Review: London's Heathrow Connect airport train service

By David Flynn, June 11 2015
Review: London's Heathrow Connect airport train service

Pop quiz time: name two fast train services between London’s Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station?

The first one’s easy: it’s the widely-publicised Heathrow Express. The second is HEX’s oft-overlooked cousin, Heathrow Connect.

Heathrow Connect is slower than the Heathrow Express, but it’s also more affordable.

How much slower? It’ll take just under half an hour from ‘Heathrow Central’ – the station for Terminals 1,2 and 3 – to Paddington with five stops along the way, compared to a non-stop 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express.

And while the Heathrow Express runs every 15 minutes, the Heathrow Connect schedule is 30 minutes between services.

But in keeping with being half as fast and half as frequent, the Heathrow Connect is also half the price: £10.10 (as of May 2015) for a one-way ticket, against £21 on the Heathrow Express. 

A return ticket closes the gap somewhat, with a there-and-back trip on the Heathrow Connect costing £20.20 compared to £34 on the Heathrow Express – but you’re still almost £15 (A$30) ahead.

You can buy your Heathrow Connect ticket from any Heathrow Express ticket machine – and as with the Heathrow Express, Oyster Cards aren’t accepted.

And the train itself isn’t as flash than their fast-track counterparts: smaller luggage racks, less comfortable seats, no AC power sockets – these are more like standard regional carriages than dedicated airport sets.

All things considered, it’s no surprise that the Heathrow Express gets all the attention. It’s a more pricey but also more polished service, and remains the best way to zip between the airport and Paddington.

Also read: How to buy an Oyster Card for the London Tube and buses

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we’re @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 572

You learn something every day!

The heathrow express is almost too good. 15 minutes and 28 pound for first which basically just assures you a seat. 

03 Jan 2012

Total posts 97

I'd suggest for most folks, it's not so much the difference in price between the trains at £10 or £20, but the difference between the trains and a cab - at least £60 in my experience for a cab into central London.

I do the express a bit for £20 and then grab a cab from Paddington to Trafalgar Square and its still aound £30 quid cheaper than a cab the whole way.

No brainer really.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 572

Last time I got a cab from East London to Heathrow it was 85 pound!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Apr 2013

Total posts 146

I always book a car service for around 40 pounds Heathrow to Central London if I don't get the QF or EK limo service, I find it cheaper and always excellent service, sometimes traffic can be a problem though but it's set price.

03 Dec 2014

Total posts 2

Admittedly, I find the same in Australia.  Take the skybus or the skytrain to the CBD then catch a cab if needed.  Although the ecconomy does differ if there is more than just you to be transported.  But a trip from SYD airport to cbd can cost about $80.00 depending on tarrif, whereas the skytrain/bus costs $15.00. in most states. Usually it is also quicker than taking a cab.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 147

The one thing I love about Heathrow is the multiple options to get in and out of it. When I first went to London in 2013 without much research I took the tube and needed to go to Bayswater when I would have been better off taking HEX or Connect.

I learnt my lesson and that trip I was in and out of Heathrow atleast 5 times and I tried all the different ways. HEX is great for being just that, an express service into Paddington and either jumping in a cab or making a change of trains for somewhere else (I caught HEX to Paddington to jump straight onto a train to Bath once it was seemless). Connect is great if you have a bit of time to spare and don't really need to rush.

The Picadilly line is always a fun experience as long as it's not peak hour. My last trip we were staying in Kensignton and with plenty of time to spare before our trip home it just made sense to jump on the tube and go that way.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 209

Gatwick is also good for mulitple options, always take the southern or thameslink over the gatwick express.

The airport surcharge we pay on the train at SYD/BNE (and maybe PER in 2020) really annoys me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2015

Total posts 6

Also if two of you, you can save 20 quid on the Heathrow Express with this deal

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 168

From 2019 it will be absorbed into Crossrail, providing service across central London to the City, Essex, Canary Wharf and beyond.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 175

Heathrow Connect is a good service as long as:

A) you are not travelling during the commuter peak hours as the Heathrow Connect is also used by commuters to/from the intermediate stations between Paddington and Heathrow.

B) you are only going to terminal 1, 2 or 3.  If you are going to T5 it is a long journey as the transfer time at 'Heathrow Central' is near 15min.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2014

Total posts 110

Living in SW London, the 1 Hour it takes to get home at £1.50 is worth more then £10 to £20 to go to Paddington and then get the same UG train to Home that I could have caught at Earls Court.

The service is literally only good if you are in the CBD and need / want to get in reasonably quick.


But yeah the trains are only worthwhile if you're in central London, particularly the west end. Otherwise you're better off finding a local taxi company with better rates than hackney carriages.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2015

Total posts 57

Only just saw this, but I could not agree more. It takes the same time to get a cab to Paddington (and battle traffic) and then get on the Heathrow Express as it does to get the Underground straight to Heathrow. It's at least £35 cheaper all up and you don't have to change once! Underground very much underrated as a way of getting to Heathrow

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2015

Total posts 57

If you're on the Piccadilly Line, the Underground is as convenient (if not more so) as the Heathrow Express. It's cheaper, there are no changes so you don't have to haul luggage in and out of trains and cabs and up and down stairs multiple times and by the time you factor in changes and traffic, it's similar in length of journey :D

Tickets for Heathrow Connect are available from ticket machines - simply go to one of the numerous HEx machines and you will find a button for Heathrow Connect. Tickets can then be bought to any location on the Heathrow Connect route, or through tickets to anywhere on the Underground.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 2

People still fly in to Heathrow? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jun 2015

Total posts 2

There is no stress free way to get from Heathrow to London. Our UK offices are in Holborn and these days its arriving on QF1 at 7am, freshen up and into town so getting stuck in with the commuters. The Express is fine but not cheap and then at the other end it leaving luggage at Paddington and then onto the tube. As an alternative I tried the Picadilly to Hammersmith, District (walk across the platform) from there and left my gear at Charing Cross (jump off at Embankment and walk up Villiers St). Sort of avoided the worst of lugging bags between platforms and up and down stairs. As I started out with: no easy way into London these days. Must learn the video conference 


23 Jun 2014

Total posts 12

Surprised at the positive comments - LHR express is the most expensive (per mile) rail in the world and both it and the much poorer connect domp you at Paddington where you will almost certainly have to connect onto a tuble line to get anywhere interesting. Take the tube directly is sloweer but at least you can get to most useful parts of London in about an hour for around £ 5.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 339

The Heathrow Express is the most expensive rail journey per mile in the whole of Europe.

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