TheSmartLocal – Singapore’s Leading Travel and Lifestyle Portal

Skip to content
london heathrow and gatwick airport

London Heathrow Airport & Gatwick Airport: Which Is The Best Airport To Fly Into The UK? 

Comparing London Heathrow Airport & Gatwick Airport

For those who’ve bookmarked the Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye, listen up. Singapore Airlines will be launching direct flights to London Gatwick Airport from 21st June 2024, which means we have more non-stop flight options to choose from. Slay.

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport, so you can make an informed decision when booking your flight tickets. Read on to find out more:

What you need to know before flying to London, UK

london view

For the uninitiated, Singaporeans do not require a visa for short-term stays of 6 months or less. Just remember to have at least 6 months of passport validity and you’ll be good to go. The Great British Pound, or pound sterling, is the currency used in the UK, and the majority of the money changers in Singapore carry this currency.

Singapore is 7 hours ahead of London, meaning 4pm in Singapore is 9am in London – use this as a gauge to plan any long-distance calls you might have.

singapore airlines

It takes around 14 hours to travel to London on direct flights. There are many affordable full service airlines from Singapore, but there are currently 3 airlines that offer direct flights from Singapore to London are British Airways, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines.

There are options for non-direct flights too, if your booty can’t take 14 hours of sitting. Some common options include flying with Emirates with a layover in Dubai, or Turkish Airlines with a layover in Istanbul.

There are 6 international airports in London: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, and London Southend. However, London Heathrow and Gatwick Airport remain the most popular options amongst travellers, especially Singaporeans as these airports host more direct flights from Asia.

The recommended months to visit London is from April to June or September to October, when temperatures are mild. Springtime takes place during March to May, where you’ll experience longer daylight hours and full blooms in the parks. Those who want to join the Christmas festivities can consider visiting in December, but flight ticket prices are much higher.

It’s also important to note that all airports are prone to strikes. While it is highly unlikely that flights get cancelled in the event of a strike, flight delays may occur. It is best to keep updated on your respective airlines via their website. Allow for extra time during your travels, especially for layovers. And don’t forget to get a comprehensive travel insurance plan to cover any unexpected costs.

London Heathrow Airport London Gatwick Airport
Number of airlines Over 80 50
Number of airport lounges 33 11
Distance from Central London ~15 minutes by train ~30 minutes by train

What to know about London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport
Image credit: David McKelvey via Flickr

With over 80 operating airlines and 5 terminals, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is easily the biggest and busiest airport in the UK. It was even crowned one of the top 5 busiest airports in the world in 2023. The airport hosts a slew of international airlines, including ANA, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines.

As for us Singaporeans, LHR also hosts British Airways, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines, AKA the 3 airlines which provide direct flights from Singapore to London.

You’ll notice that there aren’t many budget airlines – it might be due to the expensive operating fees and landing costs of LHR. In fact, the CEO of Ryanair Group once said that he will not allow the airline to fly from LHR as long as he is alive. Anioop.

What are the amenities available at London Heathrow Airport?

World Duty Free
Image credit: World Duty Free

If you’re looking to shop, LHR will be your dreamworld. Terminal 1, 3, 4, and 5 at LHR all have a tonne of retail, electronics, and lifestyle shops. And yes, this includes luxury names such as Hermès, Chanel, Dior, and Gucci. The airport also has gift shops like World Duty Free and Glorious Britain if you’re looking for souvenirs.

Whether you’re waiting for your next flight out or simply need a place to rest, there are over 30 airport lounges at LHR for your use. Those with a long layover can consider checking out the luxurious lounges available such as the Concorde Room by British Airways.

 Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow
Image credit: @hiltongardeninnheathrow via Instagram

Alternatively, you can stay at the airport hotels. Options include Premier Inn London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3, which are all within walking distance of the terminals.

How to get from London Heathrow Airport to Central London?

First things first – the UK is much bigger than Singapore, so naturally, it takes more time to get from one place to another.

Heathrow Express
Image credit: @heathrowexpress via Instagram

Travelling to Central London from LHR takes about 50 minutes to an hour by train, and there are multiple train options you can choose. Taking the Heathrow Express train will be the quickest but priciest – you can get to London Paddington in 15 minutes, with tickets going from £15 (~S$25.76).

You can also take the Tube (read: UK’s version of our MRT). The London Underground Picadilly Line will take about an hour, and tickets go from £5.50 (~S$9.44). Or, hop on the newer Elizabeth Line which takes 40 minutes. Ticket prices start from £12.80 (~S$21.98).

There are coaches from LHR that fetch you to various train stations like Victoria Station, and it costs from £10 (~S$17.17) per person. The last option would be to take a private taxi, but be prepared to fork out a larger sum – as much as £70 (~S$120.25).

Preferred airport for international travellers from non-European countries

It’s easy to see why LHR is favoured amongst many. It’s a recommended choice for international travellers, especially those flying in from Asia, as many international carriers land here. However, this also means that non-EU citizens might be met with longer queues at immigration due to the high influx of travellers.

Things to know about London Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport
Image credit: textlad via Flickr

London Gatwick Airport (LGW) has close to 50 operating airlines, including Ryanair, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Icelandair, and TUI Airways. And yes, Singapore Airlines will be launching flights to LGW from 21st June 2024!

You’ll notice that many European budget airlines fly to LGW – such as easyJet, Wizz Air, Norse Atlantic, and Vueling Airlines. If these names are unfamiliar to you, that’s because they mostly fly within the UK and Europe.

What are the amenities available at London Gatwick Airport?

Admittedly, LGW is smaller compared to LHR. This means that there are lesser amenities, but that’s not to say that the airport is lacking in any sense. You can do your shopping at the North and South Terminals, where there are also gift shops like Glorious Britain and World Duty Free.

Hampton by Hilton Gatwick
Image credit: @hamptongatwick via Instagram

There are 11 airport lounges spread across the 2 terminals, should you need a place to refresh before your next flight. Similar to LHR, there are airport hotels within walking distance from the terminals. Hampton by Hilton Gatwick and Sofitel are just a few you can consider.

How to get from London Gatwick Airport to Central London?

Getting to Central London from LGW by car can be twice as long than from LHR, so we recommend sticking to public transport. However, if your lodging is near the southern London neighbourhoods such as Crawley, then LGW is wayyy closer.

Gatwick Express
Image credit: @gatwickexpress via Instagram

For those staying around Victoria Station in Central London, take the Gatwick Express. Tickets costs from £20.50 (~S$35.20), and it takes only 30 minutes to get to Victoria Station – while it takes about 50 minutes from LHR.

LGW also has coach services like easyBus with affordable ticket pricings from £7.30 (~S$12.53). You can choose from various drop-offs locations, including London Waterloo Station.

Preferred airport for short-haul European flights

If you’re travelling within Europe, say, from London to Paris, then LGW will be the better option for you. This airport is also less busy than LHR, so chances are immigration lines will be shorter.

Most travellers don’t spend a tonne of time chilling at LGW, given that there aren’t many airport lounges and shops to browse. This works out for those who don’t have long layovers – so basically a touch-and-go situation at LGW.

Is Heathrow or Gatwick Airport better for Singaporeans?

There’s no definitive answer as to which airport is superior as both have its pros and cons. Also, everyone’s travel plans are different, and preferences might vary between individuals. But for our indecisive readers, we’ve come up with 2 scenarios that could help when choosing which airport to fly to.

Scenario 1
Oxford Street
Shopping paradise at Oxford Street.
Image credit: @1105_jp via Instagram

You’re travelling from Singapore to London with your family, and everyone wants to get to London ASAP. Your folks are planning to shop till their hearts’ content, so you’ve booked a hotel at Oxford Street.

Answer: If this relates to you, go for LHR. Since no one wants to waste 3 hours on a layover, a direct flight to the UK is the way to go. LHR has more carriers that offer direct flights from Singapore to UK, giving you more flight options.

LHR’s shopping options are plentiful compared to LGW, so your family can peruse the shops available. And lastly, LHR is closer to Central London, and you can take the Elizabeth Line to get to Oxford Street in 30 minutes.

Scenario 2

solo travel

You’ve been called to Paris for work. You’ll be travelling alone, and transiting at London before taking a short flight to Paris. Since you’ll be bringing a small suitcase – it’s a work trip, after all – you won’t be intending to shop.

Answer: If this scenario is similar to yours, fly to LGW. Because you won’t be actually staying in the UK, the location of the airport won’t matter as you won’t be roaming outside. The possibility of shorter immigration queues will be beneficial to you since you’ll have to quickly get on your next flight. Also, the lack of shops won’t be an issue since shopping isn’t on your agenda.

Travelling to London from Singapore by plane

Every airport has its pros and cons, be it airline options or the number of airport lounges available. Depending on your individual preference, choose which works best for your travel plans. Now, it’s time to create your ultimate London checklist.

Things to do in London:

Cover image adapted from: David McKelvey & textlad via Flickr