Heathrow Express

Aug 9th, 2013, 03:42 AM
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Heathrow Express

I am planning to take the Heathrow Express from the airport into London. What is the cheapest place to buy these tickets?
Also, can I rent a cell phone at Heathrow?
Where can I change US dollars to UK pounds most economically?
sussexred is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 04:31 AM
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The Heathrow Express is very very expensive and may not always be all that much faster than other modes of public transport in from Heathrow say the tube. You also have to add on the "inconvenience" of cabbing or tubing from Paddington to wherever you're staying. Yes it's somewhat more comfortable than the tube, I don't question that for one second. But is it worth paying 7 times as much? As far as ticketing, you can buy the tickets from machines or on the train using a credit card.

No need to rent a phone in this day and age. Go to ebay and buy an unlocked gsm or smart phone and upon arrival in London nip off either to a mobile phone dealer (carphonewarehouse or phones4u or a shop of one of the networks. If voice is yor prime reasn to have a mobile phone, you can buy for about $20 US (or the equivalent wherever you are from) on ebay an unlocked gsm phone and pick up a sim card in London. You may even see representatives from Lebara in the arrivals area at Heathrow or on the way to the Heathrow Express or the tube station if you decide to get into London that way.

In the 21st century, you don't exchange US dollars for sterling. You use your ATM card hopefully from a bank which doesn't charge fee for withdrawals from foreign ATM's and stock up with sterling. Loads of them at Heathrow and in Great Britain, you will be shocked to find that as far as credit card use is concerned, London especially is no different than New York. They take credit cards for most everything everywhere including the Heathrow Express, the tube stations, the fast food restaurants, the theatres, the grocery stores (I always stock up on a coke and some chips at a grocery for half time when I attend the theatre or as they call it in London the interval) yada yada yada. Youmight find, as I did just last month, that I spent an entire week in London and never once paid cash for anything and believe me I'm not a high roller. From morning to night, it was my credit card with no foreign transaction fee and a 1% cash rewards (2% for grocery) and came hme with the £10 bank note I withdraW AT hEATHROW.

xyz123 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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Thanks for responding but I could do with out the condescending tone.
I know very well it is the 21st century and I am an experienced world traveler. I have not been to London for many years and was looking for some up to date information which, in my experience, Fodorites offer generously.

The Heathrow Express is well worth the money as far as I am concerned. I have taken it a number of times. It is fast, clean, efficient and easy, all of which are important for a senior traveler. The extra cost is woth it to me; it might not be for you and that is your personal decision. Mine is to take it. I don't like to overpay, however, and so I always look for any discounts that are available and that Fodorites sometimes know about.

As far as a cell phone, both my husband and I need them for business. If I have to "nip off to a mobil phone dealer" to get a sim card I'd prefer to just buy a prepaid phone at that same dealer to use while in London.

As far as cash vs credit card vs ATM card, sometimes cash works better than the options. I've had my ATM card rejected in Europe, for example, for various reasons beyond my control and always like to have some local currency as a back up.

What I asked for in my post were recommendations for the most economical and efficient ways to do the things I know I want to do.
sussexred is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:05 AM
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I replied to your other thread.

I agree with the above recommendation. Buy the phone and sim rather than rental. Here's an example: http://www.carphonewarehouse.com/mob...lourCode=BLACK

Phone shops are fairly ubiquitous.

Heathrow Express tickets are fixed price. Afaik, there's no way to get them cheaper anywhere. Probably best to buy at the airport either at the counter or at the ticket machine. If that is the most convenient means to transport for you, then by all means. I think what xyz means is that unless you're staying near paddington, it's usually more convenient to either book a car service or take the tube.

Money: ATMs in general are the best places to get GBP . They tend to be more convenient and a much better deal than any other service. There are several in Heathrow. If you need a bulk amount that you can't get at an ATM normally, it might be worth talking to your bank about increasing the limit for a limited time.
ssachida is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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The Heathrow Express is very very expensive and may not always be all that much faster than other modes of public transport in from Heathrow say the tube>

rubbish - Heathrow Express is dependably 20 minutes - tube can take an hour - and the Heathrow Express is infinitely more comfy than a crowded tube train - especially with luggage - a relaxed way in vs mobbed tube trip where you may have to change trains.

And pardon some Fodorgarchs 'condescending attitude - it is unfortunately endemic here - sad but tis true.
PalenQ is online now  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:19 AM
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I'm sorry Sussex....I re-read my reply and don't see anything condescending in its tone. I was just reporting the facts ass others have related. A few years ago, two executives decided to test out the Heathrow Express vs. the tube from central London...the Hex won...by about five minutes. The fact is if yu want to pay the price for the additional comfort, fine. That's your decision. Others might not feel the savings in time are that important.

I'm sorry if you thought I was being condescending. I really can be at times but not in this case!
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:24 AM
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PalenQ...True 20 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington. Then what? If you're staying near Paddington, yes. But what if you're on your way say to Convent Garden area. So now you either have to take a cab, fight through London traffic or get on the tube anyway rather than a direct tube ride on the Picadilly line to Convent Garden.

Like I said, I didn't imply everybody should do things the same way. If it's worth it to you, after all you're on holiday, than fine. That's your decision. Me? I would rather spend my money on other things but you know the bottom line?

When all is said and done given the amount of money you're spending, it probably doesn't make all that much of a difference now does it?
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:44 AM
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As I have suggested in another thread...the Heathrow Connect is almost as fast and about half the price. It makes a few more stops then the HEX but is much more economical.
newtome is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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Currently Heathrow Express is offering a deal online. You can buy 2 round trip tickets for £ 50. The 2 people must travel together. Just airports quoted £70 round trip from LHR to trafalgar area. Adding cab fare between Paddington and Trafalgar onto the HEX fare may be slightly more expensive than the Just Airports option. HEX may be slightly faster as it will not be affected by traffic between airport and the city.

Let your personal preferences decide.
gh21 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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PalenQ on Aug 9, 13 at 9:08am
The Heathrow Express is very very expensive and may not always be all that much faster than other modes of public transport in from Heathrow say the tube>
rubbish - Heathrow Express is dependably 20 minutes - tube can take an hour - and the Heathrow Express is infinitely more comfy than a crowded tube train - especially with luggage - a relaxed way in vs mobbed tube trip where you may have to change trains.

Ditto PalenQ. My HEX ride was 15 minutes. From Paddington I walked to my hotel. The Tube is overcrowded 16 hours a day. Cabs are nice and roomy. London cabbies are honest and interesting folks.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 06:45 AM
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Just you wait until Janisj sees your questions. You have only experienced the Fodor pussycats so far. Janis will eat you for breakfast for considering the Heathrow Express.
chartley is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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Sussex, look: you're asking about the least expensive way to take an expensive action. The best answer is newtome's, provided that you arrive at one of the terminals serviced by the Heathrow Connect.

The other issue is where you're staying. If near Paddington, all well and good. If elsewhere, a 32-35 quid car service would be more efficient and less expensive than H'Ex plus cab and far less hassle for two senior businesspeople than H'Ex plus tube.

And just because xyz isn't all rainbows-and-lollipops-and-unicorns doesn't mean he was condescending. There's good and useful info in that response re: the phones. There's also dead-on information about cash exchanges. Make sure your ATM is on an international network (Cirrus/Plus) and you ought to be fine. Otherwise, there is no economical way to change money at the airport b/c you'll be subject to airport markups on cash-to-cash exchange.
BigRuss is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 07:25 AM
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...ah I see. When I hit the a key on my keyboard, I sometimes hit the caps lock and it seems like I'm shouting. Myh eye sight is not as good as it should be what with cataracts and old age and sometimes I miss that I have done that and it's difficult for me to read my responses before they're posted and then it's too late.

Again, I did not mean to be condescending and I can now see where you might have thought so. As far as the remark about the 21st century, let me put it this way. Since May q, and that includes a European cruise and holiday, I have not spent one cent in cash whether I'm here at home (ever since the Chinese take out place down the street started accepting credit cards)or during my holiday. The ability to do EVERYTHING (caps deliberate) or just about everything via credit card to me is the wayI live in the 21st century.

But I do remember a time when I visited Europe as a student many many moons ago and was told to bring travelers cheques (rember them and remember Karl Malden don't leave home without them) and lined up as I entered each country to exchange for pounds or Frnch francs or guilders or marks or lira or whatever. I just can't imagine going back and living that way. Newspapers? Haven't bought a newspaper in 20 years and read the newspapers every morning on line for frère (even the NY Times despite their silly paywall; it's easy to beat as well as the Wall Street Journal. Again to me this is the 21st century. It is simply not meant to be a condescending remark.

However please bear with an old man with bad eyesight.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 07:41 AM
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You are forgiven.
I am an old lady, married to an old man. I can't read without my reading glasses and have trouble with my knees. My DH can't hear a thing without his hearing aids and can't see past his nose without his glasses. So I know whereof you speak.

That being said, we love to travel and try to do it frequently. We spend on the luxuries that matter to us and save money on those that don't. On this trip we are not paying for our airfare or our hotel thanks to the 2 different credit cards we use for virtually every purchase. But. As I said before, sometimes you need cash. I don't read newspapers online -- I don't enjoy it -- so I need cash to pay for a paper, or a pretzel on the street, or the random bottle of water, and it is often just not worth to effort to pay by credit card.

So, I travel with a credit card that does not charge a conversion fee, an ATM card that charges a minimal fee, and cash for those moments when I need/want some. Its a personal choice. As far as the Heathrow express being an expensive option, I agree. It is expensive. But I prefer it to the tube for the convenience and speed and I prefer it to a cab because I don't enjoy sitting in London traffic. Since it is expensive it seems smart to me to try to find the cheapest way possible to travel that way. I spend money on what is important to me but I don't like to pay more than I have to for those things.
sussexred is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 08:07 AM
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It boils down to - there are circumstances when the HEX is the best option but those circumstances are rare

For most people the simplest, quickest and cheapest option is the Tube, for most other people especially groups a car service gives the best overall option

If you are in the remaining set of people then you might want to consider the HEX but if you are arriving early on a weekday then the HEX will put you in Paddington in the rush hour when any other form of transport will be hard to get
alanRow is offline  
Aug 9th, 2013, 08:58 AM
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One wonders how the over-priced Heathrow Express stays in operation - seems only idiots would ride it. Well it does stay in business because it is a plush fast way into the city especially for those with luggage - get a taxi from Paddington then to where you want to go.
PalenQ is online now  
Aug 9th, 2013, 04:50 PM
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>>Just you wait until Janisj sees your questions. You have only experienced the Fodor pussycats so far. Janis will eat you for breakfast for considering the Heathrow Express.<<

Reporting for duty

That should be >>there are circumstances when the HEX is the best option but those circumstances are very rare<<

If one is staying right AT Paddington - then sure. But why would one stay there? If one is catching a train from Paddington to elsewhere - fine (unless it happens to be to Bath or Oxford which are easier and cheaper just taking express coach right for LHR)

The HEX fare is just the beginning. Then one has to queue for a taxi (and on a weekday AM, queue for quite a long time) to get to where ever you are actually going. Depending on the final destination, there is another £10-£30 cab fare. Plus there is the schelpp at the LHR end.

The HEX is fast - but gets you nowhere. The HEX is comfortable - but a car service is easier. The HEX is expensive. nuff said.
janisj is online now  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:50 PM
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HEX + taxi is almost always more than a car service and the car service usually doesn't take much longer. The HEX as "plush"? Not IMO, it's nice, but I'd I'd never call it plush. The Orient Express is plush.
historytraveler is online now  
Aug 9th, 2013, 05:56 PM
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Why the heck does anyone pay that exorbitant fare to ride a train that takes you nowhere of use - well lots of folk do and that is why the HEX is profitable - oh so so many dupes!

The Heathrow Express is the preferred option of anyone not on a starvation budget - 15 minutes to Paddington, which has superb tube and bus connections to anywhere in London or you can take a taxi and IME the waits for taxis is not so so long and so what - another 10 minutes waiting in queue beats coping with an often mobbed SRO Tube ride in.

So I do, at my peril of being eaten for breakfast by janis for daring to disagree with her/him/it - well that's my take anyway!

Now no doubt to be devoured by janis that is my take.
PalenQ is online now  
Aug 9th, 2013, 06:45 PM
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PalenQ....I take the tube in from Heathrow all the time and do not find the experience horrific. As a matter of fact since Heathrow is the start of the line, getting a seat on the train next to your luggage is not a problem. So let's see...you're heading for Piccadilly Circus...

A one seat ride on the tube. Will take about 55 minutes on the Piccadilly line. HEX..15 minutes to Paddington...a bit of a walk either to street level to catch a taxi and London AM rush hour traffic can be horrendous or the tube anyway...probably a circle or district line train down to Earls Court and down the escalator and short stairways to the Piccadilly line platforms and now really crowded trains (AM rush hour). Ultimately, how much time is actually saved?

Now I agree. There are other considerations. Yes the HEX is somehat more comfortable and you have to decide whether or not it is worth it. If you're going to be using the tube for your local transport in London the add on fare from Heathrow can be only a little over 2 quid for a one seat ride.

But let's not quibble. There are no absolutes. One has to decide in one's own mind if it's worth it. To me it isn'. To others it does...no different than me looking for the cheapest airfare to fly from NYC to Londonor take Eurostar from Paris to London. I wouldn't dream of springing for first class (and first class is great...after a snow storm because it couldn't get me out for two days, I was upgraded by AA to business class)because after all the back of the plane or train arrives at the station only a few minutes later than the first class cabin or coaches but others feel this is their vacation of a lifetime and want everything to be first class. To each his or her own. All I think people should do is present the facts and let the person ultimately decide what is best for them without any disparaging remarks.
xyz123 is offline  

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