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5 Top Tips for Flying From Stansted Airport

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In the past, flying from Stansted Airport could be such a drag, but a necessity for the budget travellers of London. However, significant changes over the last 10 years have improved things considerably every time we travel, we learn a little something new and decided to share them with you. Using our our top tips, should help make flying from Stansted a little easier and a little more enjoyable.

This post may contain sponsored content or affiliate links that help support the blog. All opinions are our own.

1.) Top Tips for Getting to London Stansted Airport

We don’t have a car and so we can only talk about public transport:

The Stansted Express

Taking the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street Station is easiest way to reach the Aitport. The platform is announced a few minutes before departure, giving you time to wander along and find a seat. In winter, these warm few minutes are a god send. You can also travel from Tottenham Hale on the Victoria Line but this is outside.

Book your tickets early to save a bundle. Buying your tickets online up to three months in advance can save you 50%. Whatever you do, don’t use contactless to board the trains! The machines at Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale will allow you to tap through with an oyster/phone/contactless card. However, when you reach Stansted you will be fined for not having a ticket.

Once the train reaches Stansted, everyone will pile towards the escalators. There are slow ticket checks here and it can feel a little like a rugby scrum. For an easier time, make your way to the lifts. There will be very few people waiting for the lifts and the whole thing is a lot more civilised.

The Coach

Catching the coach is cheaper when your travel date is close, and vital if you are stuck with train strikes. National Express offers routes from across London and runs 24 hours a day so this is the most flexible option. They have plugs and free wifi…which is nice. You can pay £5 to make your ticket flexible, allowing you to catch any coach if your flight is delayed.

Airport Bus Express is even cheaper but only goes to Stratford and Liverpool Street. You will also find that they don’t keep an eye on the seats sold. You are not guaranteed a seat on the coach you book, which could be a problem if you are due to catch a flight.

Checking In

When you make it to the departure hall, bear in mind that the alphabetised system is the wrong way round. A is furthest from security, to your right as you look at the desks. There are a fair few budget airlines that operate from Stansted which you might think means nobody is checking in bags but don’t underestimate the queues to drop bags. We recommend getting to check in two and a half hours before you flight is due to leave. This gives you some contingency time to play with.

2.) Top Tips for Stansted Security

Getting into Security – Go Right

As you look at the security entrance, take note of the special assistance and fast track lines on the floor, veering off to the right. if you follow these, you will find a few security machines that are actually for general use in between these two faster lanes. Scan through these and you will be at the end of security with fewer people.

Preparing for Security – Electricals

London Stansted Airport has very strict hand luggage rules. Not only do you need to prepare your liquids properly, more on that in a bit but they want to see all of your electricals. This means that any travel hairdryers straighteners, curlers etc need to come out as well as the standard laptops, e-readers & tablets. Make sure that anything like this is packed towards the top of your hand luggage to make your life a little easier.

Preparing for Security – Liquids

Then, of course, we have the liquids issue. The way Stansted airport test its liquids means you must have them all in a proper plastic Ziploc bag. A thick clear bag with a normal zip does not cut it. They do have small plastic bags available at the entrance of security but it is just easier to make sure you have a compliant bag in the first place. You wouldn’t want to get to security only to realise that your bag was slightly bigger and your bits will not fit in theirs. a Ziploc sandwich bag, no bigger than 20 cm x 20 cm is perfect.

Preparing for Security – Clothing

Remember to wear shoes you can slip on and off quickly. Don’t wear clothes with lot of zips and metal catches and you will have to take your jumpers and jacket off so don’t wear just a bra or little crop top if you are self-conscious…learned that the hard way. If your bra has alot of underwire (M&S are bad for this) then prepare to beep. Maybe a wireless bra or bralette is the way to go.

Getting into Security – Go Left

Alternatively, go all the way to the left. Stansted is trialling two new machines which mean you can leave everything in your bag (liquids and electricals). It is very novel! Sadly, we haven’t had a chance to try this out ourselves as they were shut on most recent journey.

3.) Top Tips for Stansted Seating

The majority of the seating in Stansted departure lounge is crammed in the middle and hard wooden seating. It is noisy and crowded. However, there are three spots to sit that are vastly more pleasant.

The Windmill

Wetherspoons is usually crowded and can be noisy but, if you head upstairs with a bit of luck, you can find a table with a wonderful runway view. On most mornings, this will be a little grey, but seeing the planes move and take off always helps with that holiday excitement. Plus, you can get a refillable hot drink for £3.40! Thats cheaper than a coffee anywhere else in the airport. It is worth noting that the prices here are now as bad as anywhere else other than this great deal, so don’t expect Wetherpoons’ high street pricing.

The Escape Lounge

There is one airport lounge at Stansted, which is used both by airline business class passengers, and most airport lounge schemes. You can buy a reservation online through their website or use something like a Priority Pass, as we do. You will find comfortable seating, airport screens, and included in the price are both food and drinks. This includes alcoholic beverages, so a small meal and a couple of drinks it’s probably worth it. Plus, it is so much quieter than the main terminal.

Additional Seating

For a completely free, quiet area, make your way through all of the Terminal until you reach the transit train. On the right hand side, you will see a sign, pointing downstairs for additional seating. Follow this, and then head around the escalator to Stansted’s best kept secret. There are rarely many people down here. It’s hardly aesthetically pleasing, but if you just need some headspace then this is a nice option.

4.) More Top Tips for Stansted Airport Airside

Stansted Food Tips
  • Meal Deals – This is the cheapest way to eat at the airport. Boots does the best value meal deal at less than £5 for a snack, main and drink. Choose a nice big packet of crisps like Walkers Max, a triple sandwich and a fun fizzy drink for the best value.
  • Grab – This app allows you to preorder food at several outlets. You can then pick it up and go. This is great if you are short on time, you can order in the security queue and then pick up your food once you’re through.
  • Drinks – Don’t forget you can bring an empty water bottle through and refill once you are through security. There are water fountains by all the bathrooms. This is why you shouldn’t waste your drink option on water in a meal deal!
The Liquids Hack

If you are travelling hand luggage only, this one is for you! You can do an online order at and choose London Stansted Airport as a click and collect location. This ensures you have your favourite full size sun cream or hair products ready and waiting for you at high street prices.

The Transit System

Many of Stansted’s gates are located on the other side of the apron. To reach them, you will need to take the transit train. Our advice is to check the gate number as soon as possible using the screens, your airline’s app or Google. Head straight for the transit and make you way to your stop. There are bathrooms at the satellite gates so no worries.

  • Stop One: Gates 1-19
  • Stop Two: Gates 20-39

Don’t miss your stop and end up travelling back round the main terminal or you’ll be required to clear passport control and go back through security again…you very well may miss your flight.

Bear in mind that sometimes, it is broken and you will need to take the stairs to buses or to walk a different route so make sure you can carry your hand luggage easily.

5.) Top Tips for Returning to Stansted Airport

How to Ace Passport Control

If your gate requires you to take the transit back to passport control, then make sure you ask, heading to the left to board. Then when you disembark go straight for the passport control sign. Here the queue is split into and basically everybody will go left, go right and you will be to the machines in no time. Make sure your passport is out of its cover and ready to go.

Don’t Arrive Too Late

It might seem like a good plan to save some money and catch that late flight. Arriving just in time to catch the last train is all very well and good if your flight is on time. However, if you hit a delay, you will be slightly stuck. Without a guaranteed coach seat booked back to London, you may have to watch several coaches leave without you. This is especially painful in the cold and/or rain. Trust this gal that didn’t manage to get on a bus until 03:00…it is NOT the one.

Final Thoughts on Our 5 Top Tips for Flying From Stansted Airport

We hope this plethora of info will help you as you navigate the meandering walkways of Stansted Airport. If you have any Stansted top tips to share, let us know in the comments.

Rosie xx

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