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Hoai Feb 20th, 2014 09:19 AM

Best way to get from London to Brussels
Our family is from San Francisco. We are planning to take my 77-year old dad to visit relatives in Brussels. We would like to visit London after Brussels. Since there is no direct flight from SFO to Brussels, we are thinking of booking round trip tickets from SFO to London and then either take a local flight or the fast train from London to Brussels. Is this reasonable? We do not want to overly tire our dad.

travelhorizons Feb 20th, 2014 09:30 AM

I suggest using either

(a) British Airways. Fly SFO-LHR-BRU, take the fast train to London, then nonstop LHR-SFO on your return…

(b) United. Fly SFO-YUL-BRU, take the fast train to London, then the UA nonstop back to SFO on your return.

My preference would be for the United option (which connects in Montreal), as connections at Heathrow are a hassle.

travelhorizons Feb 20th, 2014 09:40 AM

This is called "open jaw" ticketing, by the way. If you go the United or British Airways website, click on "multiple destinations."

bvlenci Feb 20th, 2014 09:46 AM

I would much prefer the second option above. When I have to change planes en route from the US to Europe, I much prefer to have the transfer in North America, because by the time I've had that overnight flight, I'm tired and not exactly in the mood for an annoying transit. I would also much prefer to take the Eurostar to London, as suggested, rather than another flight. It takes only two hours, and avoids the hassles of a flight.

BigRuss Feb 20th, 2014 10:26 AM

United, Lufthansa and others have direct flights in the US to Brussels (e.g., from United's hubs in Newark and Chicago) so neither of the options TH listed above should be exclusive.

The open jaw ticket is SFO to BRU on day 0, LHR (or LGW) to SFO on your return date. You don't have to plan the intermediate stops (although you likely know that).

Remember that when going from Europe to the US it will take longer because of the headwinds, that's why it's better to start in Brussels and backtrack thru London - shortens a long return.

Definitely use the Eurostar from Brussels to London - city center to city center. Brussels is far smaller so the airport may not be too distant (haven't been in decades and visited by land, not air), but both major London airports (Heathrow and Gatwick) are far from the center/re of the city.

Gina_07 Feb 20th, 2014 10:33 AM

I have used Eurostar only between London and Paris but, based on that experience, I would choose Eurostar between London and Brussels, too.

janisj Feb 20th, 2014 11:06 AM

>> Since there is no direct flight from SFO to Brussels<<

I think you mean there are no non-stop flights.

So you are going to have to connect <i>somewhere</i>. London would not be the best place to do that IMO. And especially not to a train. You land a LHR, have to schlepp across all of London to St Pancras and then catch the Eurostar.

I would connect someplace in the US and fly to Brussels. Then the Eurostar to London. Then fly home.

greg Feb 20th, 2014 11:26 AM

You can also non-stop SFO-AMS, then a 95 minutes fast direct train ride from the AMS Schiphol airport to Brussels-Midi. The train station at the Schiphol airport is below the airport.

janisj Feb 20th, 2014 11:37 AM

I agree - AMS would be a good option.

MLTimes Feb 20th, 2014 12:56 PM

Definitely stay with an all-Schengen option if there is a nonstop to Amsterdam The hassle of doing immigration at Heathrow and again at St. pancras isn't worth it (or vice-versa at Midi).

BRU is about 30 minutes from the Center, approximately a 45 euro cab ride. There is also a train from any of the Brussels Stations to BRU, but it I would not do that with my comparably aged mother.

Also, as another data point, at BRU the A/T gates (Schengen flights) are a 10-15 minute walk from the Kiss and Ride. Flights to the US and Canada are much easier to get to.

travelhorizons Feb 20th, 2014 02:32 PM

Trouble with connecting in AMS … the only non-stop flights from SFO are on DL or KLM — so OP would not be able to nonstop on the way back home.

Connecting in the US or Canada on the outbound is their best option … and Montreal is makes for shorter total flight times than Chicago, DC, or New York.

greg Feb 20th, 2014 02:33 PM

Another option is non-stop SFO-CDG, then a direct train to Brussels from the CDG airport The CDG train station is also below the airport. TGV fast trains runs direct between CDG to Brussels once every 2 hours, while AMS to Brussels is once every 1 hour. There are others trains in between from both CDG and AMS to Brussels, but with changes which you might not like.

At CDG, even though the train station is below a terminal, because the terminals are spread apart, it requires quite a trek between the plane arrival to the train station. Schiphol Amsterdam airport is more compact.

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