Stansted Airport: Where A Drink Costs More Than Your Flight
North Americans generally deride Europe for its bureaucracy and high prices (and with more than a fair amount of justification), but there are spectacular bargains to be found if you search deeply enough. European budget airlines put their cousins on the other side of the pond to shame with astoundingly cheap flight offers around the continent and Mediterranean which cost a mere fraction of comparable American flights. You might be surprised at how cheap it can be to fly around a continent which is generally so damned expensive, even after the recent currency fluctuations of the Euro vs. the Dollar which have made the greenback significantly stronger than it has been in Europe lately.
Stansted is one of London’s five major airports and is generally renowned as the world center of budget flying. A very attractive and ultramodern facility, Stansted is located about an hour’s bus ride northeast of the center of London. If you wish to get there faster and without getting stuck in the city’s legendary traffic jams, you can choose to take a direct train, the Stansted Express from Liverpool Station, but as it is more expensive than the bus, the budget conscious travelers who frequent Stansted usually shun it.
Once at the airport, you will find a large array of strictly superbudget no-frills airlines such as EasyJet, RyanAir, Air Berlin, GermanWings, Air Italy, Wizz Air, Sky Europe and many more. These are all Ultra-Cheap Airlines and they are all vying for your pennies. However, the savvy traveler has already booked the flight well in advance on the Internet in order to secure the best prices, and what amazing prices they are: Inclusive of all taxes and fees, it is not at all unusual to fly to any point in Europe for around $40! With a little mousing around, you can find roundtrip deals such as:
- Alicante: $35
- Barcelona: $30
- Canary Islands: $85
- Copenhagen: $35
- Lisbon: $50
- Madrid: $40
- Malta: $65
- Munich: $40
- Oslo: $40
- Palermo: $45
- Paris: $30
- Prague: $45
- Rome: $35
- Sardinia: $50
- Stockholm: $45
- Vienna: $30
- Warsaw: $50
These are truly spectacular prices. It would be very difficult to get a good restaurant meal in London for the price of any of these tickets! Indeed I doubt that you could take a taxi from any of those city centers to the airport for those fares. There are even airlines such as Globespan who will fly you as far as the Pacific coast with $199 round trip flights to Vancouver!
Stansted itself is a conventional UK airport and that means that the prices are mind-bogglingly high. A beer will set you back $15 and a cocktail upwards of $30. Imagine paying for a single drink about the same amount for the flight that you're waiting for! Given the budget tack of the majority of the travelers, they will usually pack their own sandwiches and refreshments and hold impromptu picnics in the waiting lounges! If you play your cards right and get a couple of discount vouchers to save a few dollars on the bus fare, it is quite reasonable to expect that you can travel from downtown London to almost any major European city and back again for around $50! I can't take a Greyhound bus to a town two hours away for that kind of money! In the superheated, ultra-expensive Europe of today, this represents barely pocket change!
If you are willing to drop the pretentious accoutrements of luxury flying and rough it just a tiny bit, you will be surprised at the amazing places you can go from Stansted Airport, and how incredibly cheap it can be! Who says you can't afford to travel in a Recession?
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