A Visitors Guide to the 6 London Airports – All you need to know

London is a hub of international travel, with millions of visitors arriving at its airports yearly and spending time wonder around the top London attractions on offer. With six airports serving the city and its surrounding areas, choosing the right one can take time and effort. Each has unique features and benefits, from the world-famous Heathrow Airport to the smaller London City Airport. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, a seasoned traveller or wanting to visit London with kids our comprehensive guide to the six London airports will provide you with all the essential information you need to know, from transportation options to terminal facilities and nearby attractions. So, sit back and let us take the stress out of planning your London airport experience.

There are six main passenger airports serving the London metropolitan area; these are listed below in the order of the most passengers per year travel through the airport:

  1. Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  2. Gatwick Airport (LGW)
  3. Stansted Airport (STN)
  4. Luton Airport (LTN)
  5. London City Airport (LCY)
  6. Southend Airport (SEN)

Note that some of these airports are located outside of London but still serve the London area. That’s why it is essential to be aware of which London you are considering using when travelling into or out of London and the UK.

London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Location: 14 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 15 minutes by Heathrow Express

Heathrow Airport, located in London, England, is one of the busiest airports in the world. It spans over 12 square kilometres, with four passenger terminals and two runways. Every day, over 200,000 passengers pass through the airport, with flights connecting to over 190 destinations worldwide. Heathrow is not just a transit hub but a destination in itself, boasting a range of amenities such as luxury shopping, fine dining, and even a full-size spa. The airport also plays a crucial role in the UK economy, contributing over £15 billion annually and employing more than 76,000 people. Despite its large size, Heathrow prides itself on its sustainability initiatives, intending to become a zero-carbon airport by 2050. Heathrow is not just an airport but a bustling hub of international connectivity, innovation, and commerce.

London Gatwick Airport (LGW)

Location: 33 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 30 minutes by Gatwick Express

Gatwick Airport, situated in the South of London, England, is another major international airport serving the region. Gatwick is the second busiest airport in the UK and serves over 46 million passengers each year, with flights connecting to over 200 destinations in 90 countries worldwide. The airport has two terminals, North and South, and boasts a range of facilities such as duty-free shops, restaurants, bars, and even a cinema. Gatwick also offers unique features, such as a rooftop terrace, providing a unique vantage point for observing airport activity. In addition to its role as a vital transport hub, Gatwick is recognized for its strong sustainability initiatives, having reduced its carbon footprint by 80% since 1990. With its convenient location, modern facilities, and commitment to sustainability, Gatwick Airport continues to play a key role in the London region’s global connectivity and economic growth.

London Stanstead Airport (STN)

Location: 40 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 47 minutes by Stanstead Express

Stansted Airport, located in Essex, just outside of London, is a major international airport that serves over 28 million passengers annually. The airport has one terminal building, which underwent a significant renovation in 2020 to modernize and expand its facilities. Stansted is known for its focus on low-cost carriers, offering flights to over 170 destinations in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The airport has also been at the forefront of innovation, becoming the first airport in the world to use a remote digital air traffic control tower, providing a more efficient and safe air traffic management system. In addition, Stansted is committed to sustainability and has implemented initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a new waste management system that aims to achieve zero waste to landfill. With its focus on low-cost travel, innovation, and sustainability, Stansted Airport is a vital link in the global transportation network, connecting people and businesses across continents.

London Luton Airport (LTN)

Location: 29 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 35 minutes by train and shuttle bus to St Pancras Station

Luton Airport, located in Bedfordshire, England, is a busy international airport serving over 18 million passengers annually. The airport has a single terminal building and offers flights to over 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Luton has developed significantly in recent years, with a new terminal extension and a state-of-the-art automated people mover system connecting the terminal to a nearby railway station. The airport also has a private aviation terminal, providing luxurious and exclusive services for high-end travellers. Luton Airport strongly focuses on sustainability, with initiatives such as electric vehicle charging stations and the use of renewable energy sources. The airport also operates a Community Trust Fund, supporting local charities and community initiatives. Luton Airport remains a key transport hub for the London region, offering modern facilities, convenient access, and a commitment to sustainability and community support.

London City Airport (LCY)

Location: 0 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 20 minutes maximum to most destinations in central London

London City Airport, located in the heart of London’s financial district, is a unique and compact airport that serves over 5 million passengers annually. The airport has a single terminal building and specializes in short-haul flights, offering connections to over 40 destinations across Europe. London City Airport is known for its fast and efficient service, with passengers able to check in and clear security in as little as 20 minutes. The airport also offers stunning views of London’s iconic landmarks, with the runway just a few hundred meters from the River Thames. London City Airport is also recognised for its environmental initiatives, including using electric ground vehicles and a commitment to reducing noise pollution. The airport is a key transport link for the business community, providing convenient access to London’s financial district and neighbouring areas. With its unique location, fast service, and commitment to sustainability, London City Airport remains an important player in London’s transportation network.

London Southend Airport (SEN)

Location: 40 miles from central London

Time Into Central London: 55 minutes by train to Liverpool Street Station

Southend Airport, located in Essex, is a growing international airport that serves over 1 million passengers annually. The airport has a single terminal building and offers flights to over 40 destinations in Europe. Southend is known for its convenient location, just 50 miles from central London, and its unique features, such as its own train station providing easy access to London and other nearby cities. The airport has undergone significant investment in recent years, with a new terminal building and a runway extension allowing for larger aircraft to operate. Southend Airport has also implemented innovative sustainability initiatives, such as using solar energy and installing a rainwater harvesting system. The airport is a key transport link for the east of England, offering modern facilities, convenient access, and a commitment to sustainability. With its strategic location and growing infrastructure, Southend Airport contributes to the London region’s economic growth and connectivity.

What London Airports can I use with an Oyster card?

You can use an Oyster card to travel to and from London Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport, and Luton Airport by train or by Tube. However, it’s important to note that not all train operators accept Oyster cards, so you should check with the relevant train company before you travel. Additionally, you cannot use an Oyster card on the Heathrow Express or the Gatwick Express trains, as premium services require separate tickets.

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