views flight to london city airport

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 of flying a flight to London City Airport are the fantastic view of London that can be viewed during the approach or after take-off. 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!

Flying over the Thames Estuary on the approach into LCY.
Take-off from London City Airport in an easterly direction. The runway is on the island.

An alternative approach to London City Airport 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.

Approach into London City across a foggy London. Below, you can see the Thames River and the London Eye.
Flying over The Shard.

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, Tower Bridge and The City of London were gorgeous.

plane views london city airport
The LCY runway with the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf on the far end.
The view of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the City of London after take-off from London City Airport. I sat in Row ‘A’ for this view.

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5 Responses

  • 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 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!

  • 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! 🙂


  • 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.

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