London Stansted Airport (STN) is London’s third busiest airport. It is located in Essex, around midway between London and Cambridge, and is mostly served by budget airlines and is Ryanair’s busiest base airport.
Facilities at London Stansted Airport (STN)
Stansted Airport is comprised of a single large terminal building with departure gates located in satellite buildings accessible either by a transit system or a walkway from the main terminal building.
The airport is a major hub for several budget airlines including easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI although the bulk of Stansted’s air traffic consists of Ryanair flights. Of the airport’s 93 departure gates, 66 of these are used exclusively by Ryanair with most non-Ryanair flights using gates 1–19 (in satellite building one) and UK domestic flights using gates 81–88.
The airport has lots of shops including branches of Boots the chemist, Hamleys toy shop, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith newsagents plus the usual duty-free shop. There is also a good range of bars, cafes and restaurants at the airport including branches of Burger King, Coast to Coast, Costa, Itsu, Leon, Pret a Manger and Starbucks. Bars at Stansted include Cabin, the Illustrious Bar & Cafe and a Wetherspoons pub.
As most flights from Stansted are operated by budget airlines there are no airline-specific lounges at Stansted, although there is the Escape Lounge that you can access with either a Diners Club card or a Priority Pass membership (or by paying the entry fee). The lounge has free food and drink (including beer and wine).
Getting to and from London Stansted Airport (STN)
Stansted Airport has good transport connections with direct train and coach services into Central London as well as bus, coach and rail services to other destinations including Birmingham, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.
Travelling between Stansted Airport and Central London
The Stansted Express train between Stansted Airport and Liverpool Street railway station is the fastest way to travel between the airport and Central London, although it is also a relatively expensive option. The Stansted Express train runs every 15 minutes and the 47-minute journey costs £17 one-way or £29 return in standard class. If you book your ticket well in advance, you may be able to get a cheap advance purchase ticket for as little as £7, although these cheap tickets are non-refundable and are restricted to a specific train departure.
A cheaper option is to catch one of the bus or coach services that go between London and Stansted Airport with both Airport Bus Express/Teravision and National Express coaches running frequent services between Stansted and London.
National Express generally have the more frequent coach service with almost 200 coach departures every day, 22 different London pick-up and drop-off locations and the following four different London–Stansted routes:
- A6 – Stansted Airport–Golders Green–Finchley Road & Frognal–Finchley Road–St John’s Wood–Baker Street–London Paddington railway station–Marble Arch–Portman Square
- A7 – Stansted Airport–Bow Church–Mile End–Whitechapel–Southwark–Waterloo railway station–Victoria railway station–Victoria Coach Station
- A8 – Stansted Airport–South Hackney–Bethnal Green–Shoreditch High Street–Liverpool Street railway station–Farringdon–Kings Cross railway station
- A9 – Stansted Airport–Stratford
The Airport Bus Express/Teravision coach operates the following two different London–Stansted routes with four pick-up and drop-off spots in London:
- Stansted Airport–Baker Street–Victoria Coach Station
- Stansted Airport–Stratford–Liverpool Street railway station
While coaches operated by either company work out considerably cheaper than the train, they also take around twice as long and are subject to delays caused by traffic congestion when coming into London.
Although prices are always subject to change, generally the Airport Bus Express/Teravision coach works is the cheaper option if you buy your ticket on the day and National Express is usually the cheaper of the two if you prebook your ticket in advance. The cheapest National Express tickets start at £5 one-way but come with restrictions that tie you to a specific coach departure although there is the Change Coach add-on for an extra £5 that makes your ticket more flexible. When we travel to Stansted we prebook to get the cheapest ticket when travelling from London to Stansted but pay the extra £5 for the Change Coach add-on when travelling from Stansted into London to allow for any delays clearing immigration and customs when coming into the country.
Because there are so many stops where you can catch these coach services you essentially have two strategies. You can either take the coach going to the stop that is closest to your London hotel (which may be subject to delays due to traffic congestion) or you can catch a train to one of the stops in East London (which will be a quicker trip as your coach will spend less time in Central London traffic). The coach stops with the shortest travel time to Stansted Airport are Bow Church (on Bow Road next to Bow Church DLR station and a four-minute walk from Bow Road tube station) and Stratford, which leaves from the bus station that is located between Stratford railway, tube and DLR station.
Travelling between Stansted Airport and other London airports
National Express also operates coach services to Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton airports.
Stansted Airport to Gatwick Airport
National Express operates up to 10 daily direct coach services linking Gatwick and Stansted Airports with the journey taking around 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Stansted Airport to Heathrow Airport
Each day National Express operates up to 20 direct coach services linking Heathrow and Stansted Airports. The journey time can be as quick as two hours, although it is best to allow more time as the coach can get stuck in traffic.
Stansted Airport to Luton Airport
There are up to 23 daily coach services running between Luton and Stansted Airports with a journey time of under one and a half hours.
Travelling between Stansted Airport and other cities in the UK
CrossCountry run trains from Stansted to Birmingham via Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester and Greater Anglia also operates a train service between Stansted Airport and Cambridge. The one-way fare to Cambridge is usually between £10 and £11 and advance purchase fares to Birmingham start at around £20 (although tickets purchased on the day are much more expensive).
National Express also operates a coach service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport with up to 38 departures per day. This coach service also has stops at Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Other direct coach services from Stansted operated by National Express include coaches to Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Liverpool, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Southend.
Local bus routes to nearby towns also stop at the airport.
Bus and coach routes from Stansted to destinations other than London include:
- Arriva route 133 Stansted Airport–Braintree–Colchester
- Arriva route 508, 509 and 510 Stansted Airport–Harlow
- First route 42A Stansted Airport–Chelmsford
- First route X10 Stansted Airport–Chelmsford–Basildon
- First route X30 Stansted Airport–Chelmsford–Southend-on-Sea
- National Express route 250 Heathrow Airport–Stansted Airport–Braintree–Colchester–Ipswich
- National Express route 349 Stansted Airport–Nottingham
- National Express route 350 Liverpool–Stansted Airport–Southend
- National Express route 727 Gatwick Airport–Heathrow Airport–Stansted Airport–Cambridge–Norwich
- National Express route 737 Stansted Airport–Luton–High Wycombe–Oxford
- National Express route 777 Stansted Airport–Luton–Milton Keynes–Coventry–Birmingham
- Stephensons route 5 and 6 Saffron Walden–Stansted Airport–Bishop’s Stortford
- Trusty Bus 7 and 7A Stansted Airport–Elsenham–Bishop’s Stortford