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Heathrow entering on foot and getting bus

Heathrow entering on foot and getting bus

Old Mar 26, 2024, 5:45 pm
  #1  
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Heathrow entering on foot and getting bus

Can anyone please offer some advice. I shall be flying out of Heathrow at 6.30am on Wednesday June 5th.

I am spending the night with relatives in Brentford . To save money, I'm a pensioner, I intend to get a cheap bookable taxi to Hatton Cross. Arriving there at about 4am. I then need to get to Terminal 2. Has anyone done this? And can anyone offer advice please.

Incidentally the last time I made this journey was last summer and I caught the night bus the N9. But it was already incredibly full at Brentford and I could barely get on the bus. I then had to stand all the way and I'm not that strong. I found it exhausting. So although the bus would be cheaper I don't really want to use that.

Regarding my plan can anyone suggest where the taxi might drop me off. And do the internal heathrow buses run at 4am?

Thanks for any help
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 12:51 am
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You cannot walk to T2 from anywhere because the central tunnel is not open to pedestrians.

Your options are either bus, taxi or tube. You could also, if you're really cheeky, use the long-term parking bus to avoid paying the 5 drop-off charge at the terminal for private vehicles, but there are reports that some taxi firms won't drop off there.

So if we concentrate on Hatton Cross: the taxi will likely drop you off on the forecourt. From there (technically the road outside the forecourt) the 285 bus goes to Central Bus Station and it's 24 hours. It may well still be crowded, but the journey is only 10 minutes or so. 1.75.

The easiest option would be to take the tube - free from Hatton Cross with a contactless card. The first one leaves at 5.05am, so you'd be in T2 having walked from the Underground station by 5.15am. If you only want to get on the plane, at that time of day it would be sufficient time.

There are no internal Heathrow buses - beyond the airport estate it's almost exclusively TfL with a handful of private operators. The Heathrow Free Transport Zone, where the airport paid bus operators a fee, is long gone.
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 6:22 am
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Many thanks NWIFlyer. Very kind of you to be so helpful.

I hadn't realised that the 285 is a 24hour service. I couldn't find a timetable online.

As for the tube I think that is too late. My flight departs at 06:30 and so I need to be there 3 hours earlier at 3.30 (is Heathrow open at 3.30?)

I shall get a taxi to Hatton Cross then walk to the bus stop - is it far from the tube station? Then get the 285.

I just looked online and unless I have got something wrong the 285 is only every 30 minutes in the small hours:
https://tfl.gov.uk/bus/timetable/285...mId=490000103F

Thanks again and best wishes
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Last edited by peternorthampton; Mar 27, 2024 at 6:27 am
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 7:57 am
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Yes, you're correct - the bus frequency really does get cut down considerably during the early hours. You could also use the 556, which dovetails in with the 285's timings, or alternatively the 90 to Harlington Corner then any of the many services that run to Heathrow Central Bus Station from there (but that's a much less preferable option given your description of your needs). You should be able to pick up either the 285 or 556 at something like a 15-20 minute interval.

The bus stops are adjacent to the Underground station concourse/parking area, but on the road. The 285 one will be to the left as you face Hatton Cross Station. I'm afraid I can't remember where the 556 departs from, but it's not at all difficult to find the right stop once you're there. There are some buses that depart from the concourse itself, but I don't believe they go to Heathrow.

But in terms of arrival time, you really don't need to get there as early as you're planning to - you won't be able to even enter security until about 4am. If you have access to Fast Track, that typically doesn't open until 5.15am.

To give you an idea of how little time you actually need, last week I had a 6.30am departure from T2. I had to go to a desk because I couldn't check-in online. I stayed at T4 and took the first Underground train from that station, which departs at 5.06am and arrives at T2 at 5.10am. I had a short queue at the Business Class desk to get a boarding pass and entered Fast Track security at 5.20am, clearing it in about five minutes. I went to the Lufthansa Lounge and had some breakfast. At 5.50am, the gate came up as B44.

I walked to B terminal, using the lifts rather than the escalators, and still had time for a glass of champagne in the UA lounge before walking back to the gate, arriving before boarding even commenced.

So if you arrive at 5.15am having already checked-in online and go straight to gate, even without having access to Fast Track security you would probably still be there 45 minutes prior to departure.
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 10:46 am
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Why would you arrive 3 hours before a 6:30AM flight? If you arrive by 5AM or 5:15AM you will be fine.
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 2:45 pm
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Check in and security generally opens between 0445 and 0500.

The 556 bus, operated by Diamond, has a daily 0435 departure from Hatton Cross. This arrives Heathrow Central at 0448 which is ideal for the OP, and avoids the ticket barriers and stairs at Hatton Cross tube station.

The OP's username possibly suggests he is from Northampton, if so, he should have a ENCTS pass making the buses free. It is marginally easier to use this on a Diamond bus as it will work at the ticket machine, while it doesn't work on TfL bus machines. Occasionally newly employed London bus drivers will reject it on this basis.

Use the unofficial https://bustimes.org to find all UK bus timetables (also has some or all of Ireland) - this retrieves timetable data which is submitted to the government for approval.

For London bus timetables there is also e.g. for the 285 London Bus Routes 285 timetable

Originally Posted by SK AAR
Why would you arrive 3 hours before a 6:30AM flight? If you arrive by 5AM or 5:15AM you will be fine.
Because airlines have drummed into infrequent flyers that they must always arrive 3 hours before an international flight and at certain airports in the world, you should definitely aim to arrive at 0330 for an 0630 flight.
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Old Mar 27, 2024, 7:09 pm
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NWIFlyer, SK AAR and : D!

Many thanks to all of you for your kind help.

Now that you mention it when I got the same flight last year I did end up waiting for something to open, I think it may have been the Security section? not certain about that.

Can any of you please help with more information on checking in and getting through security. In particular does anyone know the opening times of check in and security for T2? That would be helpful. I couldn't find it on the Heathrow website.

Sadly, I'm not flying business class so I suspect my transit through the terminal will take longer.
I have to check in as I have a large luggage and cannot remember if my airline allowed online check-in last year. I am flying with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul IST.

IF I arrived at 5am and took 30 mins to check in - not unusual with a full plane, I might have problems because I think they say that check in closes 1 hour before departure. If the queue is longer than 30 minutes to check in I would have had it.

Incidentally, I had a 50 minute queue to get through passport control in an EU state recently when leaving the country!!! Plus security and plus check in, so the whole process took about 80 minutes even with just hand luggage!!

Allowing 30 minutes to check in in T2 leaves me with say 30 minutes to clear security before my flight if I am to allow for getting to my gate and boarding before departure. All a bit tight imho.

BUT maybe I'm wrong and arriving at 5 might be ok?

I'd be grateful for any more info or anecdotes one way or the other. In particular IF security and check in open at 5am or earlier is an important piece of information.

Finally, despite my awful experience last year I am now contemplating the N9 bus on the basis that if it is really full I can then try and get one of the cheap taxi companies to take me to Hattons Cross.

Again many thanks for all of the kind help I have received. I am very grateful.

Last edited by peternorthampton; Mar 27, 2024 at 7:45 pm
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 3:26 am
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Originally Posted by peternorthampton
IF I arrived at 5am and took 30 mins to check in - not unusual with a full plane, I might have problems because I think they say that check in closes 1 hour before departure. If the queue is longer than 30 minutes to check in I would have had it.

Incidentally, I had a 50 minute queue to get through passport control in an EU state recently when leaving the country!!! Plus security and plus check in, so the whole process took about 80 minutes even with just hand luggage!!
Turkish allows online check in and mobile boarding pass from LHR. I can't say exactly when they would open the counters but at Heathrow things generally start to come to life from 0445.

After 0630, there isn't another Turkish flight departing for several hours, so everyone in the queue at 0500 will be on your flight, and they won't close the desks until the queue is cleared.

There isn't any exit passport check from the UK.

Yes, some individuals on the N9 at that hour may not be the nicest, but if all seats are occupied I would expect there to be someone willing to stand for an elderly person.

If you are concerned that you would be unable to get through security and to the gate quickly enough because of your age (Turkish often uses B gates which are a 10-15 minute walk after security even for a young fit person) you could book passenger assistance.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 8:47 am
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Anne Bradford and : D!

Many thanks for your kind help. I genuinely appreciate it.

I asked Heathrow on social media when they open T2. But they didn't give a direct answer. They wanted me to send them a private message. I would imagine this information would be helpful to many passengers travelling through Heathrow in the early hours. After all for a 6:35 flight the suggested check in is 3 hours earlier at 03:35 (non domestic). But seemingly from the responses to my question they might not be open then. So they should tell passengers what the situation is.

Regarding the N9, nobody offered me a seat last year. But I caught an earlier bus that got me to Heathrow at about 4am. Maybe this year I shall chance a later arrival at Heathrow and get the bus that gets there at about 5am. And hope I can clear check-in and security in time for my 6:30 flight.

Does anyone have a feel for check in times at the Turkish Airlines desk with hold luggage? If I arrive at 5.10 into the queue am I likely to make my flight?

Sorry to fuss so much but I am old and tend to worry easily. And I am travelling to meet my daughter who I won't have seen for almost a year by the time of my flight so I don't want to miss my flight.

Thanks again and kind regards
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 10:46 am
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I've had an exchange of messages with Heathrow on social media regarding the opening time of security at Heathrow.

Is there anyone with a good knowledge of this?

The first flight of the day seems to be at 6am. Does security open 2 hours before that at 4am??

Thanks for any help. It would be much appreciated.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 12:50 pm
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Arriving 3 hours early for a 6.30am flight from Heathrow is 1000% unnecessary. Max 2 hours before flight is fine. Even 60-90minutes before flight would be fine but 2 hours is probably safer if you are someone nervous about queue length etc.

Do you have the Uber app? I suspect an Uber direct to the terminal would be (much?) cheaper than a bookable taxi to Hatton Cross.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 2:26 pm
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I think security opens a bit after 4:30. If you are nervous, get to T2 then. Personally I'd be rolling up about 5:15am.
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 7:15 am
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Many thanks. I was thinking of getting the Uber app. Though I did do a quick check of prices in the small hours and I couldn't find any taxi company that I (depends on expectations and wealth - I'm a pensioner) considered cheap. Kind regards
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 7:17 am
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Thanks Swanhunter. I think I shall chance getting there a bit later than I initially planned. I did get fed up last year when we were all waiting for security to open. Kind of you to be so helpful. Best wishes

Sorry quick additional question. How much time to walk from the Heathrow bus station to Turkish Airlines check in desk?
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 8:05 am
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Less than 5 minutes, and there are moving walkways to help. Always use the lifts to get up to departures, not the escalators as they're much quicker - by a factor of 5-10.
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