Plane views: London City Airport

Thames estuary at sunset

 

London City Airport (LCY) is my absolute favourite of all the airports serving London. It’s small (getting through it is a breeze) and well-connected to the City (via the efficient Docklands Light Rail). One of the highlights (for me, at least) of flying to LCY is the approach. All flights from the European continent approach the airport via the Thames estuary, then loosely follow the Thames river to the London Docklands, where the airport is located. Strict noise restrictions mean that planes have to maintain a certain altitude before descending to land. At a certain point, the plane more or less ‘brakes’ in mid-air, sending the plane into a steep descent – it really feels like a nose-dive! It’s always cool to have a look around the cabin when the plane enters its final approach. There are always people clutching their arm-rests tightly, a nervous look on their faces.

London Docklands & City Airport

London Docklands & City Airport

An alternative approach to LCY takes the plane over central London – the views over London are stupendous. You’ll be able to see Heathrow airport, Wembley stadium, and over central London, you’ll be treated to views of Hyde Park, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and the skyscrapers of the City and Canary Wharf.

On my recent trip to London for the World Travel Market, I got to experience the thrilling ‘nose-dive’ yet again. The views over the Thames estuary as the sun set were simply enchanting.

Site of the London Olympics 2012

Site of the London Olympics 2012

Three days later, I was on my way back to Amsterdam. I love the take-offs from LCY too. As the runway is short, the pilots always put the brakes on at the start of the runway while they rev-up the engines. When they release the brakes, the ‘catapult’ action is sensational! The views of the curly Thames river and the Docklands were gorgeous. The plane also flew over the site of the 2012 London Olympics, currently a huge construction site.

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4 Responses to “Plane views: London City Airport”

  1. Jeanne @ Cooksister 20/06/2013 1:40 pm
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    I live within walking distance of LCY and despite some noise, I don’t feel particularly disturbed by its presence and I still love it more than any other London airport, and I feel lucky to live so close to it. Stunning views that you have captured – I posted one of the Thames after an LCY takeoff recently too http://instagram.com/p/adEpUzibhY/. It’s also a plane-spotter’s dream as you can comfortably park on a bench across the dock from the runway near Royal Alert station and watch planes to your heart’s content!

  2. velvet 15/11/2009 12:42 pm
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    Thank you Rajul for your comment. When I was a frequent business traveller to London (in my ‘previous’ life), I could get from the steps of the plane (upon arrival) to the door of the taxi in five minutes. If traffic was smooth, I could be at my office in the City within 30 minutes of arrival. Absolutely ideal! But my favourite part of using LCY still has to be the ‘nose dive’ landings and the ‘catapult’ take-offs! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  3. Rajul 15/11/2009 12:36 pm
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    This little article and your pics show great insight Keith. City Airport has been my favourite London airport too since I discovered it about 3 years ago.

    Apart from the great views which you capture so well, it has fast, cheap access into central London and as you say, it’s such a breeze to get through! I’ve arrived at City Airport and got through to the departure gate in literally 5 minutes flat: what other airport today can promise that?

    The downside is that it doesn’t have the range of flights of other London airports, so prices tend to be quite a bit higher. That – and its proximity to Canary Wharf – explain why it’s more geared up to the needs of business travellers.

    The other factor to note is that it tends only to accommodate smaller city-hopper type planes, which some people might find a bit scary, in combination with the landings you so vividly describe!

    I do appreciate that there are pollution concerns (as with any airport) but from a frequent traveller’s perspective, City Airport is a real joy to use.

  4. cumidanciki 15/11/2009 2:19 am
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    I’ll be in London next week! too bad it’s the urgly Heathrow instead 😛

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