passenger airport at Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, England
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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > London > London Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport (STN IATA) is London's third airport. Despite bearing London's name, it is actually in Essex, about 30 mi (48 km) north of the capital. There are coaches and direct express trains into The City and Victoria Coach Station in London all day and overnight. The airport is also close to Cambridge, which is about 25 mi (40 km) away, and Colchester, which lies around 30 mi (48 km) to the east.

London Stansted Airport - terminal building, departures and arrivals

Stansted is the fourth-busiest airport in the country, after London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. It is a Ryanair hub.

Most Stansted flights are to and from European destinations, including more than 25 destinations in France, 20+ destinations in Spain, 10+ in Greece and 10+ in Germany, depending on the time of year. There are also flights to and from North Africa and the Middle East, and within the United Kingdom to Newquay in Cornwall, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Edinburgh in Scotland. A full list of destinations is on the Stansted Airport website.

The airport is owned by MAG, Manchester Airport Group, who also own East Midlands and Manchester airports.

Understand edit

Stansted is excellent for direct low-cost flights across Europe, especially away from the capitals. For example, from Rome to London, there's plenty of choice, but from Bari, Palermo or Turin it would otherwise be difficult to get here without paying three times as much and taking three times longer.

Stansted is okay for travel to central London. It's further out and pricier to reach than Heathrow or Gatwick, see transport options below. Nevertheless, there are frequent buses and trains south to London, and north to Cambridge, Norwich and the Midlands.

Stansted is poor for:

  • flights beyond Europe – though Morocco and Dubai are served.
  • transfers to other airports – allow at least two hours to reach Heathrow or Gatwick, on top of the normal two-hour check-in & security time.
  • currency exchange (bureau de change) – as there are few options in the terminal and these are often very expensive.

Flights edit

Stansted is dominated by the low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet which have large bases at the airport. Holiday charter airlines TUI and Pegasus also operate at the airport. A few other scheduled carriers fly to European destinations from Stansted and there are a small number of intercontinental flights.

Flights are normally from 06:00 to 23:00; the airport terminal remains open 24/7 but most facilities close overnight. Delayed passengers arriving during the small hours had better assume everything landside will be closed, so use the toilets in the baggage reclaim hall before emerging onto a draughty sidewalk. See the transport section below for the first & last buses and trains.

Ground transportation edit

Stansted Airport is a fair way from London and other nearby cities, so travel times may vary, particularly at peak times. You don't necessarily need to pre-book your transport, with plenty of turn-up-and-go travel options, but "advance" tickets can come with a discount. It is always worth checking journey planners a few hours before your flight.

By train edit

By train is usually the quickest way to travel to Stansted, particularly from London. Stansted Airport railway station is (almost) beneath the terminal building. The walk between trains and the terminal building usually takes less than 5 minutes.

The station has step-free access. London Oyster cards and contactless bank cards cannot be used to travel between London and Stansted. You can buy tickets and e-tickets at stations or online. National journey planners and tickets are available on several websites, including National Rail and The Trainline.

 
Stansted Express trains connect Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale in London with London Stansted Airport

Trains to or from London edit

Stansted Express connects London with Stansted Airport. At peak times, a train leaves in both directions every 15 minutes. The journey takes around an hour. London Oyster cards and contactless bank cards cannot be used to travel between London and Stansted. You can travel from:

 
Stansted Express trains connect The City (pictured) with Stansted Airport, with trains leaving every 15 minutes during peak periods

Trains to or from Bishop's Stortford and Harlow edit

Some Stansted Express trains call at stops between London and Stansted Airport. These include:

 
The station at Stansted Airport, which is around 2-5 minutes' walk from the terminal entrance

Trains to or from Birmingham, Cambridge and Norwich edit

You can travel to Stansted using some CrossCountry long-distance trains. Major destinations include:

Greater Anglia trains run between Stansted and Cambridge/Norwich:

 
There are lots of National Express services between central London and Stansted Airport every day - but some routes take longer than others

By coach edit

Coaches stop outside the main Stansted Airport terminal entrance. The walk between the coach station and the terminal is around 2 minutes.

Coaches are generally much cheaper than trains, but journey times vary depending on the traffic. There are direct coaches to other airports around the country, including Birmingham (BHM IATA), London Heathrow (LHR IATA) and London Luton (LTN IATA).

Coaches to or from London edit

National Express coaches run all day and night between Stansted and London:

Airport Bus Express shuttle coaches run all day and most of the night, calling at London Liverpool Street, London Stratford and Stansted Airport only.

UK coaches edit

National Express coach routes to other UK destinations include:

Local buses edit

Local bus routes in Essex and Hertfordshire include:

By taxi edit

Unlike Heathrow, there is no standard taxi fare between central London and Stansted. Fares can be negotiated with each firm. Expect tariffs in excess of £110.

Street Cars Taxis is the on-airport taxi provider. There is a reservation desk in the international arrival concourse. Also bookable by phone: +44 1279 211 111.

 
Stansted Airport is signposted from the M11 motorway and A120

By car edit

Stansted Airport is accessed via the A120 dual-carriageway, near junctions 8 and 8a of the M11 (London - Cambridge) motorway. There several different car parks for Stansted Airport, which are signposted from the A120.

Onward connections by car include:

The M11 motorway can become congested at peak times in the London and Cambridge areas. Entrances into Stansted Airport can also become congested during school or seasonal holidays.

A list of Stansted Airport car parks is on the airport website. Short stay car parks, which are the closest to the terminal building, are generally more expensive than the dedicated "mid stay" and "long stay" car parks.

There are 24-hour free airport transfer buses from car parks furthest away from the terminal. The transfer takes no longer than 20 minutes. You can pre-book parking online. Pre-booking is compulsory for the Meet & Greet and JetParks car parks.

By rental car edit

The 3 London Stansted Car Rental Village is home to several car hire firms, including national chains. A rental car finder is on the Stansted Airport website. There is a free bus transfer between the car rental village and the terminal forecourt, with a service every 10 minutes. Postcode: CM24 1SJ.

Get around edit

 
Map of London Stansted Airport
 
Stansted Airport Transit System

If you arrive by car into JetParks, Stansted Airport Long Stay or Stansted Airport Mid Stay, follow signs to the nearest shuttle bus stop for a free transfer to the terminal building.

If you arrive by coach or by train, or by car into the Stansted Airport Short Stay Orange Zone, follow signs into the terminal building, through the subway. There are lifts and escalators between levels. The walk takes no longer than 5 minutes.

There is only one terminal building, so it's reasonably easy to get around Stansted. Entering the building, departures are to the left, and arrivals to the right. Check-in desks are in the centre. Some airlines allow for check-in online or via a mobile app. Check with your airline for details.

There are very few facilities landside.

You will need to pass through security to reach the airside area and departures lounge. FastTrack security to skip queues is open between 4am and 8pm. Prices start at £8 per person with booking online.

World Duty Free and a series of shops lie between security and the departures lounge. There are several departures screens in the departures lounge.

Some gates are walkable from the departures lounge. Gates 1-19 and 20-39 are accessible by people mover (an automatic, underground train).

If you are an arrival into Stansted, the 4 railway and bus stations   are down a ramp, accessed from inside the terminal building. Rail departure screens are inside the terminal and the railway station. The rail and bus stations are signposted from the terminal.

Wait edit

There isn't a huge amount to do while you wait at Stansted Airport. Nevertheless, official advice is to arrive at the terminal least two hours before your flight. This is advice worth following, because Stansted can get busy during school and seasonal holidays with long queues for security.

Before the airport edit

If you're not in a hurry and in London, there are one or two attractions near London Liverpool Street, among them the Barbican Art Gallery, and a selection of restaurants and bars about 2 minutes from the Stansted Express platforms at the Broadgate Circle. Remember, it takes about an hour to get to Stansted by train from Liverpool Street, so be sure to leave in plenty of time.

The nearby town of Bishop's Stortford features a range of food and drink stops - including a range of food stalls at the Eat 17 "foodie utopia" and The Castle pub at 38 Castle Street. Great Dunmow, a historic market town less than 15 minutes by car from the airport, also features a selection of pubs and restaurants - including the Flitch House and Square One Dunmow[dead link].

On the roads, 1 Birchanger Green service station   is off   junction 8 for  , approximately 10 minutes by car from the terminal building. Includes EV charging, free WiFi, free showers, pet-friendly areas, Burger King, Chopstix Noodle Bar, KFC, Starbucks and Waitrose, among other outlets.

See "Nearby" for a greater range of side-trips.

Landside edit

Before security, waiting around can be a little tiresome. There are Costa Coffee and Pret a Manger cafés with customer seating, along with a Burger King and a few vending machines. There are some benches throughout the terminal, but these can get very busy. There are designated smoking areas outside the terminal building.

Airside edit

After security, the departures area is compact and can get very busy, with standing room only in the main atrium at peak times. The bars, cafés and restaurants can offer a few more seats. There are plenty of souvenir, clothing and convenience shops to browse while you wait - but remember to check your baggage allowance with your airline before you buy.

There is seating at most gates, but delays can lead to standing room only.

Unlimited WiFi is free for 4 hours (the timer resets after 24 hours from first use). Use the _FreeWifi network. You can pay for faster internet access, with prices from £1.

There is free drinking water at the international departure lounge (behind Pret A Manger), at passport control, international baggage reclaim near reclaim 9, the international arrivals hall next to Burger King, in the gates 1-19 area, and in the gates 40-59 area.

There is no smoking (including e-cigarettes) airside.

Airside Lounge edit

The Escape Lounge is signposted, behind Pret A Manger in the airside waiting area. This family-friendly area features unlimited hot and soft drinks, complimentary WiFi, and a selection of hot and cold food. Can be pre-booked from £29.99 per person on the Stansted Airport website. Open daily from 4am until 8.30pm.

Eat and drink edit

 
The Stansted Airport terminal building

Stansted Airport features a range of cafés and restaurants airside, and a small selection of outlets landside. Remember, if you are buying food and drink to take with you, there might be restrictions at your destination country.

Before the airport edit

Approximately 10 minutes by car from Stansted Airport, 2 Birchanger Green service station   is off   junction 8 for  . It features a range of food stops including Burger King, Chopstix Noodle Bar, KFC, Starbucks and Waitrose. There is no public transport between Birchanger Green and the terminal building.

There is a 3 McDonald's   on the Stansted Airport campus, near the Mid Stay Car Park. After leaving the  , follow signs to "Services". McDonald's, which includes a Drive Thru, is open 24 hours.

Landside edit

4 Caffè Nero   is open 24 hours in the coach station.

Inside the terminal, there is a cluster of places to eat and drink near the Arrivals area. These include Burger King, Costa (chain café), Leon (vegan-friendly "good" fast food) and Pret (chain café). Shops which sell food include WHSmith and M&S Simply Food.

Airside edit

In addition to food and drink in shops such as World Duty Free and WHSmith, there is a wide selection of restaurants, bars and cafés. In 2023 these include:

  • The Camden Bar and Kitchen - breakfast, pub classics and beers inspired by London's Camden Town
  • Comptoir Libanais - Lebanese cooking, including breakfast, light bites and dinner
  • Harris + Hoole - chain café
  • Itsu - Asian-inspired lunches and light bites, including breakfasts, soups and sushi
  • Joe & The Juice - juice bar
  • The Perch - Nikkei-inspired premium bar with menu combinations from across South America and Japan
  • Pret - chain café
  • Terracotta Italian Kitchen - Italian restaurant
  • The Windmill - a J D Wetherspoon pub serving drinks, breakfasts, pub lunches and dinners with runway views

Buy edit

Travel money edit

With a captive market, changing your pounds and pennies for other currencies can be a little expensive at the airport. If you are still after travel money at Stansted, you can exchange your cash with ChangeGroup - in the landside area, departure lounge and baggage reclaim.

If you want to change your money before you set out for Stansted, you can check exchange rates on websites such as money.co.uk and MoneySavingExpert. You might be able to exchange your cash on your local high street - at with independent travel agent, Post Office, John Lewis, M&S Bank and others.

Landside edit

You can find WHSmith - a chain convenience store - in the arrivals area.

Airside edit

Before your departure, shop for toys, clothes, travel essentials and London souvenirs in the airside area. In 2023, these include:

  • Accessorize - women's fashion
  • The Body Shop - soaps and fragrances
  • Boots - health and beauty essentials
  • BOSS - formalwear
  • Glorious Britain - UK merch
  • Hamleys - toys, games and London souvenirs from the famous Regent Street retailer
  • JD Sports - sportswear and footwear
  • Mulberry - luxury leather and smart-casual wear
  • Rituals - soothing health and beauty products
  • Ted Baker - clothing
  • WHSmith - books, newspapers, magazines and snacks
  • World Duty Free - food, drinks, gifts, souvenirs and novelties

Cope edit

There are two multi-faith prayer rooms at Stansted Airport for prayer or quiet reflection.

Landside, find a prayer room opposite Check-In Zone A.

Airside, there is a prayer room near the Escape Lounge in the Departures Area, behind Pret.

Both prayer rooms are open 24 hours a day.

Sleep edit

Napping is allowed in the terminal, which is open 24 hours, but you may be woken by fellow passengers or staff.

Next to the terminal, find:

Two hotels are near the Mid Stay Car Park, with a £4 per adult shuttle bus to/from the terminal:

A shuttle bus connects the terminal with Novotel Stansted Airport near the Long Stay car parks:

There are more hotels and B&Bs within 15 minutes drive of the airport, including in the nearby village of Takeley, and the nearby towns Great Dunmow and Bishop's Stortford.

Nearby edit

Are you sure? For Ryanair this is a hub and they can stand-up aircraft and crews if they see that a delay is going to embroil them in grief and compensation. Your departure posted as 3 hours late may suddenly go to a boarding call. You can probably only risk leaving the airport for a general shut-down, or an incoming turnaround by some other airline that hasn't even left Malta yet. Check that flight's progress online (e.g. departure board of the airport of origin) and work out Plans B and C for if your departure time suddenly comes forward, or goes back even further because the crew have timed out on their hours.

  • Cambridge is top choice if you've four or more hours spare: wander the wonderful old streets and colleges. Thirty minutes by train twice an hour; the station is a mile or so south of town but there's a bus.
  • Stansted Mountfitchet has a medieval castle with an educational replica Norman village and windmill. It's only six minutes away via hourly trains towards London Liverpool Street.
  • Bishop's Stortford is a small market town. The ruined castle is just a grassy knoll. Nine minutes away by train towards London Liverpool Street every 30 mins.
  • Saffron Walden, six miles north off M11, in summer has Audley End Jacobean Mansion and Gardens. The Mansion is a mile from Audley End railway station (trains towards Cambridge) so you could walk, but more likely you'd come here if you had a hired car and were too early for your accommodation or return to the airport. See East Anglia for similar options within an hour's drive, such as Ely.
  • London itself doesn't work as a side-trip unless you've six or more hours to kill. The train takes 50 mins to Liverpool Street in the northeast of the city but then it's another 30 mins by Underground to the central sights.
Routes through London Stansted Airport
CambridgeSaffron Walden  N   S  HarlowLondon
Bishop's StortfordStansted Mountfitchet  W   E  BraintreeColchester
END  N   S  Harlow TownLondon Liverpool Street
NorwichCambridge  N   S  ENDS
Birmingham New StreetCambridge  N   S  ENDS


This huge airport travel guide to London Stansted Airport is a usable article. It has information on flights and ground transportation as well as some complete entries for food and beverage options at the airport. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.