Please sign in to post.

Elizabeth Line vs Heathrow Express

This is our first trip to London. What line would you use to go from Heathrow to Paddington, Heathrow Express or the Elizabeth Line? We're not sure what terminal we will be arriving at. Do we need to make reservations? We're also are meeting up with family members who are flying in from another city? Any advise where a good meet up place might be?

Posted by
1855 posts

The Heathrow Express has discounted tickets if you purchase 90 or more days in advance. £5.50 per person. So that’s what I would do. If you are not headed to Paddington then there may be better options.

Posted by
46 posts

We will prebook our train for sure. If we miss the booked time will we need to buy a new ticket? The hotel we are staying in is close to the Waterloo Station near the Eye. I thought we needed to change at Paddington to get there. Is there a better route? Thanks for you help.

Posted by
5688 posts

The best place to meet up would be at your hotel in London. Otherwise, check to see which terminal each party is arriving at and pick a place to meet. The Heathrow website has maps. I think it is kind of a pain to meet at Heathrow because if someone’s flight is delayed you can be stuck for hours. The hotel will be more comfortable.

If you want to use public transportation, you could either:

1) Take the Heathrow Express (or Elizabeth line) to Paddington. At Paddington, switch to the tube (Bakerloo linej and take it to Waterloo station. Exit Waterloo onto York Road.

2) Take the tube. Take the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith. At Hammersmith, switch to the District line and take it to Westminster. At Westminster, exit and cross Westminster bridge over the Thames (you will see the Eye)

Posted by
428 posts

You asked about the time of the heathrow express. You don’t book a specific time for this train, just the day. Any train on that day is available to you. I don’t know how much faster it is than the Elizabeth line but it is comfortable (and has toilets if that’s a need).

Posted by
15702 posts

An easier, and less expensive way, to get from Heathrow to Waterloo is to take the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus and then change to the Bakerloo line to Waterloo. Total cost is 5.50 GBP if traveling during peak hours.

There are four terminals at Heathrow. Are you and your family arriving on the same airline? Same termnal? Quite often it's easier to meet at your hotel. (If you tell us the airline and where you are traveling from we can tell you which terminal.)

If you decide to take the Heathrow Express--it will cost you more than just taking the tube--you need to buy your ticket 90 days in advance to get the best rates and still pay for the tube when you get to Paddington. No reservations as your ticket is good the whole day and you just get on the next train. For everything else you just buy the ticket when you get there.

Posted by
674 posts

As a solo traveler I love using the transportation system immediately. However, if you choose to meet your family at the airport consider the individual costs, amount of luggage, anxiety level (tiredness, etc) for the Heathrow Express and tube as well as navigating it for the first time. It may be easier to take a taxi to your hotel. Then learn the transportation system when you’re not encumbered. Just a thought! You are to be applauded for wanting to dive right into the network.

I’ve been to London many times though and I’ve never taken a taxi from/to the airport when traveling alone.

Posted by
585 posts

Agree that trying to meet up at Heathrow is difficult as it is so crowded. I have never taken the train into London but would say that with luggage you want to avoid the tube. Take either Heathrow Express or the Elizabeth line to Paddington and then grab taxi(s) to your hotel. The tube is not fun to negotiate with luggage, lots of stairs, escalators, crowds.

Posted by
4476 posts

I totally agree with lanlubber. This is what we do.

Posted by
5688 posts

The reason that I suggested the tube to Westminster (rather than Waterloo and the route Frank suggested) is because I assumed that you might be staying at either the Premier Inn or the Marriott at County Hall. If you are, then the Westminster stop is just as convenient as Waterloo and the transfer at Hammersmith is easy.

Posted by
16917 posts

For the advance-purchase. Heap tickets on the Heathrow Express, you pick the date, but not the time. You can take any HEx train departing Heathrow on that chosen day.

Posted by
46 posts

I'll order our Heathrow Express tickets. Thank you so much. I appreciate your advise for someone like me trying to jump into traveling to a new destination. I have learned so much from this forum and appreciate the time on your part to help their fellow travelers. We are flying from LA on Air Canada and want to meet up with a solo family member flying in on Delta from Atlanta. We'll need to meet up before we take the Express. What terminals do you think we will come in? I realize how tricky this will be to meet up, especially since it looks like a strike is going to happen. Our trip is not until September so we have some time to ponder. Thanks again for your advise.

Posted by
4600 posts

if you look on Youtube, the British version of the Points Guy has videos where two or three guys "race" to get to airports using various types of transportation. It usually comes down to price vs. convenience.

Posted by
5688 posts

If you have decided to use the Heathrow Express, then it might be easier to meet at Paddington than the airport if you don’t want to meet at the hotel. There are several eateries/coffee shops with seating (take the escalator up from the platform ) where you could wait.

Posted by
1172 posts

Another vote for the Heathrow Express then a taxi to your hotel. We have done both the tube and the HE, and the HE is sooooo much easier with luggage and only a 15-minute ride non-stop to Paddington. We have also done a taxi before, and if you are arriving during a work day, traffic will be horrific and you will panic as you watch the meter go up and up on the taxi. It took us over 90-minutes to get to Heathrow last time and swore never to do that again. Heathrow Express is the way to go.

Posted by
226 posts

The Heathrow Express is expensive. Why not look at the National Bus or Tube? Uber and Lyft are about 30-50 GBP

Posted by
33335 posts

I don't think you'll find much Lyft going to the airport, or in London. Have you used them here, Daniel?

Posted by
5383 posts

As an aside Uber is very pot luck in London at the moment. It can work sometimes but at many others there will be no availability. Affect the other minicab app services too. The drivers went away during the height of Covid and haven't come back.

Terminals 2 and 3 use the same Heathrow Express platform / station so you could meet up there but it isn't great for a long wait.

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you for the tips. We booked our Heathrow Express tickets 90 days out for 5.50 and we'll meet up at the station for terminals 2 and 3. We liked this plan, but really appreciated all the suggestions. Now we'll have to get our 3 days in London planned with time entries before we continue with our 14 days of Great Britain tour. Can't wait!

Posted by
8643 posts

I'm glad that you found a solution that you feel good about.

My suggestion for your "timed entry" reservations is to plan about 2 major sights a day that require admission. You will be hard pressed to do more than that.

Posted by
247 posts

I would take advantage of the new Elizabeth line. It’s much cheaper than the heathrow express and you can pay using an Oyster card (which I definitely recommend getting one if you plan to use public transport while in London). Also no reservations are required, you just hop on the train. It only takes about 40-45 minutes to get into central London which is faster than the tube.