Florida Guide > Travelling
Flying to Florida from….. Gatwick
This is a brief guide to Gatwick airport and its facilities for anyone flying from here on their way to Orlando.
Firstly I thought I might give you a short history lesson ?
There has been an airport on the site since 1930. The airport was originally a private airfield owned and operated by the Surrey Aero Club. The first commercial service was started in 1934. By 1936 there had been so much development of the airfield that the first passenger terminal was opened. This offered passengers arriving by train, access to the building via subways and covered walkways.
With no paved runway it was abandoned by the main airline using it, in 1938, only to come back into use during WW2 as an RAF base. At the end of the war it was returned to civil use, by which time it had grown considerably, but was still only a grass airfield.
In 1953 the Government decreed Gatwick as London's second airport. The old airport was closed for major re-development. When it officially re-opened three years later Gatwick had been transformed into a modern facility with a 2000 feet runway, a terminal with a rail station and a covered pier linking terminal with aircraft, the first of its kind in the UK.
The rest, as they say, is history….
Some facts and figures
Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world, the second largest airport in the UK and the sixth busiest international airport in the world.
The runway is 3,316m long by 45m wide.
Two terminals serve around 90 different airlines that fly to 212 destinations.
Around 32 million passengers pass through Gatwick each year, and this is expected to rise to 40 million by 2010.
Gatwick employs 25,000 people, and handles over 216 tonnes of air cargo a year.
Facilities for travellers
You nearly always fly from the south terminal to reach Orlando. Upon arrival you find your check in desk and hand over your hold baggage for the journey, and once freed of the heavy cases you can explore a bit more. It has become our routine to arrive at the airport, check in our cases and head off to Gatwick Village (upstairs) for breakfast.
There are plenty of eating areas and shops to part you from your spending money before you even get on the plane. It is like a small town centre in the “Village” Most high street names have branches here. Everything from Boots, to W H Smiths, to sports shops and designer shops. There is even a branch of Harrods!!
Of course it makes sense not to buy too much, especially as you are flying off to one of the shopping mecca’s in the USA. For those too tempted to buy here there is a shopping collection service, whereby you can buy now and collect on your return from Florida.
You can also take advantage of the free “personal shopper” service. These “helpers” are distinctive green uniforms and can help you with advice on special offers in the shops and offer advice on everything from gifts to a new suit.
They really do their best to lighten your wallet before you fly, but the best advice is to save it for your vacation.
There is also a vast array of eateries, and several bars and coffee shops as well as the obligatory McDonalds. Plenty of choice for even the pickiest traveller.
Disabled travellers are well catered for too. For general advice and information regarding the special needs facilities at Gatwick Airport telephone +44 (0)870 0002468.
Of course business travellers aren’t forgotten either, the South Terminal has two executive lounges: Servisair Lounge and Aviance Lounge.
You can have a shower before you fly, or on your return, before commencing the journey home.
There are a couple of arcades to keep older children amused while you wait for your departure, but not a whole lot for very young children so its best to bring a couple of favourite toys to occupy them in the terminal and also on the plane.
I like Gatwick Airport, it is always busy and very vibrant and besides, it is the start of my vacation to Orlando. So make the most of the airport and incorporate your time there as part of your holiday and it makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.
Page added on: 30 July 2005
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