Getting to the airport can be more stressful then the whole process of booking, packing and getting yourself and your travelling companions on a plane. However, this does not need to be the case. Often people think “how am I going to actually get to the airport” as one of the last things they consider when embarking on a trip. If that reminds you of someone (cough, yourself!) or if you are planning ahead before a holiday, city break, honeymoon or anything in between, this guide should help relieve many of the stresses of pre-airport transport and all of the potential hazards that come with it.
There are a range of appealing and very comfortable options for getting to and from London’s major international airports including chauffeur driven and luxury cars (source: REAL transfers). However, for those of us who don’t travel in quite such style and luxury there are various other options.
Getting to Gatwick
The Gatwick express is an option, and one taken by the majority of Londoners. An example of the price from Victoria station is at around £17.70 for a single, or £31.05 for a return trip; this is for a 26-mile trip (30 mins) one way and a 52–mile round trip for the return (1 hour). (book with Gatwick Express here)
If we look at other train options, the National Rail offers a far cheaper alternative from our example start destination of Victoria. A single ticket costs £10 and a return costs £19, with only 6 minutes added on the journey form the 30 minutes it would take on the Gatwick Express.
A coach with National Express from Victoria has a return fair of just £16 but takes almost 2 hours, so for the cost it may be wiser to get the National Rail train for only £3 more and a lot less travel time. A bus is the cheapest, but also longest option. When you are stressed about time, which is inevitable when flying, this would not be ideal – taking a long 3 hours from Victoria, for £11.60 on an oyster card.
Getting to Stanstead
The train options are lesser for travelling to Stanstead, with the option of the Stanstead express. When booking at least a month in advance, you can bag yourself a return fair which takes 47 minutes each way from Liverpool street or Tottenham Hale for £16!
As mentioned, there are fewer options for those travelling to Stanstead from London but there are also coach and bus services. The national express from Victoria would cost £19 for a return, and an easy busy would cost £4! But both of these options take well over an hour in travel time. (visit http://www.nationalexpress.com for National Express bookings.)
Getting to London Heathrow
The Heathrow Express is arguably one of the most expensive rail services with single fairs from Paddington starting at around £20-25 and a return around £35. The return price is actually quite reasonable compared to the single fare. To get to Heathrow from Paddington, to keep the example going, you can get a much cheaper alternative. The National Express offers transport to the airport from £9.90 for one way.
From Victoria you can catch the national express for a 50 minute, £12 return journey. You can also opt for the bus which will take you 2 hours and 19 minutes but it is only £8.70 on a oyster card for a return journey. For Heathrow though, the tube is a very viable option – but may be too much of a haul with lots of luggage. However it is a cheaper option with fares at around £6 on an oyster card.
London Luton Airport
Despite being the fourth busiest airport in London, Luton does not have an “express” railway service, as of yet anyway! Return fares from St Pancras, for example, start at £26.50. Like with all of the other airports, the EasyBus is the most cost-effective with return fares being, again, from £4. From Baker street, this bus would only take an hour which is a great deal! For bookings visit: http://www.easybus.com/en/
London’s Airports: Driving and Parking
Aside from public transport, you have the option of driving yourself to the airport of your choice and parking. Alternatively, you can hire taxi-transfers/chauffeurs. Parking for long periods of time whilst you jet off can cost a lot of money, money you may not have factored into your holiday budget! If you are going to park, make sure you book in advance to save stress and money, the fee will be a lot cheaper the earlier you book. You can also opt for off-site parking. This is where you drive to the airport, are greeted at the terminal by a valet who then takes your car somewhere to be parked – this is a much cheaper alternative.
If you get a taxi, the fare will include any charges they may face for dropping you off.