London Heathrow Airport
England’s largest and Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow Airport welcomed almost 70 million passengers in 2011, more than double the number seen by the country’s next busiest airport, London Gatwick. Heathrow has five terminals, with direct and non-direct flights regularly serving hundreds of destinations worldwide. More than 80 airlines fly from Heathrow, the most active being British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and American Airlines. Each of the terminals has a plethora of restaurants, fast-food chains, bars, and duty-free stores. Access to London city center and the nation’s rail network is straightforward via the Heathrow Express train service to King’s Cross Station. Alternatively, all major car rental companies are present, as well as many city and inter-city bus services.
London Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick Airport, located outside of the city in West Sussex, is the country’s second busiest airport, with more than 33 million passengers passing through in 2011. It has the world’s busiest single-use runway, with an average of 52 take-offs each hour. Unlike Heathrow, Gatwick Airport is a hub for a number of budget airline carriers, in addition to full service and charter airlines. The airport has two terminals, both of which offer a variety of duty-free stores, restaurants, and bars. Major airlines flying from Gatwick include British Airways, easyJet, and Thomson Airways. Its busiest routes include Malaga, Madrid, and Alicante in Spain, and Dublin in Ireland. Although Gatwick is some distance from the center of town, the Gatwick Express rail route connects it with London Victoria Station and nearby cities Brighton and Portsmouth.
The busiest airport in the country outside of London, Manchester Airport saw almost 19 million passengers pass through its gates in 2011, more than double its nearest rival, Edinburgh Airport. Its location in the Northwest makes it the main gateway to the North of England for foreign tourists. The three terminals are stocked with a range of facilities, including eateries, shops, and telephones. Some of the major airlines serving the facility include American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Emirates, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, while the busiest routes are Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife South in Spain, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Manchester Airport Railway Station, situated between terminals 1 and 2 connects the airport with Manchester Piccadilly Station and other stations throughout the North. Bus and coach routes also connect it to Manchester city center, while cars can be rented through most major car rental firms
Situated fairly close to England’s official second city, Birmingham Airport offers both domestic and international flights and was the country’s seventh busiest airport in 2011, welcoming around 8.5 million passengers. It is a base for a number of budget airlines including Ryanair and Thomson Airways, and its busiest routes include: Dublin, Ireland; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The terminal is equipped with a number of restaurants, cafés, and duty-free shops. Ground transport is fairly efficient with direct routes to both Birmingham and London, while buses and black cabs are available outside. Additionally, car rental is available on site through major suppliers.