Connecting at London Stansted Airport - useful tips for transit passengers

London Stansted (STN) was built as a point to point airport. It lacks transit passenger infrastructure typical for hubs like London Heathrow. You are likely to end up as a connecting flight passenger at Stansted airport if:

  • You booked separately two flights connecting at Stansted Airport (self-connect)
  • You booked your trip with an online travel agency, which constructed a virtual connection (virtual interlining)
  • You booked a connecting flight with an airline, offering connecting flights at London Stansted as part of their official product

The first and second options are most likely for the fact that Stansted airport is the largest base of Ryanair. Ryanair has stationed over 40 aircraft at Stansted airport, which provides immense possibilities for various connections. At the same time, Ryanair still doesn’t officially offer connecting flights via Stansted airport.

Let’s look at some tips that will facilitate your connection experience at London Stansted airport.

Airport layout

Stansted airport is not a connecting airport by design. This is reflected in the official connecting flight policies, you can read here. You always need to pass through border control and formally enter into UK. This creates two problems:

  • Unless you are citizen of a EU country or a country having visa free arrangements with UK, you may need to have a valid transit visa in order to continue your journey.
  • Immigration control slows down the transit process. Lines tend to get long at peak hours and sometimes 30 minutes or more may be needed to clear immigration.

So before booking your Stansted airport connecting flight, make sure you are allowed to transit through UK territory and that your connection time is sufficient.

If you are worried of having a short connection, we advise you to pre-book fast track passport control, starting at GBP 5 per person. You can book it directly on Stansted’s website. Also, if you are holder of an e-passport, take it with you, as the e-passport gates are somewhat less crowded.

In case you are self-connecting and traveling with checked-in luggage, make sure you collect you luggage before exiting the arrivals hall. Note that in cases of self-connecting, it is always recommended to travel with hand baggage only as transiting is quicker and less risky. 

Once you find yourself in the public arrivals area, proceed to departures. It will take you a few minutes by foot. In case your connecting time is tight, make sure you have checked-in online for all your flights, and most importantly that you have your boarding passes printed or stored in an electronic format on your smart phone. This will allow you to proceed straight to the departures security check, without the need to check-in at the airport for your next flight. In case you need to check-in your baggage, you can quickly visit the baggage drop off counters of your airline located in the public area of the departures hall. Baggage drop off is situated in the check-in area, before the security zone. In case of a tight connection, you can always secure faster access to the security zone. Security fast track can be booked directly on the website of Stansted airport, prices starting at GBP 7 per person. As soon as you find yourself in the departure lounge airside, you can relax, shop or dine. There is choice available. The gate of your next flight will show on the screens around 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.

Long stopovers

Very often the self-made connecting flights have terrible schedules, meaning late evening arrivals and morning departures, over 10 hours waiting times and such. Visiting the city of London is always an option with the Stansted express rail service, taking around 40 minutes. That train is quite expensive and generally not worth if you just want to kill some time. The airport hotels are cheaper than those located in the city of London as Stansted is a rural area. If you plan to sleep at the airport, note that as per the official information it is not permitted and you need to find an alternative solution. You can check the available hotels in the area here

Finally, it is useful to mention that there are free water dispensers in the airside area of Stansted airport. You can take an empty plastic bottle through security and fill it up with fresh water, which you can then carry on board. If you decide to use your time at Stansted airport for duty free shopping, the airport has a nice surprise for you. You are allowed to take on board an extra carry on item, specifically a plastic bag carrying the logo of Stansted airport duty free and this rule is valid for all flights departing from Stansted. 

Enjoy your connecting flight via London Stansted airport!

Written by / Updated March 2019