9,3out of 10
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Parking at Southend
9,3out of 10
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Situated on the Essex coastline, London Southend Airport (SEN) is in the prime location to provide easy flights to and from Europe away from the increasingly congested airspace over inner-city London.
SEN’s single 6,089ft (1,856m) runway transports approximately one million business and leisure passengers every year and, with an extended terminal building 295 feet (90 metres) longer than the previous iteration, London Southend Airport is aiming to double its annual footfall to two million by providing opportunities for new airlines and new routes across Europe.
Approximately 41 miles (61 kilometres) east of central London, SEN is a gateway to Europe and acts as a hub for major airlines easyjet and Aer Lingus, while facilitating many more. Easily accessible by car, coach, bus and train, London Southend Airport is a popular and convenient alternative to the stress of travelling in Central London.
With up to eight trains arriving at SEN’s purpose-built station every hour, the journey between the airport and London Liverpool Street Station takes only 53 minutes and provides seamless connections with the London Underground and National Rail services if you’re coming from further afield.
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the War Office designated an area of farmland on the Essex coastline as potential landing ground. This ground quickly became an airfield in its own right, expanding under the operation of The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy Air Service to become a night-fighter station, launching defensive sorties against zeppelin raiding parties.
After closing in 1920, the airfield reverted to farmland before it officially reopened as a municipal airport in 1935. However, the beginning of World War II saw Southend Airport requisitioned by the Air Ministry and renamed to “RAF Rochford”, earning itself a reputation for aviation engineering excellence by housing now-iconic aircraft such as Spitfires, Hurricanes and Blenheim Bombers. Many of the pillboxes designed to defend RAF Rochford can still be seen around the airport and in the surrounding countryside.
With World War II officially over, RAF Rochford became “Southend Airport” once again and a huge amount of investment and expansion saw SEN breaking records to become London’s third-busiest airport throughout the 60s and 70s. More recently, London Southend Airport has seen a host of state-of-the-art renovations and won a series of prestigious awards that have put it back on the map as a European hub.
London Southend Airport’s terminal has everything you need for your trip to Europe, whether you’re flying on business or starting a holiday. SEN’s cafés and restaurants offer everything from a quick pre-flight snack to a hearty full English breakfast, while familiar high-street shops are there to provide you with all your travelling essentials, from a book for the beach to a coat to keep out the cold.
Many of the airlines flying from London Southend Airport allow you to take one bag of airport shopping onboard along with your hand luggage, but if you’d rather leave your purchases in London, the airport’s Shop and Collect service will keep them safe until you get back. If you have any special requirements for your visit to SEN, contact their special assistance team on +44 (0)8457 484 950 before travelling.
All four of London Southend Airport’s long-stay car parks are on-site and located only a few minutes’ walk to the terminal, while the short-stay car park is just over the road, making checking in at SEN a breeze wherever you’re parked. Every car park at London Southend is secure and accessible 24 hours a day so you can be confident that your car will be safe and ready for you whenever you return.
There are no shuttle buses in operation, but the first 15 minutes of short-stay parking is free so you can drop family and friends off right outside the terminal, park your car and, due to the airport’s small site, be back within minutes.
Pre-booking parking at SEN guarantees you a space and will often save you money. If you need any more information, you can contact London Southend Airport passenger services directly on +44 (0)1702 538 517.
London Southend Airport has a unique, on-site hotel only a one-minute walk away from check-in. With 129 standard rooms, over a dozen executive rooms and a host of luxury suites, it’s perfect for travelling on a budget or holidaying in style. The hotel boasts the region’s only rooftop restaurant, serving quality food and drinks and providing some impressive views of the airport and surrounding area.
There are also a number of places to stay within an easy 10-minute walk of the airport and, although there is no shuttle bus service, many of the hotels offer discounts on airport parking when booked in conjunction with a room and can pre-book a taxi to take you to check-in.
London Southend Airport might not boast the vast array of shops, bars and restaurants of its larger London neighbours, Heathrow and Gatwick, but it does have plenty going on inside to ensure you can enjoy a pleasant layover. Whether you've got half an hour or more than a couple of hours, you'll find something to keep you occupied and entertained.
The Lakers Bar and Restaurant at London Southend Airport is inspired by the famous aviation entrepreneur, Sir Freddie Laker, who, throughout the 50s and 60s, was instrumental in transforming SEN into a major hub for commercial flights to and from Europe. In tribute to all of Sir Freddie’s hard work, The Lakers is adorned with early photographs that showcase the airport’s pioneering achievements in the golden age of flight.
Whether you’re after a moment of peace in the middle of a busy schedule or want to kick-start your holiday, the executive lounge at London Southend Airport is ideal and open to everyone, no matter which airline you’re flying with, where you’re sitting on the plane or where you’re going.
The lounge is divided into zones, with separate places to catch up on work, unwind with TV, read the day’s papers or just to get some sleep. With selections of complimentary food and drink served throughout the day, free high-speed WiFi and plenty of plugs to keep all your devices powered up, SEN’s lounge has everything you need to make your journey easy.
You don’t have to book to use the lounge, but pre-booking will guarantee you a space to relax away from the peak-time bustle of the terminal. If you’re parked at the airport you can also combine your parking booking with your lounge reservation to save even more.
Be sure to check out SEN’s on-site hotel with its striking rooftop restaurant and bar. Only a one-minute walk from the terminal building, the opportunity to sip a drink while enjoying the panoramic view of the airfield and surrounding area makes a refreshing change from the same old atmosphere of typical airport interiors.
London Southend Airport is one of the few in the UK to provide free and unlimited Internet access throughout the whole terminal, so you can keep an eye on the day's emails or catch up with your favourite television while you wait for your flight and without spending a thing.
Most of the airlines flying out of SEN allow you to bring one bag of airport shopping onboard along with your hand luggage. The airport also runs a 'Shop and Collect' service, so if something catches your eye while you're browsing London Southend’s shops, there’s no reason not to treat yourself. Simply take it onboard with you or leave it at the airport where it’ll be kept safe and secure until you’re back to pick it up.
Southend has been a seaside resort down for over 100 years and there's a good reason people flock to this sunny corner of the UK on their holidays. While it might not be as bustling with holiday-makers as it was in its 19th-century heyday, Southend has retained many of its olden-day charms if you know where to look and Londoners who want to escape for the day still make a bee-line for the beaches and the amusements.
Only a seven-minute train ride away from London Southend Airport is the seaside town of Southend-on-Sea. Treat yourself to some fresh fish and chips, play the 'tuppenny-pushers' and win prizes in the arcades, relax on the beach or stroll along the town’s world-famous pier which, at 1.3 miles (2 kilometres) in length, is the longest in the world and even has its own railway.
Southend expertly combines modernity with nostalgia, so you can find yourself hurtling along on a pink and yellow rollercoaster one moment, before indulging in the time-honoured tradition of fish and chips on the pier the next. It's about as quintessentially British as seaside towns get.
Sat nav instructions: Southend Pier, Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1EE
Located just off the beach at Southend-on-Sea, the Sea Life Adventure Centre is one of the country’s premier aquariums, featuring over 40 displays with sea life from all over the world. After a £1 million renovation project was completed in February 2017, the centre has become more accessible, educational and entertaining than ever and offers a great range of family discounts and deals all-year-round.
Sat nav instructions: Sea Life Adventure, Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2ER
Having been an essential base of operations in both World Wars and the site of incredible growth as a commercial airport, there are plenty of signs that point to SEN’s rich aviation heritage. Many of the pillboxes built to defend the airfield from attack in World War II are still standing and the old terminal is still in use today. Just a two-minute walk around the perimeter of the airport, the former terminal building is now predominantly used to house and maintain executive aircraft, but also contains a café with a particularly great view of the runway.
Sat nav instructions: London Southend Airport, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6YF
If you’ve got a while to wait for your flight, you can get a taxi to the picturesque town of Old Leigh, only a 15-minute drive south of London Southend Airport. With many of the old fisherman’s cottages and cobbled streets carefully preserved and fresh cockles and fine ale available in the local pub, Old Leigh is a charmingly authentic alternative to an afternoon in the departures lounge.
Sat nav instructions: The Old Town, Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EP
One train stop towards London – or just a two-minute taxi ride north of SEN – is the medieval market town of Rochford. Its rich heritage can still be seen today at Rochford Hall, which was built by King Henry VIII and bequeathed to Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne, when he became the 1st Viscount of Rochford. The town’s famous medieval market is thought to be the oldest in existence, dating back to 1247, and is still held every Tuesday in the Market Square.
Sat nav instructions: Rochford Rail Station, Rochford, SS4 1NL
If you find yourself with a day to spare before flying or are travelling to London Southend Airport from elsewhere, then it’s useful to know that Central London’s Liverpool Street Station is less than an hour away on the train. London city centre is packed with things to see and do, with world-famous art galleries like Tate Modern and the National Gallery, unique collections and exhibitions at The British Museum and The V&A and the iconic architecture of buildings like Big Ben, The Globe Theatre and The Shard.
Sat nav instructions: Liverpool Street Station, London, EC2M 7QH
London Southend Airport’s single terminal provides a vital link between England’s capital and major destinations throughout Europe and, thanks to its prime location on the coast, it is often used as a diversion alternative when bad weather forces other airports to close.
London Southend Airport is just off the M25 at Junction 29 and accessible from the A12 and A13 if you’re driving from London. You can use the postcode SS2 6YF for your sat nav.
Just 41 miles (61 kilometres) east of Central London, SEN is easy to reach from anywhere in the south and east of England. If you’re on the M25, come off at Junction 29 and take the A127, following signs for Southend until you see directions for the airport. Similarly, if you’re coming from London on the A12 or A13, just follow the signs for Southend until you pick up further signage pointing you towards London Southend Airport’s terminal and parking facilities.
SEN is part of the local and regional bus and coach networks, with frequent services running to and from the airport across Essex, to towns and cities such as Southend, Chelmsford and Stansted, where you can connect with national coach and rail services if you’re coming from further afield. The airport bus and coach website contains up-to-date information about all the available services.
Almost certainly the smoothest way to get to London Southend Airport is by train, with up to eight services running between the airport and Central London at peak times and the journey taking only 53 minutes.
SEN’s new and purpose-built train station is only a two-minute walk to the terminal and is attached by a covered walkway, so there’s no risk of getting wet on your way.
The train is a particularly convenient way to get to SEN if you’re travelling from elsewhere in the country as London’s Overground and Underground services are connected to the National Rail network.
If you have any questions or require further information, you can contact London Southend Airport Train Station’s 24-hour enquiries service on +44 (0)8457 48 49 50.
Even though London Southend isn’t as big as some of the other airports in and around London, it can still get busy, both in the terminal and on the roads outside. It’s a good idea to leave plenty of time to get there and to check the airport’s live arrivals/departures page before you set off.
SEN’s airport lounge is available to all passengers, regardless of their airline or type of ticket. While you can pay on the day to gain access, it’s a good idea to pre-book if you know you’re going to be there. This is often a cheaper option and, if you book a space in the lounge with your on-site airport parking, it can be cheaper still.
It’s important to note that London Southend Airport is not open 24 hours a day. The airport opens daily at 4:00am and closes 45 minutes after the last flight of the day, which is usually around midnight. If you’re planning on staying the night at the airport or if your flight is first thing the following morning, it’s a good idea to pre-book a room in one of the nearby hotels and check transport schedules before you set off so you’re not caught out when the airport locks its doors.
If you’re due to fly from another London airport and the weather forecast isn’t looking good, it might be worth checking how to get to and from London Southend Airport in advance. Thanks to its coastal location, SEN has a near-spotless weather record and is often used as a diversion alternative when bad weather rules out other airports in or around London.
You will have been sent confirmation of your flight by your airline, but if you can’t find it, the London Southend Airport daily flight timetable contains live information on every incoming and outgoing flight.
Although SEN has plenty of long- and short-stay parking spaces it can still get busy, particularly at peak times. Booking your parking space in advance not only guarantees you a place in the car park, but it can also save you money as well as give you access to the airport’s executive lounge before you fly.
All items found within London Southend Airport’s terminal and on inbound flights are recorded and stored securely for up to three months before being donated to charity if appropriate. You can make enquiries regarding lost property at the SEN ticket desk or, alternatively, the airport’s lost property form can be found here along with more information regarding administrative fees and postage.
It is important to note that SEN is only responsible for items found in the terminal and on inbound flights. For items left on outgoing flights, contact your airline as soon as possible.
Yes, there are a small number of plug banks in the airport’s restaurant and café facilities and a dedicated charging station in the executive lounge, although entry to the lounge is not free.
With just one terminal, London Southend Airport doesn’t have the range of retail that you can expect to see in other larger airports. However, the shops, bars and restaurants at SEN provide all the essentials you need to enjoy your journey.