In this report, we’ll go through the experience of using London City Airport (LCY) as a departing passenger.
Note: The information and pictures presented here are drawn from my own experience of using London City Airport as a departing intra-UK passenger on 08 June 2022. Details may change at any moment and without prior notice.
Airport name : London City Airport
IATA code : LCY
ICAO code : EGLC
Country : England, United Kingdom
Major city served : Greater London
Routes served : Domestic and international
Runways : One
Terminals : One
Passenger traffic (source) : 5,122,271 in 2019 (last full pre-pandemic year); 720,580 in 2021 (latest full year)
Links : Official Website / Wikipedia
London City Airport (hereinafter “LCY”) is one of six international airports that serve the UK capital and nearby districts. The prime Central London address makes it a very popular choice for the time-short business crowd of nearby Canary Wharf – hence all the smartly dressed “suits” that you’ll come across in the departures lounge.
Of course, LCY’s location is not without drawbacks. Its proximity to densely populated neighbourhoods leaves very little room for expansion, either in terms of size (due to lack of space) or operations (due to noise concerns). Moreover, because of its relatively short runway and closeness to built-up areas, the airport can only accommodate smaller aircraft that can manage steep take-offs and landings.
THE DEPARTURE EXPERIENCE
Step 1: Travel to the airport
Located less than 5km east of Canary Wharf, LCY is the closest of London’s airports to the city’s financial and historic centre. The available options for travelling there from elsewhere in the British capital (and further afield) are described in detail on the airport’s official website.
If you prefer trains to road-based transport, the journey to LCY will involve travelling on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The terminal building is physically connected to the eponymous London City Airport Station on the DLR network.
Step 2: Check in for your flight
At LCY, you can check in for your flight even before entering the terminal. There’s a long bank of self-service check-in machines in the passageway between the building and the DLR station.
Additional self-service kiosks are available in the terminal’s main check-in hall, where you’ll also find staffed airline counters.
You won’t find a lot of passenger amenities in this space. Just a bureau de change, a WHSmith, a Pret a Manger…and not much else. Fret not, there are more options available for dining and shopping after security.
Further details on check-in procedures are available on the airport’s official website.
Step 3: Proceed to outbound security
As at other UK international airports, no outbound passport controls are in place at LCY. Whether you’re flying domestically or overseas, the next stop after check-in is security.
Take the escalator leading up from the main hall and scan your boarding pass at one of the turnstiles, which will admit you into the security screening zone.
The inspection itself is fairly routine, with the usual gauntlet of luggage scanners and walk-through detectors. As always, make certain that your Liquids, Aerosols, and Gels (LAGs) fall within the prescribed limits and are correctly packed in a transparent plastic bag.
More information on security procedures is available on the airport’s official website. Detailed guidance for specific types of hand luggage – such as LAGs – can be accessed by clicking the labelled buttons on that page.
Step 4: Enjoy the terminal’s airside facilities
LCY has a small footprint, but it’s got a decent range of restaurants and shops on offer (mostly after security). You can read about the available options on the airport’s official website: click here for dining and click here for retail.
One specific establishment that I’ve personally tried is Cabin, a bar and restaurant in the terminal’s secure airside zone. (I’ll write a separate review of that experience in due course.)
Step 5: Wait for your flight
Most of the available seating can be found in the central section of the terminal, alongside LCY’s shops and restaurants.
If it’s a little too crowded hereabouts – or when departure time draws near – you might consider heading straight for your flight’s assigned boarding gate.
LCY’s boarding gates are located in the two long “arms” that extend outwards from either side of the terminal building. The waiting area at each gate is considerably smaller than what one might be accustomed to seeing at larger airports, but there are extra seats in the corridor to accommodate any overflow.
Step 6: Board your aircraft
There are no aerobridges at LCY. Passengers must walk out onto the apron and board their aircraft using mobile stairs.
Well, now that the hard part’s over, all that remains is to sit back and enjoy your flight.
Here’s a video that I filmed whilst aboard a BA CityFlyer Embraer ERJ-190 that took off from LCY on 08 June 2022. The footage gives a good view of the terminal and the surrounding area, including (from 2:08) the iconic Thames Barrier.
Safe and happy travels, everyone.