UK airports information

Is travelling to the airport the most stressful part of your holiday?

Getting to the airport on time to get your flight can be quite a stressful part of your holiday. How long should you leave for your journey, what if there’s a traffic jam or an accident, how early should you arrive and how should you travel to the airport? By planning ahead and getting arrangements in place early you will help alleviate the stress.

What time you arrive at the airport will be dependent on whether you are on a domestic or international flight, however, the minimum check-in time varies between airlines and individual routes, so check in advance with your airline.

At busier times of the year it may take longer to pass through airport security and you need to take this in to consideration. If you are travelling at weekends or in the school holidays it is advisable to allow extra time, although don’t allow too much extra time as hanging around the airport waiting for your flight can be stressful in itself.

Transport options
Your method of transport to the airport may be dependent on where you live in relation to the airport. If you live quite some distance away, you may find that public transport options involve too many changes to be convenient.

Coach
If you are thinking about travelling by coach, there are many airport-dedicated services that you may wish to consider. Each airport site has a breakdown of coach services to assist you in finding out which service is most suitable for you. When booking coach travel check the coach company’s luggage allowances: hand baggage allowance and weight and number of checked-in bags permitted.

Train
Many airports now have excellent train services and generally a station located on-site or very nearby. Gatwick airport for example, was the first UK airport to fully integrate air and train services with its own Gatwick airport station. Check out the various train operators and book your train tickets online.

Special rail services
As well as the traditional train services, there are now many dedicated airport train services, such as the Heathrow Express, Stansted Express and Gatwick Express which offer fast direct services to the airport from central London. These operate at very frequent intervals, and are faster, but slightly more expensive than the normal train services.

Bus
This is probably my least favourite option, unless you live very close to the airport, and even then, the thought of dragging heavy luggage on to the bus and worrying about where to stash it during the journey fills me with dread. Your airport site will list the airport bus services available.

Car
If you are planning to drive to the airport always book your parking in advance, as turning up on the day hoping for a parking bay is stressful and significantly more expensive.

Consider your parking options carefully before booking as there are many different types of parking available, such as on-site: short- or long-stay; off-site airport parking; park and stay options with local hotels; or valet, meet and greet parking.

Plan your route in advance with an online route planner, such as the AA or Multimap, and carry a map or use satellite navigation just in case your planned route is disrupted by an accident. Always check the Highways Agency website for advance notice of planned road works that may affect your journey.

Taxi
Book your taxis in advance. It is usually cheaper to use a local taxi company to drop you off at the airport and more convenient to use the official airport taxi company on your return. Although the official taxi company will be slightly more expensive, a taxi should be waiting for you. An off-airport taxi will not be able to wait outside the airport in the same way as an official taxi due to security restrictions.

Friends and family drop off
Kiss and fly as this type of travel is known may seem convenient but think of the poor driver, their time, and their fuel. IT is also one of the least environmentally-friendly methods of travel. Relying on a friend or family member can be stressful, what if they’re late, or an unexpected problem occurs? You don’t have a contract with them and you may not be able to make last-minute adjustments to your plans.

Whatever your chosen method of transport to the airport, make sure you have organised it in advance to save undue stress on the day.