Make the Most of Your Regional Airport

Written by Kate Goldstone

It’s remarkable. Britain is absolutely stuffed full of regional airports, many of which were built during World War two to house and support the sterling efforts of our bombers and fighter planes. And you can fly to a huge choice of popular and obscure destinations from them.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport

The Airport Guides website contains a comprehensive list of regional airports and major hubs, and there are a whole lot more private aerodromes scattered around the nation. So why is it a good move to go local rather than travel to one of the really big facilities, say Gatwick or Heathrow?

Here’s an exploration of regionals, why they’re a brilliant resource and some ideas about the amazing destinations available from them.

13 lucky reasons why flying regional is a great idea

First, why fly from a smaller airport near you? It’s a persuasive argument.

1. They’re usually near large towns and cities, so really convenient
2. If you’re travelling with small children, the shorter the journey to the airport, the better!
3. You save money on petrol
4. If you go by public transport, your fares are lower simply because it’s closer
5. Closer airport means lower can fares, and no need to book airport parking
6. Smaller airports are often less busy, perfect if you can’t stand crowds
7. Security checks may well be quicker
8. They’re smaller, which means they’re less confusing to navigate – with only a handful of departure gates, sometimes just the one, it’s easy to find where you need to be, and faster
9. Fewer shops means you won’t be tempted to blow your holiday money on stuff you don’t really need, just because you’re bored
10. You get friendly service and it can often be more personal
11. You support your local economy
12. Your journey home is quicker, a blessing when all you want to do is get back, make a cuppa and put your feet up
13. It’s greener than travelling a long way to a big airport

What are Britain’s most popular small airports?

The World Airport Codes site features a list of the top 20 UK airports by passenger numbers, and regional hubs fare well. All these have won a top 20 spot.

  • Edinburgh
  • Bristol
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • East Midlands
  • Aberdeen Dyce
  • London City
  • Leeds Bradford
  • Southampton
  • Jersey

Plenty more local airports sit just below the top 20 including Cardiff, Guernsey, Exeter, Doncaster-Sheffield, Bournemouth and Southend.

Bristol Airport Checkin

Bristol Airport Checkin

Love smaller airports? You’re not alone

According to a report on the Just The Flight website, flying from nearer home is becoming more and more popular, and a CAA report supports their findings. The CAA says that a mighty 95 million of us took off from a regional runway last year, 9% more than two years earlier. It looks like we have an emerging trend, not just a blip.

More cool destinations than ever

In line with the trend, regionals are upping the ante, adding a growing list of top holiday destinations on the menu. Not so long ago you’d be forced top travel to a big airport because of limited regional destinations, now it’s much, much better. Take Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, which currently offers at least 60 popular cities and regions: short, long and medium haul.

If you tried to fly regional recently but they didn’t go where you wanted to go, it’s worth giving it another try next time. And if your nearest regional airport doesn’t fly to your chosen country or city, another one near you might. That’s the beauty of them – Britain is small, there are loads of regionals to choose from, and there’s probably more than one near you or. Or at the very least, nearer than the closest major hub.

Glasgow International Airport

Glasgow International Airport

If you’re city-hopping within Britain, there’s a wealth of internal destinations on offer at regional airports. The last thing you want is to be stuck in massive queues in a huge, busy airport when all you’re doing is flying up to Scotland or down to Cornwall.

The future of local airports

All the indicators point to a bright future for local airports. The government supports expanding local facilities, which also come with extra jobs for local people, and plenty of small airports are submitting expansion plans. Of course success breeds success, which means a growing number of local airports are starting to attract interest from big investors, which will in turn help improve their already much-improved facilities.

All this is great news for travellers, even better if you’re a frequent traveller or go abroad a lot on business. You claw back valuable time and money, experience less stress and get where you need to be with minimal mucking about. With more destinations than ever and more in the pipeline, you’re onto a winner. And there’s more. Over time, economic theory says increased demand for regional flights should bring prices down. Which means flights should ultimately cost less.

Inspirational regional airport destinations

Travelzoo provides some cool examples of cheap holiday deals from regional airports. It’s exciting stuff. Here are just a few of thebest special holiday deals flying from local hubs.

  • A 3 night boutique break in Monaco, flying direct from local airports in the south east, perfect for romantic couples, engagement breaks and smart corporate incentives
  • A 5 night inclusive holiday on Portugal’s gorgeous Algarve, flying direct from the Midlands and ideal for convenient sunshine without a nightmare journey to and from the airport
  • Fly from the north for 5 star travel to destinations across Asia and Australia, great if you want to cut that long, long total journey time down as much as you can
  • Enjoy the delights of exotic Dubrovnik for 7 nights, flying direct from Scotland. If you’re looking for a hen or stag week destination, it’s right on the button
  • You can fly direct from Bristol to Barcelona for 3 nights of sophisticated city living, or from Edinburgh direct to Cyprus for some well-deserved sunshine
Newquay Cornwall Airport

Newquay Cornwall Airport

What’s your local airport like?

We’d love to hear about your regional airport experiences. Feel free to share via the comments box.

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