International flights to the UK: which airport to choose?

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London, not least because of The Royal family, but also because it is home to the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, which started out as a small airfield in 1929 and has since become Europe’s busiest passenger airport. However, whilst it might be the obvious choice, Heathrow isn’t the only choice travellers have when flying to the UK on a trans-Atlantic flight.

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Other London Choices

If you were flying from North America, then another option worth considering instead of Heathrow could be Gatwick airport. In fact, it is the next largest international airport, after Heathrow, in the UK. With its fantastic travel connections, it’s another convenient choice for those wishing to travel into London or the surrounding area of Kent. Luton airport is another option for those travelling in from New York and heading into London or travelling on to European cities. Luton is serviced well by low-cost airlines offering no-frills travel to some of Europe’s most popular destinations, such as Spain, France and Italy. However, because Luton is not as centrally located to the centre of London as Heathrow, it may be more cost effective to fly here and then get to the centre of London by rail, which is made easy through the fantastic rail connections.

Stansted Airport is also a contender for trans-Atlantic flights into the UK, and although it may be a smaller airport compared to the others, it is fast becoming popular with business travellers thanks to MAXjet and EOS now choosing to fly here. Stansted airport is also Ryanair’s biggest base, with outbound flights to more than 100 destinations. The Harrods aviation company also use Stansted’s runways, as do many private flown jets.

If you have some free time before connecting flights to continue your journey, then London has some outstanding hotels offering both comfort and opulence, which are ideally located for a sneaky little bit of sightseeing. The Montcalm hotel near Marble Arch is a popular choice with those travelling for both business and pleasure as it offers great facilities- a spa, a champagne bar and a business centre, and is conveniently located near the tube station, meaning you can easily be where you need to be within minutes thanks to the underground service. Some of the most popular London attractions include: Buckingham Palace, the London Eye experience, Madame Tussaud’s and the popular shopping district of Oxford Street. Although fans of the Royal family should also consider aiming to visit one of London’s Royal parks too, where they can admire the pristine gardens and catch a breath of tranquillity amidst this otherwise hectic city.

Naturally after a long flight, you’ll be wanting to get some rest before jet lag hits and knocks you for six, so don’t be fooled into thinking that hotels in busy city districts will be noisy and therefore prevent you from getting a good sleep. In fact, the opposite is true- many of London’s top hotels are situated in such a way that they are close enough to the city sights for convenience sake, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle to provide a truly peaceful sanctuary.

The wider UK airports

For those flying to the UK, but not necessarily visiting London, then there are a few airports that may be more suitable, and perhaps more budget-friendly too. One such option to consider is Manchester airport, which is primly located for those travelling to the North of England. It’s a popular choice with those flying in from North America because it hosts flights from over 16 North American hubs.

Another large and well-serviced airport is Birmingham- ideal for those visiting the midlands or Wales during their time in the UK. This airport is perfect for those flying in from Toronto or Boston, and is again a convenient airport for ongoing journeys to Europe, and is around the sixth busiest UK airport for international passengers.

Bristol airport, in North Somerset is the popular choice for travellers flying in to visit the south of England or anywhere in Wales. It has fantastic travel connections for ongoing flights, particularly for destinations in Europe. It’s also worth knowing that Bristol serves many domestic flights within the UK too, so it is worth checking if flying to Bristol might be cheaper than flying to London. If so, you could use Bristol airport almost like a rest stop to land briefly before continuing your journey to elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

For travellers wishing to travel North to Scotland, there are two choices of international airports to pick from. One of these is Scotland’s main airport- Glasgow that services both domestic flights within the UK as well as many Trans-Atlantic flights to destinations such as Vancouver, Dubai and Toronto. Scotland’s other international airport is Edinburgh, which is the UK’s fifth busiest passenger airport, offering flights to New York and Toronto along with many popular European destinations too. Many American visitors to the UK will fly to Edinburgh to explore Scotland for some time before heading to London for a spot of sight seeing too, which more often than not, involves a trip to Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament. Often this works well as the last leg of their journey, as it means that they don’t need to return to Scotland and can instead fly back home from Heathrow. Having so many airport choices within the UK can prove especially handy if you are planning to visit many different parts of the UK in one trip, as it means you have the flexibility of landing at one airport whilst taking off at another.

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