London 10-Step Arrival Plan

Londoners: Does my following 10-point plan sound reasonable or foolhardy? ON A SATURDAY EVENING with a lightweight carry-on only: 1. Arrive LHR 16:35 (Virgin Atlantic flight has very high on-time ranking) 2. Clear Passport Control in T3 and catch 17:27 (or 17:57) Heathrow Connect 3. Arrive Paddington 17:54 (or 18:24) 4. Factor in 10-min. walk to Tube 5. Tube from Paddington to Bayswater: 2 minutes (per TfL Journey Planner) - one stop on District Line vs. 3 stops on Circle + Central Lines to Queensway (see #7) 6. Walk to hotel ~5 mins. 7. Checked into hotel by 19:00 (adjacent to Queensway Tube station) 8. Catch ~19:20 Tube: Queensway to Embankment: 17 mins. (per TfL Journey Planner) 9. Arrive Theatre on Northumberland Street (around corner from Embankment Tube station)
10. BOOM! 20:00 curtain I'd get a sandwich and drink at LHR to eat along the way and have a post-theatre supper (for anyone who's concerned I haven't factored in eating). And jetlag is not a concern because I know my travel patterns and am highly motivated to do this. The hitch: theatre ticket is quite expensive, but for £2.50 extra I can get a FleXiticket with full cancellation protection "for any reason." Normally, I would buy a reduced-price theatre ticket at TKTS but that obviously won't work in these circumstances. And I leave London the following day for parts West and North. When I return to London other commitments sadly preclude a theatre night. Opinions, please. Thanks.

Posted by Leslie
Orange, USA
159 posts

I'm not a Londoner, but I say pay the extra for the FleXiticket. That's pretty cheap insurance in case something goes wrong with your plan. Last time we went to London we had a 15:50 arrival time and it took 3 hours from landing to our hotel in Kensington. Things can go wrong. Passport control lines were long. There were unexpected repairs at Earl's Court tube station so trains from Heathrow weren't stopping there and we had to go one station further and double back. We fly Virgin Atlantic and they do land on time, but that doesn't mean Heathrow has a place open for you to disembark if someone else is running behind. We've spent time waiting for that also. Best case scenario you make the curtain; worst case you pay an extra $4 and get your money back if you don't make the curtain. Hope all goes well and you'll be in your seat when the curtain goes up. :-)

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
961 posts

I agree with Leslie. I just came through Heathrow on Saturday- it took me over an hour and I have an EU passport, so can go through faster. And it wasn't that busy.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24211 posts

Ti, While your plan sounds good in theory, there are a lot of "variables" and a disruption at any point in the sequence will delay subsequent parts of the plan. LHR can be VERY busy, especially if a bunch of flights arrive at the same time. Which Terminal does your flight arrive at? I definitely agree with the previous suggestion - opt for the Flex ticket. Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Ti
9 posts

I edited the post to add a bit more detail. It's T3.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

I am guaranteed to fall asleep if I see any kind of snow the first two nights I'm in Europe. It's different than how I feel just out and about. Good luck with that!

Posted by Ti
9 posts

Someone I know is in the show. I'll be so excited to see it there's no chance I'll fall asleep. Also should have said - I have an Oyster Card with some ££ left on from my last trip so no delay for that. Just have to buy the Heathrow Connect ticket but I can probably do that online in advance. Chose hotel near Paddington because train in, and back out the next day, are both at Paddington.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1620 posts

Hello Ti. Traveling through London, in the route that you described, I think you will not be at your seat in the theatre at 8:00 P.M. You did not plan for the amount of time that you will be at the hotel when you check in there. And there could be a delay at any of the other places. I think a better travel route is : ride in the London Underground train (the "Tube") from Heathrow airport, in the Piccadilly line, and transfer to the District line at the Hammersmith "Tube" station. Get off at the Embankment "Tube" station. I guess a bag can be put in the room for coats and hats in the theatre building. I am not a London resident. I went on three trips to London, most recently in December, 2012. I flew to Heathrow airport, and I went in the Heathrow Connect Train to Paddington railway station. And in my trip to London in October, 2011, I went in a "Tube" train to the Embankment station. I recommend that you communicate to the hotel in London : say the time when you will arrive at the hotel (after the show at the theatre). At the Heathrow airport, when you emerge from Passport control, hire an airport porter to carry your bag, and you and him will walk fast to the London Underground station. Or, you could ride in the Heathrow Connect train, or Heathrow Express train, from Heathrow airport to Paddington station, and ride in the London Underground "Tube" train in the Bakerloo line (the brown line) to Embankment "Tube" station. If you ride in the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station (15 minute trip) you might arrive at the Embankment "Tube" station at a slightly earlier time than the time you would arrive there if you ride in the "Tube" from the airport, as I described. At the Heathrow airport you will easily find the place for buying a ticket for the Heathrow Express train. It is near the door for walking to the train.

Posted by Nancy
London, UK
170 posts

I think this is an ambitious schedule. You are arriving on a weekend and there are bound to be engineering works on the tube lines. Passport control is a gamble. Sometimes it can be a 10-15 mi ute walk from your plane to passport control. I come through there quite regularly with a US passport and sometimes I can be through there in a few minutes or up to an hour. I say it is risk you assume. This sounds like an important event for you. Maybe you can call the theatre and see if they are able to handle your luggage should you be unable to drop it off before hand.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13916 posts

Can your friend put your lightweight carry-on bag in his/her dressing room?

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
571 posts

I'm basically on the same page as the others, believing you'll be short of time. My first thought, like Ron's comment, is that there will inevitably be some backlog of registrants at the hotel (Murphy's Law) that you haven't factored in. Perhaps if you arranged for a car service to pick you up at the airport and deliver you directly to your hotel's doorstep? I haven't done the math on the travel times, but it seems to me that having prearranged transportation is key to staying on schedule here. Good luck,
Matt PS I concur. The 2.50GBP cancellation protection would be worthwhile.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13916 posts

Ti from CA, Can you let us know how it worked out?

Posted by Ti
9 posts

I will do, Nigel. I take seriousely comments of nice people here. Thank you.

Posted by Chip
Tipton, Iowa
332 posts

If you encounter delays, Charing Cross Station, a block from Embankment, offers a left luggage facility. At £8.50 per bag it is not a cheap option.