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Heathrow to Gatwick transport options: a pictorial guide

Old Jan 1, 2016, 3:32 am
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Last edit by: miklcct
Heathrow to Gatwick transport options: a pictorial guide
This guide is for people transferring between Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

For quick and easy: take the taxi.
For cheaper and still fairly quick: take the National Express
For cheap: use the Piccadilly line to Victoria (or Blackfriars) via Barons Court
Or the newest rail alternative: Elizabeth line to Farringdon followed by Thameslink to Gatwick.

Minimum connection time on through tickets is 3 hours. On the ground you need at least 90 minutes to make the connection, using a taxi. If you are late, then a delay taking you to 2 hours 30 minutes for the connection should still be do-able on most of the options listed here.

Details on contactless payment here, this will allow you to avoid queuing for tickets. This works on the Heathrow Express but buying in advance via their website and App is cheaper, with fares under 6 single if booked more than 3 months ahead.

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Heathrow to Gatwick transport options: a pictorial guide

Old Dec 27, 2015, 4:22 pm
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Heathrow to Gatwick transport options: a pictorial guide

This thread is intended to help people travelling between BA's two largest airports, London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick (LGW). Sadly the chopper service is no longer with us.

At London Gatwick BA and Vueling currently operate out of the North Terminal (codeshares on Flybe and Aer Lingus use the South Terminal). At Heathrow most BA services run out of Terminal 5, the rest out of Terminal 3. The main options are outlined below:

1) Taxi: 50 minutes journey time, immediate availability, approx 60-100 for up to 3 people
2) National Express: 55 minutes - approx 4 coaches an hour - 25 per person
3) Rail via Heathrow Express / Gatwick Express: 75 minutes - 4 services an hour - 44.20 per person
4) Other rail and tube options via central London: 90 minutes - service every 10 minutes - 10.20 per person (16.20 peak times)
5) Other rail and tube options avoiding central London: 100 minutes - service every 10 minutes - 8.60 per person (11.40 peak)
6) Bus option - X26 bus: 2 hours, 2 services an hour - 4.50 per person (6.70 peak).
7) Other options - Limobike / car hire

[The prices for options 4, 5 and 6 are from 11 January 2016, the rest are applicable from 2 January 2016.]

The two simplest options are taxi and National Express.

To the above times you need to allow 45 minutes or more to cover check-in, plus some time to get around the terminal buildings, so in practical terms it's not possible to make the transfer with less than 90 minutes before your onward flight. With 2 hours there are a number of options open to you, with the Minimum Connection Time on through tickets is 3 hours. Note that for the rail based timings (options 3 to 6) you need to allow at least 5 minutes to get from the rail station to LGW North.

The timings here are for LHR T5 to LGW North. For LHR T3 add 5-10 minutes to the road based options and subtract 5 minutes from the rail based options.

If you have a connecting BA ticket, e.g. BOS-LHR/LGW-GOA then BA will not include the cost of the transfer in your ticket. This used to be offered, with a "free" National Express ticket included - so you may find some out of date reference to this elsewhere, and some travel agents may suggest it still happens - but BA stopped offering this some time ago. Furthermore you must clear and carry any checked luggage between the airports yourself. There are occasional reports which suggest that some ground agents will advise you that BA will clear the baggage to your final destination, but if there is a LHR/LGW transfer it will not happen unless you do the carrying.

Note that BA's services in LGW are moving from LGW North to LGW South in approx November 2016. This will eliminate the transfer time from the rail station but may add a few minutes to the National Express services since the usual loop is LHR Central - LHR T5 - LGW North - LGW South and vice versa.

Last edited by Prospero; Mar 6, 2016 at 11:02 am Reason: Update diagram
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 4:24 pm
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1) Taxis and private hire minicabs

1) Taxis and private hire minicabs

Taxis and mini cabs are likely to be the most practical option if you are short of time and/or you have not travelling alone. There are essentially 3 options open to you:
1) an official London Taxi from Heathrow, or at Gatwick their equivalent "Hackney Carriages" taxi service
2) a pre-booked private hire minicab,
3) using an App to locate a cab.

A pre-booked private hire minicab is likely to be the cheapest overall, but requires some planning and can be awkward if your service suffers a last minute delay or cancellation and you're unable to contact the driver. Black cabs, which are tightly regulated with highly trained drivers, on the other hand, are always available at the main taxi rank, but they are more expensive. Apps such as Uber are in between: you can either arrange a car in advance or you can summon one after you arrive. The cost is also in between the first two options, and although the drivers are regulated to the same standard as Black cab drivers in relation to background/criminal records checks, the vehicle requirements and the level of driver training in particular is completely different. Uber drivers, along with any other Private Hire taxi driver, have no requirement to complete ‘the knowledge’, as Black cab drivers do.

London Taxis (Heathrow)
Official London Taxis have a near monopoly on non-prebooked taxi provision at Heathrow. There is a taxi rank clearly signposted by arrivals, and it's very close to the International arrival gate, just use the doors on the left side of Costa Coffee and over two traffic islands to the rank. It is less than 5 minutes walk from baggage reclaim to the rank. Taxis can take 5 passengers, while some can take 6. However, this assumes no luggage, as the main luggage space in Black cabs is the main cabin in the vehicle itself, so if you are travelling with luggage, it’s possible that the cab will take up to 3 people, plus luggage. There are some Black cabs with different configurations so can take luggage more easily.

The issue with London taxis is that while their fares are strictly regulated within the London area, Heathrow T5 is just a few hundred metres from the boundary, and at that point it is up to the driver and the passenger to negotiate a fare. If they don't reach agreement then the meter fare will prevail. On short journeys over the boundary drivers will be looking for a much higher fare, for Gatwick they may well be OK with the meter fare. Assuming no traffic jams, the meter fare will be about 145, plus 2.80 Heathrow surcharge; the driver will be looking for a 10% tip - though you can probably get away with 10 here - and they can also charge up to 10% for credit card payment. Some drivers simply don't take credit cards. Note that fares at weekend and after 22hrs will be slightly higher, an extra 5 and 10 respectively. Taxi drivers are allowed to decline to take trips longer than 20 miles, so in a way there is a fair negotiation basis: you can ask a driver to take you to Gatwick for whatever fare you wish to pay, and the driver is under no obligation to accept that fare or to take you there. However it's best not to get into a big argument at Heathrow, since other taxi drivers will close ranks to protect a fellow driver, even if they don't inwardly agree with his or her stance.

Gatwick Taxis
Most taxis operating from Gatwick are controlled by Crawley Borough Council. Like Heathrow these "hackney carriages" have a monopoly off the walk up taxi rank just outside Gatwick North Terminal arrivals. Other similarities are that drivers are not obliged to take a fare to Heathrow but in most cases they will be very happy to do so. Drivers are not allowed to charge more than the meter fare, which, assuming no traffic jams, will be around 100, or 130 between midnight and 06 hrs.

Private Hire Service Providers
We don't want to get too involved with recommending mincab companies. There are a lot of them, they are regulated by their local government authority (though to a lower standard than London taxis), and there are rarely issues. However we can point to the following:

1) BAtransfer
Despite the name, they have no connection with the airline. However a number of Flyertalkers have used them and are able to recommend this service. It can booked fully online, indeed the website is particularly strong, but they don't have an App. Takes all credit cards including Amex and they are particularly cost effective on this route.
http://www.batransfer.com/ Telephone +44 207 118 0110 Skype: airportonly

2) Green Tomato Cars
This is the only private hire company recommended by the airport operator Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL). They have a good App, which can handle immediate bookings, but their website isn't so well designed and requires pre-registration. The cost for this transfer is scarcely better than an official London taxi, 110 or so. They are cheaper than a taxi on other routes, notably local rides close to Heathrow. They offer in-car wifi and their fleet includes hybrid, bio and electric cars. Takes all credit cards including Amex.
http://www.greentomatocars.com/uk/ Telephone: +44 20 8568 0022

3) Gatwick Cars Ltd
This is the approved taxi company for Gatwick Airport and endorsed by the airport's operators. They have a website but it appears not to be working at the moment, telephone number below. Takes credit cards.
http://taxis.gatwickairport.com/ - Gatwick Airport Cars - website currently not working. Telephone: +44 1293 550000

4) Connect AB Ltd
Connect AB Ltd are an Appointed Operator for British Airways travel services, the travel agency wing of BA. Their website is basic and doesn't allow direct booking, but there are telephone numbers and email addresses there. Takes credit cards.
http://www.connectabltd.com/transfers.php Telephone office hours: +44 1753 684810 outside office hours +44 7739 542052

5) Addison Lee
We mention them since they are by far the biggest company in this sector, they certainly are not the cheapest. They take bookings via their website (need to register but it's easy to do) and App. Both can handle immediate bookings and provide an immediate calculation of waiting time. Whilst they are good value for other trips to/from Heathrow, in this market they are not particularly competitive. Takes all credit cards including Amex.
http://www.addisonlee.com/ +44 20 7387 8888

6) Traveltrans
As recommended by T8191. Website: TravelTrans, 65, plus 5 "Meet and Greet", for a normal car-load.

The following is the cheapest we can find for 2 passengers and the lowest spec. car. In all cases you can pay more for a bigger vehicle.

Official London taxis: 150 approx
Gatwick taxi rank: 100 approx
BAtransfer: 47.50
Greentomatocars: 110
Gatwick Cars Ltd: ?
Connect AB Ltd: 87.50
Addison Lee: 111
Uber: 72

Tipping: broadly speaking if you end up paying your driver you need to add a 10% tip, unless you have good reason to reduce or eliminate it.

Time / service frequency
The distance is 40 miles and for much of it the speed limit is 70 miles an hour. So it is possible for the trip to take 45 minutes or so, particularly early in the morning or late at night, however the motorway concerned is notorious for its traffic jams. So a 1 hour journey time is more realistic. School holiday periods in England are generally offpeak for this trip. London and Gatwick taxi drivers working off their ranks will be aware of delays very quickly and will use alternative routes. Less knowledgeable drivers may feel obliged to sit it out. Having said that, even in a bad rush hour the journey is unlikely to take more than 75 minutes.

The maximum baggage you can take is constrained by the size of the car, and for most passengers that won't be an issue. If you have a very substantial amount of luggage then you may want to book a larger SUV style vehicle from the private hire section. They typically cost an extra 20.

Step free and accessibility
For official London taxis there are no steps between baggage reclaim and the taxi rank. The route to the taxi rank has a pedestrian friendly walkway. For private hire services it depends on where the driver has parked their car and the meet up arrangements. In theory they should be parked in the short term car park but due to the parking fee they will often find some way to avoid that, and App users may find themselves invited to go to the drop off point for arriving passengers. The latter is risky for the driver since they may get a penalty notice, but that's not your problem. All of Heathrow T5 should be step free but if you are following a driver s/he may have their own route to the car.

Hassle factor
Low, other than you need to be clear how to handle any delays to your flight for prebooked private hire cars.

How to book
London taxis: no booking required, there are always taxis waiting, just go straight to the clearly signposted taxi rank on the arrivals floor of T5.
Private hire: You best to make a booking a day or two in advance, or accept a potential 20 minutes (plus) delay if calling after landing. BATransfer and Connect AB would not be suitable for booking on arrival. For Uber (see below) you need to book very close to the time of travel.

Where to meet your driver
For some bookings the driver will tell you that they will wait outside the airport and then instruct you where to meet them. If they only occasionally do business at T5 it may be at the drop off zone for departing passengers, on the top level of the airport. Alternatively they may tell you where to go in T5 Arrivals to meet them inside the building. As you exit arrivals there is usually a phalanx of drivers with name boards.

However the best place for all concerned for the rendez-vous is Costa Coffee for international arrivals - open 24 hours a day - or Giraffe Juice caf if domestic. The drivers aren't obliged to buy anything if they take a table there.

Uber and other App booking services

Uber and other smartphone Apps have become particularly popular in recent years, and these provide another alternative to using traditional taxis or private hire minicabs. Uber drivers are licensed by TfL, the taxi regulator for London, as Private Hire Vehicle operators. However, they are not subject to the same level of control and regulation as Black cabs, in relation to their vehicles and driver training. Drivers are required to hold a private hire driver licence, which includes a criminal records and medical check. Uber is a supply / demand model, so over time prices will vary, but the price is fixed at the time of booking, which is currently 1.75 a mile plus 3. The pricing structure for Uber is such that most journeys are cheaper than an equivalent journey in a Black cab - some considerably so. However, due to their ‘surge pricing’ arrangements, users should be aware that during periods of very high demand (New Year’s Eve, for example), their pricing could occasionally work out to be more expensive than Black cabs or other Private hire taxis.

To use Uber you need to download the App on to your smartphone, register at least one credit card (Amex is accepted) and then search for your journey. Your smartphone's GPS system will find and link you to the nearest driver, and gives you an indication of wait times. There is no need to tip, your card is charged by the App separately to make it a fully electronic payment. In addition to the standard UberX service using standard saloon cars, there is also UberExec and UberLux options for luxurious cars, costing around 50% and 100% more respectively. You can't pre-book, nor request a particular driver, so you are at the mercy of available driver supply at the time of travel. You are advised to switch on your telephone and get a GPS bearing shortly after landing (and after being advised to do so by the cabin crew) so as to allow time for the GPS functionality to work fully at the time of booking. Other Apps exist apart from Uber, including Hailo, an App used by official London taxi drivers.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 7, 2016 at 6:17 pm
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 4:29 pm
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2) National Express coach service

2) National Express coach service

The National Express runs a door to door coach service from Heathrow to Gatwick. Services typically run from Terminal 1,2,3 then to Terminal 4, on to Terminal 5, the non stop from there to London Gatwick North Terminal (BA's terminal) before heading to Gatwick South. Same procedure in the reverse direction.

The ticket cost is 25 single, 40 return. In addition, if booking online or the App there is a 1 booking fee, so long as you can print the ticket yourself. If you want a mobile ticket via your phone or App it's 50p extra, and the same fee applies if you opt to retrieve the ticket from a National Express collection point. There is also a 1 booking fee for in person purchases using a credit card, but if you buy from one of the machines in Gatwick or Heathrow you avoid this supplement. There are National Express coachcards available, which save one third off ticket prices and which can be bought by the elderly, young, disabled and those with families. In the case of anyone over 60 years old a single Gatwick - Heathrow transfer would almost pay for the card.

Time / service frequency
The journey from LHR T5 to LGW North typically takes around 45 minutes in good traffic. Note that there can be delays on the motorway so you best allow plenty of time. There are typically 3 to 6 services an hour, but they are unevenly spread out, so there can be 30 minute gaps between services. The coach services come from all parts of the country and are therefore open to delays en route. You can use the App / website to see real time information on movements.
Heathrow T5: http://coachtracker.nationalexpress....ort_Terminal_5
Heathrow T1/T3: http://coachtracker.nationalexpress....al_Bus_Station
then filter of Departures to Gatwick
Gatwick North: http://coachtracker.nationalexpress....al_Bus_Station

The maximum baggage you can take on a normal ticket is two bags each up to 20 kgs, plus one small piece of hand luggage. The larger items will go in the pavement level hold, the smaller item goes with you on board. Extra bags cost 8, but it is fair to say that this whole area isn't rigorously policed so long as you don't overdo it.

Where to board the service: Heathrow T5
From International Arrivals bear right towards Costa Coffee, then turn left to leave the building, past a water feature and on to bus stops 11 and 12. It is clearly signposted. The National Express office is on the left of International Connections, below an orange sign saying South meeting point.

In the above photo you can see the water feature to the left, and behind it a National Express coach.

Where to board the service: Heathrow T3
Follow the signs to the Central Bus station. This involves a passageway going underneath Heathrow's road system to a central island from which all coaches and most buses leave. The National Express shop is in a prominent location in the bus station waiting area.

Where to board the service: London Gatwick North
From International Arrivals, bear slightly rightwards, towards the lifts, through the external doors and the coach stop is to the right. The National Express office is just between the lifts and the external doorway.

Step free and accessibility
No steps to the bus stop, a few steps to go up into the coach itself. The service runs close to the terminal buildings and this represents the least amount of walking of any transfer method at LGW and T5. There is a passageway at T3 to get to the bus station, with lifts.

Hassle factor
Low, particularly if you get your ticket sorted out in advance and the service arrives quickly. The seats are comfortable, the coaches have WCs and air conditioning, some have free wifi and device charging points. It is easy to get luggage into the low level hold and the driver will assist you.

How to book
Note that the National Express system requires you to select a specific service on your ticket. In reality between Heathrow and Gatwick your ticket is valid on any service which vaguely resembles the service you purchased. You can also buy a return ticket with an open dated return, and then insert the date via their MMB service.

You can buy tickets:
1) In person or via the machines at the National Express offices in Gatwick and Heathrow. They are both in the arrivals floor area, in the case of T5 to the left of international arrivals, under the orange sign for the South meeting point. At Gatwick it is by the lift area on the right as you leave the building from Arrivals. The best door to the coaches themselves is very close by in both cases. The machines don't charge a credit card fee, and accept Amex.

2) Online (1 booking fee, plus 50p for an m-ticket if you can't print an email ticket.)
3) Via the App for Smartphones (National Express Coach) - 1 booking fee, plus 50p for an m-ticket if you can't print an email ticket.
4) By telephone: +44 8717 81 81 81 - allowing 7 days for the ticket to arrive in the UK
5) Via tourist boards, student unions, local bus ticket offices and travel agents
6) At your local Post Office, including small village branches
7) If the office is closed, you can buy your ticket from the driver, cash only accepted, and any return would be open dated.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Dec 31, 2015 at 11:43 am
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:02 pm
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3) Rail via Heathrow Express / Gatwick Express

3) Rail via Heathrow Express / Gatwick Express

This option is more complicated. Essentially it's rail -> tube -> rail, with the rail services running at 15 minute intervals during the main part of the day. The Heathrow Express is often known as HEX, the Gatwick Express is GEX.

From Heathrow T5 or T3
Follow the signs for the Heathrow Express and take it to its terminus, London Paddington, this takes 15 to 22 minutes. From there take the tube (London Underground) Circle line westwards to London Victoria station. The tube station is in front of the HEX platforms and difficult to miss. At London Victoria station go upstairs to the main railway concourse, the Gatwick Express platforms are clearly signed towards the right side of the station. Take the train to London Gatwick station, usually these are non stop, and take about 30 minutes. From the Gatwick rail station follow the signs for Gatwick North, BA's terminal in LGW. A transit connects the station to the terminal, it takes a few minutes.

From London Gatwick to Heathrow
In reverse, follow the signs to to the rail station - you will need to take the transit from Gatwick North to South. At the station go to the Gatwick Express platform (usually platforms 5 and 6). Take the next service to London Victoria. Then follow the signs for the tube (London Underground) Circle Line going eastwards to Paddington. There go up to the main rail station and the Heathrow Express platforms are right in front of you. First stop is for Heathrow Terminal 3 (and 2), second/last stop is Terminal 5.

How to get tickets
At the moment the easiest way to get tickets is to use the Heathrow Express website or App to buy tickets in advance - they can be cheaper the further ahead you buy tickets. Full price tickets attract Avios if bought online. The App now accepts railcards.

For the tube and Gatwick Express from 11 January 2016 it's easiest to use a contactless payment card or Oyster. The full price HEX single is currently 22, GEX is 19.80 and the tube is 2.40, so that's 44.20. There is no peak / off peak concept on these fares.

You can also book tickets online for collection from the machines at either LHR or LGW stations in advance. There are a number of online ticket providers, I use Southern Railway but there are alternatives available. Note that the collection point in LGW is next to the ticket office, at Heathrow it's just outside the platforms and also near the Heathrow Express ticket offices, marked with the National Rail (former British Rail) logo. At LGW there can be a short queue since there are only 2 machines for collection only, however you can also use the main bank of machines if you are fortunate to be there when there isn't a long queue. You will need the credit card used for the payment and the long reference number issued by the online service. this covers the whole journey if you buy multiple tickets in one transaction. Discounts are available for children and railcards. Just select a ticket at the approximately correct time, you won't need to use the precise service booked.

You can also buy tickets without prebooking, there's no particular benefit of prebooking other that to save a bit of time, though if booking well in advance there are cheaper tickets on the HEX sector potentially available. At the Heathrow end this is relatively easy and straightforward, you can use the machines or ticket office. At Gatwick there is often quite a long queue for both machines and the ticket office, though the Gatwick Express dedicated queue isn't usually too bad. The advent of contactless ticketing may help to reduce queues.

Contactless ticketing
If you have an Oyster Card or a contactless debit/credit card - including those issued overseas - then you can use that for the London Gatwick to Paddington sections, covering the Gatwick Express and tube sectors. Simply touch in on the yellow pad by the entrance gates, and do the same to exit. This will cost 19.80 for the train service and 2.40 for the tube service. (Note that particularly offpeak, contactless fares are cheaper on rail services that exclude the Gatwick Express, see next section). This service is due to be introduced from 11 January 2016.

Personally I don't see the point of using this service, particularly with the introduction of contactless fares. Avoiding HEX and GEX and using Option 4 will reduce the cost significantly and will only add a few minutes to the journey. It isn't any more hassle either, in terms of connections.

The following variant uses the Heathrow Connect service:

This is cheaper than the Heathrow Express throughout but I wouldn't recommend it since the service frequency isn't good and the end to end timing is probably worse than Option 4 below.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 1, 2016 at 4:56 am
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:26 pm
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4) Other rail and tube options via central London:

4) Other rail and tube options via central London:

This is one of several options, if using contactless cards and going via central London (zone 1) then all of them now cost the same. All these options cost 16.20 peak, 10.20 off peak. This cost is worked out automatically. Peak times are 06:30 to 09:29 and from 16:00 to 18:59 Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. See post 12 below for some technical details about peak/off peak timings.

The diagram above is not the quickest but it has the fewest interchanges: Take the Piccadilly line tube from either T5 or T3, get off at Kings Cross, follow the signs for the Thameslink services to Gatwick and Brighton, for direct services from there to Gatwick. However the transfer at Kings Cross is not easy, you need to go through to the far end of St. Pancras station and there are quite a number of long walk ways involved.

A better route, in my opinion, is to take the Piccadilly line from T5/T3 to Barons Court, then transfer over the other side of the same platform to the District line to Victoria. Then take any train other than the Gatwick Express to Gatwick. Works in a similar way for LGW-LHR travellers. This strikes me as the best route to use between Heathrow and Gatwick so long as you have more than 2 hours 30 minutes until your next departure, it's reasonably fast, cost effective particularly off peak, can be done with contactless payment, and the transfers aren't too painful, the worst one being at Victoria station.

Another option is Piccadilly line to Green Park, transfer to the Victoria line down to Victoria station, then any train to Gatwick apart from the Gatwick Express. I don't recommend this since the connection between tube lines at Green Park isn't great, but it is technically quicker than changing elsewhere.

T3 (and T2) tube station

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 1, 2016 at 4:28 am
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:28 pm
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5) Other rail and tube options avoiding central London:

5) Other rail and tube options avoiding central London:

With the advent of contactless ticketing from LGW, these route aren't quite the bargains they used to be. Nevertheless this is still a cost and time effective way of getting between the airports, and avoids some of the cross London hassle. This first example involves taking the 490 bus from the arrival level of Terminal 5, bus stop 7, to Feltham rail station, which has a frequent and fast service to Clapham Junction. Change there to Platform 13 (usually) for the next service to Gatwick Airport. In the reverse direction the train to Feltham leave from adjoining platforms 5 and 6. A variant of this is to take the tube from T5 or T3 to Hatton Cross and take the first bus to Feltham, which could be the 90, 285, 490 or H25 (slightly longer bus trip for the latter). The 285 and 490 leave from bus stop C. The off peak cost is 10.10, the peak cost is 12.90 but the peak time relates to the rail component, not the bus. You probably won't need to use the contactless pad at Clapham Junction, but if you pass a pink reader by all means use it, hence shown in the diagram above.

This is another route, it used to be the cheapest regular service but now its only merit is that it is a cheap non central London service that doesn't involve a bus interchange. Take the Piccadilly line to Earls Court, go up to the District line to Wimbledon, get off at West Brompton, take the overhead stairs and passageway to the rail platforms next to the tube lines. Remember to touch the pink reader pad at West Brompton to tell the system that you have avoided Zone 1. Take the train to Clapham Junction then go to platform 13 to Gatwick. In the reverse direction the Overground train goes from platform 1 at Clapham Junction to West Brompton. The peak time cost is 11.40, off peak 8.60

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 1, 2016 at 4:36 am
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:29 pm
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6) Bus option

6) Bus option - X26 bus from Heathrow to East Croydon

This is the cheapest option, costing 4.50 off peak (6.70 peak hours) using contactless payment, but it's cheap for a reason! It's a long bus journey, the bus is not going to be very comfortable, it's slow and you have several changes to make between bus and train. The bus fare is 1.50, the rest is the rail fare between East Croydon and Gatwick. From T3 to LGW isn't so bad, since the bus stop is at the nearby Heathrow Central bus station, above the tube station. Peak hours relate to the train service, not the bus component of the fare, which is 1.50 throughout the day.

The bus route runs from Heathrow Central Bus Station (stop 19) to Hatton Cross, then around south London to East Croydon (change for LGW trains) and on to West Croydon. From T5 you need to take the free tube service to Terminal 2 / 3 and the central bus station.

See TFL website for the timetable.

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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:30 pm
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7) Other options - Limobike and car hire

7) Other options - Limobike, car hire and flying.

We don't have much collective experience about this method of travel, and it's only suitable for a single traveller with very limited baggage. But at least in theory this is the most reliably fast route between Heathrow and Gatwick. Limobikes is a long established company which provides a pillion ride service on the back of a Yamaha FJR1300. The driver provides protective clothing, helmet and a weatherproof blanket if necessary. [Note this is probably the fastest way of transferring between airports, we're putting it in a key position since realistically taxi and coach transfers are more practical].

The quoted cost is 160 but it can be higher for late night and weekend bookings.

Time / service frequency
On confirming a booking with Limobikes you are met in the arrivals area, given your helmet and protective clothing, and led to the Yamaha. The journey time should be no more than 5o minutes even if the traffic is bad and could take less than that.

The maximum baggage you can take is a medium sized wheelie bag, which is strapped on to the back, and there are two side panniers for smaller bags / handbags.

Step free and accessibility
Due to the lifts at both ends, this journey could be entirely step free, but it may not be the most suitable method of transport for those with disability issues.

Hassle factor
Low, other than the need to tog up for the motor bike ride. If you are not used to motorbiking you may be (un)comfortably numb at the end of the journey.

How to book
Contact the service provider directly, they ideally need 3 or 4 days notice. They do respond quickly to emails and will try to fit in last minute bookings.
0203 176 4441/ +44 203 176 4441
[email protected]


Car hire

In the Beta thread it was pointed out that hiring a car would be an option for some. There isn't the same car hire culture in the UK as exists in USA or South Africa, but it's a valid option. The advantage being potentially cost and luggage space particularly if several people are travelling. The downside is the paperwork completion would add quite a bit to journey times compared to the alternatives. Still it may work for some travellers. The road journey is relatively straightforward and is well signposted.



Well this wouldn't be BA Flyertalk without this option. It's not entirely, certifiably, mad should you need to increase the number of Eligible Flights for BAEC membership. The best way is via AMS, GVA, EDI or GLA, since your normally won't have a security or passport check at AMS, GVA, EDI or GLA. In the case of EDI and GLA you will also have easy access to the lounge if eligible. In the LGW to LHR direction you won't have a security check at T5 either in the case of EDI and GLA. You will have a LGW security check in the LHR to LGW direction however, but if your onward flight is international then there is a dedicated fast passage for this, provided you don't get a bus transfer at the LGW gate from EDI or GLA. The journey time about 4 hours in all. The cheapest revenue ticket I could find for this was 84 HBO LGW-GLA-LHR (so cheaper than some taxi options!), or 89 for LGW-GVA-LHR (2 singles). For RFS - which doesn't count towards Eligible Flights - it's 35 and 8k Avios off peak in EuroTraveller or Domestic. You can save approx 1.30 by going via GVA and redeeming single tickets rather than a return. If your connection is LHR T3 to LGW or vice versa then one would go via Vienna or Barcelona, obviously, to reduce the need to go via T5. Hat tip: pinkcat.
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Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 1, 2016 at 8:35 am
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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:30 pm
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Frequently Asked Questions

1) I have booked a National Express ticket for a particular service but I may be early / late - is that a problem?

No, you can go on services before or after, there isn't much of an issue. At LGW there is one ground agent who tries to discourage people going on earlier services (but not late services) but if there are seats available you can press the point with her. You may need to remind her that T5 is the next stop since she may argue that seats need to be held back for joining passengers. Formally, however, there is a 5 supplement option which allows a 12 hour either way variance on your booked coach time.

2) If I have a lot of luggage, which is the best option?

Taxi and National Express. There are baggage limits for National Express but they don't seem to be stringently enforced.

3) I have a several hours before my flight, which is the best value option which isn't too complex?
This is subjective, but probably Option 4 above via Barons Court, if you don't have too much luggage. Particularly offpeak the cost is 10.20 on Oyster and contactless, and it should take around 90 minutes. It can be done without using steps, though at Victoria it is easiest to use steps/escalators if you can.

4) Can I use a railcard?
For Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express, yes, and that includes the Network Card, subject to the various time restrictions in place for your railcard. In the case of the Gatwick Express unless you have the railcard attached to your Oyster then it's unlikely to work for you. Paper tickets are sometimes better, depending on your other trips that day (e.g. one day travelcards).

5) What are all these references to "contactless" payment?
Over the last few years, transport in the London area has been largely moved over to contactless payment methods, where you enter a tube station by putting an eligible bank or credit card on a yellow pad to the right of the entrance gate. It will bleep once (not very loud though) if payment is accepted, and the mini screen will confirm all is well - it's ok to touch the pad while the gate is open from the previous passenger, it will stay open for you too. You do the same to exit the station. For buses you touch the same pad either at the driver's door, or in some cases entering by other doors and using the pads in the middle of the bus. Once only in the case of a bus trip, you should not touch out when leaving the bus. On the DLR you do need to swipe out if leaving a DLR station and not continuing your trip via a tube connection at the same station but that won't feature on these transfers. An Oyster card is also available from stations and newsagents if you don't have such a bank card, but AMEX now issue them as standard globally. In the diagrams above, we have indicated where you will need to deploy your card. Other cities also use contactless for public transport (e.g. Salt Lake City since 2009! And Chicago). You can tell if your card should work by this symbol, usually on the front of the card:

And see this video (health warning: Estuary English in full deployment)

Note that so far at least the Heathrow Express is not on contactless - almost the only public transport operator in the London area not to be so connected. It does at least accept App and website bookings. Apart from that, and with the exception of some railcard users, contactless and Oyster are the best and most cost effective way to use public transport in the London area. Contactless card will also allow you to use the tube between T5, T3-T2 and T4 for free, you just need the card to enable gate access.

6) Is Apple Pay available for contactless travel?
Yes, including the Apple Watch, they can be used to touch in on the yellow pad. Full details here: http://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments...ment/apple-pay. Also see this post to see how you can use multiple cards, e.g. for a family.

7) I'm transferring between Gatwick and Heathrow on a Sunday / Bank Holiday / Christmas / Easter - is that a problem?
Quite possibly! These are the times that the public transport operators can do major upgrade and repair works so it's often the case that one or all of the above will be affected by this. Typically the service isn't cancelled all together but you'll soon learn the fear and loathing that Brits have when they hear the words "Rail Replacement Bus Service". You can check the Tube/bus via their website: https://tfl.gov.uk/ and rail via http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/. If there is going to be disruption the websites tend to have links on the front page. Also the Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Southern websites but this should just repeat the National Rail information. There is a nifty enquiry screen here: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/servic...AndFuture.aspx

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Old Dec 27, 2015, 5:37 pm
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Thread acknowledgement

I've decided to finally finish this thread, bit of writer's block here, but we're done now. The fares and contactless set-up relates to travel from 2 January and 11 January 2016 respectively for travel before then options 4 to 6 are more expensive, some considerably so.

Please feel free to comment or suggest improvements.

Considerable thanks are due to the following who collaborated in the making of this thread via the Beta:


BahrainLad, Calchas, dsf, flyingbee, Football Fan, HIDDY, KARFA, layz, LondonAndy, LondonElite, London_traveller, Palmer, paul4040, Physci, Post Scriptum, Prospero (who did all the graphics), rcspeirs, Sam Bee, Skipcool3, stifle, tuff, T8191, UKtravelbear.
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Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jan 7, 2016 at 6:18 pm
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Old Dec 31, 2015, 2:17 pm
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I have added a widget to the forum dashboard so that we can access this thread whenever the need arises.

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Old Dec 31, 2015, 3:04 pm
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Firstly well done c-w-s and everyone else.

Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave
4) Other rail and tube options via central London:

Peak times are 06:30 to 09:29 and from 16:00 to 18:59 Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. The afternoon peak time only applies to trips that start in zone 1, so it shouldn't impact people on this transfer route (to be confirmed).
I think this is incorrect, unless something has been changed with the introduction of the Gatwick Oyster zone. National Rail services don't have blanket afternoon peak restrictions, only ones specific to particular routes, however Oyster fares apply an afternoon peak even when there isn't one for paper tickets on the same route.

As I understand it currently, the afternoon peak fares apply to all trips except those which end in Zone 1.

It is based on the time of touch in so as long as you enter the barriers before 1602** then you will be charged the off-peak rate. Similarly if your departing flight is after 2130 or so, and you arrive at the station at 1830 then you may wish to wait half an hour.

**I have experimentally confirmed that the afternoon peak is actually from 1602 to 1858 - others report the same with the morning peak - but if you've just adjusted your watch from a different timezone then it may not be as accurate
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Old Dec 31, 2015, 3:49 pm
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Nice work. Looks like it involved a lot of effort. Well done.
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Old Dec 31, 2015, 7:26 pm
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Nice guide. I am determined to have a go at the limoboke option one day, but so far my fimnances only stretch to the NEX coach.
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Old Jan 1, 2016, 2:52 am
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Originally Posted by KARFA
Nice guide. I am determined to have a go at the limobike option one day, but so far my finances only stretch to the NEX coach.
Well don't try too hard, as we say around here, we're glad you're here! But if you (or anyone else) does try it, then please PM me and I'll try and fix up photographs.
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