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Here on Traveler’s Little Treasures we’ve talked about short weekend getaways in Brighton, even about cycling trips in London. This, in a way, merely reflects how this popular British capital is more than just a place to visit Big Ben, the Tower of London, its many museums and parks. And since we’ve already tackled these somewhat common facets of the city, let’s move into a rather overlooked aspect of traveling, one that involves looking in-depth at one of the city’s most celebrated airports.
Part of London’s charm lies in its majestic airports. For one, the capital has Gatwick, which, according to Panethos, has the world’s most active single-use runway. Behind this distinction, however, this southeast London landing field can present numerous challenges, especially to first time travelers and even those who are on a prolonged layover. With that, we’ve come up with practical solutions, along with handy pieces of advice that can and will guide you throughout your experience of Gatwick Airport.
Check-in and Security Counters
Specific airline companies at Gatwick allow you to check in your luggage one day prior to your flight. For this, you have to visit the airport’s website and see if it’s included on the list. On the other hand, there have been vast improvements in the different security areas inside the South Terminal. Both terminals also have specific “family-friendly” security lanes: North’s on the right-hand side of the security entrance and South’s to the left of the main security area. Furthermore, airport authorities have made departure lounges spacious and its technology advanced, which ultimately leads to less queuing even during peak hours.
Airport Parking and Some Alternatives
London Gatwick’s car bays especially during peak hours, tend to be packed to the rafters with the constant influx of passengers. In light of this, The Telegraph suggests reserving an airport parking space at least one or two days before your scheduled flight. Not only will you have a designated spot upon arrival, you’ll also save more if you pre-book.
Another alternative would be to stay at one of the nearby airport hotels. Parking4Less, an online company that operates out of Gatwick, compiled a detailed catalogue of accommodation, specifically catered for those who are on an early or late night flight. Among these options listed on the Gatwick Airport Hotels page are the hotels like Courtyard by Marriott, which is within walking distance of the South Terminal, and Sofitel, a 4-star luxury hotel with direct access to the North Terminal. If all of these prove to be a tad too pricey for your liking, you can just take advantage of London’s excellent transportation network en route to the airport. The Express connects London Victoria to the aviation hub, while the 65-minute easyBus takes you from West Brompton to Gatwick for just £2 one-way.
Food Joints and Departure Lounges
Of the many restaurants, cafés, and food stalls inside both North and South Terminals of Gatwick, one stands out, based on a review by Sleeping Airports: a Marks and Spencer Simply Food outlet. Whether you prefer a hearty sandwich, delicious pastries, or more healthy options such as fruit and vegetable salads, M&S has it all. To put it simply, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your food cravings.
Of course you can always splurge on chef-inspired cuisines like Jamie’s Italian inside the North Terminal, or themed restaurants such as Frankie & Benny’s at the South Terminal. If you’re traveling with kids and/or with family, then knowing where the best departure lounges are at Gatwick is your best bet. North Terminal has Boots, which is a small yet cozy play area downstairs in the departure lounge. On the flipside, if you prefer a more active area with a mini-cinema, a pool table, and a soft-play room, then No. 1 Traveler Lounge is for you. It has a branch inside South Terminal, as well. Also inside this terminal is the V-Room Lounge, which is exclusive for Virgin Holidays flyers.
So suitcase is packed, you have your boarding pass and passport ready? Make the most of your time at the airport before flying away for a business trip, a weekend getaway or a vacation in an exotic place.