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Stansted Airport is the newest, if not the largest, of London's passenger airports. In recent years, this Essex airport 30 miles northeast of central London has specialised in cheap flights with Ryanair and other low-budget carriers. Every 15 minutes, the Stansted Express train travels between London's Liverpool Street Station and Stansted Airport's own rail station beneath its terminal building. The bus journeys between the airport and four different London bus stations takes longer, but costs half as much as the train. Taxis and car rental in Stansted Airport are also easy to source.
Who to Book With
No fewer than eight car hire companies stand ready to greet motorists between the Stansted Airport International Departures and Arrivals areas. These renowned companies include National, Alamo and Hertz. Although drivers can rent vehicles on the spot, advance booking is the best way to guarantee a vehicle upon arrival.
Need to Know Essentials
These documents must be shown when claiming rental vehicles at the airport:
- The credit card used by the motorist to make the reservation
- A legitimate driver’s licence
- A valid passport
Driving in London can be a challenge, especially for motorists who are unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road. In an attempt to ease the city's constant traffic congestion, an £8 congestion tax has been imposed on motorists who drive in certain Central London zones marked by a ‘C’ sign. Expensive public car parks and street metered parking are the easiest places to park in the city, but most visitors prefer to use public transport in the central zones.
Two of Stansted Airport's terminals are linked by an automated people mover which travels a two-mile distance across dual concrete track at no charge to passengers. The M11 motorway between Cambridge and northeast London, as well as the A120 to Harwich, Colchester and Braintree, are the airport's two main motorways. Buses are cheaper than trains or taxis, but take longer to travel the 30 miles between Central London and the airport.
The Stansted Airport rail station is conveniently situated underneath the terminal building. The Stansted Express journeys between the airport and London's Liverpool Street Station, departing roughly once each 15 minutes and typically taking between 45 and 60 minutes. Booking online decreases the regular Express class single fare to around £20. CrossCountry trains connect the airport to Cambridge, Leicester and Birmingham.
The reservation desk for Stansted Airport's 24-hour taxi service, 24x7, stands within the International Arrivals concourse, but passengers can also reserve taxis from a Domestic Baggage Reclaim area courtesy telephone. Fares, which drivers quote prior to departure from the airport, can be paid directly to drivers by cash or in advance by debit or credit card.
Stansted Airport to Central London is about £20
Stansted Airport to Epping Underground is about £12
Stansted Airport to Redbridge Underground is about £18
Three Terravision buses, two National Express buses and one easyBus route travel from Stansted Airport to London. An airport coach station and Arrivals area ticket desk sell tickets for all routes, with fares ranging between £6 and £10. Although bus times and fares change frequently, services operate seven days per week, 24 hours. National Express buses also travel to Cambridge, Thetford, Norwich and Oxford once every two hours, while a private coach service called the Stansted Flyer travels across the Essex area.
The single Stansted Airport terminal is easy to navigate, with the Arrivals and Check-in areas on the ground floor and the Departures area on the first floor. The top five busiest of the dozens of destinations which can be reached directly from this airport are Dublin, the Spanish cities of Alicante and Malaga, and the Italian cities of Rome and Milan. An average of 23.5 million passengers uses Stansted Airport each year, ranking it as the fourth busiest airport in the UK.
There are four car parks at Stansted Airport. The short-stay car park is ideal for visitors seeing off or picking up passengers, the mid-stay car park is suitable for vehicles parked for short periods and the long-stay car park is best for passengers on long holidays. Short-stay parking fees range from £2.80 for the first 25 minutes to £36 for an 18 to 24-hour time period. Mid-stay parking fees are free for the first hour, £1 for two hours or £16.50 for a day. Valet parking is also available.
Boingo provides wireless internet throughout Stansted Airport. Visitors whose laptops lack the wireless compatible device needed to access the airport's wireless internet can purchase wireless networking cards or use any of the airport's internet kiosks.
Christmas is the only day the Stansted Airport International Arrivals area information desk is closed. During all other days, staff at this desk are happy to answer questions, print online boarding passes and photocopy documents. The Departures lounge contains an airline information desk. Five more airport help points are located in the short-stay car parks.
International Airport Main Switchboard: +44 870 000 0303
Airport Shopping Information Line: +44 121 410 5105
Stansted Media Centre: +44 127 968 0534
The Stansted Airport special assistance help desk between the D and E check-in zones is staffed 24 hours. Amenities for disabled passengers include public text phones for the hard of hearing and wheelchair accessible trains connecting the departures gates with the departures lounge. Hearing and seeing eye dogs are permitted inside the airport.
Restaurants and Bars
Stansted Airport boasts nearly 20 different restaurants, from fast food chains like Krispy Kreme and Burger King to the more formal Bridge Bar and Eating House. There are no shortage of Italian restaurants at the airport, including Ponti's, the New York City themed Frankie and Benny's and two Caffé Italia outlets. Passengers can also enjoy sandwiches at F&B's Deli or Asian snacks at YamYamToGo.
No. 1 Traveller Lounge
No. 1 Traveller Lounge
Money and ATMs
The ATMs at Stansted Airport are situated in the Departures lounge, the International Baggage Reclaim hall, the International Arrivals area and the main concourse. All of these ATMs accept major credit cards for small fees and most UK bank cards for no fee. Passengers can order foreign currency through the Moneycorp currency exchange in advance for pick up on arrival at the airport.
The 34 shops at Stansted Airport include high street shops like Mulberry and several duty-free shops in the Departures area. The airport also includes two Tie Rack shops, two WHSmith outlets and two Boots outlets. Glorious Britain is the airport's best place to stock up on British souvenirs, while Dixons Travel sells the airport's greatest variety of electronics. Shops are situated on both levels of the terminal.