Enjoy it while you can: 9 things to know about the reopened Gatwick Airport South Terminal
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The South Terminal at London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) reopened last weekend after being closed for almost two years.
Normally a bustling leisure airport, demand plummeted during the pandemic and the airport’s management made the difficult decision to shutter the South Terminal on 15 June 2020. All surviving airlines were consolidated into the airport’s North terminal until now that is.
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TPG was on one of the first short-haul flights from Gatwick Airport in almost two years. If you are planning on travelling from the South Terminal soon, here are nine things to know right now.
Check your easyJet flight
EasyJet hasn’t moved all of their flights back from the North Terminal to the South Terminal. This means for the time being, your easyJet flight could be from either terminal which is likely to frustrate and confuse travellers. Check and double-check to avoid any doubt if you’re flying with easyJet.
For example, at the time of publication, the following easyJet flights are operating from the South Terminal:
- Paphos (PFO)
- Venice (VCE)
- Pula (PUY)
- Zurich (ZRH)
- Verona (VRN)
While all other flights are operating from the North Terminal.
Major tenants including British Airways, Norwegian, Wizz, Vueling, Ryanair and others have moved all of their flights from the North Terminal to the South Terminal.
The terminal is very quiet
The South Terminal was almost deserted on Tuesday morning when we passed through. Check-in, security and boarding had virtually no queues at all and it was a pleasant change from before the pandemic where thousands of holidaymakers would pour into the space to try and make their flights.
British Airways are slowly rebuilding their short-haul network — at the moment there are only a handful of flights each day. Most easyJet flights are still operating from the North Terminal, so while there are plenty of airlines back at the South Terminal, it is still much quieter than you might be used to.
Masks are not required in the terminal
Masks were not worn by most staff and passengers at check-in, security and airside. We queried this with a few staff members who confirmed the airport did not require them.
If your destination does require masks you may be asked to wear one after you arrive at your boarding gate but before you board your flight.
British Airways priority check-in now allows almost everyone
British Airways has a priority check-in area at the South Terminal which looks a little similar to the First Wing at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. It’s a pleasant space but note that it now allows the following passengers entry:
- Club World
- Club Europe
- World Traveller Plus
- Executive Club gold
- Executive Club silver
- Executive Club bronze
- Oneworld emerald
- Oneworld sapphire
- Oneworld ruby
This means that all passengers other than no status Euro Traveller/World Traveller and Executive Club blue can use the single entrance priority check-in lane. On a Saturday morning in summer this is going to mean a huge number of passengers eligible for priority.
It might seem somewhat classist to consider this a bad thing but when everyone is priority, nobody is — so there will be longer check-in times and less value for your status.
Fast track security is available
Speaking of priority, the fast track security lane at the South Terminal has reopened. Eligible guests will have ‘Fast Track’ printed on their boarding passes, or it can be purchased by anyone for £5. Right now, it’s unlikely to save you much time given how quiet the terminal is right now but should be handy as flights increase and the summer holidays begin.
Most lounges have reopened
The excellent British Airways lounge in the South Terminal is fully reopened. For Priority Pass members there’s the No 1 Lounge available which for now should be fairly easy to gain entry with your Priority Pass, something that was much rarer before the pandemic.
For an additional surcharge, the more upmarket Clubrooms lounge next door.
My Lounge is currently closed with a ‘opening soon’ sign on the door.
There’s real champagne available in the British Airways lounges
For many years before the pandemic, there was secret champagne in the British Airways business class lounges but only if you knew how to find it. You could ask one of the lounge staff for some and they would quietly squirrel you a glass from back of house.
During the pandemic, some T5 lounges saw champagne available, while others only saw prosecco.
Right now, British Airways have Canard Duchene Champagne available for all Gatwick business class lounge guests — this retails for around £35 per bottle. There’s no need to ask – it’s freely available from opening time in the centre beverage counter.
Many retail and hospitality outlets have not reopened
Around 50% of the retail outlets are in the South Terminal are still closed.
Don’t worry – there’s still a good range of duty free, pharmacy, coffee and luxury boutiques with their lights on.
You can even find a 6 am pint to start your holiday with a bang if that’s what you fancy.
Free newspapers and magazines are available for all passengers
Some passengers may think of Gatwick as a low cost airport but there was a premium feature we spotted during our visit. A good range of newspapers and magazines are freely available for all guests including The Times and International Property magazine.
Enjoy it while it lasts
Right now, Gatwick’s South Terminal is everything a passenger could want from a terminal. There’s plenty of space, very few passengers, no queues and smiling staff everywhere happy to help anyone get on their way.
Gatwick traditionally sees huge numbers of travellers over the summer travel period, so we expect passenger numbers to rise sharply over the next few months. Once British Airways have built up their full short-haul network, and easyJet presumably return all flights to the South Terminal there will be more flights, more passengers, more queues and more frustration.
For now, enjoy it while you can.
Featured image by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy
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