Over the years we have seen Gatwick Airport change and develop. We do not rate it as one of the best in the world but, when it is not busy, it is a perfectly acceptable airport.
The problem is that it can be very busy and will take considerable time to pass through security. Add to that the long walks to many gates and the whole experience can become a big rush. So, if travelling at peak times, allow plenty of time.
A big plus for Gatwick is the ease to reach London on the Gatwick Express, which terminates at Victoria Station. Gatwick Airport is the sensible choice for any places to the south of London, with regular trains to towns like Brighton.
London Gatwick, the old name, is the second largest London airport; the main one being Heathrow, to the west of London. Gatwick Airport is connected to Heathrow Airport by a high frequency bus service, but the journey takes at least an hour and often longer with the heavy traffic congestion on the M25 motorway.
The airport that relies on just one runway, making it the busiest, single runway operation in the world. This can lead to delays with air traffic control and a reasonable chance that your flight be delayed, with time being spent sitting in your aeroplane on the tarmac waiting for a take-off slot.
There are two terminals, North and South, connected by a monorail system, which runs every few minutes. Technically it is not a monorail, as it has two concrete tracks but everyone calls it that!
The airport is accessed from the M23, which goes to the M25 in the north and towards Brighton in the south.
Car parking can be a problem as there are not enough spaces. So, if you want long term parking, do book ahead or use public transport to reach the airport, which is what the authorities are trying to encourage. The train station connects with many locations, not just southern towns. National Express coaches, together with other bus companies, have routes and connections to many towns around the nation.
The National Cycle Network connects to Gatwick Airport using route 21, with traffic-free cycling to Horley and southwards to Crawley.
There are chapels and prayer rooms in the South Terminal, on the ‘landside’ (i.e. before security), near Caffè Nero on the third level, and in the North Terminal, on the ‘landside’, beside International Arrivals on the ground level.
Dedicated lounges and meeting points are available for passengers who have booked special needs assistance.
Free wi-fi is available at MacDonald’s in the South Terminal, airside (after security). There are also pay-to-use Internet kiosks spread around in various locations.
Shops are everywhere, which means there is not much spare seating but plenty to buy. Good options are the electrical shops, which offer real discounts as compared to the high street sales being only VAT free.
For passengers in transit, there are a number of hotels, including the Hilton at the South Terminal and Sofitel at the North Terminal. Close by, but connected by transfer bus, are the Holiday Inn, Mercure Airport Hotel, Travelodge and Premier Inn.
There are a vast number of places to drink and eat, including plenty of low cost burger and sandwich outlets.
Showers are at the Gatwick Family Lounge, which is on the airside in the South Terminal.
To keep the kids busy, GameGrid has entertainment arcades both airside and landside, with air hockey, table football and computer games.
Luggage storage is available in the arrivals area.
All of the usual public toilets, telephones, bureaux de change and post boxes, etc., are available throughout the two terminals.
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