Significant disruption to Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services from London Paddington over Christmas 2016

There will be very significant disruption to both Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services between London Paddington and Heathrow airport over the Christmas and New Year period.
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Reduced Heathrow Express & Heathrow Connect services from London Paddington from Good Friday 25 March to Easter Monday 28 March 2016

Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect will operate reduced timetables between London Heathrow and Paddington over the Easter 2016 holiday. This is due to engineering works taking place for in the introduction of Crossrail.
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Significant disruption to Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express services over 2015 Christmas & New Year

There will be significant disruption to Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express train services from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport over the Christmas and New Year Holiday.

Christmas Eve – Thursday 24 December 2015

Both Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express services will finish early on Christmas Eve.

The last Heathrow Express train from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 5 departs at 20:25. The last Heathrow Express train from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 21:12. The inter-terminal transfer service will run until 23:00.

The last Heathrow Connect train from London Paddington departs at 21:33. The last Heathrow Connect service from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 20:51.

Other public transport services including the Tube and mainline suburban and long distance rail services are also likely to end early.

Christmas Day – Friday 25 December 2015 – Monday 28 December 2015

There will be no Heathrow Connect or Heathrow Express service at all from Christmas Day to Monday 28 December. This is due to Crossrail engineering works.

In terms of alternative public transport options, the Tube and mainline suburban and long distance rail services do not run on Christmas Day. Suburban and long distance rail services operate very limited services (many operators not at all) on Boxing Day.

Tuesday 29 December 2015 – Saturday 2 January 2016

The Heathrow Connect will run a revised service and trains will not stop at Hanwell or West Ealing.

Heathrow Express will run a revised service with trains departing every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.

The first service from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 5 departs at 05:25 and then at 55 and 25 minutes past the hour with the last service at 23:25 (19:25 on Saturday 2 January 2016).

The first service from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 05:27 and then at 57 and 27 minutes past the hour with the last service at 23:27 (18:27 on Saturday 2 January 2016).

Full details are on the Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express websites.

Please note that is often the case that engineering works can over-run so please check directly with Heathrow Connect and Express before you travel. Please also be aware that there is also significant disruption to Gatwick Express services over the Christmas period.

Is US customs & immigration pre-clearance coming to London Heathrow airport?

There has been much interest following an announcement by the US Department for Homeland Security that it is exploring adding US pre-clearance facilities at 10 new airports worldwide.

These airports include London Heathrow and Manchester airport.

Dublin and Shannon airports are the only in Europe to have US pre-clearance facilities and is a key reason behind International Airlines Group’s bid for Aer Lingus.

Put simply, the benefit of pre-clearance is that passengers clear US customs and immigration at a dedicated facility before boarding the aircraft.

On arrival in the US, the flight is treated in the same way as a domestic flight would and passengers can disembark the aircraft and immediately make their way out of the airport, with no further checks.

Anyone who has experienced immigration queues at the likes of New York JFK and Miami airports can testify to the benefits for passengers.

So will pre-clearance come to London Heathrow?

We hope so. However, there are some challenges.

Currently, transatlantic flights depart from four different terminals (Terminal 2 for United, Terminal 3 for American Airlines, Delta and Virgin Altantic, Terminal 4 for Delta, and Terminal 5 for British Airways).

It would not be feasible (nor desired on the part of the airlines) for all transatlantic flights to depart from one terminal, so each terminal would require its own pre-clearance facilities.

Any attempt to limit pre-clearance facilities to one terminal at London Heathrow is likely to be strongly resisted by those airlines whose passengers would not benefit from pre-clearance.

There is also the amount of available space for pre-clearance facilities. The transatlantic market is by far Heathrow’s biggest long-haul market. There are nearly 30 flights a day from London Heathrow to New York alone. Any facility will have to be of a considerable size to be worthwhile for passengers and compatible with efficient airport operations.

Heathrow airport also receives considerable income from letting terminal space to retailers and is likely to want to be compensated for any loss of income as a result of retail space being sacrificed to make way for pre-clearance facilities. Any attempt by Heathrow airport to be compensated through higher charges to airlines is likely to be strongly resisted by them.

So, many challenges and given the amount of work involved, pre-clearance (if it happens) is likely to be many years away.

London Heathrow Terminal 1 to close its doors to passengers on Tuesday 30 June

On Tuesday 30 June 2015, London Heathrow Terminal 1 will have closed its doors to passengers for the final time after more than 45 years of operation.

The last remaining resident, British Airways, will disperse its flights from the terminal to terminals 3 and 5*.

Having opened in 1969, Terminal 1 spent most of its life as the principal hub for short-haul traffic, specifically that of British Airways and the now defunct bmi British Midland. In between the opening of Terminal 5 and the new Terminal 2, it was also home to number of Star Alliance carriers, such as Lufthansa and Swiss.

It has been loved for features such as the former “Zone R” BA premium check-in area and loathed for long walkways and the poor condition of many public areas of the terminal.

In its life the terminal has seen wildcat industrial action, the paralysis of operations due to fog and heavy snow, terrorist threats, fire, and even an altercation that led to the arrest of Snoop Dogg.

The closure of Terminal 1 will eventually allow for the expansion of the new Terminal 2.
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London Heathrow Terminal 5 to gain its first paid-for-access lounge as the Aspire lounge opens this summer

Ever since London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened seven years ago, a frequent criticism of the terminal has been the absence of a paid-for-access lounge for those who do not have access to BA’s Galleries lounge complex by virtue of frequent flyer status or travel class.

This summer Terminal 5 will gain its own paid-for-access lounge as an “Aspire” lounge is to open in Terminal 5 near Gate 18.

The exact opening date and pricing are yet to be revealed. Though, Aspire do offer annual lounge passes for £259.99 which may work well for some.

We’re not sure why it has taken so long for a lounge to open but this will be a welcome development for many. The standard of third party lounges has improved markedly over the past few years and it should compare favourable to BA’s Galleries Club lounges.

The one point to note is that many BA long-haul flights do depart from the Terminal 5B and 5C satellite terminals and there won’t be paid-for lounge facilities in these satellite terminals.

Update: The opening date of the lounge is Tuesday 4 August and the cost of lounge access is from £34.99.

ITV to go behind the scenes at London Heathrow in three part documentary

The behind the scenes documentary shows no signs of running out of steam (we’ve lost count of the number of train companies, hotels and airlines that have opened themselves up to the cameras!) with ITV commissioning a three part documentary series on London Heathrow.

The documentary is being made by independent production company Raw TV. Production has been underway for some time, with the company actively seeking both frequent and nervous flyers late last year.

Of course, this is not the first time Heathrow has opened itself up to the cameras. The BBC ran “Airport Live” in 2013, as well as the long-running docusoap “Airport”.

We’ll provide an update with an expected transmission date as soon as we hear of it.

NB. We did report some time of a planned documentary on Virgin Atlantic. In the absence of any further news, we can only assume this is not going ahead.

Update: Episode 1 of “Britain’s Busiest Airport” premiers on ITV at 9pm on Thursday 4 June.  More from the ITV Press Centre.