I Went to All 4 London Airports So That You Don't Have To

I Went to All 4 London Airports So That You Don't Have To

You're welcome.


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.

Popular Right Now

11 Must-Go To Day Trips In North Carolina

For the wanderers and curious...

It's finally summer, classes are out! There are so many things to do in this beautiful state. There are many small towns to visit. These towns are perfect day trips. From the mountains to the beach and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up and get ready for a summer of adventure.

1. NoDa

This is a small hipster district right outside of Uptown Charlotte. Music and art paint this town and it has a very creative energy flow. Amelie's Bakery, a 24/7 french bakery, is located in this district. There is always something fun and new to try in this cute, artistic town!

2. Asheville

This town is known for the beautiful scenery and historic importance. The Biltmore Estate is located here, and it is open for tours every day of the year. It is the biggest estate in America. The downtown area is very artistic, and the mountains make for a gorgeous hike. This is definitely an adventure you don't want to miss.

3. Boone

This small town has a lot of outdoor activities. It is perfect for hiking and whitewater rafting. If you love nature, this is a must see. It is a college town where Appalachian State University is located. The downtown area is very old school and for modern hipsters.

4. Crowders Mountain

This is located in Gaston County. Once you reach the Pinnacle, the peak of the trail, with clear skies you can see for miles. It is a quick four-mile hike for the short one, the view is amazing.

5. Wilmington

This city is known for the beachfront. It makes a perfect day to hit the waves. There are many beach fronts to visit, such as Carolina Beach. Cape Fear Ocean runs through this city. White sand, waves and the boardwalk. If you are a fan of One Tree Hill, it was filmed here.The small restaurants and characteristics give this town a vibrant energy.

6. Serendipity House

This house is from the movie Nights In Rodanthe located on a beach in Avon, North Carolina. It has been remodeled, but the amazing characteristics of this make it a sight to see.

7. Linville Falls

This is located in Linville, North Carolina. Attractions close by are also the Blue Ridge Mountain. To get to the main fall, it is about a mile hike.

8. Outer Banks

Small beaches on the outer banks of North Carolina have wild horses. Corolla Wild Ponies run free, and you can even take a ride on them in the water.

9. Sliding Rock

Located in Brevard, this rock is actually naturally made from a small waterfall. You can actually go sliding down it. It is in Pisgah National Forest also near Asheville.

10. Devil's Tramping Ground

This is located near Bennett. It is a 40-foot circle that cannot grow life. If you leave something or sleep in the circle, the rumor is it will be outside of the circle the next day.

11. Land of Oz Theme park

Located in Beech Mountain, this theme park that was once full of life is now closed and for the most part abandoned. It comes alive for one night a year for an event. This is definitely a place to take a night adventure to...

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Abroad 'Grew' Me

Change can not even begin to describe it


"Abroad changed me."

It's the cliche, all-encompassing, slightly asshole-ish phrase that any student returning from a study abroad experience is bound to let slip at least once. As ironic and annoying as it may sound, especially when repeated 100 times, it's definitely not false. However, I believe it best gets its point across when modified slightly.

The one slight correction that can be made to this statement is the word "changed". I know for a fact that my study abroad experience opened my eyes to new cultures, new perspectives, and new possibilities. I was able to branch out and pursue areas of interest I had never imagined. However, I am still me. I did not morph into a new person or lose anything I once had before I boarded that plane. If anything the correct phrase (although not grammatically proper) should be "Abroad grew me". The path I followed in my experience, every twist, turn, and bump that hit me along the journey, helped me to become something more of myself.

My problem-solving, communication and overall interpersonal skills have become so much stronger than those which I left JFK Airport within early September. All of this combined, my confidence has grown tenfold. In terms of my self-confidence, I have never felt more validated or reassured of who I am, what my values are, and what I want out of this life. All of these things are due to the situation I was put into, but I would not call them changes. Because the word "change" insinuates I never had any of these skills or characteristics before.

Being brave, for example, is not something I typically would label myself as. But when you are lost in the streets of Morocco, frantically running in circles to find a blue building (in what is known as the "Blue City") when your bus is leaving in under 5 minutes, the act of going up to a complete stranger and getting your Spanish to somehow coincide with their Arabic is not just a show of bravery, but a necessity. It is how you survive. Although I quickly learned that after a few too many travel fiascos, I also came to realize how much better life can become when you let this bravery into other aspects of your life - not just the emergencies. The little parts like trying new foods, volunteering to make a fool of yourself and flamenco dance, stopping at the street corner to converse with the woman selling flowers, these are the small things that shaped my entire experience. And these are the biggest things that helped me to grow. This bravery was something that I always had, just never to the extent at which I tapped into during my time abroad.

Yes, coming back from studying abroad I feel like the world around me and my normal life have changed. I never could have expected it to stand still just because I was absent. However, I do not feel that I have "changed" from who I was before. A desire for a challenge is what led me to go abroad in the first place and I am extremely blessed to be able to say that my wish was fulfilled. With each new experience, I expanded my horizons, and piece by piece I watched myself morph into what I would now call a confident and well-rounded individual. This growth has brought me to where I am today, but it is only the starting point on my adventure to further explore cultures, the world, and where my place is in it all.

Related Content

Facebook Comments