The complete guide to London Southend Airport
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You may think London has five airports, but there are actually six. London Southend Airport (SEN) may not be as well known as Heathrow or Gatwick yet, but is growing at a rapid rate — especially as Ryanair quickly builds a base there.
We have been featuring plenty of deal alerts from Southend Airport, and you may have been tempted to book one of these fares but are unsure of how to use the airport in terms of how to get there, how early to arrive, what facilities are there and more.
So, here is a complete guide to help you out.
Southend Airport has been growing at a rapid pace the past few years. It’s now a hub for EasyJet and Ryanair, and the following airlines now operate to the following destinations:
- EasyJet: Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Málaga, Malta, Murcia, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Prague
Seasonal: Bordeaux, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Ibiza, Jersey, Lanzarote, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Pula, Sofia, Tenerife–South
- Flybe: Caen, Groningen, Guernsey, Newquay, Rennes
- FlyOne: Chişinău
- Loganair: Aberdeen, Carlisle, Derry, Glasgow, Stornoway
- Ryanair: Alicante, Bergamo, Bilbao, Brest, Bucharest, Dublin, Faro, Málaga, Treviso, Vilnius
Seasonal: Bergerac (begins 31 March 2020), Corfu, Girona (begins 1 April 2020), Marseille (begins 1 April 2020), Palma de Mallorca, Reus
- Wizz Air: Bucharest (begins 22 November 2019), Iași (begins 2 August 2020), Vilnius (begins 23 November 2019)
Given the rate at which Ryanair has added destinations this year, it’s likely that the carrier will add plenty more next year.
There are frequent departures in the early morning from 6:30 a.m. each day, while during the day, flights leave around every 20 minutes depending on the time of year through to 9:30 p.m. Arrivals start from around 8 a.m. through to 11:15 p.m. You can find live departure and arrival information here.
Southend carried 1.5 million passengers in 2018, with the most popular destinations being Amsterdam (AMS), Dublin (DUB) and Alicante (ALC).
London Southend Airport is located 36 miles east of Central London, near Southend-on-Sea.
While that’s not very close to the city, it is closer to London than Stansted Airport (STN), and only a few miles farther than both Gatwick and Luton from central London.
There are regular trains that operate to the airport from Liverpool Street Station. Unlike Luton Airport, the trains stop directly at the airport and there’s no need for a shuttle bus ride.
Greater Anglia trains start each morning at 4:17 a.m. from Liverpool Street. The journey takes just under an hour, so on the first train, you would arrive at Southend Airport by 5:15 a.m. There are services every 15-20 minutes all day, covering up to and after the last flights depart each evening. Fares are £17.40 per person each way, even booked well in advance.
Each evening, the last train departs the airport at 11 p.m. for Liverpool Street, so ensure your flight lands well before that if you are landing at night and planning to take the train into London.
If you are taking a ride-share service, you can expect a journey time from central London of around 75 minutes during off-peak times with fares ranging from around £60 for a mini cab through to £147 for a black cab.
There is also an offer of a shared taxi service for £27.50 to Liverpool Street.
One of the best things about Southend Airport is how compact and efficient it is. The train platform is literally a stone’s throw from the terminal.
If taking the train from London, you walk up a flight of stairs over the train line, down to the ground floor, down a short walkway and you are at the terminal.
In the small area between the train station and the terminal are car parks — short and long stay.
The terminal itself is a small, rectangular shape.
To the right is the small arrivals area.
Past a Costa coffee shop and money exchange is the check-in area.
If you aren’t checking in luggage, you likely won’t need to arrive more than 30 minutes before the check-in time closes. It’s only a few minutes walk from the train platform to check-in, and check-in was very efficient during my visit.
Once you are checked in, its up a flight of stairs just a few steps away where passports are checked and then security.
There are four security lanes, though only two were being used while I was there during a reasonably busy mid-week half-term period, and there was about a 10-minute wait.
Immediately after security is the airport’s only lounge, the Skylife Lounge, which can be accessed with a Priority Pass membership.
For a Priority Pass lounge, it’s quite impressive with excellent staff, plenty of space and a wide range of food and drinks. Despite the terminal being busy, the lounge was virtually empty, suggesting most passengers either don’t realise it exists or don’t know how they can access it.
There airside area of the airport is compact, with just a handful of gates, plenty of seating and it is rare there will be more than a couple of flights boarding at the same time.
There are some small duty free shops and bars and restaurants, but it was refreshing not to be forced through a duty free maze in order to reach the gates like so many other U.K. airports — it’s only about 20 steps from security to the closest gate.
EasyJet scans all boarding passes and directs passengers outside into exposed walkways to wait to actually board the plane.
There are no aerobridges at Southend Airport, so it’s a short walk across the tarmac to your aircraft.
Southend Airport is a very easy airport to use due to its compact size and efficiency. While it is geographically far from London, a train in less than 60 minutes from the city is not dissimilar to other London airports. Note, however, that this train is expensive even when booked in advance — it may cost more than your airfare.
The airport has a rapidly growing list of destinations and incredibly cheap fares as airlines grow their operations out of Southend.
Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.