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Cheaper to fly to London, train to Edinburgh?

I'm planning a first-time trip to Scotland in June with my sister & brother. I think I've read that flying to London & taking the train to Edinburgh is cheaper than flying directly to Edinburgh. Or are there cheaper ways?

Thanks for any help.

Posted by
2441 posts

not always, look at what options might be available landing in Glasgow or Edinburgh, also consider flying Via Amsterdam

Posted by
2740 posts

Flying to London and taking the train sets up all kinds of issues with
--long immigration lines at Heathrow
--getting to Kings Cross on tube (buy Oyster card?)
--which train to reserve early at a discount with enough lag time for a potential late arrival

Much better to explore any of the following:
--American Airlines, transfer in Philadelphia (to Glasgow)
--Delta Airlines via Amsterdam
--United Airlines via Newark
--Icelandair (to Glasgow) if that works for you (not a Carolina state though)
--A through ticket with a transfer at Heathrow, Paris, Dublin, or Frankfurt

Posted by
11154 posts

The current rule for airfares ... is that there are no rules. You just have to check for your dates and departure airport. If you can fly into or out of more than one airport, check them all. You may find inexplicable differences. For instance, a few years ago when I went to Spain from New York, it was $80 cheaper to fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona than the reverse. Since it made no difference to me, that's what I did.

Also, even if it is "cheaper" to fly to London and then train to Edinburgh, don't forget the extra time and hassle involved. Also, taking a train on the day of arrival is tricky. You don't know how long the immigration line will be on arriving at a London airport, so buying a discount Advance train ticket (which can only be used on one particular train) is risky. But, buying a flexible ticket is much more expensive - likely negating any savings. If you're planning to spend one or more days in London on arrival, Advance tickets work well.

And, in addition to Edinburgh and London, investigate prices into Glasgow (about an hour from Edinburgh, and highly worthwhile in its own right) or Manchester (a very large airport, and like Glasgow and Edinburgh, it even gets nonstops from some US cities). Manchester airport is only about 3 hours from Glasgow or Edinburgh, and it has its own train station, so getting to Scotland from there is easier and faster than from London airports

To find all options, use Kayak https://www.kayak.com/flights or Google Flights: https://www.google.com/flights/. If you want to fly into one city and out of another, be sure to look at "Multi City" or Multiple Destinations" fares.

Then, when you know the airfares, if you're not able to fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh, make sure you understand what's involved in getting from your arrival airport to your starting point in Scotland. To find train schedules and fares, use National Rail: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Yes, it's a bit of work to look at all the possibilities, but that's the only way to figure out what's "best" for you, or cheapest. Personally, unless I wanted to see English destinations on this trip, I'd fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh, and pay any extra for the convenience - particularly on a short trip where time is as important as money. But it's your trip, so you do what works best for your needs.

Posted by
2567 posts

If your desired destination is Scotland, I'd say fly there, even if it costs a few dollars more. Your vacation time is valuable and I would not want to waste a day landing in London, wrangling my luggage onto a train, and then sitting on a train for most of a day to Edinburgh. Let alone doing it all in reverse again at the end of the trip to fly home.

Posted by
3321 posts

By the time you add up the airfare, the cost of getting to the train, and the train fare, it will probably be just as cheap as flying directly to Edinburgh. Not to mention the fact that you will almost a full day by doing the plane / train combination. Depending on the location of your hotel in Edinburgh, you might be able to take the very inexpensive tram into town. I guess the main question is, do you want to spend a little more (maybe / maybe not) and have another day at your destination, or save a few bucks (maybe / maybe not) and lose a day of your vacation?

Posted by
20638 posts

For me it is an easy answer. If you know your travel dates, then a price an airline ticket to each location. That would tell you. At first cut, I doubt if it would be cheaper. But you are adding at least ten addition hours to your trip.

Posted by
552 posts

I'm with UncleGus, look at flying into Amsterdam and taking a short connecting flight into Edinburgh (it's what I did). I got a good deal from KLM. The hassle of flying into Heathrow, then getting to the train station on time, then the long train trip will take up so much of your valuable vacation time that it's probably worth the extra money (though I expect not much) to fly.

Posted by
1455 posts

We did what you are contemplating and it did not turn out to be a fun experience. We are on the West coast, and we'd already had a layover in NYC when we landed. Got ourselves to the train station, but because we'd booked our tickets ahead and everything had gone smoothly, we had a realllly looong wait. And there weren't many chairs. I asked about an earlier train and was told, politely, "no." Then there was the looong train ride. My husband did not appreciate this. We gave up time that we didn't have a lot of, so you have to decide what is more important.

Posted by
61 posts

I just booked Iceland Air from Orlando to Glasgow for about $550 roundtrip.

Posted by
61 posts

We're traveling in May. A friend just told me they got NY to London for $450 in April. Try Kayak. It changes daily , even hourly. Go incognito to prevent tracking cookies

Posted by
115 posts

secretflying.com and their posts on Facebook got us a round trip ticket from Hilo, Hawaii to AMS for $415 r/t on Delta in mid-May. No way we wouldn't take advantage of that. We can't fly to California for that.

We're flying from AMS to EDI for just a little more on EasyJet and going from there. Couldn't come close on flying directly to either London or Edinburgh. Tickets were over $1500 for the same time.

Posted by
1 posts

With Norwegian, WoW, Icelandic Air and now Delta and American jumping into the lower cost fare game, getting very cheap flights to London makes flying in and taking the train much more attractive. I have been tracking flights out of LAX and LAS for my family and they have consistently dipped into the $600-$700 range for June. We are going at the end of June/early July and the six of us paid between $517 and $587 for RT flights from the Western US (the cheaper ones aren't nonstop). To fly into Edinburgh would have cost $500-$800 more so even if we buy a regular train ticket we are still saving a lot.

Yes if we buy an advanced ticket and customs goes fast we might have some time on our hands but we are in London (an easy direct train from Heathrow) and there is literally hundreds of things we can do while we wait. Kings Cross has a left luggage in the station and one across the street (and there is always the Harry Potter platform to see) so it isn't a problem to drop our bags and go do something fun with that extra time.

Plus the train is an experience all on it's own not just a means of getting from Point A to Point B. Seat61 has a great write-up about what you see along the way and the history of the route.
Keep your eye out and get fare alerts for the dates and routes you are interested in (both Kayak and Google flights will do this)