Connecting at London Gatwick airport - Useful tips
London Gatwick airport (LGW) is the second busiest airport in the United Kingdom, located 47 km from the center of London. It serves over 45 million passengers annually. Gatwick airport is used as a hub by British Airways, but is also the largest base of the low fare airline easyJet.
London Gatwick airport has two terminals - North and South, located approximately 1.2 km away from each other. The terminals are connected by a shuttle (people mover), which operates 24/7 every few minutes. The journey time only takes two minutes.
easyJet airlines uses the North Terminal, while British Airways operates from the South terminal.
In terms of connecting flights, Gatwick airport is unique compared to the other London airports - Heathrow, Stansted and Luton. Heathrow airport is the hub of British Airways, serving millions of connecting flight passengers, Standsted and Luton airports serve only self-connecting passengers. They are even designed as point to point airports with no airside link between the arrival and departure halls. Gatwick in turn is a hybrid airport, serving classic connecting flight passengers, but also a significant amount of self-connecting passengers. The needs of the self connecting passengers are actually formally addressed by the GatwickConnects product.
Airside connections at Gatwick
Airside means that you can disembark from a flight and board another flight without passing through passport control and formally entering the UK.
If you are let’s say a British Airways passenger and both flights are on the same reservation, simply proceed to “Flight Connections” and find your gate. Gatwick airports recommends a minimum connection time of 60 minutes for same terminal transfers and at least 90 minutes for transfers between the North and South terminals (Land side connections). If you are flying on a single ticket, you should be safe as the airlines abide to the minimum connection time requirements.
You can also benefit from airside connections if you are a self-connecting passenger, travel with hand luggage only and hold a boarding pass for the onward flight.
Airside connection is not possible when you arrive from an International flight and continue your journey on a domestic flight. In this cases clearing immigration and customs is a must.
The shuttle between North and South terminal operates landside, therefore you must clear immigration before boarding.
Self-connecting at Gatwick
London Gatwick airport is especially attractive for self-connecting passengers. It’s the largest base of easyJet airlines, and also used a lot by Wow Air, Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian, offering attractive transatlantic fares. The airport authorities recognise the needs of the self-connecting passengers and have facilitated their experience by introducing the GatwickConnects product. GatwickConnects allows self-connecting passengers to check-in and drop baggage for the next flight at a dedicated desk in the baggage reclaim area and make use of the premium security lane. There is also an option to prepay for extra service, which offers free rebooking in case of a missed connection.
Long connections are always good in terms of risk for missing connecting flights. Killing time at certain airports however may be painful. Gatwick airport is not the worse, but not the best either. There is free wifi for 90 minutes, but not very fast. In the transit areas there are some comfortable benches, where sleeping is possible.
In case you would like to take a rest, you may also want to check the available airport hotels. One of the options is Bloc hotel near the South Terminal or Hampton by Hilton, wich is directly linked to the North Terminal.
Connecting to other London airports