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London Airports transfer FAQ: London Luton (LTN)

London Airports transfer FAQ: London Luton (LTN)

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Old Oct 24, 19, 6:37 am   -   Wikipost
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London Luton (LTN)

First of all, it's worth looking at the excellent Journey Planner website, if you're headed to London. It will plot a route for you, using public transport, with timings, costs and detailed destination and walking route maps.

Train

Details on the Thameslink and East Midlands Trains websites.
Note - From the timetable change at 20 May 2018, EMT only serve Luton Airport Parkway at off peak hours, and not at all in peak hours.

Fares:
  • Varies according to distance.
    • 10-15 single to Central London in Standard Class
      • 24 single to Central London in First Class*
        • Groups of 3+ people save 1/3 on fares on Thameslink only
Carnets and combination fares available, along with through tickets to London Underground destinations. London Transport travelcards are not valid, although extensions can be bought. For regular passengers, KeyGo smart cards are available from Thameslink which can be linked to your credit card.
Oyster is NOT valid but contactless payment (bank cards or phone) is accepted. Repeat NOT oyster - contactless only.

There is a slight discount on these fares if you use West Hampstead or Kentish Town stations to change.

Destinations:
  • King's Cross St Pancras has Tube connections to the Victoria, Northern (City Branch), Piccadilly, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines. It is also adjacent to King's Cross station for Virgin Trains East Coast long distance services to York, the East Coast and Scotland, and Great Northern services to Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • St Pancras also has connections on Eurostar services to France and Belgium, and SouthEastern high speed services to Kent, as well as Thameslink connections to Cambridge and Peterborough from 20th May 2018.
  • Thameslink services continue to Gatwick, the South Coast, Kent, Sussex and South London. A major timetable change took place between 20th May 2018 and December 2018, introducing new lines to Peterborough, Cambridge, Horsham and Maidstone.
  • Connection on some trains (check before depature) at West Hampstead to the Jubilee Line and London Overground. Note that there are many stairs to climb here, and a short walk between the (close) stations.
  • Connection on slow trains only at Kentish Town to the Northern Line. There are steps here. Note that Northern Line trains (which serve many destinations in London) may go 'via Charing Cross' or 'via Bank' (City Branch) after Camden Town. This connection is useful for the Charing Cross branch, which is not served by the Northern Line at King's Cross St Pancras.
  • The Thameslink service continues North to intermediate stations to Bedford.
  • Most East Midlands Trains service pass through Luton Airport Parkway without stopping - one train per hour (each way) stops in off-peak hours. For connections to the East Midlands and further north you will you will need to change at Luton or Bedford. For destinations beyond Leicester, you are likely to need to change again.

Pros:
  • Fast and comfortable. This is the speediest connection to London. (Though, following the new timetable introduced on 20 May 2018, not as speedy as it used to be).
  • Excellent Tube connections at King's Cross St Pancras.

Cons:
  • Expensive, particularly for multiple travellers.
  • This is a prime commuter route, and can be rather full at peak times.
  • Note, and note again, that the station is called 'Luton Airport Parkway'. 'Parkway' is a UK rail euphemism for 'miles away from'. You cannot walk from the station to the terminal. It is a bus journey. Allow extra time for this. At busy times, you may have to wait for the second bus to turn up. LCCs will not accept this as an excuse for being late for check-in. Just watch the television show 'Airline' (the UK one) to find out...
  • The shuttle bus from Luton Airport Parkway is no longer free, but new, larger vehicles have been bought, and the service made more frequent. You can buy inclusive tickets, but otherwise you'll need to pay on board (there is a discount for rail ticket holders).
  • The train service runs through the night, but at a much reduced frequency after midnight. Because LTN is primarily an LCC airport, there are lots of early and late departures and arrivals. The railway industry often uses weekends for engineering work and service patterns at weekends (and especially overnight at weekends) may be disrupted - always check.
  • Services can get very crowded. The seats on the new trains now used in Thameslink brand services are VERY hard, likened to ironing boards.
  • Travellers who previously sought out the less frequent but faster East Midlands Trains services - note that these are now very infrequent at the airport Parkway station.

Tips:
  • I'll say it again - the station is not near the terminal. Allow time for the bus.
  • There are tickets available to 'Luton Airport' or to 'Luton Airport Parkway' - the former includes the bus transfer and the latter doesn't. Make sure you buy the right one!
  • Note that the airport station is 'Luton Airport Parkway', but that there is another station called 'Luton' serving the main town. Don't get off at the latter.
  • If you're early for your train to the airport, take a moment to have a look around St Pancras station. It really is quite a stunning building.
  • Note that a ticket to "London Terminals" on Thameslink can only be used as far as St Pancras or Farringdon. If you wish to City Thameslink or beyond, you must buy a specific ticket, or you are liable to a Penalty Fare. This is a relatively new measure.
  • There is currently major construction work at Luton Airport. At the moment, this often affects traffic leaving the airport, and that includes the shuttle bus to the station. At peak times, traffic to the airport can be affected as well. Leave plenty time.

Rank Taxis

Note that Luton Airport is outside Greater London, and so black cabs do not pick up here. Instead, the airport has a preferred operator, Addison Lee.

Fares:
  • Varies according to length of journey.

Pros:
  • Convenient.
  • The fares are fixed, with many standard rates, so you're not at risk of ridiculous fares due to traffic queues.
  • For some cheap off-airport car parks and hotels, they may well be your only option.

Cons:
  • Rather expensive. You're still saving vs train in a large group, though.
  • These are effectively minicabs, albeit with a degree of regulation if the companies want to maintain the lucrative airport contract. However, that still means much lighter regulation than the official London Taxis. While I personally have had nothing but good experiences with the companies mentioned above, it is extremely important only to deal with reputable private hire ('minicab') companies in London. The PCO (website above) has a licencing scheme, which is a good indicator. You can also go on personal recommendations. But, I cannot stress enough, do not just get into a 'taxi'. Black cabs are fine, decent minicab companies are fine. But there are instances of all sorts of problems reported in London, from dangerous vehicles and driving, through to armed robbery and rape in illegal minicabs. Never take a taxi from a tout.
  • London Taxis ('black cabs') are not obliged to take you to Luton Airport. If they do agree, negotiate the fare, rather than running on the meter, unless you like taxi fares that resemble phone numbers.

Tips:
  • If you find yourself arriving late, have missed the last train, and either can't face the coach or find there are huge queues for it, speak up! You won't be the only person in this situation, and it's not uncommon for groups of strangers to share a taxi into London. Obviously, use common sense as to who your fellow passengers are.
  • In that above situation, don't expect an LCC to pay your cab fare.

Pre-Booked Taxis

Fares:
  • Varies according to length of journey and company involved.
  • Flyertalkers have noted Addison Lee and Airport Direct as options.
  • Expect fares of 50-60 for Central London, including pick-up fees. The return to the airport is cheaper (in the 40-50 region) - this is a guesstimate, please update with more accurate info

Pros:
  • Cheaper than an airport taxi, and cheaper than the train in a group.
  • Fixed rate means no worries about ridiculous fares due to traffic problems.
  • You will get met at arrivals.
  • You can order MPV taxis, usually seating up to 7.

Cons:
  • Much lighter regulation than the official London Taxis. While I personally have had nothing but good experiences with the companies mentioned above, it is extremely important only to deal with reputable private hire ('minicab') companies in London. The PCO (website above) has a licencing scheme, which is a good indicator. You can also go on personal recommendations. But, I cannot stress enough, do not just get into a 'taxi'. Black cabs are fine, decent minicab companies are fine. But there are instances of all sorts of problems reported in London, from dangerous vehicles and driving, through to armed robbery and rape in illegal minicabs. Never take a taxi from a tout.
  • Credit cards are not generally accepted.
  • You are still subject to the vagaries of London traffic, without the ability to use bus lanes.
  • In case of delays, you may well be charged extra for waiting time. An LCC will not take responsibility for this.

Tips:
  • Private hire companies are not bound by per-mile or other fee regulations. Always agree a price beforehand.
  • Unless you specify otherwise, a taxi will sit 3, 4 at a push.
  • 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm are the peak times in London. Yes, they are that long. Be warned.

Coach Links

National Express run a series of coach (bus) services to Central London from Luton. They also run direct, long-distance buses further afield.

The NX timetables above include Green Line services, which run from London Victoria to Luton.

See also the easyBus service.

Fares:
  • Search on the National Express website above for fare details, as these vary according to many factors, but Central London fares are:
  • From 1-5 single on easyBus (requires pre-booking for cheap fares, and you must buy a seat for large luggage)
  • 7 single on National Express
  • Green Line 9 return for easyJet customers

Destinations:
  • easyBus goes to/from Hendon Central, on the Northern Line (London Underground).
  • National Express coaches go to London Victoria, for rail and Tube (Victoria, Circle, District Lines) connections.
  • National Express coaches also call at several stops within London, useful for those areas, and for Tube connections, as follows:
    1. Brent Cross (Northern Line for North London)
    2. Finchley Road (Metropolitan and Jubilee Line for NW London)
    3. Baker Street (Jubilee, Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith & City Lines)
    4. Marble Arch for West End (Central Line)
  • Note that you may not be able to unload luggage at intermediate stops on National Express services. Check before travel.

Pros:
  • Opens up a number more direct destinations within London, and around. Of particular interest are:
    1. Cambridge
    2. Birmingham, NEC and Airport
    3. Nottingham East Midlands Airport
    4. Gatwick Airport (this does take a long time)
    5. Heathrow Airport
    6. Stansted Airport
  • Dedicated luggage storage on National Express.
  • Reasonably priced option, particularly on longer distances.
  • Absolute bargain on easyBus.

Cons:
  • Again, traffic.
  • Also, for longer distances, they're not always the most comfortable.

Tips:
  • The National Express and easyBus websites allow online booking of e-tickets.
  • You can buy a ticket at the National Express counter at Stansted, or on the bus (cash only on the bus).

Bus Links

There is a limited local bus service from Luton Airport to the surrounding areas. Routes 8 and 9 serve Luton, Watford, St Albans, Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard, Harpenden and Dunstable.

Fares:
  • Vary according to distance and operator.
  • This is outside London, so no London tickets apply.

Pros:
  • Cheaper than a taxi.

Cons:
  • It can be difficult to know where to get off.
  • Not good with a lot of luggage.

Tips:
  • If you're not sure where to alight, don't be shy: ask the driver!
  • Have some change ready. Many buses are exact fare only, and those that aren't tend not to take banknotes.
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Old Apr 30, 18, 5:59 am
  #1  
Moderator: UK and Ireland & Europe, and Carbon Conscious Travel
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London Airports transfer FAQ: London Luton (LTN)

This thread contains the wiki for transfer information to/from London Luton Airport (LTN). Please update the information above as you see fit, and use the thread below to discuss.

stut
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Last edited by stut; May 1, 18 at 4:43 am
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Old May 15, 18, 8:42 am
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Text amended to reflect changes to rail service pattern from 20 May.
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Old May 15, 18, 10:03 am
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Don't think that's quite accurate. From 20th May, EMT will no longer serve peak flows to Luton (Town) or Bedford. There will still be at least an hourly service to the Parkway:

Realtime Trains | Departures from Luton Airport Parkway

(Really appreciate updates to the wikipost, btw!)
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Old May 15, 18, 10:12 am
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Blast - missed that hourly service. Text further updated to reflect that.
Might need to revise it again as the rail industry seems to be rewriting this new timetable on a day by day basis....
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Old May 15, 18, 10:54 am
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Also be aware that the Thameslink one is being "phased in" - there are (deliberate) gaps in the service in the first weeks/months after 20th May. The Cambridge - Maidstone services won't even run until December...
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Old Jul 10, 19, 2:23 am
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Minor amendment made to wiki.
Updated to note that Thameslink trains now runs 24 hours from Parkway.
Introduction of contactless payment (but NOT oyster) later in 2019
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Old Oct 24, 19, 3:38 pm
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Minor edit.
Contactless payments (but not oyster) now live
{edit spelling}
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