, it’s best to fly to or from an airport that’s as close as possible and as easy to get to. It’s possible that getting to and from the airport will cost you more than the flight itself!