One of the many frequent complaints about Heathrow airport is the cost of travelling to the airport by train from London Paddington.
Whilst there is the option of taking The Tube, the journey on the Piccadilly Line (best described as one long baggage carousel) is long, prone to delays and over-crowding. The carriages are ill-suited to carrying large amounts of luggage and the overland parts of the journey are anything but scenic.
That only leaves (until Crossrail opens in 2018 at least) the Heathrow Express from London Paddington to Heathrow Central (for Terminals 1 and 3 and interchange to Terminal 4) and Heathrow Terminal 5. However, at a cost of £20 for a single ticket or £34 for a return ticket for a 15-20 minute journey (and more if you buy on board!), it must rank as one of the most expensive train journeys per minute in the world!
The first less expensive option is to take the Heathrow Connect service from London Paddington. This is less expensive at £9.50 for a single ticket and £19 for a return ticket. However trains only depart every 30 minutes and as it is a stopping service it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Heathrow Central. You do also need to change at Heathrow Central to reach both Terminals 4 and 5 (no change is required for Terminal 5 on the Heathrow Express).
There are also various means of obtaining discounts on the Heathrow Express set out below. Some of the discounts are time sensitive. However, do bear in mind that tickets can be purchased three months in advance.
1. Network Rail Gold Card – Save 34%
If live/work in the UK and have purchased an annual season ticket within the designated Network Rail area and the origin & destination are in the area you should have automatically received a Network Rail Goldcard which will entitle you to 34% off the cost of a Heathrow Express ticket. However, this cannot be used before 10am on Monday to Friday.
To complicate matters, you cannot apply the Gold Card discount when you buy online from the Heathrow Express website, on board the Heathrow Express train, or at a Heathrow Express ticket machine. You will need to buy your ticket from a ticket counter, another operator’s ticket machine at the train station or another operator’s website.
2. National Railcard – Save 34%
It is also possible to purchase a National Railcard for an annual fee of £28, which will also entitle you to 34% off the cost of a Heathrow Express ticket. The same restrictions for Network Rail Gold cards above apply.
Discounts for other types of railcards (including Family & Friends Railcards, Senior Railcards, 16-25 Railcards, Two Together Railcard, Disabled Persons Railcards, ISIC Card Holder & HM Forces) are available. Full details are on the Heathrow Express website.
3. Discounts for American Express cardholders
There are occasional promotions for American Express cardholders. The last discount on expired on 31 December 2012. However, it’s worth checking if any new discounts are available.
4. Airline specific discounts – Save 10%
Certain airlines do also provide discounts to their passengers through designated landing pages on the Heathrow Express website. These special fares can only be purchased online.
Whilst these discounts are obviously targeted at passengers of these airlines, it is unlikely that your boarding pass would be checked on board the train to confirm your eligibility for the discount. Unfortunately, these are not working at present, but it is worth checking back to see if they are active.
5. Heathrow Express Promotional Offers For Couples, Families, Groups
Finally, Heathrow Express does offer promotional discounts, particularly when business travel is relatively quiet such as January and during summer so it’s always worth checking the Heathrow Express website. Unfortunately, these offers cannot be combined with railcard discounts.
Couples travelling together can purchase two returns for £50 (saving £18) under the Duo Saver promotion. Just enter the code DUO12 in the promotion code box.
Groups of three of more can also save up to a third of the ticket price per person when travelling together under the Group Saver promotion. Enter the code GROUP12 in the promotion code box.
Two children can also travel free with a full paying adult when you book online with Heathrow Express under the Kids Go Free promotion. Enter the code KIDSFREE12 in the promotion code box.