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With so much on offer, from a short break to a full holiday, flying within the UK or into the country is an efficient way to see more...
The amount of provision that is available for air travellers in the UK has improved massively in recent years, with airports all over the country growing, expanding and increasing their capacity to handle both external and internal flights. This has seen an expansion in the number of internal flights being taken and has improved the accessibility of some areas of the UK to both British residents and visitors from overseas.
Of course, by far the busiest area of the United Kingdom in terms of air traffic is London and the South East. While airports such as Heathrow LHR and Gatwick LGW offer great access to the delights of the capital city, it is also possible to fly into Luton LTN if you want to base yourself outside of London itself for the duration of your stay. It is also possible to use Stansted STN, City LCY and Southend SEN for certain journeys, making London the best catered for city in Britain in terms of air travel.
The attractions that can be seen in London are well-known, with a host of theatres, art galleries, historical attractions and other sites, most of which, like the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, are world famous. As airport provision has grown though, so some of the less well known corners of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have become easier to reach with UK flights.
Three of Britain's busiest airports, Edinburgh EDI, Glasgow GLA and Prestwick PIK are in Scotland and offer a great range of both internal and external flights. Scotland has Highland wilderness, Edinburgh sophistication and Glaswegian bustle to offer to visitors and the fishing and golf it offers are legendary. The airports of Aberdeen ABZ and Inverness INV open up the northern regions and offer decent connections with the more remote islands of the Hebrides and Shetland.
Many flights to UK also land at the busy airport in Birmingham, a place which was once considered the workshop of the world; such was the breadth of its industry. Although that industry largely belongs to the past these days, the city is one of the most racially diverse in Britain and there is still plenty to see and do in England's second city. William Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon is just 40 minutes car journey away, while the Cotswolds and gentle Midlands countryside are also within easy reach.
Another region with some of England's most spectacular scenery is the north and north east counties. Yorkshire, with its moors, valleys, historical towns and bustling metropolises, can be reached via airports such as Leeds Bradford LBA and Robin Hood DSA. Its east coast, home to famous resorts like Whitby and Scarborough, is reachable via Hull's airport, Humberside HUY.
Another area well-known for its natural beauty is the Northumberland coast in North East England. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne sparkles brightly on this beautiful coast, where seals and sea birds flock. The natural beauty is complemented by the rich range of historical attractions, including the Border fortress of Berwick and can be accessed from Newcastle NCL airport.
The other corner of England, its South West, is the home of stunning naturally beautiful places like Exmoor and Dartmoor, while Bristol, with its thriving music scene and one of the oldest African-Caribbean communities in Britain, offers some real cultural highlights to visitors. Fly to Bristol BRS, Exeter EXT or Newquay NQY to sample the delights of Bristol, or head for the English Riviera of the coast near to places like Torquay in Devon.
Liverpool LPL airport offers a gateway to the North West of England and its seaside resorts such as Blackpool. Liverpool itself is one of England's great cities and anyone who loves the music of the Beatles should spend at least one day there. Famous for its football teams too, Liverpool rocks to a cultural beat imported directly from Ireland.
The northern parts of Ireland contained within the UK also have great air links now, with Belfast BHD and BFS, Derry LDY and Knock NOC all offering access to landmarks such as the Giant's Causeway and Belfast's complex and fascinating history. Anyone who wants to wander the South Wales valleys should make sure that they fly to Cardiff airport CLW, located close to the capital of the Principality.
With a multitude of flights on offer, we round up the key carriers and routes...
London is the centre of UK flights, and routes radiate from the city's airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Luton and Stansted, as well as recently developed Southend.
British Airways runs trunk routes from Heathrow to Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Gatwick, Aberdeen and Belfast, as well as several services from Gatwick and London City to many of those cities and also Jersey. These all connect to the airline's international world-wide and European schedules at Gatwick and Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic also offers services from Heathrow to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
In addition, easyJet runs flights from the London airports of Gatwick, Luton and Stansted to all of the main Scottish cities, as well as Inverness, Belfast, Isle of Man and Newcastle. It also has an extensive network of flights connecting the regions of the UK to each other, with bases at Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester and Scotland, and flying to places such as Newquay and the Channel Islands. And, of course, easyJet flies into the UK from many European cities and beach resorts.
Flybe has more intra-regional routes than any other carrier in the UK, with flights to the Scottish islands, the Channel Islands and many UK flights criss-crossing the country from bases at Exeter, Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester and Scottish cities.
Ryanair only offers flights within the UK to Derry in Northern Ireland; however, it has services into the UK from more than 150 destinations in Europe.
With the UK offering so many flight connections at Heathrow and Manchester in particular, you will find all of the major carriers offering UK flights into the country. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar fly in from the Middle East, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Thai International, JAL and Malaysian Airlines dominate from the Far East, and Qantas and Air New Zealand fly in from 'Down Under'. The major American carriers of US Airways, American Airlines, United and Delta swing in from the USA, and TAM flies in from South America. There are also many European carriers operating UK flights into the country such as Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, Iberia and SAS, as well as low cost carriers such as Wizzair and Norwegian.
Additionally, more holiday based airlines such as Monarch, Jet2, Thomson and Thomas Cook operate UK flights from many beach and city destinations across Europe and beyond.