Flying through London’s Gatwick airport anytime soon?
Travelling through an unknown airport can be stressful. This is especially true if you don’t know what to expect, or you’re on a tight schedule.
Gatwick Airport is just south of London and is one of the biggest airports in the UK. Plus it flies to over 200 destinations – both short and long-haul making it a busy airport.
Gatwick’s my local airport so I’ve picked up a few tips & tricks over the years to make the journey through a bit easier. Check out this handy airport guide before your next trip through Gatwick.
Getting to and from Gatwick
- Train: This is the easiest and quickest way to get to and from Gatwick airport. If you get off the train at Gatwick and go up an escalator, you’ll be right in South Terminal.
- Two types of train run through Gatwick Airport: the Gatwick Express or a Southern train. A Gatwick Express ticket is pretty expensive (around £30), but it is direct to London Victoria station. This is the quickest way to reach central London and takes 30 minutes. From Victoria station, you can transfer to another train, change to the Underground or go to the Coach Station. If you really wanna save a bit of money, pre-book a southern train from the Southern website and pick up the tickets from the machine at the station. Or head to the desk at the station and ask explicitly for the next cheaper Southern train. The Southern trains are for commuters so they stop at more stops on the way to Victoria station and therefore take longer and are busier.
- Bus: Easybus has regular coaches to and from Gatwick from Victoria’s Coach Station (central London) or Earl’s Court (west London). If you’re getting to Gatwick from anywhere else, I usually find National Express to have the most options.
- Drive: Gatwick is located just of the M23 – take junction 9. If you’re driving from London, you’ll probably head towards the M25 road (the main ring road and motorway around London) and head southbound until you hit the M23 turn off here.
- Parking tips: there’s a way to park for free for 2 hours! Perfect if you want to meet someone at arrivals or wanna walk someone to the security gate. Just follow the signs to the long stay car park, park in the “free pick up” areas and hop on a free bus shuttle to the terminal.
Flying out of Gatwick
- Timings: Get to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight takes off. Some airlines say you can arrive 90 mins before the flight… Every time I’ve done this at Gatwick I’ve needed to almost run from security to make it to the gate before it closes!
- Security info: Put all your liquids in a clear plastic bag. The bag should be roughly 20cm by 20cm. They have spare plastic bags meeting the requirements before security. You need to squeeze in all your liquid makeup, toiletries and other liquid bits in this one bag. This includes concealers, mascara, nail varnish, face-wash, deodorant, contact lens solution etc. You get one bag per person for your hand luggage. All liquids need to be in packages less than 100mls in size or they won’t get through. If you really can’t fit it all in, there’s a Boots store past security where you can pick up the everyday essentials like toothpaste and deodorant.
- Shopping: The shopping facilities are pretty decent at both the South and North terminal. There’s a large duty-free store to stock up on make-up and perfumes. They both have a couple of restaurants if you have time to sit and eat. Alternatively, grab some food on the go from somewhere like WHSmith or one of the coffee chain shops.
Flying into Gatwick
- When you get off the plane, the first thing you’ll need to do is head through passport control. Every single person arriving will have to do this so definitely expect some sort of queue. You’ll be directed to head to one side of a queue if you’re an EU passport holder or to another side for non-EU passport holders.
- Leave at least 60 minutes if your connecting flight leaves from the same terminal. For example, if you fly in to South terminal and depart again from South terminal. Leave 90 minutes if you need to transfer terminals using the free shuttle-train.
- If you’re connecting to a flight heading to another UK or Ireland bound destination = need to go through passport control.
- If connecting to another international flight = usually can miss passport control and go straight to next gate. If you need to pick up your hold bags yourself and transfer them to your new flight you will need to go through passport control, pick up your bag and then go to the check-in area.
- Are you planning to pre-book transport out of Gatwick (like your train tickets)? If so, I would give yourself at least 45 minutes from the expected arrival time to the time of your train or bus. You could probably get through arrivals and baggage collection in 30 minutes if everything went well and you arrived precisely on time. But I can’t remember a time when this actually happened! Planes normally arrive a little late or you run in to a queue at passport control. Although it may cost a little more, it’s easier to buy your train or bus tickets on the day from the machines.
You know what, all this talk of airports has got me pining after another holiday! Hope you found this useful and if I had to summarise my one key tip, it would be make sure you get there early. Don’t underestimate how long it takes to get through security at Gatwick. It’s the longest queue ever! Ttfn xx