Taking the Heathrow Express: Simple, Comfortable (and Affordable) Transport from/to Heathrow
Tuesday May 21, 2024

Thank you for reading TSLL. The first two posts are complimentary. You have 1 free post view remaining this month.

Become a Member for as little as $4/mo and enjoy unlimited reading of TSLL blog.

If you have flown into Heathrow airport or flown out of Heathrow, I have a feeling you likely know about the Heathrow Express, but just in case you don’t, as I had completely forgotten about this gem of transport to and from the city after taking it during my very first trip to London back in 2012 (admittedly, not knowing what it was and just following the instruction given to us by the family I was staying with who lived in London), I wanted to share in photos why it is the transport of choice, even if you prefer traveling in comfort . . . as I do.

First, regardless of which class of ticket you have purchased, let’s get to the airport’s end stop for the Heathrow Express.

Upon arrival at the airport, after collecting your luggage and moving through Customs (which was swifter than I have ever experienced as it was all digitalized – I didn’t have to wait in one line, but just kept walking, scanned my passport and my face and voila!), look for the signs for Heathrow Express.

Landedbaheathrowplanetails

Heathrow Express will be located down on the lower level (there are elevators and stairs, whichever you prefer – having two large pieces of luggage, the elevator was a must), and once you arrive on that level, it is pretty much the only thing down there and you can’t miss it (look up at the signs and you will be set).

Hethroowexpressmindthegapbusiness

Okay, we’re going to make sure you travel from/to the airport in comfort, all the while keeping it simple. Yep, I am going to share with you why buying the Heathrow Express Business First Class ticket worth it. After all, the most pricey ticket (fully flexible) is £65 and that is round-trip.

Why Not . . . Take Heathrow Express and upgrade to Business First Class?

  • Regardless of which class you purchase, what is nice about the Express route is that they don’t stop at any other stations or have stops along the way. They do have two terminal stops at the airport, Terminal 5 and all other terminals, but then it is a straight shot to Paddington. So quick.
  • Business First Class prices: A max of £65 round-trip (a ride in a taxi from the airport to the heart of the city (depending on traffic) will easily cost conservatively £85 (usually more in my experience), and that is just one way.
  • The ability to depart at any time on the day you have selected.
    • Trains arrive every 15-30 minutes, so the wait isn’t long, and you aren’t locked in causing you to rush or miss your time if you have to wait for your luggage or your flight is delayed, OR you arrive early!
    • And if you want extra flexibility, you can buy the Fully Flexible ticket (the standard is called the Anytime ticket)
  • There is more space in the cabin for your luggage.
    • Granted, if you only have a carry-on, taking Express Standard Saver makes much more sense, but I had two large pieces of luggage. Ensuring I had room and a seat to sit down in was worth the extra pounds for the ticket.
    • There were two cabins for Business First Class on our train and only five of us on the train (granted it was in the middle of the week in October, but still something to keep in mind).
  • Arrival and departure from a central train station – Paddington – to easily either hop on the tub or grab a taxi where they come frequently to the taxi queue.
  • Easy to find in the terminal when you arrive for navigation.
    • As you can see in the photo above, you can take your luggage cart all the way down to Heathrow Express from whichever gate you arrived. Conversely, when you arrive at the airport, you will have a luggage cart as well, if needed to use to navigate to check-in.
  • Time of transport to and from is under 30 minutes. That will rarely, if ever happen in a cab (granted, it depends upon where you are going, and nope you don’t have to hail a cab again as you would if you arrived at Paddington station).
  • Oh! And while this may be a bit silly or unnecessary, the carriages for Business First Class are located at the doors from the airport (as seen in the photo just below), so you don’t have to wander down the train platform looking for the cabin you are allowed into (they will check your ticket, and will not let you remain in the cabin that you haven’t paid for).

Heathrowexpressbusinessfirst

Heathrowexpressseats

~Quite a few empty seats for our trip into the city, and these trains are kept very neat and clean (notice the vacuumed carpet).~

Mindthegapheathrowexpress

Heathrowexpress

~The train employee, after checking everyone’s tickets, remained in our cabin to ensure only those with Business Class tickets came aboard. What I observed is that nobody was trying to take advantage (if they didn’t have the correct tickets), they merely didn’t know where each cabin was. And as this cabin was the first one you see when you walk through the sliding glass doors from the airport, it was an understandable error to make (I would have).~

Arrivingatpaddingtonheathrowexpress

~Arrival at Paddington Station~

Paddingtonheathrowexpress

~Paddington Train Station, off to find my cab!~

~Following the signs from inside the station is simple, look for Taxi Queue, and this this long organized space with taxis – a frequent siting outside each of the main train stations in London.~

Cabfrompaddingtonfirstday

~In my taxi and headed to my accommodations. I made it to London!~

It’s worth it to purchase your tickets well in advance just as you would your plane tickets for a good price so long as you know your dates, but even if you don’t, you can pay a smidge more and have the flexible tickets. Also, if you have an Oyster Card, you don’t need to purchase tickets as you can use that to pay for your ride to and from, and therefore don’t need to schedule in advance. If you do purchase tickets, remember to have your ticket with you – digitally or printed as you will need them to scan in order to move through the turn-style.

A couple of years ago I wrote a detailed post about riding the tube, and why it’s worth having an Oyster card which can be easily purchased before you leave and kept forever and continually refilled as necessary.

Alright! That’s it! When’s the next trip to London? 🙂

May 19 26 2024

51 thoughts on “Taking the Heathrow Express: Simple, Comfortable (and Affordable) Transport from/to Heathrow

    1. Kristi,

      Let us know how it goes. Of course, different times of the year, week and seasons with holidays might change things, but between traveling on it during the summer of the 2012 Olympics and then in October of this past year, it really was quite simple, and even with more people in my first experience, there were people there to help when we had questions. I think you will find it quite simple.

  1. Hi Shannon,
    What a fantastic travel tip! I will be sure to utilize the information on a future trip. Traveling abroad can be stressful, but tips like this make things a whole lot easier!

  2. Shannon, thank you for sharing such great insight and advice and with pictures! The Heathrow Express sounds like a definite ‘must’. ( Is that your Le Pliage draped across your luggage handle? How is holding up, if I might ask?)💕

      1. Hi Rona, just to let you know that my Le Pliage has traveled with me on every trip for over 12 years and it has held up extremely well…it is a workhorse! 😊

    1. It is holding up WONDERFULLY! It is also used as my laptop tote when I head out to a café or have a day trip here in Oregon. So grateful to have found it and the drop is ideal (11″).

      1. Excellent, great to hear! I’ve had my eye on them ever since your recommendation many moons ago. And good to know that the drop works for tall people😉. Thanks Shannon!xx

        1. I don’t think they make a drop for 11″ anymore – mine was a consignment find, but now have their regular at 9″ and the extra long handle is at 13″ (I am not certain exactly about the extra long handles, but they do have them).

  3. I have to try this, thank you! Hopefully my luggage will be a :: little :: less heavy next trip. The last time I returned home, oh my goodness, I couldn’t really lift my case 🙂 Am hoping to do better. Thank you for the wonderful details, you have demystified this fantastic resource!

  4. Thanks Shannon. I’m going to London in a couple of weeks and will definitely try this out.

      1. I will do that! I’m first doing a cruise around England, Scotland and Ireland. Next a three day visit to the Cotswold and ending with nine glorious days in London. Actually the highlight is attending Wimbledon on July 1. I’ e been to London multiple times because my company headquarters was located right near there but never for nine days.
        Your TSLL is an inspiration. Thank you

        1. Phyllis,

          Your trip sounds AMAZING! I am so excited for you! Have an amazing time, and then to conclude with Wimbledon, I think you have planned an ideal dream of a trip. Bon Voyage! Please do share with us how it went in future A Cuppa Moments. 🙂

  5. These are great tips! I get so intimidated with public transportation I often go for a cab. This post gives me more confidence!! Thank you!!

    1. Oh Tara, how I understand being a bit intimidated by public transportation. I did well in London I think because I studied the Tube maps religiously before arrival. Even in my hometown, I can get turned around on the subway. Not good! I cringe to think about how much I have spent using cabs!

    2. Tara, I felt the same way and have done the same thing for exactly the reason. You mind is so tired from travel, you don’t want to have to figure something new out. Hopefully this eases that uncertainty. The operators are also very helpful, so be sure to ask them questions you have, and this train is not in a rush. We waiting for a good 15 minutes for it to arrive, but then they have to do security checks before we get on, so it’s not like at a Tube stop in London where you have to get on and off fairly quickly. You’ve got this and if you have any other questions, just ask. Many of us here at TSLL – all of the other readers – no doubt can answer your question if I can’t. 🙂

    3. I can completely relate. 🙂 I will share that I didn’t take the Heathrow Express back to the airport as I had five pieces of oddly shaped luggage and an early morning flight and didn’t know how much help I could find at the train station, so I did take a cab (yep, a bit more expensive, but it was my fault for having more luggage than I anticipated). Do what you need to do and what makes you feel comfortable. Trust your instincts, but now you have another option and details of how to use this mode of transport. 🙂

  6. Thank you Shannon! We have always flown into Gatwick and found it be a similar process. I completely agree with you- get your tickets ahead of time. It’s a time saver and makes life easier when you’re likely to be tired from travel.

    I will definitely review these tips if we ever fly into Heathrow.

  7. Shannon it’s a super service if you’re not being collected. Wish the rest of the railways were as decked out as the Express! Kameela

  8. Hi Shannon
    We will be going to London in July to drop our daughter off at Oxford for a summer course. They will be three of us traveling. From the prices you mentioned above – for three people traveling seems like the price would be equivalent to a taxi , right ? But it seems we would get into London from Heathrow much quicker than a taxi and would not have to sit in traffic .

    1. Arati,

      You are exactly right regarding the price. For three people on Heathrow express using the standard fare, you would be just under what it would take for a taxi and it would be quicker. I am excited for you and your daughter! What a wonderful opportunity. 🙂 If you have any questions about traveling in England, feel free to ask me or this community. There are many wise travelers that have helpful experiences and I know they would be happy to share.

    2. Arati, just wanted to say congrats to your daughter and what a wonderful experience that will be for her. My husband and I just spent the day in Oxford on Monday and I can’t wait to go back! In fact, I might consider going to Oxford and basing myself out of there next time and then exploring the Cotswolds. We’d signed up for a group city tour but ended up being the only two on the tour and we had a wonderful, wonderful guide who was so knowledgeable (he’d been an educator for 40 years). We could barely keep up with him at times!

      1. MaryAnn- thanks so much. I have to Oxford on a day trip many moons ago in the 1990s . I am looking forward to visiting Oxford again when we drop her off. Can you share the name of the tour company? Have a great trip !

        1. Arati, I thought I had his card right here but I can’t find it. I’ll see if my (now sleeping – we just returned yesterday) husband has it. But it was called the “Official Oxford University and City Tour” (ha) and the man who did the tour was David Dales. He gave us his card so I will write back once I find it. I would definitely call him again the next time we go.

          1. Okay Arati, here is David Dales’ contact information:

            Mobile: 07805 255307
            Email: daviddales485@btinternet.com

            He is a native of Oxford, was a teacher for 40 years and a lover of history.
            If you end up using him, I hope you enjoy him as much as we did.

  9. I don’t think I am unique in finding transportation from an airport to your destination either stressful or expensive or both! Thank you for all this information, Shannon. I can’t wait for my next trip to London, hoping in 2025.

    1. You most definitely are not alone. 🙂 Have a most wonderful trip and let us know how the transport goes! 🙂 We are all learning from each other, and I so appreciate all that has been shared.

  10. Excellent service on the Heathrow Express! And so comfortable, especially in the Business First Class. We purchased our tickets online at the same time as our air travel – it was actually on the payment page when those tickets were purchased. And we found it refreshing after all the airplane/airport “nonsense”. As we usually stay in the Paddington vicinity, this train is ideal for us. Only two blocks to Norfolk Square and all the little hotels in that part of town. From Paddington, it’s an easy walk to Hyde Park/Kensington Park, Oxford St. shopping area, and all the Underground lines that transit Paddington Station. The newest Elizabeth line is a wonderful addition through Paddington. I’ve always used public transit from Heathrow, going back to the early 80’s, but this is so much easier now.

    1. Janet,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and confirmation about Business First Class. Yep, highly recommend it. And nice to know it was on the payment page. I might have missed that as I fly BA and I know it had to be there. 🙂 I am very curious to try the Elizabeth line having not had the opportunity to do so yet. Thank you for sharing this insight. I know you and your husband travel extensively and I trust your experiences and insights. Thank you VERY much. 🙂

  11. I took the Heathrow Express about a year ago with my 9 year old son and we both loved it. So clean, so easy, and such a time saver!
    Although booking ahead is never a bad idea, I bought our tickets at one of the kiosks as soon as we got through customs and there were plenty of seats available in all classes. Wish we had better trains in the US!

    1. Megan, Thank you for sharing your experience. It really is super clean, isn’t it?! And you are in the city in no time. Thank you also for sharing that buying the tickets ahead of time need not happen and it is super simple to buy them at the kiosks. I am right there with you about wishing we had such transport here. 🙂 Thank you again for your comment. Much appreciated!

  12. My husband and I are in London now for the Chelsea Flower Show! We sadly leave on Friday morning and had looked into the Heathrow Express but we’re staying near Earl’s Court and it’s actually faster for us to take the tube all the way in. Luckily we each only have a carry on and a backpack so we didn’t need the extra room. I packed very lightly as I knew I would be going back home with several tins of my favorite Fortnum and Mason tea, Royal Blend. And, Shannon, thanks to your suggestion, we spent a lovely time at James Smith and Sons Umbrellas today. I’d gone in for a foldable umbrella but they were too heavy for me so I picked out a lovely crooked neck umbrella in royal blue that they are shipping back for me. My husband got a gorgeous one in a green tartan plaid. I also picked up an relatively inexpensive foldable umbrella in a William Morris print that I love and that I needed today b/c it started raining – our first day of rain. I so appreciate all of your suggestions here on the blog and on your podcasts.

    1. MaryAnn,

      Thank you for sharing about your experience at James Smith & Sons! I am so tickled for you both. Aren’t the umbrellas just special?! It sounds like you both founds beautiful ones and how nice that they are shipping them. I have been watching the Chelsea Flower Show on BritBox and so happy for you to be able to visit! They are having lovely weather. I can only imagine what the experience must be like. 😌 And I am beyond impressed that you only have a carry-on and backpack. Goals! ☺️ Enjoy your final few days in England and thank you for sharing a glimpse of your time there with us here at TSLL!

      1. We’re back and I have to say that I LOVED traveling minimally. This was a new carry-on bag for me (the smaller European travel approved size) and between that and a not so big backpack, I had everything I needed. I kept my clothing minimal and layered and just wore things in different ways, over and again. Two scarves were helpful to change things up a bit (and keep me a bit warmer when I needed it). My shoes were on the sensible side (Oofos low shoes in both black and gray/khaki and I wore Oofos black sandals on the plane and on a couple of warm days.). I have plantar fasciitis and now flat feet(!) and comfortable, supportive “recovery” shoes are my only option. And EVERYONE there seems to be wearing sensible shoes, even with dresses. I let go of having lots of clothing and shoe options and with layers and compatible colors it all worked out beautifully. Most importantly, I walked and walked and walked and my feet felt great!

  13. Thank you, Shannon, this is great information. 🙂
    Transport to/from accommodation on arrival/ departure is always one of the first items on my planning scheme when I travel. Tickets in advance, yes, if possible, all that I can do to facilitate matters in this regard. It saves a lot of nerves. When I am somewhere for the first time, I will take a taxi for sure. It’s just too overwhelming for me to go on public transportation, counting the stops, as it were. On arrival, I am simply too tired; on departure, I want to make sure that I am on time, so yeah, taxi it is. With more time to explore a place – say, on the second visit – I will perhaps take my luck with braving the crowds. For daily purposes, to go here to there, visiting places, etc., no problem whatsoever with using public transportation. It’s just arrival/ departure that give me some headache… (*insert here embarrassed expression*…)

  14. Shannon, thanks for this post about the Heathrow Express. Very informative and will definitely review for my next trip. I got an Oyster Card based on your previous post and it was a life saver to order in advance of that trip and have for traveling around London. Still have mine in my safety deposit box right next to my passport ready for my next trip to England.

  15. The Heathrow Express is a must! When I first started going to the UK, I took the tube from Heathrow into London. Egads! Slow and also nerve-wracking with a suitcase or two. After that experience, I tried the Express and that was it for me. I’ve used it ever since then. It’s a breeze and you can buy tickets at Heathrow on the day of.

    This coming September, however, I’m planning to take the Elizabeth line from Heathrow directly to the Liverpool Street station as I’m going straight to Norwich for a few days before returning to London for the remainder of my stay.

  16. I agree this is well worth the ticket. Although I have not had the pleasure of being in first class, the regular seating still has ample space for luggage. The trip is quite comfortable and as Shannon mentioned, quick and easy to find. I did find purchasing my tickets ahead of time online (or with the app) saved a little money so I recommend taking the time to do so if you know your travel dates. Happy travels!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From TSLL Archives
Updated British Week 1.jpg
Updated French Week 2.jpg