- Airlines & Destinations
- Coffee & Restaurants
- Accommodation & Hotels
- Airport sevices
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.
London Stansted currently serves over 170 destinations across Europe, North Africa, Central and North America and more scheduled European destinations than any other airport in the UK. Stansted is a base for a number of major European low-cost carriers, being the largest base for low-cost airline Ryanair, with over 130 destinations served by the airline. In 2015 it was the fourth busiest airport in the United Kingdom after Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. Stansted's runway is also used by private companies such as the Harrods Aviation and XJet terminals which are private ground handlers who are able to handle private flights, charter flights and state visits.
Stansted is a large airport near Cambridge that is designed to service London with largely low-cost airlines and with connections mostly throughout Europe. Flying into Stansted can potentially be your cheapest flight to London, although bear in mind that the connection to your final destination may be longer than you were hoping, and the cost and hassle may make more central airports a better option after all.
The distance from other London airports is considerable, so plan at least a few hours if you want to transfer to London Heathrow or London - Gatwick.
Airlines & Destinations
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.
The fastest way to get from the airport to London is via the Stansted Express which stops at Tottenham Hale (for connections to the London Underground's 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 due to traffic.
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, . 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), (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, . 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.
- , . Every 30-60 minutes. Journey time to St Pancras: 73 minutes (can vary depending on traffic).. To St Pancras station (Tube: King's 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, . 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.
- By car. The airport is located on Junction 8 of the M11, 30 miles south of Cambridge and 20 miles north of the M25. Make sure you know which car park you need to use as they are some distance apart.
- By hire car. All the major car rental companies are available at the airport. For fuel there is a BP near the entrance to the airport area and a Shell at the motorway service station. For cheaper fuel prices there is a Tesco on the west side of the Bishop's Stortford ring road.
Connecting to Heathrow
- By coach: National Express, . Approximately every hour. Journey time to Heathrow: 90 minutes (varying depending on traffic). Single £25. Return £30-£35.
Early morning flights
Getting to Stansted for an early morning flight is fairly straightforward as coaches run through the night. These are provided by National Express from Victoria and Liverpool Street railway 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 King's Cross, St Pancras, or Euston.
Be aware that queues for coaches are very common at Stansted and security checks can easily take an hour. 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. Because of this you should allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport or onward connections.
This is a small, compact airport that is easy to walk through. The layout is a simple rectangle with the south east side the entrance/exit to car parks, hire cars and rail/bus connections. Check-in is in one large hall, at the other side of which is the entrance to security and the departure lounge. Arrivals come in the north side of the main entrance/exit hall.
Stansted is the newest passenger airport of all the main London airports. The terminal is an oblong glass building, and is separated into three areas: Check-in and main concourse along the front, Departures towards the back left and Arrivals on the back right upon entry. There are no gates in the main Terminal building; instead there are three separate oblong satellite buildings in which the gates are located. A fourth satellite building was planned, in addition to an extension to the main terminal building, but never completed.
An additional building, known as the Advanced Passenger Vehicle (APV), was brought back into use in 2016 for flights departing during the busy 06:00 to 08:00 period. The APV building is linked to the main terminal building by an accessible route and acts as a bus terminal for international flights at remote stands. Prior to the completion of Satellite 3, this terminal (then numbered gates 90-95) was in regular passenger use.
Domestic arrivals use a separate exit route, located at the far left, when facing the main entrance. This exit is connected solely by footbridge to Satellite 2. When a domestic flight arrives at a gate which is not located in Satellite 2, passengers are transported to a gate on Satellite 2 by a courtesy bus service from the aircraft.
Coffee & Restaurants
Most establishments are open from first flight until last flight. The airport is divided into 4 areas:
Landside - Check-in and domestic arrivals
- Pret. 24 hours. Popular coffee chain offering handmade takeaway food such as sandwiches, salads, wraps and baguettes as well as hot food.
Landside - International arrivals
Airside - Departure lounge
- Cabin. First flight until last flight. An upmarket bar serving hand-selected wines, cocktails and food.
- Cafe Balzar, . 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.
- 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.
- Harris + Hoole. 24 hours. A coffee shop chain.
- The Illustrious Bar and Cafe. First flight until last flight. A rock & roll-themed cafe serving snacks and beverages.
- 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.
- 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.
Airside - Departure gates
There are a few small newsagents and snack/coffee bars dotted around.
Accommodation & Hotels
Sleeping in the terminal
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.
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.
- Radisson Blu Hotel London Stansted Airport (is immediately adjacent to the terminal building), .
- Novotel London Stansted Airport
- Holiday Inn Express London Stansted Airport, Thremhall Ave, .
Land side there is a small WHSmith newsagents and a small Boots chemist.
In the departure lounge there are a number of stores including Hugo Boss, Mulberry, Hamleys and Dixons as well as a larger WHSmith.
Stansted has a variety of car parking including Long, Mid and Short Stay options along with Valet and Meet and Greet Parking services. There are also two drop off areas available. The express area is located near the short stay car park while a free service is within the mid stay. A fee is charged for the express service. Terminal Road North and its free drop off area directly outside the terminal was closed shortly after MAG took over the airport in 2013.
There are several commercial wi-fi hotspots covering most of the airport but they charge extortionate rates. A free wi-fi is available for 4 hours in the airport.