I’ve spent most of my life in places which are within striking distance of London Gatwick Airport. As a child I used to wave to the planes and imagine where they were going as they flew over our house, and one of my favourite school trips was to Gatwick’s air traffic control tower. As a student I worked at the airport helping passengers one summer. These days I travel to and from Gatwick regularly, both as a passenger and to drop off or meet friends and family.
Here are my travel tips and advice for Gatwick, gleaned from decades of going there. Do ask if there’s anything else that you’d like to know about the airport.
London Gatwick Airport
Gatwick is 29 miles to the south of central London, in the county of West Sussex. It started off as a small flying club in 1930, and is now one of the world’s busiest airports.
Gatwick South and North terminals
The airport has two terminals: North Terminal and South Terminal. Your ticket will show you which terminal you’re flying from and to. There’s a free shuttle linking the two terminals which takes about three minutes and is really simple to find and use.
It’s really quick and easy to get from London to Gatwick and vice versa. The Gatwick Express is an excellent, speedy train service which links the airport to London Victoria train station. Victoria is a very central station – it’s within walking distance of Buckingham Palace. The Gatwick-London journey is direct and takes 30 minutes. Trains leave every 15 minutes. There’s a slightly slower (by five minutes) train on the same route, and you can also get trains from Gatwick to many other places, including London St. Pancras, Luton Airport, Portsmouth, Brighton and Bedford.
If you need to park at Gatwick there are all kinds of parking options on offer, including short-stay, long-stay, and valet parking. If you’re driving to pick someone up from the airport, you can’t wait for them in the pick-up areas. However, you can park in the long-stay car parks for free for up two hours, so you can wait in one of those until your passengers are ready, then drive to the pick-up area to collect them. (Check out my 10% airport parking discount post to see how to save money on your parking).
Coaches and buses
There are buses and coaches which go from the airport to many locations. For example, you can take an easyBus to London Waterloo, a National Express to London Victoria or a local bus to get to places in the area.
You can find live flight information on the Gatwick Airport website. You can also find these details on the airlines’ websites and apps. I use the Easyjet app a lot and find it to be very accurate and useful.
There are several hotels which are right at the airport. BLOC and Yotelair are both inside the South Terminal building. Hampton by Hilton is right next to North Terminal (read my review from when we stayed there: Hampton by Hilton London Gatwick Park and Fly). There’s a Premier Inn (I love their breakfasts) opposite the North Terminal as well as a four-star Sofitel.
As Gatwick is such a popular airport it can get very busy, so you definitely should leave plenty of time to get to the airport and to get through security. I always try to arrive there at least two hours before a flight. There are separate Assistance and family security lanes for passengers who need extra help or who are travelling with young children.
If you’d like to book an airport lounge at Gatwick there are various options. There’s a No1 Lounge in each terminal and North Terminal also has My Lounge and Aspire Lounge. I’ve been to both No1 Lounges and can confirm that they’re great – I haven’t been to the others yet.
Besides the useful Boots and WH Smiths, there’s a good range of high end shops at Gatwick. If you buy things in the departure lounge you can leave them at the airport and collect them when you arrive back from your trip. This is ideal if you’re travelling light or if you buy any high value items.
If you take an empty water bottle in your hand luggage you can fill it up in the departure lounge. There’s a water fountain in each terminal, or you can ask for it to be filled up at any of the food outlets.
Gatwick play areas
There’s a play area for young children in both North and South terminals.
You can take your pushchair to the gate when you’re catching a flight. When you arrive on a flight your pushchair is returned to you in the baggage hall. Gatwick provides pushchairs to use for babies and toddlers between the plane and the baggage hall, but be aware that you can’t always find one when you need one.
If you sign up online to the myGatwick programme you’ll be sent vouchers, offers and discounts for the airport. There was previously an offer giving members a free coffee on each airport visit – that’s stopped, but it’s worth signing up for future deals.
Over to you
Do you have any Gatwick advice or tips to share? Let me know if there’s anything which I should add.
More airport and travel tips
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