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Arriving in London by Plane

Due to London's huge global city status it is the most served destination in the world when it comes to flights. London (all airports code: LON) is served by a total of five airports. Travelling between the city and the airports is made relatively easy by the large number of public transport links that have been put in place over recent years. However, if transiting through London, be sure to check the arrival and departure airports carefully as transfers across the city may be quite time consuming.

In addition to London's five official airports (of which only two are located within Greater London), there are a number of other regional UK airports conveniently accessible from London. Since they offer a growing number of budget flights, choosing those airports can be cheaper (or even faster, depending on where in London your destination is).

For transfers directly between London's airports, the fastest way (short of a taxi) is the direct inter-airport bus service by National Express .Buses between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton run at least hourly, with Heathrow-Gatwick services taking 65 min (£18) and Heathrow-Stansted services 90 min (£20.50) (note that services between Stansted and Luton run only every two hours). However, it's essential to allow leeway, as London's expressways, especially the orbital M25 and the M1 motorway, are often congested to the point of gridlock. Some buses have toilets on board.

London Heathrow
Heathrow (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is London and Europe's largest airport and the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger movement, with services available from most major airports world-wide. Currently, four of the five terminals are operational - T2 is closed until 2014 for redevelopment. Flights landing at Heathrow are often delayed by up to an hour as a simple result of air traffic congestion and waiting for parking slots.

To complicate the matter, airlines that fly into Heathrow are currently playing a system-wide game of musical chairs as gate assignments are cycled through the new terminal, making it even more necessary for travelers to check their terminal and gate assignment in advance. Do plan your itinerary to allocate some time needed to get through Heathrow Airport T3, it can be long if you are not holding an UK / EU passport.

London Gatwick
(IATA: LGW, ICAO: EGKK) London's second airport, also serving a large spectrum of places world-wide.

London Stansted
Getting to Stansted for an early morning flight is fairly straight forward, coaches run through the night, provided by Terravision and National Express from London Victoria and London Liverpool Street. Terravision costs £9 one way and run roughly every hour throughout the night, check their site  for up to date timetable information.

(ICAO: EGSS, IATA: STN) Currently London's third airport, the base for a large number of budget carriers (for example EasyJet , RyanAir  and AirAsia ) and flights within Europe and a few inter-continental flights. There are several commercial wi-fi hotspots covering most of the airport, but they charge extortionate rates. A free wi-fi hotspot is in the arrivals gate area, next to the phone booths offering fixed internet.

London Luton
(ICAO: EGGW, IATA: LTN) Has traditionally been a holiday charter airport, but is now also served by some budget scheduled carriers. As per Stansted, and for the same reasons, many choose to spend the night here before flying, although "First Capital Connect" trains run 24 hours.

London City Airport

(ICAO: EGLC, IATA: LCY) A commuter airport close to the city's financial district, and specializing in short-haul business flights to other major European cities. Not as expensive to fly into than it used to be, and you may indeed find that from some origins, this may be your cheapest London airport to fly to, without even considering the cost savings of NOT coming from the distant larger London airports with £10+ transfer costs. Then there is the added bonus is that it is close to central London.