Heathrow Express first class upgrade for frequent flyers

Your Gold frequent flyer card is also your ticket to a free upgrade on the Heathrow Express.

By David Flynn, June 7 2024
Heathrow Express first class upgrade for frequent flyers

Headed to London and holding Star Alliance Gold status member airline such as Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa or any of the group’s 23 other carriers?

Then a flash of your Gold frequent flyer card is all it takes for a free upgrade on the Heathrow Express to the train’s first class ‘Business First’ carriage.

And beginning June 2024, that free upgrade also extends to one companion travelling with you.

With trains every 15 minutes plus a 15-minute journey time from start to finish, the Heathrow Express is the quickest way to scoot between Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station, where you can settle into your hotel or hop a Tube train or an Uber to your final destination.

Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.
Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.

And even though it’s a zippy non-stop trip, being able to step up from the standard Express carriages to Business First is still a treat.

Usually found at either end of the Heathrow Express, these swish Business First carriages offer more legroom than the standard ‘Express’ carriage shown below.

Heathrow Express' standard class.
Heathrow Express' standard class.

The seats are wider and arranged in a 1-2 layout – some with personal tables – plus an AC/USB sockets at each seat in case your device needs a fast top-up.

Heathrow Express Business First class.
Heathrow Express Business First class.

The Business First carriages are also less crowded and  quieter than regular carriages.

A standard Express fare costs £25 one-way, or £37 for a return journey, with Business First at £32 one-way or £55 for a return trip.

So what’s the trick to getting a free first class bump on the Heathrow Express?

Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.
Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.

Just buy a Heathrow Express ticket for regular Express class, but make your way to the Business First carriage and settle in.

When the conductor passes through, simply show your ticket and your Star Alliance Gold-grade frequent flyer card – or the digital card on your airline’s own smartphone app.

Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.
Enjoy a first class upgrade on the Heathrow Express.

Note that the terms and conditions of this Star Alliance offer specify “you must purchase of a full fare standard class ticket to and/or from London Paddington and Heathrow Airport”, which may seem to rule out taking advantage of the heavily-discounted advance fares which can be as little as £5.50 one way when purchased 90 days ahead.

However, many frequent flyers have report no issues with claiming their free Star Alliance Gold upgrade to Heathrow Express Business First against an advance fare.

As a bonus, the same complimentary upgrade to Business First is also available to “one companion” of the Star Alliance Gold member, with the same caveat that this companion must also hold a full fare Express class ticket.

Of course, the new Elizabeth Line is something of a game-changer for anybody darting between Heathrow and greater London, and has won over many former Heathrow Express passengers.

Also read: Here’s your 2024 fast track to Star Alliance Gold status

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 52

I used the Heathrow Express back in May when I went to London and it was quick and efficient and while I was only in the standard class, I managed to book ahead and get the ticket for £5.50 which was great value to get into the centre of London.

Good news as this is a great service through to Paddington.

MFC
MFC

07 Jun 2024

Total posts 1

The £5.50 one-way fare has not been available in 2024 and the cheapest fare available now for booking well (usually three months) in advance is £15, which is above the £12.80 on the slightly longer journey on the Elizabeth Line from Heathrow to Paddington.

This has been in place for at least the last five years – I’ve used it many times myself. Don’t underestimate how nice it is having a half empty quiet carriage for that 15 minute ride after the long flight over the pond.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 673

F is a waste of money.


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