Getting to London from Luton Airport


26 June 2011

Arriving in London

Luton Airport serves London for UK and European flights. The airport has information showing service to London but as you have just landed, and perhaps for the first time, you may be a bit overwhelmed. Stop and take a breath; you will get in to London and not miss anything. This may be a good time to start using the proper lingo. London does not have a “downtown”. If you inquire, ask someone how to get to central London. If you ask how to get to the city they may think you want to go to The City, which is a specific part of central London. The “City” is the financial district: Lloyds, Bank of England as well as St. Paul’s and the Tower of London. There are many ways to get to London but I have limited my information to only a few that the majority of visitors typically use. Taxis and private-hire cars are available but at an expense.

Airport Checkpoint Alert

You may be restricted in what you can bring through a security checkpoint at any airport. After checkpoint you may purchase liquids such as water or alcohol in the departure area or Duty Free before getting on a plane. WARNING! You may have to go through another checkpoint at you destination airport if you are changing planes or going through customs. When I went through customs in Philadelphia I never left the secure area and after I re-checked my bags I went to the next gate. In Charlotte I re-checked my bags but I had to pass another checkpoint on my way to the next gate. Any liquids would have had to be placed in my checked-bags first. But I had no idea that another C-P was ahead. You should check with a member of staff first or risk loosing you duty free spirits.

Luton Airport (LTN)

Luton Airport is 32 miles (52km) north of central London in the county of Berkshire. The rail lines serve St. Pancras Station in London and takes about 30 minutes. However you need to get to the Luton Airport Parkway Station, which requires a shuttle bus from the terminal to the station, which is 5 minutes in transit.

National Rail from Luton

First Capital Connect departs Luton Airport Parkway Rail station for several London rail/tube stations. See FCC’s network map. Luton Airport Parkway is the name of the rail station and is about one mile from the terminal. A bus service will take you and your luggage to the station. It is not a free service.

East Midland Trains departs Luton Airport Parkway station for London, St. Pancras International. See the EM route information page.

You will need to use a shuttle bus from the rail station to the terminal and depending on how you buy you ticket you could pay a surcharge. Please see the airport website for more details.

Keep your ticket with you, as you will need it to exit the station in London. You will be required to show or insert your ticket in a turnstile to exit the station. You should not need to do this with Gatwick Express as you get more of a receipt rather than what looks like a ticket.

Coach Service from Luton

National Express is a private company offering coach service to the airports and other cities around the country. Although their fairs are less expensive than the Express rail service the time involved to get to central London is greater. As always, there is a trade-off between cost and time.

Shuttle Service

There are a number of companies offering shuttle service between London airports and to central London. I am hesitant to mention them as their operation could change. A web search will bring them to you.

Money Issues

In a technical sense you can enjoy your visit with just a credit card. But it may be good to have a few pounds in your pocket. Depending on how you travel to central London, you may need to pay in cash. ATM’s, known as cash points, are well placed in the arrival hall.