Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


December 18, 2014

Survival Guide to London Luton Airport

London Luton Airport – love it or hate it, there is no way of escaping this airport if you love travelling.  The home of many budget airlines, the airport itself is so budget that I have created a surival guide to help you navigate your way through the quirky features of Luton Airport.


Drive Baby Drive

Thinking of dropping your family off by car to the airport, well make sure you take some gold coins to throw into the magic fountain – yip even if you’re only dropping off which takes a minute or two you will get charged for the pleasure.  There ain’t anything for free at this airport folks!  Beware of pot holes in the car park as they’re the size of the Grand Canyon, obviously the money isn’t spent on repairing the car park.

Choo Choo

Living in London you get used to paying silly money for public transport but a train ticket to Luton Airport will cost you an arm, a leg and a kidney; this train line is one of the most expensive in the country (I should know as I could be driving a Bentley now considering how much I have forked out on train fares commuting into London over the years!)  

If you are travelling to Gatwick and Luton Airports on a regular basis then I suggest investing in a Network Rail Card that costs £30 however it gives you plus 3 friends a 1/3 off train fares if travelling off peak (not just to the airport but other destinations in the south of England also – hello cheaper day trips from London on the weekend!)

When buying a train ticket make sure you buy a ticket to London Luton Airport rather than Luton Parkway station otherwise you will arrive at the train station and have to buy a ticket for the bus transfer to the airport – if your ticket states Luton Airport then the bus transfer is included in the train ticket price.

Queues, tap tap tap

As a Kiwi I’m still not used to the English fondness of queuing and at London Luton Airport get ready to queue baby (take snacks otherwise you may faint from lack of food and water).  Hand luggage is a good idea at this airport and if you’re checking in bags get ready to meet some of the most aggressive airport staff in your travels (but they aren’t number 1 for aggressive staff – that’s Virgin Atlantic at London Heathrow, I would pay more money for a plane ticket with another airline to avoid travelling with Virgin Atlantic but I digress!)

Kia Ora, I’m a foreigner

If you’re a foreigner then the airline will want to see your passport so here’s the deal – you have all the check in desks in front of you so do a 180 degree turn and you will then have some more counters where you should find a very very small sign asking all non-EU passport holders to get their passports / boarding passes approved (but to be honest this seems to be a tick in the box exercise and nobody really gives a fudge cake).  Apparently they’re checking for visa requirements for your destination etc.

Once this has being approved you will then need to go and queue up in the luggage check in line (I know, you will curse that foreign passport at this point!) even if you don’t have any luggage with you!  All airlines seem to have a different policy at London Luton Airport (as normal in England, let’s all have different rules and confuse every traveller and make their journey more stressful than it needs to be).  You still need to make sure your pre-flight information in your online booking is completed as well – information overload and a million hoops to jump through!

Nothing is free

Yip you pay for everything at this airport including the clear plastic bags for your toiletries.  Remember to bring one from home.

Please remove your coats

The biggest surprise for most people travelling through Luton Airport is security – shock horror you have to remove your coats, belts and shoes.  The lines can get pretty horrendous however they do move fast “ish” but if you’re like me and don’t like to queue then I suggest buying a fast track ticket for £4 to get through security faster.  (You will also avoid looking at a number of bad tango tango fake tans which for me are like a car crash and I can’t stop staring and thinking why oh why).  Tickets are available at the top of the escalators before you hit security – there is a posh entrance and only a few people in the security line.

Shall I share a security story from London Luton Airport, it’s my blog so tough I’m going to tell you!  I bought a chocolate mousse from Marks & Spencer (located prior security), I put the mousse in my hand luggage only to get pulled aside at security and told I had a liquid in my bag – after a discussion on what was classified as a liquid and what wasn’t (apparently mousse is a liquid); I asked for the spoon that was in my bag as I was going to scoff the mousse in the security area rather than letting it go to waste.  It was a posh M&S Mousse after all!  Needless to say the man at security realised he wasn’t going to win and shooed me off – moral of the story – never mess with a Kiwi girl and her food.

Let’s go shopping

If you’ve had to check in a bag or get your passport approved you’ll be wanting a drink even though it’s most likely you’re boarding a 6am flight (it’s perfectly acceptable and I won’t judge) however if you are refraining from drinking then you can go shopping.  This is a survival guide and there is only one way a girl can survive a stressful experience, by buying shoes!  Thankfully there is a Kurt Geiger shop (it’s a tiny bit of heaven in Luton and will bring your breathing back in line and hopefully leave you with twinkly toes).

Check out these fancy shoes – every girl needs a sparkly pair of red slippers to skip down the yellow brick road!

Kurt Geiger Shoes


Tummy rumbling

London Luton Airport is no fancy Terminal 5 at Heathrow with all it’s posh nosh so it’s back to budget – Starbucks, M&S (before security), Krispy Kreme and The Real Food Company to name a few.

The Sanctuary

If you want to hide away then find the little airport lounge which I have to say is pretty darn great if you want some peace and quiet.  And they serve up Mrs Crimbles for gluten free folks like me – it’s not free but if you’re a Priority Pass holder then you can gain entry that way.  (apologies for the blurry photo but at 6am in the morning this is how things are truly going to look; fuzzy wuzzy!)


Shhh it’s a Quiet Airport

i.e. You will miss your flight – there are no announcements so you will need to check the board constantly as it will be waiting for a gate and then two minutes later it will be final call time.  Wear comfortable shoes as you will be forced to run at some point during your visit to London Luton Airport.

Burning the calories

You will burn calories as it will feel like you are walking miles from the shopping area to your gate – believe those signs it will take that amount of time to walk to your gate.

Oh yeah the boarding gate

This is my biggest pet hate (even more than having to pay for everything at this airport) and that’s the boarding area.  Basically a lot of the boarding areas have two or three gates attached and they’re normally boarding at least two planes at once so you join the queue not realising that there are actually two queues at the boarding area – it’s highly confusing and all very muddled as you don’t want to queue jump.  Like Dorothy follow the yellow marked out lines with your boarding gate number and head down the stairs to your boarding gate.

I hope this little survival guide to London Luton Airport helps you with your travels.

Safe travels


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