Luton Airport calls itself ‘London Luton Airport’ but it’s actually 34 miles from central London. The airport serves mostly budget and charter airlines such as Easy Jet, Wizz and Monarch.

The airport has a number of rip-off schemes running and this article should help you avoid some of them – I’ve also added some top tips for using the airport.

Rip-off scheme 1
There is no direct train to Luton Airport – you need to travel to Luton Airport Parkway and take a bus. When purchasing a rail ticket, ensure you ask for Luton Airport and not Luton Airport Parkway. If your ticket says ‘Parkway’ then you will be charged an extra £1.60 to take the bus. Similarly, if you take the bus from the airport, buy a rail ticket to your destination and that should include the bus fare – don’t pay the bus and then buy your ticket at Luton Airport Parkway.

Rip-off scheme 2
Drop-off and pick-up parking costs £2 and is limited to 15 minutes. This is a huge rip off. There isn’t much you can do about this apart from use the free, for 30 minutes, mid-stay parking about 10 minutes walk away – there’s also a free shuttle bus. If you’re early, the weather is good and you don’t have much luggage, just get the person dropping you to pull into the mid-stay.

Rip-off scheme 3
They don’t give out free plastic bags for toiletries that need to go through security. So if you forget to put your toiletries in a clear plastic bag, you ‘ll need to put £1 into a vending machine that gives you two bags.

What you might think is Rip-off scheme 4, but I think is Top Tip 1!
You can pay £4 for fast-track security – just buy a ticket from one of the many machines dotted around the airport. There are even some machines at the top of the escalator, just before the security line, so you can have a look and see how long the lines are. The fast track really is fast – much faster than business fast track at London Heathrow.

Top Tip 2
There is a marks and spencer store landside but not airside. So if you want a decent sandwich, buy there before proceeding through security. You can also pick up some shopping there after you land and exit customs and immigration.

Top Tip 3
There are two main toilets in the main terminal area, plus a few smaller versions dotted around near the gates. Most are pretty busy and grotty. If you want a better bathroom experience, head through the doors that say Aspire Business Lounge. The toilets, lounge and a prayer room are all upstairs. The toilets are separate from the lounge and so you don’t need to be a lounge member to use them. The toilets are always clean and quiet – although I may have just ruined that by disclosing this tip here.

Top Tip 4
A sandwich in Boots is only £1. Usually chicken mayonnaise or egg mayonnaise – but can’t be beaten for value. I just don’t understand why they ask for a boarding pass when you buy a £1 sandwich – so I just wrote this to Boots:
I use the Boots store at Luton airport each week and buy just a sandwich. I’m always asked for my boarding pass and mostly complain that I think this is pointless.
Please can you tell me what information you are retrieving and storing when scanning my boarding pass?
Can you also advise if I am at liberty to refuse to show my boarding pass and still make a purchase?
And I had a reply the next day – click here.

Top Tip 5
Ask one of the ground staff, usually they are setting up gates between 19 and 24, if they know where your flight will depart from. They usually have a list in advance of what is shown on the departures board. That gives you a chance to get there before everyone else – useful if you don’t have speedy/priority boarding, but also useful as some gates (16,17) are a long walk from the terminal.

Top Tip 6
Avoid the food and beverage outlets in the airport. Food and service are poor and prices are high. I previously wrote about Frankie and Benny’s but haven’t used it since so it may have improved. This leads into top tip 7..

Top Tip 7
For around £18 you can buy entry to the Business Lounge – but you’ll need to do this online. I found that will let you book the same day – so if your flight is delayed, you could go online at the airport and book yourself a lounge pass.