Having previously travelled onward from Heathrow to UK cities by train, we are well aware what a fraught experience it can be.
Aside from the hassle and expense of travelling from Heathrow to one of the mainline railway stations in Central London, there’s the added dilemma of either buying a flexible train ticket (some times at a cost of hundreds of pounds) or an advance train ticket for a specified train which, if missed, has to be thrown away.
Whilst Lufthansa and Air France have offered Rail & Fly tickets for many years, BA has only now announced joint rail & fly tickets with First Great Western and Heathrow Express (who both serve London Paddington).
From Friday 5 December 2014, passengers will be able to buy joint tickets for BA flights from London Heathrow to/from the following railway stations served by Great Western with a connection between Paddington to Heathrow on the Heathrow Express:
Bath, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff, Exeter, Oxford, St Austell, Par, Plymouth, Penzance, Swansea.
The main advantage is that if either the passenger’s train journey or flight is delayed, the onward flight or train journey is protected (and this includes the provision of overnight accommodation if necessary).
These joint rail & fly tickets can only be booked via travel agents and not via ba.com
Passengers will be able to check in for the railway part of the journey online 72 hours in advance.
One point to note is that we assume the travel class on Great Western will follow the travel class booked on BA. Passengers travelling in economy in BA wishing to take advantage of relatively inexpensive off peak first class train fares may wish to book separate tickets.
As to whether this will be extended to other rail companies, it’s noteworthy that BA has chosen a region of England that is not served at all by BA flights (the last being a short lived service between Gatwick and Newquay.)
It seems unlikely that this will be extended to areas in the North served by direct BA flights. Nor do we expect this arrangement to be extended to Virgin Trains!