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Landing in London- then EuroStar to Paris

My daughter's and I first trip to Europe. We land at Heathrow at 10:15 am and then we are heading to Paris for the first part of the trip. London is the second half. Booking Eurostar tickets- how much time should we allow to get through customs at Heathrow and then taking the train to St Pancras to catch the Eurostar? Thanks all!

Posted by
8660 posts

My answer is overnight..... So many things can happen when it comes to flights that can cause a delay. If it were me, I would only plan to go as far as London on arrival day, have a hotel next to St. Pancras Station, and leave on the Eurostar first thing the next morning.

I hate the stress of worrying about missed connections. I think you might enjoy a brief rest in your travels as you start getting adjusted to the time changes.

Of course you can make the same day connection if all goes well. I would allow 1.5 hours to get through passport control and retrieve your luggage, 1 hour to get to London, 2 hours arrival before train departure, 1 hour buffer. That makes it about 4pm for the earliest Eurostar you would want to book.

Posted by
334 posts

Probably 6 hours. Minimum 4 hours if everything goes according to Google. Sounds like a lot. I'm risk averse though. 1-1.5 hour through customs, Min 1-1.5 hour train to St Pancras. Probably 1.5 hours walking to Paddington express & transfering trains in London. I think EuroStar wants an hour prior to boarding. All of this with jet lag. You could make it easy on yourself and do London first? Or a day then relax & take your time to get to Paris

*I did not cheat on Carol's estimate calculation though we came up close on the time!

Posted by
8888 posts

Stay overnight.

Its immigration NOT customs.

Heathrow is notorious for flight delays.

From Heathrow to Kings Cross St Pancras on the
“Train” are from Terminals 2 and 3.

Also its a long walk to the Piccadilly line if you chose the tube.

Posted by
3343 posts

We did that back in 2014 or 2015, and I wish we had just flown to Paris. We took a car service from Heathrow to St. Pancras. We got there a few minutes before an earlier Eurostar train left, but we couldn't change our reservation. We couldn't get into the waiting room for a few hours, so we wandered around the shopping mall adjacent to the train station. If I were you, I would look for a connecting flight to Paris.

With all that said, the Eurostar train itself was lovely.

Posted by
724 posts

Personally, making this sort of transition, what I have done is stay the night in London after my arrival and sort of decompress. Then take train the next day. That just gives me piece of mind and not worrying about time or missing a train if something happens.

But, the tube from LHR to St Pancras is about an hour. The unpredictable time, is walking from the gate to boarder control, going through boarder control then grabbing baggage and head to the tube station. My last time landing at LHR it took me on a 15 minute walk from gate to boarder control; 5 minutes to line up and go through the e-gates and grab my bag. I wasn't in a hurry so I grabbed a coffee and relaxed a few, then headed to the tube station. All including my dawdling was about 45 minutes.

But the time at LHR will depend on the number of flights that land around that time. Whether e-gates are available and how many boarder control officers are working.

There is the Heathrow Express the travels between LHR and Paddington in 15 minutes. But you'd still have to get from Paddington to St Pancras on the tube. It's not a "cheap" service but if you get tickets 90+ days prior to travel, you can get a discounted ticket for one way travel for £5.50

Last comment. Do y'all both have contactless cards? Contactless will allow you to pay for tube journeys. If not you'll both will probably need Oyster Cards to load money onto to pay as you go. Getting Oyster Cardswould add a few more moments getting out of LHR.

Posted by
6788 posts

If your destination is Paris, why not save time, hassle and maybe a bunch of money, and simply fly to Paris? If you want to finish your trip in London, fine, take the train from Paris to London, that makes sense.

When you land in Europe, you are probably going to be exhausted (many people get little sleep on the plane), quite possibly in no mood at all to switch from air to rail travel, and not likely to at all enjoy the extra tasks you will need to accomplish to get yourself on that train to Paris, all of which can easily turn your arrival into a bit of an ordeal.

Is there some reason you are choosing to fly to London when your actual intended destination is Paris?

Posted by
11535 posts

When you add up all the ground transportation costs and add something for the value of your time, are you really saving money vs. making your flight plans to end in Paris?

Home to London + ground costs to Paris = $x

Home to Paris = $?

If you are stuck with the London flight, then I concur with the 6 hr , if not next day, suggestion.

Posted by
6788 posts

Even if you (think) you are "stuck" with the original flight to LHR, consider that you are rarely really "stuck" with any ticket - most can be changed. Maybe you'll get socked with a "change fee" (maybe it won't be so much, it's worth checking) but compare that to the alternatives - all the $ costs of dragging yourself from LHR to Paris (not trivial), maybe a night in a London hotel room (not cheap at all!), plus the pain of doing it all. I'd take a hard look at the costs of making a change to your inbound flight, and flying to what seems to be your actual destination (Paris) and weigh whatever the changes would cost might be...against the costs of sticking with your original plan.

Unless you were given a free ticket to London that can't be changed, I'd happily pay a bit more to avoid the extra hassles of making that train trip to Paris.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks all for the input. We are splitting the time between Paris (4 nights) and London (4 nights). We were thinking that landing in the city (London) that we are flying out of (London) would be most time efficient on the back end of the trip. It is a direct flight to London from the States so I am not too worried about delays. I AM concerned about trying to navigate Heathrow, train or tube to St Pancras and then the train to Paris.....with jet lag as its an overnight flight.

Posted by
15726 posts

I agree with the idea of flying from Heathrow to Paris. If you already have your air tickets, call the airline and see what it would cost to add a flight from Heathrow to Paris. I say add rather than buy a separate ticket because then you wouldn't have to deal with immigration at Heathrow as you could stay airside. You become a connecting passenger rather than an arriving passenger.

Posted by
24 posts

That's a good idea to add a flight to Paris from Heathrow. Tickets aren't booked yet, so will definitely check into that. Do we just go through the airline we are flying into London? Really appreciate all the help! First trip to Europe!

Posted by
15726 posts

If you haven't booked your flights yet, book a "multi-city" fight USA to Paris then London to USA. Take the Eurostar from Paris to London.

What airline are you trying to book with?

Posted by
11535 posts

If you have not booked anything yet and seemingly want to do Paris 1st, why not book Home-Paris, London-Home multi-city (aka open jaw) tickets. Depending where your origin is, there may not be any need to stop in London on the way to Paris.

Posted by
4066 posts

If you are not familiar with this concept, a multi-destination ticket would seem efficient in your case. Fly into one city, fly home from another, both on the same ticket, arranged through a multi-city search function. Often that fare won't be much more than a simple round-trip ticket. That leaves you buying one tunnel ride, saving money as well as time.

Posted by
24 posts

I was wanting to book through Kayak (per Steve's suggestion!) can you do "open-jaw"? We are going through American Airlines.

Posted by
8664 posts

If you're saying Rick Steves suggests buying through Kayak, please provide a reference. It doesnt sound like something he would suggest.

You're supposed to check in for the Eurostar 2 hours before departure as well, aren't you?

Posted by
2400 posts

Recommend to book directly with airlines never any other site as if something goes.wrong.airline will work with you. If airline of choice is American, ask.them.price US.to Paris and home from.London or reverse. If Paris.is first then your first days spend there.then train to London last.days then home.from London.

Posted by
8660 posts

You are receiving good advice here. To summarize:
Buy directly from the airline (American)
When you are on the American Airlines Website it wii give you a choice of “ round trip, one way, or multi city”
You want to select the multi city tab.

1st flight: home airport to CDG
2nd flight: LHR to home airport

Posted by
15726 posts

BUY DIRECTLY FROM THE AIRLINE.

Rick suggests using a site like Kayak to search for flights but to buy direct from the airline.

Posted by
33339 posts

I know nothing about flying.

But for the Eurostar spend the night in London.

Many seats are empty at the moment on the Eurostar because they can't get passengers through Border Force quickly enough due to Brexit laws. They have announced that they budget 2 in 5 seats to be empty and sell maximum 3 seats in 5 at peak times.

Posted by
208 posts

You may want to look into doing it in reverse too if you can & see what is cheaper. Fly into London & out of Paris. I've heard & seen that flying out of London can be expensive due to fees.

Posted by
24 posts

Great advice, all! I will investigate investigate different flight options. Appreciate the help!!!

Posted by
2400 posts

Once you book flights please come back here for advice on visiting these two cities. People on this site have a wealth of travel knowledge to share. Also be sure to buy Rick's Europe thru the Back Door. It is very helpful for a first timer. Best of luck.

Posted by
6788 posts

I've heard & seen that flying out of London can be expensive due to fees.

This is true.

London (the UK overall, but London Heathrow especially) has perhaps the highest taxes and fees of any airport in the world (the cost of airport fees and taxes are rolled into your airline ticket, so most folks don't see that directly). Paris isn't exactly cheap either, but all other things being equal, departing on a flight from LHR will cost more (in terms of taxes and fees) than on a flight from CDG.

There are many factors that determine the price of airline tickets, some of which are beyond human comprehension or rational explanation. Market forces, airline pricing algorithms, and other unknowable factors all go into the pricing model, so it's impossible to just say flights out of London always cost more than flights out of Paris. And any difference in fees may be a small part of your ticket. That said, London is an expensive place for many things (try driving in the city center and you'll soon find out!).

The highest fees are paid only when departing an airport, not when arriving (and also not paid when you are on a single ticket that just transits the airport). So, assuming all other factors are equal (even though they're usually not), you may save some money by arriving in LHR (or other high-cost UK airports) and departing from someplace else that doesn't charge such high fees. Favorite departure cities for those looking to beat the high UK airport fees include Dublin, and several cities on the continent.

The difference in taxes/fees are pretty small when compared to your other trip costs. It's (usually) not worth building your itinerary around the idea of beating airport fees or changing things up just for that purpose. But it is true that London airport departures come with higher price tags because of those fees.

For the OP it should be pretty straightforward: Fly in to Paris, fly home from London. Take Eurostar from Paris to London. And buy your flight tickets directly from the airline.

Posted by
3252 posts

Hello, and congratulations on planning your first trip to Europe!

Considering that it IS your first trip, and will be all new to you, I would advocate for a one night stay in London after your flight, before getting the Eurostar.
However, if it were me, I would fly into Paris and out of London, or vice versa.
That not only saves a trip back, but a second day of travel between them.
Happy planning!

Posted by
819 posts

I have done the trip you are talking about. in 17 i flew with my elderly father to London, then about 5 days later took the train to Paris, then flew home from Paris.
The next year we went to visit Family and a few places in Germany, (flew into Munich) then spent 4 days in Paris then the train to London and flew home from London.

So i have done variations of this trip. And while you flight may or may not be delayed yoyu cant realky say. Even a direct flight can be delayed on the ground or before the aircraft gets to you or the crew has an issue or the plane has a mechanical issue or the airport has a security issue and you are delayed. you cant predict this. So just because you are flying direct does not mean much.
Of all the flights i have take in my life only 4 of them (8 trips if you count both ways) out of tripple digit flights have been something other then direct. Of all the major delays i have had (about 5) one was on a flight with a layover the rest were on Direct flights. one for 8 hours mechanical issues the day before, weather delayed one 4+ hours on the ground in Atlanta. one had an issue at JFK so we didnt leave Boston for over an hour. the others were commuter flights out of South Bend. One was having to wait for the runway to get cleaned and that meant we had to get deiced again and the other was just a HUGE backup getting from the gate to the runway.
So you can easily get delayed on a direct flight assume it does not get canceled..

And when you land in London.. you can have a bad time getting through imagration or you can have a REALLY bad time getting through security. :). When we landed in 17 their was something like 5 or 6 aircarft that all landed a out the immigration. The area for immigration was huge and packed so tight you could not put in more people. It was like the crowd at Buckingham Palace for the. changing of the guard. We had it reasonably well because my dad was in a wheelchair and we got fast tracked.

And don't forget you need to clear immigration and security before you get on the Eurostar. And that has a time requirement. And you need to be clear of that a set time before you are scheduled yo board the train. A you lady was less then 5 min late and her train was still in the station but she was not let into the boarding area. And had to just watch it leave without her. She had to buy a ticket on our train.

Just a few thoughts.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks again for all of the help! I hadn't booked plane tickets yet when I made the original post, and after reading everyones helpful comments, we are going to fly into Paris and out of London for the trip home. I had no idea a multi-city ticket was even a thing! Really appreciate all of the great advice!

Posted by
14293 posts

So happy the forum advice introduced you to "multi-city" flights! Really, really much easier! I think you'll be very happy with this AND glad you asked questions BEFORE you booked. It's harder for forum members to help "repair" an itinerary.....

Posted by
3252 posts

One more thing as you are new to flying: when booking flights, be sure to book to Paris CDG…Charles de Gaulle airport.
For London, you want Heathrow: LHR, or Gatwick: LGW.
Other airports at both are inconvenient for your short trip.

Posted by
2765 posts

I do this quite often.

I’ll do it next month

So let’s start with why not fly directly to Charles de Gaulle. Well for $2500 I can fly coach to Charles de Gaulle or business class to Heathrow. No it’s not the same price or almost cheaper to CDG. 😂That business class ticket to Charles de Gaulle is over $4000. If I wanted to save him a more, a coach ticket to London would’ve been around 1500. And I booked these tickets late but this is constant from what I see. If you’re using frequent flyer miles it’s often much easier to find a ticket to London than any place else.

Now I’ll allow four hours between flight and train. I’m also willing to pay the price. If I miss my train, I’m willing to buy a new ticket. But that’s my standard and I’ve never had a problem. That said I’m very familiar with airport, London, etc. If I was in your position I would give myself longer.

On the return if I’m doing this in reverse, coming from someplace, I do allow overnight, because the cost of getting home would be higher than the cost of getting to Paris or where I’m going when I get to Europe

So this may turn out to be cheaper for you, but I do see that you are planning to book via kayak. Let’s stop right there. Kayak is not a travel agent kayak is a search engine. And it could take you to Bubba Gumps unknown travel company. He will guarantee you a deal on a flight to Paris for a great price that he claims you can’t get anyplace else or some such nonsense. Do not click buy. if you cannot find the airfare on an airline website do not buy it. The airlines do not give special fares to these agents. They take your $$& and several days later tell you oh sorry we couldn’t get you that deal, give us more money.

Or they book you a creative “package”. Airline 1 to LaGuardia, Airline 2 from JFK to Heathrow and airline 3 from London City to Paris. And they alliow an hour or so between flights (completely impossible). And if you don’t believe me, go to TripAdvisor and look on the air travel forum, and just start reading. Put in the name of the travel company you got sent to.

Book direct with the airline!!!!

Posted by
1007 posts

Fly on wards to Paris if at all possible. On top of everything else you will have to go through passport and customs again to enter the EU/Schengen and since BREXIT relations have not been too good on that score. And while it seems to go OK for the most part it goes OK, but every so often there are issues, so I'd try to minimise any potential for hassle.

Posted by
16939 posts

You may find the flights are cheaper if you reverse the order of your visits. That is, fly to London and spend your 4 nights there, then take Eurostar to Paris and fly home from CGG after your time there.

I just priced it both ways, using the same dates, and it came out $200 less to do it that way. Why? Because of the high passenger departure tax imposed on flights to the US from Heathrow. If your ticketed flight departs from an airport outside the UK, the extra tax does not apply, even if you change planes at Heathrow. And of course you could choose flights from CDG that do not even involve Heathrow at all.

Posted by
1344 posts

My 2 cents: Since this is your first trip to Europe, it might be easier on your jet-lagged, sleep deprived self to land in London, where they speak english and all the signs are in english only.

Posted by
1 posts

Great advice, all! I will investigate investigate different flight options. Appreciate the help!!!

Posted by
931 posts

No Kayak for actual booking. You can use it for possible flight itineraries, but not for the actual booking. We search for flights on Google Flights and go directly to the airline's website to book. If there is an issue with the flights during your travels, you deal with directly with the airline not a third party.

Posted by
198 posts

Don’t assume that because your flight is direct, that there won’t be any delays. On my flight, this past May, I logged in 24 hours before, to check in. I got the message that my flight had been canceled and was offered alternate flights on a partner airline. I ended up flying to Dallas then to London which added 7 hours to my flight. I had purchased a ticket to Westminster Abbey for my arrival day, my original flight was scheduled to land at 6:50 am, my new flight didn’t arrive until 2:00 pm, so I missed my entrance time for the non-refundable tour.

Posted by
33339 posts

just to mention that this is a really old post - January - and it sounded like our OP had their revised plans well in hand.

Posted by
24 posts

Yes, thank you Nigel! After posting, I learned from the group about multi city booking and was able to fly into Paris and out of London!