I have been asked plenty of times how on earth to travel between London and it’s airports, so I’ll break it down for you.
If you’re feeling flush, or in a rush, the Heathrow Express has you all over it. It leaves from Paddington, so if you’re anywhere near that station it can make it super handy. It only takes 15 minutes to the airport, and leaves every 20 minutes which is dream. At £17 for a one way ticket or £30 return, you could just about book another flight, so I’ll leave that one up to you.
The Piccadilly line also runs the whole way out to Heathrow and leaves about every ten minutes, and takes about 45 minutes, depending on where you jump on. You can use your Oyster card, so it’ll set you back a few pounds, depending on what zone you travel from. If you’re not in any hurry but funds are low, this would be the one I’d always go with.
The Gatwick Express train runs 24/7, and leaves from Victoria station. It’ll set you back £18 for a single trip, or £28 return. It does only take half an hour, and leaves every fifteen minutes. The added perk is that since it’s 24/7, if you’re an idiot like me and book 6am flights, it’ll always have your back. It does pay to check their website as sometimes this line has maintenance issues on the weekends.
If you’re travelling within sociable hours when normal trains are running, use these, as it is the cheaper way to go. You can get on anywhere from Victoria, London Bridge, or Clapham junction, and the trip takes about 45 minutes. If you travel off peak (9.30am until 4pm, and then from 7pm onwards) it’ll be a grand total of £6.50. Bargain. If you’re travelling at peak times, it’s probably worth tossing up whether you’re in a hurry or not, it works out about £10, so it can be worth checking out the timings of the Gatwick Express.
There is no airport-specific train for Luton, just jump on any going that way. When you buy your ticket, you can either get it to Luton Parkway, or Luton airport. If you get it to Luton Parkway, it’ll then cost you £2 to get the shuttle to the airport, and they only take cash. Best to book it to the airport and then you can show your train ticket for the shuttle bus. You can’t use your Oyster all that way, don’t make the mistake of not getting a ticket!
I love and hate Stansted. So cheap but so awful. The Stansted Express train either leaves from Liverpool St or Tottenham Hale, but it’s not very express. It takes 45 minutes since it’s miles away. If you want to use a railcard, you can’t on the Stansted Express website, but if you jump on Greater Anglia, which is still the same train, you can. Or just buy a ticket at the station. This is one they won’t let you use your Oyster, and if you feign ignorance, you’ll get hit with a £30 fine. It runs pretty much all night, first train is at about 3am (and yes, it’s painful).
City airport (LCY)
I’ve never been rich enough to fly from City, but you can get the DLR line all the way there. It doesn’t run all night, but I don’t think many flights would come and go very late, due to noise restrictions so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t do it. For me, living in West London, Southend has never been a viable option, the train from Stratford is another hour. If you lived in east London however, it might be worth looking into, as they do sometimes have cheap flights. Just make sure there’s a train running, the bus would take a lifetime.
For all the train options, you can use a railcard if you’re lucky enough to have one, which will save you some serious coin over your travels!
There are also buses, National Express does buses to all the airports, and Easybus does some too. Give it a cheeky Google and you’ll find one. They tend to be a bit cheaper, but I wouldn’t ever do one if you’re travelling in the daytime without leaving super early. London traffic may mean you miss your flight.
Hopefully this makes it super clear, but if anything doesn’t make sense, just let me know!