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London Stansted Airport

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London Stansted Airport - terminal building, departures and arrivals

London Stansted Airport (IATA: STN) 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.


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


Ground transportation[edit]

The fastest way to get to London is via the Stansted Express which stops at Tottenham Hale (for connections to the Victoria line) and Liverpool Street. Trains depart every 15 minutes with the journey taking around 45-60 minutes. Single tickets are £19.00, but booking online well in advance of your journey can yield cheaper fares. Coaches are roughly half the price, but take quite a bit longer.

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, so ensure that you leave in plenty of time. Getting to the airport can also take longer than the proclaimed 90 minutes - traffic along the route can increase journey times up to 120 minutes or beyond. 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 rail: Stansted Express to London Liverpool Street +44 345 600 7245. Every 15 minutes, journey time 45-60 minutes. Single £19.00, return £32.00. Travelcards are not valid. First class fares are available, but the short journey time makes the cost somewhat excessive. Children aged 5-15 travel at half fares. Most budget carriers' websites offer reduced price deals for the Stansted Express and booking online in advance of your journey is recommended..
  • By rail then London Underground: Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then London Underground (Victoria line) +44 345 600 7245 (premium rate number from most mobiles and often not available from overseas). Every 15 min. If you are going to south London, the West End or west London then take the Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then the London Underground (Victoria line). At Tottenham Hale ask for an Oyster card for the best fare or use a contactless payment card. Single £19.00, return £32.00. Then £3.20 (peak)/£2.70 (off-peak) for single Oyster or contactless card fares to central London by Underground. Paying by cash on the Undergrounds will yield higher fares..
  • By coach: National Express +44 371 781 8181. Every 15-30 minutes. Journey time to Stratford: 1 hour (can vary depending on traffic). To Victoria: 90 minutes (can vary depending on traffic). To Stratford (Tube: Stratford) or Victoria (Tube: Victoria). Folding bicycles only. To Stratford: £10 single, £15 return. To Victoria: £12 single, £19 return. Travelcards not valid..
  • By coach: Citylink +44 330 123 2004. Every 30-60 minutes. Journey time to St Pancras: 73 minutes (can vary depending on traffic).. 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 90-120 minutes (varies depending on traffic). 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. approximately £70.
  • By Minicab +44 1279 816901. Journey time 90-120 minutes (varies depending on traffic). Stansted Airport Cars, located just outside of the terminal complex. Always pre-book a minicab - if your minicab's not booked, it's just a stranger's car! approximately £70.

Connecting to Heathrow[edit]

Get around[edit]


Eat and Drink[edit]

  • Burger King. First flight until last flight. Popular and well-known fast food chain serving consistent food at consistent prices. Family friendly.
  • Cabin. First flight until last flight. An upmarket bar serving hand-selected wines, cocktails and food.
  • Cafe Balzar +44 1279 680911. First flight until last flight. Cafe Balzar is a restaurant serving "French cuisine blended with North African flair".
  • Coast-to-Coast. First flight until last flight. An American restaurant serving burgers, pizza, steak, and many other dishes. Offers breakfast as well. Family friendly.
  • Costa. First flight until last flight. Popular coffee shop chain serving a variety of drinks and snacks.
  • Est Presso. First flight until last flight. Coffee shop offering Italian coffee and snacks.
  • Giraffe. First flight until last flight. Restaurant chain offering freshly made fast food with a seasonally changing menu.
  • Empire Dogs. First flight until last flight. Offers gourmet hot dogs.
  • Halo. 05:00 until last flight. Halo is a "fizz bar" offering cocktails, beers and spirits as well as food.
  • Itsu. First flight until last flight. Itsu is a chain offering light low carbohydrate and low fat takeaway food that is made fresh on the hour, every hour.
  • James Martin Kitchen. First flight until last flight. James Martin Kitchen is a bakery that offers fresh and locally sourced snacks.
  • James Martin Kitchen. First flight until last flight. James Martin Kitchen is a bakery that offers fresh and locally sourced snacks.
  • Joe's Coffee House. First flight until last flight. Offers hot and cold drinks and sandwiches and soup, among other snacks.
  • Leon. First flight until last flight. A menu inspired by Mediterranean cooking.
  • Pip. First flight until last flight. Healthy fast food and freshly-squeezed fruit juices and smoothies.
  • Pret. 24 hours. Popular coffee chain offering handmade takeaway food such as sandwiches, salads, wraps and baguettes as well as hot food.
  • Starbucks. 24 hours. Popular and well-known coffeehouse chain offering various hot and cold drinks and snacks.
  • Wetherspoon (The Windmill). First flight to last flight. Pub chain offering a range of snacks, sandwiches, beers and spirits.
  • Wetherspoon Express (Located after security). First flight to last flight. Mini-pub offering a range of snacks, sandwiches, beers and spirits. Closer to the departure gates than The Windmill.



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.



Sleeping in the terminal[edit]

A large number of budget flights depart from Stansted as early as 06:00 (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 05:30. Due to the high price of accommodation in London 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 22:00, 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. The usual safety precautions apply though, such as not leaving bags unattended.
  • Ear plugs and eye covers are a must, as the cleaning staff are noisy and shop assistants start arriving at 04:00 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[edit]

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.


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