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Coordinating meetup at Heathrow - plus 9 hours of extra time!

We are flying into Heathrow from San Francisco and arriving at 6:55 am and our 16-year old is flying from Rome to Heathrow arriving at 16:50 the same day. I tried to make the times closer, but her travel was changed and we can't make any changes to the flights. Someone needs to meet her at Heathrow.

My question is - should I book a hotel near Heathrow, drop our bags and go explore London a bit, then come back and collect our daughter and stay overnight by the airport? Or, book a hotel near Paddington station, drop bags and explore, send one of us back to collect the teen and stay in London? Is that too much schlepping? The hotels near Paddington are much more expensive and it's just one night. We are taking a train to Scotland the next morning, then coming back to London and staying in a vrbo the rest of the trip.

Posted by
190 posts

Why Paddington? Near Kings Cross would be easier for the train to Edinburgh. Direct on the Piccadilly Line or Elizabeth Line with one change. You owe the HEX nothing.

Posted by
5042 posts

I agree with the previous poster. It makes no sense to stay near Heathrow or Paddington when your train the next day leaves from Kings Cross. The Picadilly line starts at Heathrow and stops at KC without a change. Plenty of hotels nearby.

Posted by
5 posts

I thought I should do Paddington because there was a quick train to take back and forth to the airport since one of us has to go back and collect the kid. How long do the other ones take?

Posted by
6468 posts

The Elizabeth Line is only 30 minutes Paddington to Heathrow.

And that line is included in your daily fare cap, so your journey into Paddington is £12.20 on the Elizabeth Line in the morning (to any other central London Station £13.30), but the all day fare cap for all journeys that day is £15.60.

If you use the tube Heathrow to Kings Cross (or any Central London station) it is £5.60 each way.

So it costs you next to nothing to do the other 2 EL journeys to/from Heathrow.

The Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express have 3 stations at Heathrow. All trains serve Terminals 2/3. Some then continue to T4 and some to T5. So ensure you are on the right train.

Posted by
5 posts

Of course, I don't want to overspend, but I am most concerned about time. I'm worried that I'll be wiped out and crabby after flying 10+ hours and then a long ride in to London, and then another round trip to pick up my kid at Heathrow.

Is the Heathrow Express not worth it?

Posted by
15564 posts

IMHO, the Heathrow Express is not worth it.

But let me ask you a question.....your 16 year old is capable of flying from Rome to London by herself but you don't think she is capable of getting on the Underground and taking it into London herself?

If you stay near Kings Cross, all she, and you, would have to take is the Piccadilly line direct to Kings Cross. No changes. And the Piccadilly line is the only tube train that goes to Heathrow.

It's really a no brainer.

Posted by
5 posts

Yeah, that's the question, right?

She's probably capable - she does get herself all over San Francisco on Muni and BART. She's good at Italy and we were just there in November, so that's not a problem.

My only concern is that I've never been to London and I don't have a good sense of scale and distance. It seems like it's much more spread out than the cities I know.

Anyway, how long is the tube ride to Kings Cross?

Posted by
1842 posts

If she can get herself around on SF Muni and BART she can navigate to London tube. If she takes the Piccadilly line it’s a straight shot to Kings Cross. No train changes necessary. A bit over an hour ride. How much luggage will she have with her?

Posted by
15564 posts

When she gets on at Heathrow it's almost guaranteed that she will get a seat since the Piccadilly line originates at Heathrow.

As stated, it's very easy. When she exits customs, she follows the sign to the Underground. She can't take the wrong train as there is only one train. She can use either a contactless phone (Google Pay/Apple Pay) or contactless credit card (or buy an Oyster Card) and take it to Kings Cross. No changes.

When she gets to Kings Cross she will have to tap out with the same method of payment she used at Heathrow. Then, she goes up to street level. With the address you supply her for your hotel, she uses Apple or Google Maps and gets there.

If you're really concerned or the hotel is further than you expected, she can get a cab (they're honest) or call for an Uber.

I'd suggest you look at Premier Inns at either Kings Cross or St. Pancras. Both are just a few minutes walk from Kings Cross. (Kings Cross station and St. Pancras stations are literally across the street from each other.) I've stayed at the St. Pancras branch a few times.

If she can handle BART and Muni, and gets herself around Italy, she can easily handle the Tube.

Posted by
12 posts

As others have mentioned, the connections from Heathrow are fairly straightforward into Central London. If she comes in solo, you could meet her at her final stop and make your way to your hotel together from there.

Posted by
1568 posts

What would a new ticket from Rome to Heathrow cost? May be easier to bite the bullet to get her to arrive closer to your arrival though yours is super early and I’m guessing you will be wiped out. I avoid early arrivals in Europe unless I’m connecting to Africa or Asia and it makes sense.

Posted by
8815 posts

To answer the “how long is the tube ride from LHR to Kings Cross on the Piccadilly line” query….it’s about an hour… and most of it is above ground.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all of this!
I'm going to book something near Kings Cross.
* I can't change her flight to be earlier because she's with a group that won't be in Rome until later in the day.
* It's on a Thursday.

Posted by
15564 posts

The reason I asked the day of the week was because maintenance on different tube lines sometimes takes place on weekends. You should be okay on a Thursday.

Posted by
344 posts

If you type in “London Piccadilly Line Heathrow Kings Cross” on YouTube, there’s a 26 min. video from 2018 that shows someone filming the route from terminals 1,2,3. She could also watch if you think it would help. I’d link it, but I’m not sure if it’ll take you to the whole site or that particular video.