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London Stansted Airport - terminal building, departures and arrivals

London Stansted Airport (STN IATA) is London's third airport, located approximately 30 miles (48 km) north-east of the city in the county of Essex and nearer to Cambridge than London.

It's the fourth-busiest airport in the United Kingdom in terms of passenger numbers, with 17 million passing through its gates in 2012.

Understand

Stansted is dominated by the low-cost airlines EasyJet and Ryanair who use the airport as a hub, as well as holiday charter airlines Thomson and Pegasus). Stansted also accommodates a few other scheduled carriers within Europe and a small number of inter-continental flights.

Flights

Ground transportation

Getting to Stansted for an early morning flight is fairly straight forward as coaches run through the night. These are provided by National Express from Victoria and Liverpool Street stations. There is also a direct Citylink coach service to St Pancras station which may be useful for connections to Eurostar, or for trains to northern destinations from Kings Cross, St Pancras, or Euston. Be aware that queues are very common at Stansted and security checks can easily take an hour. Also getting to the airport can take longer than the proclaimed 90 minutes - it can take 120 minutes. When you arrive at the airport queueing for passport control can easily take up to 2 hours for non-EU passport holders, especially for Sunday night arrivals.

In addition to services to London, Arriva CrossCountry rail services operate to Cambridge, Peterborough (for further rail connections to the north-east of England), Leicester, and Birmingham. National Express coach services operate directly to Luton, Coventry, Norwich, Ipswich, Nottingham, Cardiff, and Bath.

Transport options into central London:

  • By coach: National Express, +44 371 781 8181. Every 15-30min. Journey time to Stratford: 1 hour. To Victoria: 90 min. To Stratford (tube: Stratford) or Victoria (tube: Victoria). Folding bicycles only. To Stratford: £8 single, £14 return. To Victoria: £10 single, £16 return. Travelcards not valid.
  • By coach: Citylink, +44 330 123 2004. Every 30-60min. Journey time to St Pancras: 73 minutes.. To St Pancras station (tube: Kings Cross St Pancras). To St Pancras: £8 single, £15 return. Travelcards not valid.
  • By minibus: EasyBus. To Baker Street (tube: Baker Street) From £2 (advance web purchase) to £8 single. Travelcard not valid.
  • By taxi. Journey time 90-120min. The airport is a long way from central London. It's normally a better idea to take a train to Liverpool Street and continue by taxi from there. approx £70.
  • By Minicab, +44 1279 816901. Journey time 90-120min. Stansted Airport Cars, located just outside of the terminal complex. approx £70.

Connecting to Heathrow

Get around

Wait

Eat and Drink

Buy

Connect

There are several commercial Wi-Fi hotspots covering most of the airport but they charge extortionate rates. A free Wi-Fi hotspot is in the arrivals gate area, next to the phone booths offering fixed internet.

Cope

Sleep

Sleeping in the terminal

A large number of budget flights depart from Stansted as early as 6AM (when the lowest fares are available). However, this presents travellers with a problem, as the airport's location is a long way outside London, and transport to the airport is sporadic before 5:30AM. Due to the high price of accommodation in the city and near the airport, and the fact that many budget airlines don't pay for accommodation in the event of cancellation, an increasing number of travellers choose to spend the night in the airport prior to their flight. A crowd of around 100 travellers (up to 400 in summer) camp in the main departure/arrivals hall every night, effectively turning it into a giant dormitory. Tips for sleeping at Stansted Airport:

  • Arrive early, preferably around 10PM, and stake your territory immediately. Benches without armrests are in limited supply and fill up quickly.
  • If you arrive later, take a floor mat and sleeping bag. Sleeping on the floor is tolerated by the staff, but avoid pitching your bed in front of shops and counters.
  • A sleeping bag is generally recommended as the automatic doors constantly open and close as passengers arrive, and it can get chilly in winter.
  • Safety is not a problem. The airport is miles away from any settlement and security guards overlook the open-plan building 24/7.
  • Ear plugs and eye covers are a must, as the cleaning staff are noisy and shop assistants start arriving at 4AM to open shutters.
  • At least one cafe is open all night, offering snacks and hot drinks. Boots the chemist is also open 24/7
  • Toilets remain open and are normally in good condition. There is a drinking fountain to the left of the Accessorize storefront and the security entrance "Door 1", where you can fill water bottles for the night.

Airport hotels

Several chains have a hotel in the vicinity of the airport. The Radisson Blu Hotel London Stansted Airport is the most conveniently located, a short two-minute walk from the terminal. Others require a five-minute ride in a hotel-operated shuttle bus.

Nearby

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