Giraffe Coffee Shop at London Gatwick
London - Whether it’s a long layover or a sudden snowfall in December, spending a long time in the airport is a reality for most travellers.
Some more prepared fliers even choose to arrive much earlier so as to avoid long queues and rushed check-ins, not to mention the dreaded feeling of missing a flight because you’re running late.
UPDATE: Heavy snow, high winds wreak havoc across Europe
I have to say that from my experience, the latter is a real possibility in London where traffic is often at a standstill coming to and from airports. Getting an early Gatwick Express train to or from the airport is your best option. It’s faster and cheaper than arranging transport in most circumstances.
I recently visited with British Airways, which operates a direct flight between Cape Town and Gatwickfor the SA summer season - and for those headed to the UK, it's a welcomed alternative to Heathrow Airport - with its recently upgraded South Terminal and ease of access if you're basing yourself on the South Coast.
SEE: BA expands summer flights between Cape Town and London
Here are 4 things to do at London Gatwick while you wait:
1. Plethora of food offerings
Do you have a few hours at your disposal? Go to one of the many restaurants and shops that are open in the North and South Terminal from 04:00-22:00. For those whose need for shopping never sleeps the World Duty Free is also open 24 hours. Check out a full list of what’s available here.
2. Entertain the kids
Are you trying to keep the kids busy while you get some food and some rest? There is a kid’s play area in the middle of the restaurants so you can keep an eye on them while you refuel. These areas are free, have a TV and can be found in both terminals. There are also pushchairs if you need them.
3. Book into an airport lounge
There are several lounges at the airport for different airlines for those who have a business or first class ticket and have some time to kill. There are even lounges where you can pay to experience the luxury regardless of your ticket. I experienced both the British Airways First and Club Lounge and aside from the yummy food and drinks there are also shower facilities and a children’s play area with gaming consoles.
4. Flight cancelled outright? It might be time to check into a hotel.
For those of you who might have to stay for more than 8 hours there’s a hotel in the airport, and many more around Gatwick London. Each have their own charm, some more basic while others offer a high end stay.
What to read next on Traveller24:
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- UPDATE: Heavy snow, high winds wreak havoc across Europe
*Disclaimer: Channel24 Content Producer Alex Isaacs was hosted by British Airways for the duration of her trip to London, this included flights and hotel accommodation.