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London Tube - Peak Hours question

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I'm looking at the print out from transport London re Oyster card, travel card, etc. Page 10 says peak times are 4:30 to 9:30am Monday to Friday and all other times are off-peak. But on page 6, when looking at the prices of Oyster fares vs. cash fares, it looks like peak is from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Can anyone explain this discrepancy? When is peak and when is off-peak? Or is it different for Oyster cards vs. day travel cards?

Also, Are those times calculated by when you start your journey or finish? We are leaving Heathrow at 10a.m. on a Friday morning and will need to take either a 5:55 tube which gets us to the airport at 6:43 a.m. or a 6:10 a.m. which gets us to the airport at 7:03. I can't figure out if this is peak or not peak. Can anyone tell me?

Also, is it advisable to get to Heathrow 3 hours prior to an international/long haul flight? Or do we need more or less time? We'll check in on-line before hand, but still have to check bags and go through security.

Thanks in advance. I've been lurking on the Africa boards (we're going on safari) and just started reading this board, but you guys are a wealth of info here too. Thanks again.

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