Licensed as an aerodrome since 1930, in recent decades the airport often was regarded as Heathrow Airport's overflow. However, Gatwick meanwhile has developed its own market share, which was helped by politically motivated separation of ownerships of Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The airport has seen much renovation recently, which still continues; although Gatwick just missed out on being expanded after the UK Government decided in 2016 that Heathrow Airport should be expanded to have a third runway instead. So currently Gatwick is the world's busiest single-runway airport. Still there are some plans to add the 2nd runway.
One interesting feature of Gatwick is that part of the North terminal is a passenger bridge to/from pier 6 that is high enough to allow aircraft to taxi beneath the bridge.
A large number of major and minor airlines operate domestic, European, and intercontinental flights to/from Gatwick, catering for business and leisure travelers alike. Many airlines that can not get landing rights at Heathrow (for various reasons) fly to Gatwick. Point-to-point flights make up the majority of flights; flights into network carrier's respective hubs exist, but play only a minor role.
Different airlines operate from different terminals; some of the major airlines are:
South terminal — Norwegian, Ryanair, Small Planet Airlines, Thomas Cook, Turkish Airlines, Vueling
North terminal — British Airways, easyJet, Emirates, Thomson, Virgin Atlantic
There is a list of destinations that you can get to from Gatwick on Wikipedia, or you can visit the websites of specific airlines for details, and Gatwick has a webpage where you can see which terminal your flight leaves from.
- See also: Rail travel in Great Britain
Gatwick Airport was the first UK airport to combine air and rail travel and has its own railway station, which is attached to the airport's South Terminal.
1 Gatwick Airport train station is situated on the London to Brighton main line with frequent train services operated by several train operators, including Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Southern. You can buy tickets from machines, the ticket office in the terminal, and on-line from virtually any country by printing a voucher at home and exchanging it for tickets at the ticket office or from machines in the entry lobby of the station. Advance purchases can result in some savings.
Due to heavy passenger traffic at certain times, the area/lobby for obtaining tickets and going through entry gates can become very crowded. If you are booked for a train at a certain time, you should consider giving yourself plenty of time for reaching your correct boarding platform. Once through the gates, you can reach the platforms with light luggage using stairs and escalators. Allow more time for elevators to the platforms if you have significant luggage.
Gatwick Express is a high-speed, non-stop rail service operating between London Victoria Station and Gatwick Airport. Trains operate every 15 minutes between the hours of 05:00 to 23:45 (from London Victoria Station), and 05:50 to 00:35 (from Gatwick) with journey times of 30 minutes (35 minutes on Sundays). You won't be able to miss the Gatwick Express trains as they have their own unique livery.
Southern trains to London Victoria or London Bridge are only a few minutes slower than Gatwick Express and only slightly less frequent. They do stop a few times in between (which the Gatwick Express doesn't), usually at East Croydon and Clapham Junction. Fares on these operators' tickets are lower in cost. Besides London, there are trains south to Brighton, Hastings via Eastbourne and Lewes. Like many airfares, the earlier you buy tickets (up to 90 days), the less expensive they tend to be. Purchases can be made from nearly anywhere by internet using the sites noted below, often also by phone.
Thameslink services provide connections with: London St Pancras International, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, Bedford, and also south to Brighton. You can use an Oyster card from Gatwick to stations in the London Travelcard area.
Train times and fare information for all operators is available via National Rail Enquiries.
Metrobus has routes connecting the airport to Crawley and East Grinstead with the 400 route, costing around £2-£4 for an adult single. There's also the 200 route, connecting to Horsham; the 22 route to Dorking and the 460 route to Epsom.
Route 21 of the National Cycle Network passes under the South Terminal, allowing virtually traffic-free cycling northwards to Horley and southwards to Three Bridges and Crawley. A goods-style lift runs between the terminal and ground level (labelled "Lift to Cycle Route"), near Zone L.
Some taxi firms offer to take you to Gatwick from around the country. This will probably be quite uncomfortable if you have to travel long distances, but then again, it's your own "private" car. Some firms that offer these services are listed here:
- Roadrunners Taxis, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Offers a range of cars which can take different amounts of passengers; including estate cars and private minivans. £70 (from Victoria station with "standard" car).
- Airport Cars UK, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers a range of cars, including saloons, estates and 8-seaters. Its website claims to have transported John Travolta and Shane Richie. £68.30 (from Victoria station with a "standard" taxi).
- Western Cars, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Offers a range of cars, including saloons, estates, 8-seaters and wheelchair accessible cars. They mainly cover Sussex, but do go further afield as well. £72 (from City ThamesLink Station in central London with a "saloon" car).
- Zipo travel 0044 (203) 4882 446, firstname.lastname@example.org. Covers all London Airports, from 1 up to 600 passengers. A quote from Gatwick to London City would be £66 and from the City to Gatwick £60.
1 Junction 9 is Gatwick Airport's own spur from the M23 motorway. Once you leave the main M23 at junction 9, travel west to a roundabout and for the South terminal, take the first exit from there or for the North terminal, take the second exit. Just so you don't miss it, the South terminal exit has a large arch with an advert on it over it, while the North terminal doesn't. If you're going to the North Terminal, then take the second exit at the next roundabout (it has its own big arch here) or the third exit for the long stay car park. From there, you will be able to follow signs to the car park you are looking for, whichever terminal, (see below) or the main entrance to the airport itself. Junction 9 is about 9 miles south of the M25 London ring road and with traffic on the M25 often heavy (or worse) make sure to start your drive out to the airport early enough.
The closest car parks to the terminals are the short-stay car parks, which are located right next to the terminal buildings. To get to the 2 South Terminal short stay car park, take the directions in the Get in section above, then continue along the road, following signs for the short stay car park, staying in the right-hand lane. For the 3 North terminal short stay car park, again, follow the directions above for the North terminal, then continue along the road, following signs for the car park, staying in the left-hand lane.
Long-term parking is provided both on-airport and off-airport. The on-airport long-stay car parks are situated about a five-minute bus journey from the terminal buildings (buses are provided for the sole use of getting from the car park to the main terminal). Off-airport parking is suitable for both long- and short-stay. Most car parks are situated about 15 minutes from the airport. For the 4 South terminal long stay car park, after leaving the roundabout, (see above), stay in the left-hand lane and take the second left, then follow signs for which car park you want. For the 5 North terminal long stay car park, after leaving the roundabout, instead of taking the second exit, take the third exit, following signs for "Long stay". Go past the petrol station which is on the right, then take the third exit at the next roundabout. Follow this long road to the next roundabout before taking the second exit, you're now finally there! You can then follow signs to which car park you want. Once you have arrived you will find Gatwick's own scheme, under the name Gatwick Parking.
On 10 July 2013, Gatwick introduced its Surface Access Plan, which saw the introduction of its Approved Operator Scheme for meet-and-greet parking. Only approved meet-and-greet parking operators are permitted to conduct vehicle collection and returns from the airport terminal forecourts. Approved Operators must hold the Safer Parking, ParkMark award for all car parks used and be approved by Trading Standards Buy With Confidence Scheme [dead link].
Connecting to/from Heathrow
National Express buses are your fastest option (with direct buses between the airports), but you should still allow plenty of time to make the transfer as you will have to re-check luggage at the other airport. Factor in that traffic on the M25 is often heavy or worse adding to travel time. Buses may charge large fees for overweight, out-sized or excess numbers of luggage, and National Express allow only one small piece to carry-on.
There is no direct train route between the two airports and there are at least 3 indirect options to consider (however, direct bus and car routes exist):
- Gatwick Express or Southern trains to Victoria Station, then catch the Tube's District line to Hammersmith (take a train with destination "Ealing Broadway" or "Richmond"), then the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow, being careful about which terminal you need - there are different Tube stations for terminals 1, 2, 3 and terminals 4 and 5 (a long trip). Large luggage can be a challenge whenever the Tube is busy, and wherever stairs must be negotiated between street and station platforms, especially true at Victoria.
- Gatwick Express or Southern trains to Victoria Station, but once at Victoria station, take the Circle line to Edgware Road, getting off at Paddington station, then hopping onto Heathrow Express from there.
- Thameslink train to St Pancras station, making your way upstairs then getting the Tube from the King's Cross St Pancras tube station to Heathrow on the Piccadilly line, again, being careful about terminals.
No through fare for the three different modes of transport is available.
If you have a car and want to drive, leave Gatwick and take the M23 north towards the M25, then take the M25 clockwise until junction 14. There will be plenty of signs to follow for Heathrow from there (a little plane symbol followed by the word "Heathrow"). Going the other way around, leave Heathrow and take the M25 anti-clockwise until you get to junction 7, then take the M23 southbound to junction 9, follow signage from there.
To the gates
Some gates require long walks, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get there, especially if you have considerable carry-ons or mobility challenges. This includes time for security check and (in South Terminal) passage through/around the two levels of stores and restaurants air side. In the North terminal, for example, it takes 15 minutes to walk to gates 101-113 from the departure lounge. As a (fun) addition, there are many travelators in the corridors to the gates in both terminals.
Check at your airline check-in counter beforehand for how long it takes to get to your gate if then known. Later, check any of the many, often-updated departure boards to see when your gate is announced; they don't announce gate assignments over speakers.
There is a free automated people mover (nicknamed incorrectly, but commonly, as a "monorail") which runs between the South Terminal/railway station and the North Terminal. It is excitingly called an "inter-terminal shuttle service" by the airport website. To access it, just follow signs for the other terminal. So if you're in the South terminal, follow signs for the North terminal and if you're in the North terminal follow signs for the South terminal. It runs constantly, with just a 2 minute or so wait, and a 2 minute ride.
The airport operators make sure that anybody with time to spend finds an opportunity to spend also some money.
Eat and Drink
Both terminals have numerous restaurants and food outlets in the public space as well as past security checks. There are also places like McDonald's and Starbucks available in the terminals. Mini-supermarkets, such as Marks & Spencer's are available in both terminals before security, and Boots selling sandwiches and crisps is in both terminals after security (and before security in the South terminal).
There are water fountains as you leave North Security. The upper level of South Terminal departures has a water fountain hidden in the corridor next World Duty Free.
- 1 The London Bar (Go to the main atrium area of the departure lounge and climb the escalator, then follow the banister around to the end with a large Frankie & Benny's sign, it is just in front of this). 03:00 to 22:00. This upmarket restaurant which sells mainly cocktails, spirits and champagne, as well as some small dishes, is in the South terminal after security. Cheese board: £14.99; Mojito: £10; Bottle of Sauvignon Blanc: £44.
- [dead link]Grain Store, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 03:00 to 22:00. This relatively new restaurant (opened in late January 2016), serves family-friendly food and is in the South terminal after security. Burger: £13.50; cocktails: £9.
- 2 Caviar House & Prunier (Head to the main atrium area, near the Duty Free, then follow the corridor by Dixons Travel, and turn left at Harrods, it will be on your left), ☎ . 06:00 to 20:30. This swanky, quite expensive (albeit usually quiet) caviar bar is available after security in both terminals. Smoked Salmon: £17; 9 Oysters: £25; Whole Lobster: £29.50.
- The Beehive (Before security, Departures level 3, left), ☎ . 04:00-23:00. One of many Wetherspoon's pubs, before security. Burger: £10.65; bottle of Sauvignon Blanc: £19.55.
- 3 The Flying Horse (Go to the main atrium area of the departure lounge and climb the escalator, then follow the banister around to the end with the large assistance area, and continue to the far end of the wall, besides McDonald's), ☎ . 03:00-22:00. Another Wetherspoon's pub, with a strange Halloween style decor, on the second floor. Burger: £11.50; bottle of Sauvignon Blanc: £19.55.
- 4 Jamie's Italian (Follow signs for Gates 45–55 & 101–113, then climb the escalator to the left of the London News Company. Once climbed, follow the floor round past JD Sports and Café Rouge, it's now in front of you), ☎ . M-Th: 4:30AM-10PM; F-Sa: 4AM-10PM; Su: 4:30AM-10PM. The British TV chef, Jamie Oliver's restaurant, serves rustic, Italian food and is in the North terminal after security. Tagliatelle Bolognese: £11.25; Sirloin Steak: £22.95; 250ml glass of Sauvignon Blanc: £8.85.
- 5 Comptoir Libanais (Follow signs to Gates 558–574, then climb the steps between the big Gates 558–574 sign and the London News Company), ☎ . 04:00 to 21:30. A restaurant serving Lebanese food (Libanais is French for Lebanese) which has other locations throughout London. It's after security. Falafel: £4.75; Falafel Wrap: £7.95; Lamb Kofta Burger: £9.95.
- 6 Caviar House & Prunier (Find the World of Whiskies and the Sunglass Hut shops, then head towards the Boss and Lacoste shops, it is to the right of these), ☎ . 06:00 to 20:30. This swanky, quite expensive (albeit usually quiet) caviar bar is available after security in both terminals. Smoked Salmon: £17; 9 Oysters: £25; Whole Lobster: £29.50.
- 7 The Red Lion (Follow signs to Gates 558–574, then you'll see it to the right, by the London News Company), ☎ . 02:00-22:00. Yet another Wetherspoon's pub, located in a spacious area after security Burger: £11.60; bottle of Sauvignon Blanc: £19.55.
Shopping opportunities are plentiful in both terminals, with slightly more stores in the South Terminal. Per the article for duty free shopping, such stores here are dominated by just one firm. Though well-stocked with a wide range of products, they reflect little competition, but do help you avoid UK taxes. You are also, as is common, forced to walk through a sparkly duty free shop immediately after security and before the departure lounge.
There are currency exchange bureaux available, but the rates are poor. For example, in Sept 2017, some bureaux offered to buy €1 for £0.98 and sell for £1.36, while a high street bureau offered to buy for £1.10 and sell for £1.26. You may do better buying pounds sterling at home, or withdrawing cash from an ATM using your bank card or credit card, depending on rates offered and fees charged.
45 minutes free WiFi is available. Connect to the Gatwick Free wi-fi network and logon to myGatwick. You can create a myGatwick account in adavance. There is also pay-for Boingo WiFi and Surfbox internet terminals with printers (10p per minute, 50p per page).
Both North and South Terminals have prayer rooms, located landside, before security.
- The South Terminal prayer room is on the third floor, the same level as the entrance to security.
- The North Terminal prayer room is on the ground floor near international arrivals.
A number of hotels of various categories have set up near the airport; some of them are directly connected to one of the terminals by enclosed walkways sheltering guests from the elements.
At the airport
- 1 Bloc, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A hotel which claims to be "savvy" and "state-of-the-art", it is right next to security in the South terminal. Some rooms, called "sleep" rooms, don't have windows, while "aspire" and "VIP" rooms have corner windows. Rooms range in size from 9.5 square metres to 32 square metres. £70.30 per night (for a "sleep" double room).
- 2 Yotel, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Its entrance is in the international arrivals area of the South terminal, its rooms are called "cabins" and you can stay by the hour (min. four hour stay). A standard cabin (only sleeps one) is about 7 square metres and a premium cabin (only sleeps two) is just over 10 square metres. The rooms do have a sort of modern, Japanese feel to them though. £32 for four hours (standard cabin); £70 for 24 hours (standard cabin).
- 3 Hilton, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. "Posh" hotel connected to the South terminal via the short stay car parks, there are rooms, restaurants, and a gym. From around £200 per night.
- 4 Courtyard by Marriott, Buckingham Gate, Gatwick, RH6 0NT, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. 196 rooms over five floors, with a gym. It is surrounded by the South terminal's numerous car parks, and has a £3 (one way) shuttle service. Around £60-£80 per night.
- 5 Hampton by Hilton, ☎ , e-mail: LONGN_hampton@hilton.com. A more "upmarket" hotel, which is surprisingly large. It is connected to the north side of the North terminal. The rooms are of sizes you would find in non-airport hotels, and the hotel has a decent breakfast area (included in the rates) and its own gym. £85 per night (twin room).
- 6 Premier Inn, ☎ , fax: . This hotel is near the North terminal and is what is an "average" chain hotel, with a bar and restaurant etc. Its rooms are cosy and have en-suite bathrooms. A twin room is a double bed and a sofa bed. £79 per night (double room).
- 7 Sofitel, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A posh hotel with 518 rooms connected to the North terminal From around £110 a night.
- 8 Travelodge, Povey Cross Road, Horley, RH6 0BE, ☎ . Not as close to the North terminal as some of these other hotels, but it is still close, and has a shuttle bus running to each terminal. The hotel has double and family rooms. Around £40-£60 a night.
- 9 Russ Hill Hotel, Russ Hill, Charlwood, Gatwick, RH6 0EL, ☎ . This hotel is about a 12 minute drive away from the actual airport, but is set in a slightly nicer place, in an older style hotel building. It has a range of rooms, including singles and family rooms. The hotel offers airport parking at its own car park or at a compound 6 miles from the hotel.
- 10 The Corner House Hotel, 72 Massetts Road, Horley, Surrey, RH6 7ED, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the nearby town of Horley (about a 5 minute drive away), it has 25 rooms (20 of which have en-suite bathrooms) which have a homely feel. It has a bar and restaurant and provides a transportation service to/from Gatwick for its guests. It also has its own "secure" airport parking. £53 per night (single with en-suite); £79 per night (family of four with en-suite).
It may be easier to take a taxi to the airport terminals from these nearby hotels, see the taxi section above and also check if the hotels have the numbers of any local taxi firms in case these are cheaper.
- Crawley is about 3 miles south of the airport.
- East Grinstead is about 10 miles east of the airport.
- Redhill is about 7 miles north.
- Dorking is about 10 miles northwest.
- Brighton is about 30 miles south and has direct train services from the airport.
- Central London is only a short train journey away.