Preferable airport to fly into if you want to avoid the crowds of Heathrow. Gatwick is the second busiest airport behind Heathrow and smaller by three terminals. It appears most locals fly in/out of Gatwick to other destinations where foreigners prefer to fly in/out of Heathrow.
Gatwick Express offers an easy way to get to London by going through Victoria Station and transferring to your final spot. Although Heathrow offers more train destinations to Central London than Gatwick.
I have to make frequent trips to London for work, so Gatwick airport and I have become well acquainted over the last few years.
A more manageable size than Heathrow, it's always my preference between the two when heading down south. The choice of the Gatwick Express to Victoria or the Thameslink service to St Pancras is also a bonus, especially as I often need to be in the Bloomsbury area.
It's been a long time since I had to check-in at Gatwick so on arrival I'm usually heading straight to security. Even when the airport has been busy I've found the queues to be not too bad (definitely better than I've experienced at Heathrow and Stansted).
Once you get through to departures the choice of restaurants and shops is reasonable good including the standard Wetherspoons pub, a Jamie's Italian and Yo! Sushi. The only big issue is a lack of space when the airport gets busy, there's far from enough seating for the volume of people that are sometimes moving through the place. Especially if there are a lot of delays as I experienced a few weeks ago.
Beyond the main hall there's the usual hike to the gates, but again not quite as bad as some of the other London airports.
No one ever really enjoys being trapped in an airport, but of the many I've frequented Gatwick is among the better ones!
- "free wifi" for 45mins, that doesn't work
- hour long queues for check-in/bag drop if you fly by easyjet
- poor wifi connection on the paid networks like Boingo
- expensive restaurants that aren't worth the money (aside from 1, Comptoir Libanais - see my other review)
I haven't flown in or out of Gatwick in awhile but I'm a regular to the UK and have become quite accustomed to (and like) Heathrow. When's travel agent suggested I fly through Gatwick (because I could take a direct flight and connections in the US to get me to Heathrow were no cheaper), I thought sure, why not.
I'll tell you why not. Won't do it again. I fly business and have status with airlines that gets me perks, like "fast pass" access to speed through passport checks, gives you access to speedy and shorter security lines etc. Doesn't exist at Gatwick. Waited over an hour just to go through passport/border control, only to hit another very long line for security to catch my transit connection to Scotland. Thank God I had a 4 hr layover. Definitely would have missed a flight.
I was recommended to fly into Gatwick during my study abroad summer at University of Sussex since it was closer than Heathrow. Gatwick is a very clean and modernized airport. Going through customs took about an hour since I was with a big group of US citizens coming into the UK. The staff were all very friendly.
One issue I had was going from the baggage claims area down to the track, my group of friends had to drag our heavy luggage down the 2 flights of stairs since there was no elevator taking us down to the train track. That was kind of scary...I hope they build an elevator soon.
I really loath having to fly out of this airport. Inconvenient to get to and from Central London. Very expensive if you take a taxi and then The Gatwick Express leaves you in one terminal and if you have to get to the other terminal you have to take a shuttle train to get there. Very inconvenient with luggage on all fronts, not to mention time consuming.
Arrivals are also a nightmare when you have to wait over 45 minutes after landing for bags to even start being delivered for reclaim. A flight to Europe takes less time then going through Gatwick airport and getting back into Central London. And that is on a quieter, less trafficked day. Do it during rush our and you could fly transatlantic in less time then going through Gatwick.
Last but not least the space needs major refurbishments and a good clean up.
This was the airport that my companion and I used when we arrived in London. It was a modern airport, but the thing that I really didn't like was the long walks to the arrival area.
The areas were well-signed, but seriously, it's as if they wanted all passengers to do a twenty-minute brisk walking exercise from the gate to the Immigration counter. The walk was very long, to the point that when we finally finished immigration and arrived to the baggage belts, our baggage were already off the belts and on the floor.
It is far from central London, but well-connected to the rails. I guess I don't mind it, but I am only giving this place three stars. Oh, I also hate the fact that they don't announce the gate until it is boarding time, so people are hoarded in this central waiting and shopping area, and people are glued to the screens, until their flight shows up, and they have to rush to the gates, because they only have twenty minutes to spare.
It is a very modern airport: lots of stores and restaurants. The only issue: it is far from the central London.
Quite like Gatwick. Range of shops and restaurants and plenty of seats to use whilst waiting for flights.
Great duty free shops and also some clothes shops for last minute shopping.
Queues at security where pretty minimum and went through without any fuss though I did get through before peak time. On arriving, the airport is well signposted for seeking out the Gatwick Express so no issues there. Used Gatwick before and I'm sure I will again.
A pretty decent airport, although I do prefer Heathrow Terminal 5 when travelling to London. Check in and security are pretty straightforward and I was a bit perplexed as to the main terminal being a holding area until about 60 minutes prior to your flight time when they release the gate information. That aside, there are many shops and restaurants (located on the second level) where you can kill time.
Be prepared to be in the mix of many travelers as there seem to be quite a mix of domestic and international flights going in and out of this airport. The gate area is a bit sparse and cold and could do with some sprucing up.
Nice security staff here at Gatwick, they treated me very well when I passed through recently using a crutch. I was able to use the limited mobility and family security gate. They even instructed me to the front of the X-ray machine queue. Overall this treatment made my visit to Gatwick for my flight home very good indeed.
Upon arrival we found the train station was ideal as we were able to get a train direct to Kings Cross, where our hotel was. I would however say that there could have been more ticket counters open. But that would be National Rail issue and not the airports.
As airports go, it's bright and clean. Also compact. From train to security for our flight home was no distance really (ideal when you've a dickey knee). Then there is a bit of a hike to the departure gate, but they have moving floors - yay!
Hassle free experience at Gatwick Airport.
Much friendlier staff than Luton. I usually fly Easyjet or on charter airlines from this airport. They won't get any more stars from me as like all the airports and hospitality industry in this country they should have had the backbone to tell Tony Blair where to stick his fascist smoking ban some years ago. The North Terminal is brighter and cleaner I find than the old South Terminal which I first flew from on a Laker Airways DC-10 in 1980. Security usually okay here and although I live in North London it's not too difficult to get to as there is a train from West Hampstead all the way through London and down to this airport. The price we were once quoted for a taxi to London on arrival at this airport was an absolute rip-off and I insisted on taking the train even though it was the middle of the night. I've also used this airport for scheduled services returning Continental Airlines from Houston and domestics to Plymouth, Newquay and Belfast and Finnair to Helsinki from Gatwick but these days usually Easyjet and the Channel Islands airlines.
Very nice and clean airport, nothing to complain about.
It's better than Luton....
As far as an airport goes, this one was decent. I arrived on the Gatwick express and found myself exiting directly into the airport. The airport was easy to get around and I quickly made it through check-in, found the food court easily and made it to my flight promptly.
After having bad experiences with the sheer size of Heathrow and distance between gates, Garwick was welcome.
I would have to say that a highlight and what probably pushed it up a star was the bathroom facilities in the main area before check-ins and after exiting the train station. Wow. I have never seen anything like it. In the guys bathroom, each standup stall has its own enclave with the urinal, a personal sink and hand dryer. It completely takes you out of "airport mode" and into a classy 5-star resort hotel.
Now, this is an average rating, as I'm giving the airport a 3 star, and its bathrooms a 5 star.
The toilets.. my oh my. Where can I purchase those tiles for my own bathroom? They are stunning. Each stall has its own sink and hand dryer. The stall I was in was spotless! It smelled fresh and gleamed. Seriously, I'd take my lunch and eat it in there as its cleaner and more comfortable than half the cafes I've ever been in. I'd go back to simply visit the lav!
The rest, meh .. its an airport :) The usual shops, the usual refreshment places. Fairly well laid out and decently clean. Didn't spend a whole lot of time there, but found it easy to maneuver around and get to the gate. I've been in worse :)
Gatwick is one crazy spread-out airport. I warn you of this, because wherever your plane is, it's going to take some time to get there. Just know this and plan accordingly.
This is not one of those walk in, get through security and go to your gate type places. Oh no. This is one of those walk in, through security, check the board to see where your gate is, wait forever for them to announce your gate, check it again to see where you gate is, go there by walking forever and then walking forever and then finding your gate.
Still, it's a clean and pretty airport and damn are they efficient. I got through security in no time as they divided up the main line and conquered through it. Bags on conveyor belt, through the machine, grab the bag and go.
The train to Gatwick is easy enough but semi expensive, I think it's like £25+ for the roundtrip. That was almost as much as my EasyJet flight.
I was there early in the morning and there was a very small amount of stands serving breakfast items. All I wanted was a muffin or something like it and it took me forever to find one. There was one all the way on the other end of the terminal. So be prepared to walk for your food too.
But then again, maybe a little walk before a long sitting flight isn't so bad.
Easy to get between terminals, bathrooms in south terminal are epic and lots of shops for while you're waiting!
By the way, by "bathrooms are epic" in the South terminal (I didn't try the north sorry) go to the bathrooms just after the train station, before you go through security or anything. Each stall is its own mini bathroom - toilet, sink, mirror and hand dryer. Nice!
Seems to have been newly renovated. More complicated/fragmented than a typical North American equivalent, but not confusing if you pay attention to your surroundings. Buses and trains run between terminals. Good selection of restaurants for every taste.
Gatwick is like...like the dentist!
You just bite thru it, and afterwards you are happy you did.
-The Gatwick Express
-It's almost London..?!
-...that's it. Them two, no more.
-The walk, it's toooo long and hardly any quicky-walky-belt-things
-Taxi will cost you £79 for 2 people to the city. £110 for 3 peeps...the guys count babies as full!!
-Getting a flight from here? Make sure you are (really) an hr early. Using Easy Jet? Man! I mean...girl!? Leave your high heels: you'll be waaaalking and struttin' those pedicured feet for a good hr!
-BA has prrrretty bad service here... "Sorry, no exceptions!" is the first thing I heard, even before I asked if..if? No? Okay! Sure, two bags is not allowed? I have a small bag for my 2month old? No? Okay... I no like you.
-Old...just dirty feeling...
Gatwick isn't fancy like the new Heathrow Terminal 5, but it's more easily reachable for those of us who are in South London. It's an airport: the security theatre is a pain, and the shops/restaurants are the same franchises you see everywhere else.
It can take quite a while to get to the gate - it might involve taking the air train from one terminal to the other, and a 10 to 15 minute walk onwards.
Place is massive has a railway station inside plus a rail service to get between terminals very well signposted inside checkin staff were great (easyjet) also good out Let's are quite pricy )£5 for a sandwich best to go to boots get meal deal really fresh too
We must have come at an unusual not so busy hour, or this airport is built for twenty times its capacity. It was so smooth and fast to pass security and check-in, but this could be because there were twenty lines to security of which one was only necessary and hence used :)
It would get more of a plus, but the taxfree selection of dark rum was to boring for me. They had, well, what everyone else has. Nothing new, local or existing.
As far as airports goes, it did it's job!
This week was actually the first time I'd ever flown to or from Gatwick Airport. Normally when flying to or from London I used Heathrow or Stansted, but it was a pleasant change. The airport is huge, so big that a monorail is required to get from the north to the south terminal, and a coach from the runway to the terminal.
The airport has a large number of amenities, including a Jamie's Italian restaurant and pop up stall at the door of the North Terminal. The queue at security was absolutely ridiculous for 6am, and the staff were unnecessarily rude. 'Twas overall a good first experience at Gatwick, but I didn't spend enough time in the place to experience a lot of it; the length of the queue at security made me almost late for my flight!
Since the sale of Gatwick by BAA, the new owners have made noticeable attempts to refurbish and upgrade the airport. It's a welcome move to freshen up a slightly stale feeling airport though the trouble is that I tend to choose my flights by airline rather than which airport to fly from.
There's still a lot of work going on but they've introduced new technology at the security gates, which did make a difference in the speed of getting through. The airside retail experience in the South terminal has expanded by stealing some of the floorspace which used to be landside by moving walls.
The car parks now have automatic number plate recognition technology so that the gates oopen automtically if you've pre-paid on-line
The main downside is that they've removed the IRIS queue at immigration, which can't be blamed on the new owners.
Gatwick Airport is like the redheaded stepchild of London's airports.
The love, time and investment that go into darling Heathrow's massive and impressive improvements seem to have been lost on Gatwick. What's left is sad, decrepit technology, less than fabulous facilities, terminals that don't connect (seriously, there is a 15 minute bus ride involved... on the motorway). In reality, it's more like a shabby tube station than an airport.
Even the pilot of my most recent flight said: "Apologies for the delay - because we're out in the sticks here at Gatwick the most basic needs like crew, equipment, planes... (heavy sigh) seem hard to come by."
Basically - don't head to Gatwick for the glamour, but if you're looking for a cheap weekend getaway in Europe, this'll be your hub. Get used to it. (And give yourself loads of extra time to navigate this hot mess!)
Londoners shouldn't bother.
If Heathrow has the look and feel of Shepard's Bush mall, then Gatwick is Brent's Cross - tired, low brow and in dire need of an overhaul.
For you non-EU travelers, expect to wait nearly 30 minutes at passport control.
Save yourself the trek, stick with Heathrow or London City.
Mon amie, Gatwick. You are my favourite airport, but that's mainly because you are my closest airport. A mere 30 minutes from Brighton by train or car and the holiday can commence. I get excited the minute I arrive, for me this is when the holiday starts, with new adventures just around the corner.
I have always found Gatwick pretty easy to negotiate. The queues can be a little long for security, but this tends to be the case worldwide in this day and age. There is a transit system between North and South terminals, but this is usually quick and efficient.
The shops are pretty good and varied. I usually find that I have eaten in to my holiday budget long before I have boarded the plane.
The dining options could do with being a little more extensive and varied, but at the end of the day I am here to travel, not dine. Free WiFi would be appreciated but this is rarely found in UK airports.
There seems to be a lot of building work going on here at the moment. However, I feel I can overlook any disturbance this may cause in the hope that this will lead to an even better airport experience in the future.
Until next time, my friend, until next time...
God damn 4am, you look rough. Wait, so do I. I usually like to sleep with you, what the hell are we doing up?
Oh yea, Gatwick Airport. The worst kind of Coyote Ugly airport ever to wake up at. I've been to Heathrow and chav city, Stanstead. But you, why do you even exist? You're like the Mecca for stag dos, preppie private school boys wearing boat shoes and so so many families of small children. (Side bar: Christ, can you even imagine getting small children up in ski gear at 4am.. birth control!)
There are no children at Heathrow. None! It's full of barren, soulless corporate types moving swiftly through their lives without the need for human contact. I love them, they never clog up the queue at Pret.
Gatwick, you confuse me with your North and South terminals. I had to go on a shuttle bus, outside, on the motorway. I'm a city type, I hate the motorway.
Your flights are at stupid early-0-clock. You make me get on a train to Brighton, but I don't actually get to go there.
Point bonus: You have a McDonalds. Egg McMuffin at 5am... suck it Heathrow!
When you encounter police officers carrying assault rifles while chatting about their upcoming tea breaks you know that you've truly made it to Gatwick Airport.
A bit dark and dingy and bereft of good pre-security shopping/dining options to fill any time you might have before or between flights, Gatwick is an airport that only locals could love. Locals that do a lot of travelling and just want an airport that flies virtually everywhere, is comparatively small and is relatively quick and gets the job done, that is.
Interesting bit of trivia for all you Gatwick malcontents: did you know that it only operates with one runway? It's pretty efficient considering this, if you ask me, being that it IS the world's busiest international single-runway airport.
Although, I have to say, the security personnel on my last visit was absolute shit. I couldn't even begin to describe how ineffectual and blinded by an inflated sense of authority they were.
In Europe no one wanted to stamp my passport. Ever.
So of all the traveling I've done over the pond, there's only one stamp.
And for that you get 5 stars (plus you're a nice airport!).
Because you're the only proof I have that my passport has been somewhere!
London's second largest airport, Gatwick is for many a solid alternate to Heathrow. Express trains take a half hour to get to Victoria station for £17 (about $25) for a single. The railway station also has departures for other destinations.
The airport is divided into two terminals, North and South. A free passenger shuttle goes back and forth every five or six minutes. It's outside security. Check carefully to where your carrier operates - BA is in the North terminal. Also, the airline clubs don't open as early as you might want, but the Caffe Nero was serving coffee at 4:30 AM.
My most recent flight was from the North terminal, which has a very large main concourse on two levels with the usual duty-free shops and the "Win a Porsche" lottery. A few different restaurants and bars as well as a full service Boots are on the air side. There is a Marks & Spencer on the land side.
Like so many airports, wi-fi is not free. Lame.
Gatwick has made some big improvements since my last visit here and now offers a better passenger services vs Heathrow in my opinion.
First, the security screening area in the south terminal has been completely revamped. Security screening was the fastest and best I have experienced at a large airport. Automated boarding pass readers let you into the screening area. A huge space with about 20 lanes and you can just walk up to any of them. No sign of the usual airport treatment where you are corralled into a snaking line like cattle being herded. No aggressive barking instructions at you about those bags for liquids. All good things.Time for the entire process about 2 minutes!
The departures area also has some reasonable food options, proper air conditioning, and toilets right there in the central area that are relatively spacious. These things are notable for their favourable comparison with the situation at Heathrow. Signage is also good and the whole place is less stressful than Heathrow. It looks well planned with the passenger's needs in mind (again, compare vs Heathrow which is clearly designed primarily as a forced shopping trip vs. airport).
On return from my trip, the passport control area was well organised (large and spacious with multiple manned counters) and no queue. Bags arrived fairly quickly. Maybe we were just lucky, arriving at 10pm.
Gatwick is quite far from central London but there are frequent trains into the city. The one caveat is that the ticket machines (standard issue on most stations around London) are very frustrating to use and appear to promote only the most expensive fares unless you really know how to navigate the ridiculously complicated number of options and don't just give in to frustration in the process.
Tip: First Capital Connect probably has the cheapest fare option to London Bridge or St. Pancras International and takes a similar time to the Gatwick Express (around 30 mins) and £17 return fare. FCC trains are a bit grubby compared with Gatwick Express but cheaper.
meh duty free @north Terminal as it has no designer labels
Bland food options
No power outlets ?! I didn't see them.
Immigration for non EU passports slow at 9pm at night?! WTH!
To be fair, I'm trying to find the good about this airport...
Thinking harder.... ^.-
Quick security screening.
OH! And Gatwick Express so I can leave quickly! yay!
Super fast Security, and nice people in the clublounge! Just what you need! Plus both flights were early
For anyone not using Gatwick Express to travel to and from the airport, expect to spend about 2 hours getting there (or home). Useless.
Real Life Example: My Easyjet flight landed at 9:30pm in the North Terminal. I was in bed in my Barnes flat at midnight.
(This probably isn't a typical experience for Londoners, I just felt like whining).
So apparently September 11th happened because some silly American left some lotion in their bags at a security screening.
This was the garbage told to me by the wonderful security staff at Gatwick airport. On what should have been a very exciting trip to Dublin turned very, very ugly.
It all happened when my friend forgot that she had left two bottles of lotion in her checked luggage. After putting her bag through the scanner, airport security promptly grabbed her bag and put it to the side. However they failed to tell us why her bag was pulled or why it took 10 min for someone to come over to hand check her bag. She asked if they could just toss out the lotion and just x-ray her bag again. But she was promptly told off. Apparently, Americans should know UK airport security procedure. Because you know it's things like this. ie, lotion left in a bag, that cause terrorist to hijack planes and crash them into building.
Suffice to say that we did complain, a manager was called over and he lamely apologised for the misunderstanding. Apparently the gentlemen only wanted to convey how important airport security is and didn't intend to offend anyone. I'm going to call bulls%&# on that. There is absolutely no reason for the employee to have brought that up. All he had to say was that UK security procedures are different and in the interest of security they have to hand check the bag. Oh FYI, this wasn't even the guy who a) pulled the bag or b) was there to inspect it. Just some dude who has nothing better to do than insult people.
My letter to the director of the airport is in the mail as we speak.
When flying into London, I think Gatwick is a better alternative to Heathrow. When going directly to or from London, there are plenty of alternatives: bus, train or taxi. (I think the bus is a relaxing, somewhat pretty ride.) There are conversion machines available to convert your currency. The people at Gatwick are also somewhat more helpful than those at Heathrow.
At Gatwick, there is a lot of walking. Or maybe that is just for the international flights. Luckily, the customs lines move fairly quickly and the customs officers are expedient and polite if not friendly.
For an early morning flight I once spent the night. There are a number of (fairly) comfy couches available, throw in some ear plugs, get a vice-like grip on your luggage and you may even catch a few winks.
I've met some fairly nice people here too. (Now if I could just do better with deciphering Northern Scottish accents I could probably do more than smile and nod.)
For my next trip, I will definitely aim to fly into Gatwick over Heathrow.
A functional friend that lends me a hand to make my way to pasture green. Granted one of my guilty pleasure because I adore people watching but I have to say that my last visit left me with quite literally a bad taste in my mouth when I could not find anywhere to buy some decent sushi.
You would think that an international airport such as this would be well equipped to meet the taste of it's multinational people traffic but alas with limited time I had to subject myself to 440 cals curiosity of a fast food joint.
However I arrive to my destination and back home safely so all was well and it just meant I had to do a bit of cardio on my holiday!
If I were able to choose the London airport I fly from / to Gatwick would be it. Slightly better than Heathrow and holds some fond memories to me - one being the first.. yes first! airport I flew from (solo I might add) to Barbados way back in 2000.
Staff here are a lot friendlier than Heathrow also.. maybe as it's slightly further out of Central London (28 miles south).
Plenty of seating and Tv's with flight info, clean & best of all - South Terminal has a McD's!!! An absolute must at 7am after just 2 hours sleep and not having eaten since late lunch the day before.
Plenty of shops to spend your waiting time. They include:
Sunglass Hut - Sunglasses, of course!!
Boots - Cosmetics, Skincare & last minute Sun cream
Accessorize - Accessories
Excess baggage Company - Travel Accessories, Luggage bags. Also able to have your bag weighed here
GameGrid - Games
Monsson - Clothing & Accessories
The Body Shop - Skincare, Cosmetics
Tie Rack - Ties & Scarves
WHSmith - Books, Magazines, Confectionary
NEXT - Clothing & Accessories
HMV - DVD's, Games & Music
JD - Sports cothing & Accessories
La Senza - Ladies Underwear
Flying back to visit family in England I'm most definitely going to try get flights here.
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