How to save on your next Heathrow Express journey

Oct 31, 2019

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The Heathrow Express might be the fastest and most convenient way to travel from Heathrow Airport to central London, but it can also be expensive.

The Heathrow Express the U.K.’s most expensive train, and if you’ve waited until you’ve landed at Heathrow to buy a ticket, you might be shocked at how much it costs, given it can be as short as a 15-minute journey.

Here’s how the ticket structure works.

Express versus Business First Class

Each Heathrow Express train has two different carriages: the cheaper Express Class carriage and the more expensive Business First Class. Both classes offer power sockets, luggage space and free Wi-Fi, with Business First Class also offering larger seats with more legroom, tables and free magazines and newspapers. 

Note the journey is just 15 minutes, so unlike a long-haul flight, the extra space and comfort may not be noticeable.

Express class on the Heathrow Express. (Photo courtesy of Heathrow Express)

Peak versus off-peak

In anticipation of increased competition when the new Crossrail line opens late next year, Heathrow Express has recently changed its peak versus off-peak pricing. Previously, you could book cheaper tickets in advance for travel on weekends rather than weekdays.

Heathrow Express has now relaxed this rule, selling the cheaper off-peak tickets seven days a week in advance so you don’t have to try and travel at an inconvenient time just to save money.

Anytime tickets

Unsurprisingly, the most expensive tickets are those booked last minute. An Express Class “anytime” ticket purchased at the station will usually cost £25 each way, or £37 as a return ticket. If you book Business First Class, you’re looking at £37 each way, or £55 return.

This price reduces slightly to £22 one-way in Express Class if you are travelling off-peak, meaning before 6:30 a.m., between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m.

These prices are charged if you wait until you arrive at the station to purchase a ticket, and are also charged up to 14 days in advance if you buy online. Note that if you choose to buy the slightly cheaper off-peak ticket in advance, you must travel during the off-peak hours. An anytime ticket can be used at any time that day.

Advance tickets

Heathrow Express tickets are significantly cheaper booked in advance. If you’re booking those bank holiday flights with plenty of notice, look at booking train tickets at the same time. Note these tickets are not refundable.

Heathrow Express offers significant discounts for booking more than 14, 30 and 90 days in advance in Express Class only and now has the same pricing for weekdays and weekends, where a one-way ticket costs as follows:

  • Less than 14 days: from £12.10
  • Less than 30 days: from £7.50
  • Less than 90 days: from £5.50

Unfortunately, these discounts are not available for Business First Class.

(Photo courtesy of Heathrow Express)

Children travel free

A nice benefit to Heathrow Express pricing is that children younger than 15 travel free when with a fare-paying adult in the same class. If the child is travelling alone (as an unaccompanied minor on a flight), they can still travel free in Express Class, provided they have evidence like a boarding pass or itinerary.

Travel together

Heathrow Express offers discount for groups travelling together. A group of at least three adults can book Express Class fares for £43.56 one-way or £73.26 return for travel anytime online by entering the code “3RDOFF” at checkout. This can be a big saving for groups booking tickets last minute, but if you are booking more than 14 days in advance, consider if booking separate advance tickets will be cheaper. You can also purchase these tickets with this offer at stations (rather than online), but only on weekends.

Two people travelling together can save on return Express Class tickets booked online less than 14 days in advance for £27.75 per person (a saving of almost £10 each) by entering the code “DUOSAVER” at checkout.

You can also reduce your ticket prices by buying a “Carnet” of six single journeys for the price of five, or 12 single journeys for the price of nine. These tickets are valid for 12 months and are transferable.

Combining with London Underground

Unless you live, work or are staying near Paddington, chances are you may be using London Underground to connect on to or from the Heathrow Express. Unfortunately, your Heathrow Express ticket — no matter how expensive — does not cover London Underground or contribute to your daily Oyster card fare cap, so you will need to buy separate Underground tickets or tap on or off separately.

You can use your Oyster card or tap-and-go contactless card for Heathrow Express tickets purchased at stations, but it will be charged separately to any connecting Underground fares.

There are a number of different U.K. National Railcards such as Senior Railcards and Disabled Person Railcards, and these can be used on Heathrow Express to reduce ticket prices, but are not valid on some advance promotional fares.

Featured photo courtesy of Heathrow Express.

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