London Gatwick vs Heathrow Airport: Which is Better to Fly from?

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Heathrow Airport Runway

Are you planning a trip to or from London? When it comes to London, the top-listed and most trusted airports include London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick (LGW) International Airport. Choosing the right airport is a perplexing question, no matter how much of an experienced traveler you are.

Heathrow Airport is located in London Borough, while Gatwick Airport is located in Central London. Both airports boast state-of-the-art facilities but, of course, have some key differences. In this blog, we have covered the differences between the airports in terms of distance to downtown, size, location, amenities, and other parameters to help you decide the best option for you.

Introduction to London Heathrow International Airport

LHR is the UK’s busiest airport and a global aviation hub, serving business travelers, long-flight hauls, and international flights. According to 2021 statistics, LHR catered to 19.4 million passengers annually. It has a record of serving 80.9 million travelers in 2019! LHR gives you access to travel to 214 destinations across 84 countries.

The airport has two runways, i.e. Southern Runway (3658m) and Northern Runway (3902m), and 5 terminals. The airport offers world-class services, including hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, spacious parking, and other amenities.

Introduction to London Gatwick International Airport

LGW is the UK’s second-largest airport which is widely trusted and preferred by holidaymakers and charter companies. Over the span of 60 years, the airport has grown in its traffic from 186,000 passengers to 40 million passengers thanks to its premium quality amenities i.e. restaurants, shopping malls, elite lounges, free- wifi, and others.

It consists of a single runway that is 3316m long. It has another runway (2565m), but both runways can’t be used simultaneously due to their proximity. It has two terminals, i.e. North and South Terminals, with 31 stands each and additional 57 remote stands. It gives access to 150 short-haul and 45+ long-haul destinations and is served by more than 40 airlines.

London Heathrow Airport

Comparison Between London Heathrow and Gatwick

Passenger Volume

Compared to LGW, LHR handles twice as many passengers and is equipped with all the amenities required to manage such a large flux of people effectively. Let’s look at the figures provided by the CAA to comprehend the passenger volumes at LHR and LGW.

Statistics released by the CAA show that, in a year, LHR handled almost 80 million passengers on 470,000 flights. In comparison, LGW handled half of that volume, or 45 million passengers on 280,000+ flights.

Runways & Terminals

LHR is significantly larger in size than LGW, boasting 2 runways and 5 terminals. On the other hand, LGW has 2 terminals and 2 runways. However, only one terminal is operational for the time being; the other runaway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance.

Flight Options

LHR offers a diverse range of flight options from 89 airlines, including United, Delta, American Airlines, ANA, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and Emirates, giving you the option to travel across 84 countries to 214 destinations.

Contrary to that, LGW offers fewer long-haul routes. It is dominantly preferred for short flights within Europe. LGW offers you multiple travelling options with more than 40 airlines including Norwegian Airlines, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.

Distance from Downtown

If you are travelling by car, London Downtown is 16 miles from London Heathrow and 28 miles from London Gatwick, requiring one hour and one and a half, respectively. In terms of public transportation, the Gatwick Express/ District line from LGW is 50 minutes distant from the downtown area. In contrast, the Piccadilly line from LHR will take an hour to get there.

Transportation Options

You can find multiple transportation options, including taxis, and railways, from LHR as compared to LGW. Let’s dig more into details.

LHR is 13 miles from central London. You can use Heathrow Express to reach the airport within 15-20 minutes. However, it’s an expensive option. You can use TFL Rail and the Piccadilly Line as alternative transport options.

Adversely, LGW is 24 miles away from central London, giving you the option to travel using Gatwick Express and mainline Thameslink trains requiring half an hour to get into London.

Flight Costs

The airport taxes and other charges are higher at LHR than at LGW so you can choose as per your budget.

Heathrow Airport At Night

Factors to Consider Before Choosing the Right Airport

Here are a few factors you must consider before choosing the right airport for you:

  • One should always check the flight availability during the peak travel season to avoid any inconvenience.
  • Always plan according to your budget. Choose the airport where facilities and taxes fall under your assorted budget.
  • Look for the airport’s flexibility and amenities like assistance for special persons, food courts, Wi-Fi, parking, and others.
  • Choose an airport that offers secure services, including privacy protection, timely flights, uptime, and stability.

Concluding Remarks!

Both the airports offer exceptional and reliable services; however, if transport is an issue and proximity to London is your priority, then you can choose LHR. It is highly recommended for long-haul flights. However, if you are travelling within Europe and are low on budget, then LGW is the best option for you.