London is an important international destination for the busy traveller and has different airports to serve a variety of travel needs.
Arriving to London by Air:
For travelers planning to fly to London, there are five major airports that serve London: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City or Luton. Please allow for extra time to go through customs and security checks. There are long lines to go through customs, and it usually takes an average time of 40-60 minutes to clear customs and collect luggage.
Heathrow Airport is the UK’s biggest, busiest and most advanced airport in the world. Handling flights to just about anywhere in the world with major carriers, an estimated 190,000 travelers arrive and depart every day. Heathrow handles more travellers than any other airport in the world.
Flight Delays at Heathrow:
Terminal 5 has recently opened to handle the problem of overcrowding. Given that it is a busy travel hub, Heathrow experiences a large number of delays. These are mainly due to the mass of travellers and weather delays.
Gatwick is London’s second busiest airport aimed mainly at leisure travelers. London Gatwick Airport is considered to be the most efficient single runway airport in the world, serving 200 destinations in 90 countries for 35 million customers per year. Gatwick has two terminals, North and South, connected by a free monorail or shuttle.
Flight Delays at Gatwick:
Being London’s second busiest hub, Gatwick also experiences flight delays.
Airlines often try to inform passengers in cases where a delay or cancellation becomes known prior to the scheduled departure. However, most delays occur at the last moment or sometimes a few hours before departure, so not all passengers will be able to be notified. A good solution could be a mobile app or the airline app itself that updates flight information in real time.
Stansted Airport, located to the north of London, is the UK’s third busiest airport and one of the fastest growing airports in Europe. Primarily used by charters and low-cost airlines, Stansted serves mostly European and Mediterranean destinations.
Flight Delays at Stansted:
Stansted Airport claims below average flight delays. The vast majority of flights arrive and depart within 15 minutes of their scheduled time. In punctuality, it ranks second behind London City Airport. While the figures for delays are low for Stansted, it is necessary to be aware of your rights should you experience a delay or cancellation of your flight.
London City Airport is the airport closest to central London. It is also one of the easiest and most accessible airports in London owing to its location just 9.5km (6 miles) east of Central London and 4.8km (3 miles) from Canary Wharf.
London City is primarily a business airport serving major European destinations, as well as specialized flights to New York. Due to its size, arrivals and departures through London City Airport can be much quicker and easier than the larger London airports.
Flight Delays at London City:
London City represents London’s newest airport, as it began first fully operating in 1988. While it is known for its fast and efficient service, delays are inevitable and are usually caused by London’s thick fog. The figures for flight delays at London City are low.
Luton Airport is a major hub for “low-cost” airline travel. Popular with budget travelers, Luton is also one of the busiest UK airports, carrying approximately 10 million passengers in 2013 to over eighty-five destinations. The vast majority of flights are bound for European destinations, although there are occasional routes to destinations in Northern Africa and Asia. It is located 56 km (35 miles) north of London.
Flight Delays at Luton:
The flight delay times for flights leaving London in 2013 averaged 10.80 minutes in 2013, which was reduced from 2012’s 11.85 minutes.
Many passengers will experience flight delays or cancellations at some point in their lives. Being aware of your rights as an airline passenger could lessen the stress and frustration resulting from delays and cancellations. On all EU regulated flights, you may be entitled to compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours. Flightright has a handy compensation calculator on their website, click here that displays how much your claim could be worth. Compensation is only awarded if the airline was at fault. Flightright can also help determine if you have a valid claim and act on your behalf to enforce it.
While most delays are unavoidable, be prepared and bring something along to help you pass the time. Explore the options at all five airports and see which one best meets your needs. Sometimes landing at a neighboring airport could be less of a hassle and cheaper.