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3 Hours to get from LHR to LGW - what to do?

3 Hours to get from LHR to LGW - what to do?

Old Oct 4th, 2005, 11:46 AM
  #1  
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3 Hours to get from LHR to LGW - what to do?

Hi-
We are arriving in LHR at 7:30 AM on a SUNDAY. Our connecting flight is out of LGW at 10:35. I know this makes it very, very close. Unfortunately, we are flying on frequent flyer tix, and this is really our only option. We are flying business class on BA. Will our bags come off the plane before the bags from coach? If so, that may save us some time. I'm thinking we should hire a private car/shuttle to take us to LGW. What are your thoughts? Maybe I'm just hoping for some reassurance!!
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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Your bags coming off early probably won't be an issue - in my experience, by the time I get through immigration - which could take a while, even on a Sunday morning - your bags are already on the conveyor belt.

There's a National Express bus I think from LHR to LGW. There have been plenty of posts here about it, but here's a good link for you:

http://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/...k_transfer.htm

Sunday morning is probably a good time of week to be making that connection from LHR-LGW, probably your best chance to avoid big traffic delays.

Andrew
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 12:49 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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There isn't, I'm afraid, a simple answer to this.

You haven't got three hours: only you know what time you have to check in at LGW (which will be at least 30 mins earlier). So here are a few observations:

- Sunday isn't necessaily the best time. There may be roadworks, so check at www.transportdirect.info
- Incoming delays into LHR happen all the time. Sunday is every bit as bad as any other day.
- if this is BA to BA, do they confirm it's legal? If so, the worst that can happen is that you have to get the nexzt flight. If it's BA to Easyjet, you're snookered.
- Immigration is indeed a bigger problem than bags, if you're not European. In business, you should get FastTrak cards to speed up immigration, though my airline told me a few weeks this was temporarily suspended (they were wrong, but it WAS Air Canada, so what do you expect?) Check with BA about FastTrak now.
- A pre-booked private car will cost you at least £100. It will take the same route as the National Express bus, but will drive about 85mph if the roads are clear, while the bus will do 69. It will take you longer to get to the car than to the bus, though you'll get from the bus to the checkin desk quicker. The driver will, however, be waiting for you at the exit from Customs.
- I wouldn't do the public transport route through London on a Sunday, as the taxi queues at Paddingtom will be just as long as on a weekday, and the tubes run less often. The only alternative to National EXpress is a private car

So check prices etc with Just Airports or any of the other co's recommended here. Check roadworks and FastTrak. Then make up your own mind.

But, frankly, I wouldn't have booked this. Good luck anyway.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 02:55 PM
  #4  
 
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I would have a back-up plan in case you miss your flight. There are other places things can be delayed besides the obvious you mention. Last time I landed Heathrow on British Air we sat on the tarmac for over 1/2 hour waiting for a gate to open so we could deplane. Other passengers with tight connections were very anxious.

It could sooo easily take you over 1 hour to land, deplane, go thru the immigrations line, collect luggage, exit airport. Whatever driver or service you use to transfer airports you can't control the time to exit Heathrow, I'm afraid.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 03:39 PM
  #5  
 
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If you're riding in business class on BA, and if it's a 747, bite the bullet and ask to be seated on the main floor, rather than the upper deck. Because the overhead bins upstairs are smaller than those below, the FAs often put carryons in a closet next to the top of the stairs, and when you land there's congestion around the closet which results in not being amongst the first off the plane. Downstairs, business and FC pax are allowed off first.

Not that it will likely make much difference at LHR passport control at 7:30 am. Hustle to the queue as fast as possible (use the loo before landing, for example) and hope you're not the last 747 to land within the past 20 minutes.

Your bags should be priority tagged, but our experience with priority bags at LHR is that they arrive around the same time, or later than, non-priority tagged ones. But most likely they will be waiting for you when you clear HM Immigration.

I personally would opt for the car and driver option, rather than the bus. More expensive, sure, but your options are few.

Again the question, though. Is your onward flight from LGW on BA and is it in Club (business)? If so, then if the connection fails they will be obligated to re-accommodate you, and/or you may get expedited treatment at LGW when you arrive. If it's non-BA and/or in proletarian class, they may or may not help. You said award miles, so I assume this itin was booked online with an airline. It may say 3 hours minimum connection time, but I wonder how many people who set those limits have ever had to go from longhaul at LHR to LGW. If they did, they'd know that 3 hours can be pretty laughable.

Or not - YMMV.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 04:49 PM
  #6  
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Thank you everyone for your replies. I sincerely appreciate your expertise. Flanneruk, I'll definately look into FastTrak; gardyloo, thank you for the seating tips.

I have looked into changing different departure cities from the US that would take us directly to Gatwick, but to no avail. Because we are originating from Seattle, with the time changes, it's just about impossible to do.

I think we have two things going in our favor: 1) we are flying British Air (business class) out of Gatwick, and 2) I did speak with a BA agent and they said that the connection time is "legal". That said, I know this will be still a tight connection. The other unfortunate side to this story that I have not shared is that we are flying to Croatia, and British Air only flies there three days a week. So I asked the BA agent, what IF, we miss the flight out of Gatwick. He told me that they would ticket me on another airline. I hope the agent is right, but I also hope that I won't have to find out!
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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Good luck.

I would take the Heathrow Express to Paddington, the first vehicle I could get on (taxi or bus) to Victoria, and the first train leaving Victoria for Gatwick.

Look at it this way:
LHR - Paddington :15
Paddington - Victoria :15 to :30
Victoria - LGW :30

Total - 1:00 to 1:15
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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Robespierre has some unhealthy infatuation with the airport Xs connections.

Whatever you do, don't listen to that suggestion.

If there are at leat 2 of you, arrange a private car transfer. It will do the job for about the same, maybe little more than the trains through London connection without any transfers.

The bus is also a good possibility and much less than the trains and also you don't have to drag luggage around train stations/bus/taxi stands, etc... It will take about as much time as the train through London connection.

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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 06:21 PM
  #9  
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issy, I hope you don't need the advice I'm about to offer, but here it is in case you do miss your connection and have to take a later flight. BA has a very nice lounge for business class passengers. For no charge you can shower, use the internet, eat free snacks, and help yourself to an open bar. So if you do end up having a long wait at LGW, the time will pass quickly in the lounge.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 06:23 PM
  #10  
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P. S. Please post back after your trip and let us know if you made it.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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The reason I like the train connection is that it is more predictible than getting on the road. Cost should not influence your decision.

I have never missed a connection with my method, but I have heard plenty of stories about people getting out on the road and being tied up in traffic for two or three hours because of an accident or unannounced "road works."

In any event, do what makes the most sense to you, and ignore posters who denigrate other peoples' intelligence.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 06:44 PM
  #12  
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There will be two of us travelling, so we will definately consider hiring a car. P_M, thanks for the info on the lounge! I hope I won't need it. After continuing to read all of your thoughtful posts, I think I'll start going to church more often. Divine intervention, perhaps? =)
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 08:03 PM
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Well, I wouldn't count on this going smoothly and would definitely recommend a backup plan.

Twice, our flight was delayed departing, once only 10-15 minutes, once 45 minutes. Both times, there was more than an hour delay waiting for an arrival gate. Once, our flight was actually half an hour early and a gate was available right away.

We fly coach and our bags have always been there by the time we reached the carousel. It's only a few minutes once clearing passport control to the baggage carousels, and another minute or two to the Hertz desk.

It's always taken us just about an hour to get from the gate to and through passport control, pick up the bags, and get to the Hertz desk to meet JustAirports.

We've had very good service with JustAirports.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 08:31 PM
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Well, Robespierre, your 1:15 assumes no time waiting for anything, which is unlikely. Plus, there is too much uncertainty for things to go wrong. Two train stations that could be evacuated due to a bag left (happened at Victoria a couple of weeks ago). Possible traffic problems in London (main road from Marble Arch to Victoria was CLOSED while I was there for a few hours due to a protest in Hyde Park). By contrast, there's really only one uncertainty in taking a bus or car service from LHR to LGW: road construction or an accident.

Even if there are no mishaps taking trains in and out of London, you're probably going to spend time waiting between trains, taxis, whatever. Also, don't count on the Gatwick Express running every 15 minutes. Two Sundays ago, it was running only twice an hour. Get to Victoria at the wrong time and you would waste 30 minutes just waiting for the next one.

Andrew
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 10:25 PM
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Robespierre,

The train(s) through London is not a bad idea overall, but when you post a ridiculous time of 1:15 total time, then I have no choice but to ridicule the suggestion.

It takes about 15 minutes just to get to the station once you leave customs at Heathrow. And that's if you know exactly where you are going. The trains run every 15 minutes, so for the sake of argument let's say you got there right in the middle between trains. Thay's another 7.5 minutes. The HEX takes 15 minutes. You get to Paddington almost at the opposite side of the station to where the cabs are available. Good 10 minute walk just to the taxi stand. I've seen lines as long as 20-30 minutes for cabs, but again, let's say 10 minutes before you get in. It takes about 15 minutes in a cab between Paddington and Victoria. It will take you at least 10 minutes to actually purchase a ticket and walk to the platform at Victoria for the Gatwick X. Again let's assume you got there right in the middle between trains. Another 7.5 minutes. The train ride is 30 minutes. From the platform to the departure area is a good 10 minute walk.
So, let's add this up.
At the VERY least that's 90 minutes and that is if you know exactly where you going and you are in fairly good shape to drag your luggage around when you are doing all these transfers.
The bus will do this for less and it will take about the same time, for less money and it's door-to-door service. No need to drag your luggage around, get on and get off ONCE.
You tell me why most here do not believe the X train connection through London is NOT a good idea?
It is, when you have some time to spare and want to have a lunch, or quick sightseeing in the city. It's not when you just have enough time to actually get from 1 airport to the next one. It doesn't make sense.
I really don't understand why you have such a hard time understanding this simple concept.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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Hey, everybody!

The 1:00-1:15 is how long it takes once you've got your wheels on. I've never said it was a portal-to-portal elapsed time. I present that number only to suggest that there is really LOTS of time for contingencies in a 3-hour window.

The problem with adding this and that is that you simply can't know how long you will wait for the next bus/train/taxi. Remember, schlepping and queueing has to be added to the road routes, too. Customs, check-in, etc. is a constant.

I would have to know how often interruptions affect all modes and how long the delays are in order to model this precisely. "I was in London last February..." is not good enough for me.

Trains leave Victoria for Gatwick about every ten minutes (nowhere is it graven in stone that you must take the Express).

But in any case, I do not take my route because it is the fastest. This is not a race. All any method has to be is fast enough. The deciding factor (for me) is whether it's more reliable than the highway.

The burden of proving that your "simple concept" is superior is on you.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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Thanks again to everyone for your advice. Based on all of your comments, we have made a change to our itinerary. We will now leave Gatwick at 11:35, instead of 10:35. That gives us four hours between flights instead of three. The extra hour should give us a little more breathing room. Unfortunately, once we land in Croatia, we'll now have to take yet another flight to get to where we really want to go. Oh, well....at least we'll get there. Croatia certainly isn't easy to get to from the West Coast, but I'm sure it will be worth it. Happy and safe travels to all of you.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Have a wonderful trip!

And (if you have time) write down the times you land, get through the formalities, get on and off the coach, and so on. It might help the next guy.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 11:39 AM
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Ok how is this for an explanation:

Train(s) through London - ~90 minutes, 2 transfers, need to take care of your luggage during the transfers, ~40BPs for 1.

Bus connection LHR-LGW - ~90 minutes, no transfers, ~18BPs for 1.

Simple enough?
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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Where do you keep getting this TOTALLY BOGUS "forty pounds"?

(No discounts)
Heathrow Express - £13
Gatwick Express - £13 (£9 for Southern Trains)
Bus - £1.20
Total - £27.20 (£23.20) for one

(With twofers)
Heathrow Express - £13
Gatwick Express - £13
Bus - £2.40
Total - £14.20 each

If people can't trust your basic math ability, what should they think of the rest of your scheme?

(And, as I said before, exercise between flights is good for your DVT.)
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