Beat Gatwick Airport’s ‘Frantic Friday’ Christmas crush… the essential guide to a stress-free departure day

Gatwick Airport has revealed that Friday, December 22, will be its busiest day of the festive season with nearly 70,000 passengers passing through its terminals. Keep ahead of the crowds with our essential insider guide to beating the Christmas crush…

Get ahead of the crowds at Gatwick Airport this Christmas

Get ahead of the crowds at Gatwick Airport this Christmas

From having the right change for a trolley, to negotiating snaking security queues, we’ve got the essential information you need to ensure smooth, cost-effective and stress-free progress through the terminal on ‘Frantic Friday’.

Packing for your Christmas trip

Don't let Xmas essentials get you into trouble at Gatwick's security desks

Don’t let Xmas essentials get you into trouble at Gatwick’s security desks

Christmas brings a unique set of rules when it comes to packing for your trip. Did you know that party poppers are banned on all flights?  Or that some airlines don’t allow Christmas crackers?

Click below for our full guide to Christmas accoutrements you can and can’t pack when travelling from Gatwick Airport.

Does my airline allow Christmas crackers

Christmas packing list – what you can and can’t take

Christmas packing quiz – test your knowledge here

Airport security rules for electronic devices

Find out the facts around electronic devices and air travel here

Find out the facts around electronic devices and air travel here

Don’t fall foul of regular security measures at Gatwick Airport. Get up to date with all the latest restrictions on electronic devices – such as laptops and phones – or risk losing expensive kit as you attempt to board.

Find out the rules for where to pack your electronics

Airport parking

The stress of organising a Christmas getaway could see airport parking fall off the list, but failing to pre-book could leave you with a post-festive financial shock to sour your return.

Here’s how pre-booked parking compares with tariffs for turn-up-and-park…

8 days’ short stay gate rates at Gatwick Airport: £360
8 days’ APH Gatwick park and ride: £64.48

Save cash and guarantee a parking space by pre-booking your parking here.

Beat Frantic Friday traffic – book a hotel for just a few pounds extra

ooking a night in a nearby hotel will ensure a smooth and worry-free getaway

Booking a night in a nearby hotel will ensure a smooth and worry-free getaway

With the final big commute of the year pitting rush-hour drivers against festive travellers, the RAC has predicted carnage on the UK’s roads as Frantic Friday clogs the country’s transport arteries.

Booking a pre-flight stop-over at a nearby airport hotel will help you beat the jams and make it to your flight on time – after waking just minutes from Gatwick’s terminals.

Combining a hotel with airport parking can often bring great deals, with the room costing just a few pounds more. Here’s a package we found at Gatwick through APH.com.

Airport parking alone: £64.48
Airport parking and hotel: £90.00

This deal – at a nearby 4-star hotel – means we’d be paying just over £20 for a top hotel room. A cost-effective way to beat Frantic Friday traffic.

Get a quote for hotel and parking packages at Gatwick here.

Grabbing your baggage trolley

Baggage trolley bugs can affect the family

Don’t miss out on grabbing a trolley as 70,000 fight for them

These unsung heroes of airport life will be in great demand, so making sure you have the correct information and coinage is a must for all travellers.

Here are the trolley details you’ll need for Gatwick Airport:

South Terminal
Details: Grab your trolley but you’ll need to carry a coin!
Where: Luggage trolleys can be picked up from drop-off, baggage reclaim and all other relevant areas of your journey through the South Terminal.
How much: £1, €1, 25¢ or trolley token – the new 12-sided £1 coin is accepted in trolleys at Gatwick.
Are credit/debit accepted: cards No.
Is fee refunded: Yes, when trolley is returned.
Need change: There are change machines throughout the terminal – including one by the APH drop off bus stop.

North Terminal
Details: Grab your trolley but you’ll need to carry a coin!
Where: Luggage trolleys can be picked up from drop-off, baggage reclaim and all other relevant areas of your journey through the North Terminal.
How much: £1, €1, 25¢ or trolley token – the new 12-sided £1 coin is accepted in trolleys at Gatwick.
Are credit/debit cards accepted: No
Is fee refunded: Yes, when trolley is returned.
Need change: There are change machines throughout the terminal.

Beat the security lane queues

Read this at-a-glance guide to airport security regualtions and don't get caught out

Use a fast-track security lane to bypass the pain of Christmas queuing

With added problems of Christmas packing regulations in place, the queues to pass through security are expected to be huge.

Investing a few pounds to hasten your progress by using the airport’s fast-track security lane is likely to prove a smart investment.

Simply book a slot for the Premium Security Lane and enjoy queue-free access to shops and restaurants as you wait to board.

It’ll cost £5 per adult, with under-12s using the service for free. Open from 04:00–20:45.

Book a slot for Premium Security Lane access here

Find the right restaurant for you – and beat the crowds

It's not the food you need to worry about... find out more here

Pick your Gatwick eatery before you arrive

With almost 70,000 people travelling through the airport on Friday, December 22, alone, there’ll be fierce competition for seats in all restaurants. Get ahead of the pack and save valuable time by picking your eatery in advance.

Use our restaurant guide to see what’s on offer and, in many cases, download a menu before you arrive.

Book a lounge pass – beat the crowds for less

Are airport lounges any more expensive than remaining in the terminal - we found out

Are airport lounges any more expensive than remaining in the terminal – we found out

Finding space to relax in a packed terminal won’t be easy, so why not spend a few pounds extra to side-step the hordes and relax in one of the terminal’s luxurious private lounges.

With prices from £18 and complimentary food and drink on offer, the admission fee can be offset against what you’d pay in public areas of the terminal buildings. Have a look at our comparison above.

Get your airport lounge quote here.

Log on for free WiFi

Wi-Fi – get it for free and make sure it’s safe

Many airports offer free WiFi, but making sure you select the official service is vital for safety. Here’s the info you need when logging on at Gatwick Airport this Christmas.

How much: Passengers using Gatwick’s terminals receive 90 minutes’ free Wi-Fi access. Once your 90 minutes expires, you’ll need to purchase a package from Boingo WiFi. The provider’s ‘Boingo UK’ package will give access at a cost £9.95, according to the company’s website.
Instructions: Here’s how to get online with Gatwick Airport’s Wi-Fi:
1) Navigate to the list of available wireless networks.
2) Click on the ‘get online now’ button and select ‘Gatwick Free wi-fi’.
3) Log into your myGatwick account.
4) Click on the pink ‘Get online’ button for 90 minutes’ free WiFi

Did you use the Dartford Crossing?

20,000 motorists can't be wrong. Find out how the Dartford Crossing could be improved for drivers: Thinkstock

Using the Dartford Crossing? Don’t forget to pay up: Thinkstock

Travellers heading to Gatwick from the likes of Essex and Suffolk are likely to use the Dartford Crossing. Changes to way tolls are collected could result in big fines if not tariffs aren’t paid by the day after the crossing.

It’s easy to forget to do this in the excitement of a Christmas getaway, so remember to click below for a full guide explaining how to pay online or by phone as you wait to fly.

How to pay the Dartford Crossing and what to do if you forget

And on your return…

With many travellers not returning until after the New Year celebrations, make sure you’re safe to drive on your return.

Use this calculator for a guide to gauge how long you should leave between your last drink and getting back in your car.

Calculate the time you need to leave here

For guidance only


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