The Picture Says it All!
With this summer promising (or should I say threatening?) to be the busiest in the history London Heathrow Airport, I thought it might be useful to share a few tips on how best to get in and out of the likeliest gateway to London and the United Kingdom.
In terms of total passenger traffic, Heathrow is London’s main airport and is already the busiest airport in the UK and the third busiest in the world. It sees more international passengers coming and going than any other airport anywhere. Getting through here on even slowest of days can require a bit of effort, especially if it’s your first time passing through.
With an estimated 80% of all visitors for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (almost 60,000 passengers including 12,850 athletes and 14,700 accredited media as well as marketing partners, officials and – of course – the spectators) expected to pass through Heathrow this summer, the British Airports Authority has designated the period between June 27th to the 1st of October as the “critical period for the airport to focus on the Games.”
That means if you’re planning to fly in or out during those dates, a bit of knowledge to help you hit the ground running could really come in handy. And with all that London and Britain have to offer, Olympics or not, a visit here is well worth any hassle Heathrow may try to throw at you.
Simply hailing a taxi and directing your cabbie “to the airport” may seem the most efficient and romantic way to access Heathrow, but such a request can cost you from £40 to £80 (roughly $60 to $120) or even more. If you’re doing the hailing from somewhere in west London such as Kensington, Shepherd’s Bush or Hammersmith, the price will be closer to the £40 mark and quite possibly an affordable option, especially if you’re travelling as a couple or in a small group. Depending on when you’re travelling though, the traffic on the roads could be so bad that your cab ride ends up being longer and more expensive than your actual flight.
15 Minutes to/from Paddington Station
If you’re around or can easily access Paddington Station, Heathrow Express is the fastest and most convenient way to get to and from London Heathrow Airport and Central London. With no traffic jams, taxi queues, or multiple stops to slow you down, you can be in the very heart of London, or inside your terminal at Heathrow, within only 15 minutes. However, it should be noted that you’ll spend an extra ten minutes or so getting to Terminal 5 and that Terminal 4 is reached by a quick, regular and free shuttle train from the other terminals. Express trains to the airport leave Paddington Station every 15 minutes. The first train of each day takes off at 5:10 a.m. with the last one leaving at 11.25 p.m. There’s a similar service every 15 minutes heading back to Paddington each day as well. If you are planning to take the Heathrow Express, it makes sense to book your tickets online. Booked online, single one way tickets are £16.50 (about $26) and standard fare round trip return tickets cost £32 (around $51).
Not in any particular rush or carrying a load of luggage? The London Underground’s Piccadilly Line provides the most cost effective route to and from Heathrow. Journey time is usually under an hour and you shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a train. A single fare between the airport and Central London costs about £5 (roughly $7.50) and can be purchased at any London Underground station. Trains start running around 5 a.m. every morning with the last train to/from the airport leaving around 11:30 p.m.
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