Joke's on you all if you thought I would ever stop ranking things with incredible bias and often unnecessary harshness!! Welcome to the abroad edition of Emily Ranks. Today, I will be ranking all four airports in (or around, that somehow still constitute as "London" "airports") the city of London. I have had the opportunity to experience all four airports over the course of my two and a half months abroad thus far, and I say opportunity lightly, as there is no better word for the experience but it is truly far too positive of a word for what I have gone through. Let's put it this way: not all airports are created equal.
The Motherland, the beacon of light in the darkness of traveling alone.
I flew into Heathrow when I first arrived and, while I unfortunately did not feel like I was going to walk out into the loving and nurturing arms of Emma Thompson re: "Love Actually", I did feel like I was in intelligent hands and was not going to get lost or yelled at. As much as I bitch and moan about Hartsfield-Jackson, it truly is a high functioning city-state/ airport. Heathrow is like Hartsfield-Jackson, but instead of being overwhelmed by deep Southern accents, I was overwhelmed by Northern British accents which, to me, is better.
I was warned about Luton by a friend before flying out but I can now attest that there is literally nothing wrong with it. Is it a tad out of the way? Sure, but so are all four of the airports. Did I have to dead sprint through St. Pancras to make my train because they make you buy a ticket for a specific train at a specific time? Yeah… we're not a fan of that.
But Luton was clean, nice, easy to access, the passport check people didn't yell at me, boarding was efficient and painless, and their Starbucks had gluten-free options (targeted @ Stansted). All in all, Luton gets a thumbs up from me. Way to go Luton!
Let's make something clear: Gatwick Airport and I are not friends. Gatwick is not fun or easy to navigate. Gatwick is not a friendly place. But it is the cheapest and easiest to get to, so it still ranks higher than Stansted.
Maybe I should elaborate: my first time flying into Gatwick, I landed at 9 am, after having woken up six hours earlier (4:00 am in Barcelona = 3:00 am in London, 9 - 3 = 6 hours. That's how angry I am: I'm resorting to doing simple math). After standing in the security line for 45 minutes after landing at 9 am after having been up for six hours already, I got to the desk and proceeded to be belitted for saying I'm from American instead of the States, for starting to write my birthday in the American style of Month/Day/Year before catching myself, for being delirious and not realizing my last port of exit is the airport I just left from rather than the one I will ultimately leave the UK from, and for America's involvement in Panama. I almost started to cry.
I have traveled in and out of Gatwick since but, like all first impressions, I will never forget my experience at 9:45 am at the security gate after being up for nearly seven hours by that point.
There's truly nothing taking a train ride through the Middle of Nowhere, England for an hour and a half with literally a negative clue as to where you are. It's these exhilarating experiences that really prompted me to go abroad in the first place. Now that you genuinely have no idea where in the world you are, it's going to be very confusing getting around the airport because surely they're not sending you over half a mile away on foot just to get to your gate? Now you're out of breath and can't stop sweating from that haul of a walk and there's one bathroom and it smells like feet but it's better than going to the bathroom on your Ryanair flight.
Now you're flying back in and there's a plane train and the plane train is going to stop a couple of times but do NOT GET OFF WHATEVER YOU DO. Then you can waste some of your life in the security line before wasting the rest of it on the train back home.
And that's Stansted.