Gatwick Airport guide
Gatwick Airport is the second busiest airport in the UK – seeing over 43 million passengers pass through its doors every year. So, it makes sense for us to give you a run down on the best practices when parking, travelling and flying from Gatwick Airport.
Before travelling to the airport
Check, and check again, that the name on your boarding pass matches the name on your passport. If you notice a mistake, call your airline at the earliest possible opportunity to get this amended and the correct tickets printed. (This may incur a cost – to find out more visit your airline’s FAQ page.)
Before leaving the house, make sure you have your passport, visa, boarding ticket, airport parking confirmation and money in your hand luggage.
Along with the original copies, make sure you take photocopies of your important documents such as your passport, visa, ticket, travel insurance and driving licence. Keep these documents separate from their originals.
Always weigh your luggage at home to avoid baggage charges. There is little to no leniency when it comes to baggage allowance, and you could find yourself paying hefty fines or disposing of your prized possessions to allow your luggage to be placed in the hold. Check out our travel checklist - www.help-me-park.co.uk/Blog/travelling-with-children-checklist - so you don’t forget any of the essentials.
Any liquids you feel the need to keep in your hand luggage cannot exceed 100ml and must be stored in a clear zip-lock bag to pass through security.
If packing medicines, keep them in their original prescription packaging with the label on, if you don’t have this you must have a letter from your Doctor.
If you’re visiting family, especially over the festive period, don’t wrap presents. Staff at the security area may have to unwrap wrapped gifts, due to protocol – try using a gift bag with tissue paper instead.
Always give yourself plenty of time to reach the airport. For European flights, aim to arrive two hours before you are due to take off. For international flights, arrive at the airport three hours prior to take off. Always take into consideration traffic and travel delays - www.traffic-update.co.uk/traffic/gatwick.asp
Driving to the airport? With Help Me Park’s meet and greet service you can drive right up to the terminal forecourt, where one of our friendly and experienced drivers will meet you, help unload your luggage and take your car to be stored in our safe and secure car park while you’re away. Make sure you give us a call 10 minutes before you are due to arrive so we can have a driver there ready, just head to www.help-me-park.co.uk to book your airport parking in advance.
Arriving at Gatwick Airport
Once you’ve handed your keys over to your Help Me Park driver – you need to head over to your check in desk. There are trollies for luggage as you enter the airport, and if your flight isn’t ready to check in just yet, there are plenty of places to shop, eat and drink while you wait. If you’re only flying with hand luggage then there’s no need to check in at the luggage drop, just head through to the security gates and use your printed boarding pass to scan through the gates on the way.
There will be plenty of screens surrounding you when in the security area, giving you the information you need to prepare yourself when going through security. Jewellery, like watches and large necklaces, should be removed and placed in a basket – along with belts, boots, electrical appliances and liquids (under 100ml). You’ll then head through a security scanner, don’t be alarmed if it beeps – you’ll be passed over to a member of staff who will do a quick pat down and you’ll be on your way. Collect all your valuables once they are through security, making sure you don’t leave anything behind.
The departures lounge
Once you’re through security you will be greeted with a large array of shops, restaurants and bars in the departures lounge.
- Feed the family
Armadillo is located in the North terminal of Gatwick Airport and serves “the best Santa Fe-inspired food this side of Rio Grande”. What that means is, the grub is good. Pull up a chair and feast your eyes on colossal burgers, bulging burritos and their famous full English breakfast. Wash it all down with a cold beer, (it’s never too early when you’re on holiday) or a cheeky cocktail from their extensive drinks menu. For little appetites, there’s a kid’s menu that’s bound to be a hit, especially with the chocolate brownie! Vegetarian? Then you’re in safe hands, with over 20 vegetarian options on the menu, you’re set to feed the family with a visit to Armadillo.
- Coffee lovers
Coffee lovers will not be disappointed at Gatwick airport, with more coffee shops in and around the terminals than I can count on both hands.
- Cheap and cheerful
If it’s cheap and cheerful you’re looking for then both the North and South terminal host a Weatherspoon’s bar and restaurant, where you can graze the menu for a range of vegetarian, gluten free and vegan-friendly dishes. With a pint of ale from £3.80 – you can’t go wrong, really.
The departures lounge is also home to the Duty-Free, so any cosmetics you’ve had your eye on: now’s your time to buy. With savings of up to 50% in some circumstances!
Take a look around and you’ll see large screens with all your flight information published in real time. Keep an eye on this as it will update closer to the time of take-off with the gate number you need to start making your way to. Gatwick is a large airport and sometimes you could be walking for up to 25 minutes to get to your gate, so make sure you give yourself enough time.
Once you arrive at your gate, take a seat, use the restroom or get some snacks from the vending machine, because pretty soon you’re about to board your flight and you might not get the opportunity to use the restroom for a while, with the food cart not making an appearance for at least the first thirty minutes, snacks may be handy.
Arriving back at Gatwick
When your flight lands back at Gatwick Airport you’ll be directed to the Border Control hall, sometimes this area of the airport can get very busy – so please refrain from calling your driver at Help Me Park until you have passed through Border Control and collected your luggage from the baggage belt. As soon as your luggage is in tow, give your driver at Help Me Park a call and we will be waiting outside the terminal forecourt with your car within 15 minutes, just enough time for you to grab a quick coffee and make your way outside to the meeting point. Our driver will hand the keys back to you, help load your luggage and see you on your way, until next time!