Luton Airport flight tracks

Flight tracks at Luton Airport fall into two completely different patterns depending on whether the wind is coming from the west or the east . This is because aircraft always take off and land into the wind. In the UK, westerly winds prevail, typically occurring around 70% of the time on average, though weather patterns may be altering due to Climate Change. The position and direction of aircraft in the sky, and the noise on the ground, will be completely different depending on the wind direction. Our track diagrams will help you work out what’s going on.

The illustrations below show the typical tracks followed by commercial aircraft below 7,000ft as they arrive at or depart from Luton Airport. (Bear in mind that other flights to and from Stansted, Heathrow and London City also affect this area.) The tracks are coloured to indicate the airline (eg mauve=Wizz, orange=easyJet, green=RyanAir). The caption beneath each picture explains what’s happening.

Westerly arrivals

Westerly arrival tracks at Luton Airport
Tracks taken by aircraft arriving at Luton Airport during a typical day when the wind is coming from the west.
The aircraft assemble over a wide area primarily north-east of Luton, and line up on the extended approach path which brings them in as they descend over Stevenage, St Paul’s Walden and Breachwood Green, heading west.
The engines will be throttled back, but the aircraft body, flaps and undercarriage make a loud rumbling noise.

Westerly departures

Westerly departures from Luton Airport
Tracks taken by aircraft departing from Luton Airport during a typical day when the wind is coming from the west.
The aircraft bear left after take-off, passing over Slip End and Brickhill Park, track between Markyate and Flamstead, then either turn left past Redbourn, Harpenden and St Albans and on over Sandridge towards Welwyn/Hatfield; or turn right over Gaddesden and then either go north over Dagnall or continue west towards Wigginton and Hastoe.
Departures are often held at low altitudes (below 5,000ft) for extended distances due to crowded airspace.

Easterly arrivals

Tracks taken by aircraft arriving at Luton Airport during a typical day when the wind is coming from the east.
The aircraft assemble over a wide area primarily north and west of Luton, and line up on the extended approach path which brings them in as they descend over Leighton Buzzard, Whipsnade, Kensworth and Caddington, heading east.
The engines will be throttled back, but the aircraft body, flaps and undercarriage make a loud rumbling noise.

Easterly departures

Tracks taken by aircraft departing from Luton Airport during a typical day when the wind is coming from the east.
The aircraft climb out over Breachwood Green and St Paul’s Walden, and then the tracks diverge on the outskirts of Stevenage. Some turn right through 90 degrees and fly south over Knebworth. Others continue the turn and track back west over Gustard Wood and north Harpenden. Others turn left over Hitchin to fly north and west.
Departures are often held at low altitudes (below 5,000ft) for extended distances due to crowded airspace.

On the next page we explain which organisations are responsible for regulating the flights at Luton.