Broadband News

Airport Wi-Fi Results - Nov 2016

Airport Wi-fi is a critical service to the travelling public looking to get their Internet fix before boarding their flight and turning phones and gadgets into 'airplane mode'. For business travellers, it gives an opportunity to finish some work, and those heading on holiday can upload content to social media or download some music, TV shows or films to watch whilst on board.

Back in September 2015, we visited the five major UK airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City) to test the free wi-fi services which each of the airport operators offered. Stansted led the field in terms of speed offering a service at 8.1Mbps downstream, with Luton and London City managing only half that at 4.5 and 4 Mbps respectively. Heathrow scored 1 Mbps on its free wi-fi whilst Gatwick only managed to deliver a measly 0.5 Mbps.

Stansted 8.1 Mbps 6.4 Mbps
London City 4.5 Mbps 2.7 Mbps
Heathrow 1.0 Mbps 1.0 Mbps
Luton 4.5 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Gatwick 0.5 Mbps 0.4 Mbps

In a repeat of these tests, carried out in November 2016, we went back to each of these five airports to find not only that speeds had in fact dropped! Luton droped from 4.5Mbps to 0.9Mbps although extended its free Wi-Fi time from 90 minutes to four hours.

It is worth noting that there are often other free wi-fi options in airports, including cafes and restaurants, which were not tested as part of this research, although from experience these can range from similar speeds to much faster services.

Click image for larger version

Airports can rely on wi-fi data to analyse traffic flows through the airport, but airports also often require you to register to use the free wi-fi service so build up a database of users to which they can target advertising. Heathrow Airport also gives you access to a faster 3Mbps Wi-Fi service if you login using Twitter, or sign up to its Heathrow Rewards programme.

Comments suggests the following synonyms for "dire":

alarming appalling awful calamitous cataclysmic catastrophic depressing disastrous dismal distressing dreadful gloomy grim horrible lamentable shocking ugly unfortunate afflictive black cruel deplorable fearful fierce frightful grievous heartbreaking horrid oppressing portentous redoubtable regrettable ruinous scowling terrific woeful

How does Luton not end up coloured red, like Heathrow?

  • WWWombat
  • about 1 year ago

I wonder what the nearest MAJOR airport to me offers? - it's GLASGOW btw ...

  • WildCottage
  • about 1 year ago

The last phrase, of the last sentence, of the first paragraph currently reads --

"TV shows or films to watch whilst on oard."

Might I suggest a correction? Such as --


  • burakkucat
  • about 1 year ago

Also - s/Standsted/Stansted

  • Diggory
  • about 1 year ago

So this is based on LONDON airports rather than UK MAJOR airports then ... why not just say that.

For info, if you were to look at the UK major airports then they would be:
1. Heathrow
2. Gatwick
3. Manchester
4. Stansted
5. Luton

Scotland does ok ...
6. Edinburgh
8. Glasgow

Wales ..
20. Cardiff

Northern Ireland ..
17. Belfast
30. Derry

One of the major UK airports you have listed ..
13. London City

  • dippylicious
  • about 1 year ago

As the graphic says 'London Airport Wi-Fi Speeds'

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

Where is Birmingham International Airport?

  • adslmax
  • about 1 year ago

The title at the top of the articles says: Airport Wi-Fi Results - Nov 2016. No sign of the survey just being London based. I would have been more interested in Manchester.... flown from there many times.

  • 69bertie
  • about 1 year ago

didn't I hear a while back, that some where offering WiFi *during* the flight???

surely there is better CELL coverage without using the airport WiFi???

  • comnut
  • about 1 year ago

google it, lots are offering wifi inflight....

PAY FOR IT, if you are desperate for good speed!!!


  • comnut
  • about 1 year ago

Not used your London airports but ones I have used I gave up during loggin process and never got to use it.

  • David-Park
  • about 1 year ago

Gatwick: terrible service! Most European airports have good FREE WiFi. Ah, but then, who cares? We're getting out anyway (Brexit) and join other 3rd world countries. My operator is THREE: Most of Gatwick is a Not Spot. I complained to THREE: they live in complete denial, saying coverage is fine...

  • avtdvt
  • about 1 year ago

Edinburgh is okay, and gives 2 hours free. Not fast, but pretty reliable. That's my nearest and I'm there quite frequently.

  • jimwillsher
  • about 1 year ago

More often than not, using 3G/4G is better than airport offerings and you don't have to sign up for anything. I've used Three at both Gatwick and Heathrow and it works a treat.

  • johntheboffin
  • about 1 year ago

@WWWombat: that's an error.. apologies..

  • seb
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

I've just been using the free wifi at Heathrow Terminal 5 this week and last week and it was fine really. It did have trouble streaming video but I'm not too worried about that adn inbe little corner had access problems, but I'm not really complaining at all, it did the job. BTW when going on holiday I set up a temp email address with a free webmail service for internet registrations at airports etc, gets round the spam problem!

  • csimon
  • about 1 year ago

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