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Barbara Dec 4th, 2002 05:33 PM

Day flight from US arriving London Late Night?
My husband and I are taking a day flight from US arriving London at 10:30PM. Has anyone done this? I am thinking of taking a hired car into London, so I don't have to deal with public transportation around 11PM. Any thoughts or suggestions? Is there airport pretty empty at that time?

Debs Dec 4th, 2002 05:44 PM

Barbara - What airport are you flying in to? A private car will be quite expensive into London from either Heathrow or Gatwick. If Gatwick, check the schedules for the Gatwick Express, which will put you at Victoria Station, and from there, you can hire a taxi to drive you to your hotel.

Gavin Dec 4th, 2002 05:59 PM

I have taken a day flight from Toronto to LHR and immediately rented a car on two occasions. I found it worked well for us with respect to jet lag. It was also nice since the airport is not too busy, traffic is light but it is not late on "home time". Our destinations were outside the M25. If I were doing your trip I would take the tube or train as appropriate to the hotel location and then take a short inexpensive cab ride if needed. But I enjoy saving money.

JOdy Dec 4th, 2002 06:14 PM

The Express from either Heathrow or gatwick will probably be your best choice..then a taxi to your hotel. <BR>From Gatwick a private hire service will be at least 49 GBP, from Heathrow less. But the train is easy and at that time no crowding and fast! And there will be no lines for taxis when you arrive at either Victoria or Paddington.<BR><BR><BR><BR>This is all assuming that London is your destination. <BR><BR>If you are going onward to somewhere else from the airport ,the whole picture would change!

Mel P Dec 4th, 2002 07:32 PM

Depends on which airport you are flying into. If Gatwick, then I concur with the others to take the Gatwick Express into Victoria, then taxi it from there. If Heathrow, I'd say you might do nearly as well with a private car all the way in as you would with the Heathrow Express, if you can get a good rate, particularly if you have a lot of luggage and your hotel is not close to Paddington Station. Check with your hotel to see if they have a private car service arrangement at a discount. With the Heathrow Express at &pound;26 for two and then taxi fare, the cost of a car service may not be that much more.

flying Dec 4th, 2002 08:11 PM

I've taken this flight before. The airport should be relatively quiet for your arrival. Not empty but nothing like the a.m. cattle car arrivals. <BR><BR>Unless budget is a huge concern, I would opt for a hired car to your hotel. Ray Skinner's service is often mentioned here and I can speak positively about him from experience. About 35 GBP into Central London if you're arriving at Heathrow. Can't make a recommendation if you're travelling into Gatwick.

j Dec 4th, 2002 08:15 PM

Ray is 49 GBP from Gatwick<BR><BR>

Rex Dec 4th, 2002 08:18 PM

Eddie Manning also gets positive remarks much in the same fashion as Ray skinner. I don't know any reason that you couldn't get a pickup from either one at any of London's airports.<BR><BR>Here's one thread that has info on either of them:<BR><BR>;tid=34368800<BR><BR>Best wishes,<BR><BR>Rex<BR>

Edwin Dec 4th, 2002 09:50 PM

Most Americans and Canadians do not have the luxury of flying to London during the day. Do it! LHR will be empty. I think all the day flights arrive in LHR (AC, VS, AA, BA, etc)

Barbara Dec 5th, 2002 06:23 AM

Sorry I was not more specific about airport. We will be going to Heathrow and staying in central London very close to the Green Park tube in Mayfair/St.James area. The accomodation offers a private car arrangement for 35 pounds plus parking but no extra $$ for waiting. I am seriously considering this for convenience as well as security. I am concerned about traveling the public transportation systems so late at night. I have read other posts recommending that tourists not travel the tube system late at night. Any more suggestion or comments? PS We are taking the day flight and &quot;losing&quot; a day in transit because I hate starting a trip exhausted!

kate Dec 5th, 2002 06:46 AM

The car fare your hotel has quoted is a pretty good deal. I've hired a minicab to go into Central London (a little further East and North of where you're going) and the base charge was 25 pounds plus wait time (which was about an extra 4 pounds). So, while you might get a somewhat better deal if you negotiated a deal with a car company yourself, if your hotel is arranging it for you and there's a cap, go for it. On the way back to the airport, try the following phone number 020 7431 2700. This is the company I always used, and the rate was much lower going to the airport (about 21 pounds) - so the rate your hotel offers you for the return trip might be a rip-off if it's similar to the arrival rate. <BR><BR>I don't imagine you were thinking of doing the tube/Heathrow Express combo to head home, but if you do, note that the tube line (Jubilee) you'd take North to <BR>Baker St to change for Paddington isn't stopping Northbound at Baker St until sometime in the summer of 2003 - so you'd have to take a cab to Paddington. If you have to take a cab to Paddington, plus train fares, you might as well hire a minicab to go to the airport.

Shanna Dec 5th, 2002 07:26 AM

Hi Barbara. We took a BA day flight from Dulles to Heathrow in October. It left at 8:40 a.m. which meant we had to be up at 5, at airport by 6. No long lines! We got into London at 9:00pm, not at all crowded. By the time we got to the hotel it was 10; into bed by 11:00, actually feeling tired and ready for bed. We awoke the next day refreshed. It might seem that you lose a vacation day, but the day flight was so much better than a night flight, in my opinion. We didn't feel dopey on the plane or when we landed or the next day. We stayed that night near the airport and took a cab but the next morning used Ray Skinner to go to the King's Cross train station. He's great! Day flights would be my preference in the future. Unfortunately there aren't oo many of them. Have a good trip.

Lori Dec 5th, 2002 07:35 AM

I recommend using Ray Skinner's transfer service ( We've used them a number of times and it is great. You will have no real traffic going into London at that time of night, but for overall convenience you cannot beat a pick up service. It's a flat fee, plus tip. You will no doubt be tired, I'd not mess around with public transportation and dragging luggage about.

Bob Dec 5th, 2002 07:49 AM

Wouldn't Ray Skinner's business be his own self-employed business? What would be the point of &quot;flat fee&quot; plus tip? Does he simply expect you to give him money? The argument that restaurant waiters have to have tips because they are paid inadequate wages doesn't seem to apply here. Isn't Ray Skinner employee and employer both?<BR><BR>What's next? Adding a 15% service charge for wear to the tires on the vehicle? A &quot;flat fee&quot; should be a flat fee.<BR>

ddd Dec 5th, 2002 08:02 AM

Bob,<BR><BR>Ray Skinner has employees. We used his service last summer when we arrived LHR in the evening. The gentleman who picked us up waited while we changed some money at an ATM and grabbed some sandwhiches and drinks to take to the hotel. He pointed out sights on the way across town and before dropping us off, drew us a map to the two closest tube stations. He earned his salary and gratuity. I would have offered the same had our driver been Ray Skinner.

Barbara Dec 5th, 2002 08:08 AM

Thanks for confirming my thoughts! By the time you've gotten up early to get to the airport and then travel all day you are tired anyway. I absolutely cannot sleep on an airplane, so to miss an entire nights sleep and arrive with a completely messed up time clock is a killer. Glad to hear that is was a good experience for you! One more question? Are there food places in Heathrow? We may want to grab a bite so we are not scouting out food at at midnight in central london. Or is midnight not too late to get a bite in the Mayfair area?<BR>We will be staying in serviced apartments a few doors down from the Ritz. Could I get food at the Ritz that late?

ddd Dec 5th, 2002 10:37 AM

<BR><BR>The food places in Heathrow are not likely to be open that late. The best we found was a duty free shop (candy and wine) and a WH Smiths with a few prepackaged sandwhiches, snacks and drinks. I had packed a jar of peanut butter and some crackers as a desperation meal. Luckily we found a noodle bar open across the street from our hotel.<BR><BR>Just guessing but I'd bet the Ritz dining rooms will be closed by then...possibly room service but that doesn't do you all much good. Seems to me I recall a Sainsbury in Covent Garden that stays open until midnight. <BR><BR>Perhaps you should repost under a differenct thread title to get some info about late nite places in Mayfair.<BR><BR>Good luck.

John Dec 6th, 2002 09:41 AM

If you want Londoners to commnent on this you should be clear. You say you are going to take a hire car. This to means like you are going to rent a car from Hertz or Avis or someone and drive in yourself. If this is the case, you will have no problem at this time of night as the roads will be clear.<BR><BR>If you are taking a taxi you should call it a taxi, not a hire car.

Patrick Dec 6th, 2002 10:10 AM

John, as an American, I took Barbara's &quot;hired car&quot; to mean that they are hiring a car service. I do realize that hired car sounds like what we refer to as a rental car, but what is the proper term for hiring a private driver with car? It's not a mini-taxi, those are different. Or should we just say &quot;taking a car service&quot;?

ron Dec 6th, 2002 01:41 PM

Patrick, these airport car services are, in fact, minicabs, ie unmetered taxis, not licensed to pick up on the street. Now that London has started licensing minicabs, the official term is &quot;Licensed Private Hire Operators&quot;. Swiss Cottage Cars, which you often recommend, has such a license, issued by the Borough of Camden.

Patrick Dec 6th, 2002 01:50 PM

Thanks for the clarification. I just thought it would be odd to refer to one of the large cars or even a van that was privately hired as a mini-taxi. So to be correct we should say, &quot;licensed private hire operators&quot;? Or can we shorten it to say &quot;hired car service&quot;?

ron Dec 6th, 2002 02:07 PM

Patrick, the nicknames are historical. Metered taxis are called black cabs because that was their colour originally. Unmetered and unlicensed taxis were called minicabs because originally most of them were Austin Minis. As to what to call them know, I would call them minicabs. But that bothers both tourists who have been warned about the dangers of using minicabs illegally trolling for business on London streets, and the legitimate operators who get lumped with the illegals. Just calling them a car service sounds good to me -- I don't know what value the adjective &quot;hired&quot; adds.

Mel P Dec 6th, 2002 07:13 PM

Barbara, that sounds like a reasonable deal, basically the only premium you'd be paying is the parking and tip, over say the Heathrow Express and taxi, and the premium is worth the convenience. I flew daytime once myself, it was great not to be jetlagged. Did the private car route that one time too, the hotel arranged it at very reasonable cost (&pound;28, but this was 3-4 years ago) since I was getting in close to check-in deadline (this was a small hotel) and I needed to get there before 11PM when the desk closed (I made it).

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