How to get a discount on Heathrow Express (2016 edition)

Last year I wrote a post on the different ways of finding a Heathrow Express discount.  Quite a few things have changed since then, though, so I thought it was worth an update.

‘Secret’ discounts are nearly, but not quite, dead

The important thing to remember is that the generous discounts that many airlines used to offer for buying Heathrow Express tickets via their websites are gone.  You could often save up to 14% this way.

The only offer I know of is in association with MasterCard – which will run until 31st December 2016.

The link for your discounted Heathrow Express ticket is here.

Here are the prices available via this link, with the normal prices in brackets:

Standard Class: 

Single £19.36 (£22), Return £31.68 (£36)

First Class:

Single £26.40 (£30), Return £47.52 (£54)

Still not a bargain, of course, but certainly cheaper than it was!

Heathrow Express

Remember that children now travel FREE

Children under 15 now travel for free on Heathrow Express.

This makes a substantial difference to the maths when you compare the train to a taxi.  As a family of four, we have increased our use of the Heathrow Express since this policy was launched a year ago, mainly when travelling at peak times on a Friday when I didn’t want to trust the M4.

Make SERIOUS savings by booking in advance

A range of Advanced Purchase tickets was introduced last year.

With 15 different Advanced Purchase ticket options, the range is baffling to put it mildly.  You can see the full list of prices here.

The bottom line is that tickets can be as cheap as £5.50 one way.  Combine that with the fact that children under 15 are free, and a family of four could get to Heathrow for as little as £11.

Discounts for two or more people travelling

Heathrow Express has a special offer for 2 people travelling together – £54 return in Standard Class.  Full details are here.  You need to use promotion code DUOSAVER when you book.

If you are travelling in a group of three or more adults, see a deal for that here which saves 33% using Heathrow Express discount code 3RDOFF.

Heathrow Express First Class

Earn Avios points or Heathrow Rewards points when you book

You are able to collect Heathrow Rewards points on Heathrow Express tickets booked online.   This works on both the main website and the HEx app.

You earn 1 Heathrow Rewards point per £1 spent. They can be redeemed 1:1 for Avios airmiles, Virgin Flying Club miles, Etihad miles, Emirates miles, Miles & More miles, Heathrow shopping vouchers and various other bits and pieces.

From September 2013, you have also been able to collect Avios points with your Heathrow Express tickets.

This is a far more generous offer than the Heathrow Rewards one.  The earnings table is:

  • 100 Avios per adult standard single ticket purchased
  • 200 Avios per adult standard return ticket purchased
  • 200 Avios per adult business first class single ticket purchased
  • 400 Avios per adult business first class return ticket purchased

You need to visit or to book.  These sites do not allow you to mix a promotional code with your booking, nor can you book Advanced Purchase tickets.  You also do not earn Heathrow Rewards points via these links.

Using a railcard on Heathrow Express

Don’t forget that if you have a railcard (National Railcard, 16-25 Railcard, TFL Annual Gold Card, Senior Railcard etc) then you can also get a discount – my Mum gets 34% off with her Senior Railcard.

In a recent change, you can now use railcards online for full fare tickets.  You cannot use them to buy in the train.

Big discounts if you work for an airline

You save 75% on full-fare Express Saver and Business First tickets if you work at Heathrow – see here.  However, this discount also applies to employees of airlines that operate out of Heathrow who have a valid airline photo ID card.

This means that if, for example, you work for British Airways at Gatwick, you are still entitled to 75% off your Heathrow Express ticket.  An easyJet employee would not as easyJet does not fly from Heathrow.

Don’t forget Heathrow Connect

If you don’t want to take the HEx at all, the slower Heathrow Connect from Paddington is also an option. If you are flying from Terminal 1-3, it is a direct service. You need to change trains for Terminals 4 and 5, which means – if you are going to T5 – it is more hassle than the HEx. However, at £19 for a return ticket as opposed to £34 on the Heathrow Express, you may find it worth it.

If you have a London travelcard, for up to Zones 1 to 6, you get a further discount as the price will be based on the fare from the edge of your travelcard zones, not to or from Paddington.

And, of course, there is the tube and indeed bus options. Both are cheaper, but the tube does lack the comfort and space of the trains – the Heathrow Express is, in my view, the ‘poshest’ train service in the country. In many ways, it depends where you are starting from as to whether going via Paddington is convenient.

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  1. Not only airlines .. if you have a landside or airside pass you can also get the 75% discount (so consultants and other contractors can get it as well). And Heathrow employees can travel with a +1 for free after (I think) 6pm.

  2. This is a really interesting and useful post however it highlights the incredible complexity of the U.K. Rail
    Network as a whole and how passengers are being ripped off as a result. Who would know that a railcard cannot be used on the HEX machines but can work on other companies machines ?
    Thanks for the advice but frankly time to renationalise the railways
    And ideally hand them over to Germany’s DB to run.

    • Have u seen how ‘efficient’ DB is in Germany? I think the trains run on time more in UK than they do there! Tickets are hardly cheap in Germany either…

      • renationalise the railways and have strikes threatened as often as on the tube, in the full knowledge that the government can’t go bust? no thanks!

        hex is a premium service, so it’s right that those who choose to use it pay a premium price and don’t benefit from most railcard discounts, otherwise it would increase the cost of railcards for the rest of us. those who want to save money on the same route can use heathrow connect instead.

        although my own location south of the river means that i don’t normally consider using hex, the full table of fares in the link is potentially useful and shows how weekend travellers can benefit substantially.

        ian. :)

        • Genghis says:

          Using HEX really is a rip off and for us only marginally quicker than the tube. Piccadilly line it is then…

        • I won’t condone the actions of irresponsible unions however to suggest that denationalisation would lead to this is equally irresponsible. By most measures UK trains are a mea and have not required the actions of unions to get there.

      • Not sure how or where you are buying tickets in Germany. It peanuts compared to here and the service is superb. I have been using German trains for 30 years and have rarely experienced a problem. When I do, multi lingual, polite customer focused staff are available. Its a joy to travel by train almost anywhere in Europe whilst here it is a chore.

      • Tickets are significantly cheaper in Germany – I know, because I use their trains as much as I do the British ones. You can also get a rail card as an ordinary mortal – in Britain, you can only do so if you are an OAP, student, disabled etc. And their trains are never as packed as UK ones, so the experience is generally a more pleasant one.

        • Network cards available to all. You save a third after 10am and at weekends. Saves me a fortune schlepping round the courts in the South East.

          • For those of us who live outside the relevant area, they aren’t worth anything. Virgin trains from Rugby don’t stop within the railcard zone.

          • Network cards are fine for people who only travel in a network, I suppose commuters. For leisure travellers, they don’t help much. All other countries I’ve lived and worked in offer railcards to all for the entire network. I don’t know why the government doesn’t ensure something similar is offered in the UK. Naturally, such a railcard would be more expensive than those for elderly/young/disabled people, but that’s true in Germany/Austria etc too.

            The two-together card is a bit pointless, really – firstly, it’s for a specific two people, rather than just any two, so it’s inflexible in that regard. Secondly, if two people are travelling, it’s usually cheaper to go by car anyway!

          • We got one last year, as Ma wanted to travel on the Settle – Carlisle route for her 80th birthday treat. Even if we never use it again, it was worth having. But it means we can do the trip again this summer if we wanted to.

            The only thing that cheesed me off was that I couldn’t use my tesco points to get a discount at the time we needed to buy it.

  3. Raffles – for a while now you have been able to get a railcard discount via the HEX website – there’s a drop down menu on the search panel. Can’t combine with advance fares though.

  4. As in infrequent visitor to London we paid the full price for a day travel card (£12.10 each) on day 1 of our trip to get around London. Day 2 the machines weren’t taking credit cards – a very helpful underground worker told us about the contactless capped prices of £6.50 per day! Wish we had known that on day 1 – great system and easy to use and a great saving. Also much cheaper for just one way journeys. Will need to remember this on our next trip to London!

  5. Also worth noting that since Autumn 2015 there have been National Rail ticket machines at each of Heathrow Express stations at the airport (look for large “British Rail” double arrow logo on the machine).

    These allow purchase of a through rail ticket to any destination from Heathrow, also collection of pre-paid tickets (whether or not they relate to a journey from Heathrow) booked on any UK train company website or third party sites such as

  6. Unfortunately the price for two people travelling has risen since last year to £54. Still worth it, but it’s no longer £50.

    Also, you can add a railcard discount when buying tickets online. I’m travelling to Heathrow next week and bought my ticket online, adding my 16-25 railcard via the website

  7. Worth noting that the Two Together railcard is also accepted on HEX and gets a 34% discount after 9:30am.

  8. If you need to get a railcard discount at the airport look out for the machines branded with the National Rail logo rather than the HEx logo. There are two at the top of the CTA lifts down to the platforms, one near the doors out of T5 arrivals, and one at T4 (I forget where). You will know you have the right machine if it has a selection of destinations across the country. The select “popular destinations” followed by “other destinations” and manually enter London Paddington.

    These machines (and the smaller machines next to them) can also be used to collect any tickets you may have bought from a website such as Trainline, Traingenius or a National Rail operating company as suggested by Raffles.

  9. You definitely can get the Railcard discounts on the HE website. But the you can’t use the Mastercard discount with it – and when they sent out 50% discounts a couple of weeks ago to customers that had got caught up in the withdrawal of the regular trains that didn’t work on the discounted fare, only on full-price (which still came in slightly cheaper).

  10. The last two times I got the Heathrow Connect they carried on to T5 anyway – they weren’t advertised as doing this in Paddington but once they left Paddington the onboard announcements said the destination was T5. I’m not sure how regularly this happens or if you can tell in advance it will happen with a particular train.

    The first time I used my Travelcard with Heathrow Connect I went to the ticket desk in Paddington and they refused to sell boundary zone tickets without seeing everyone who was travelling’s Travelcards. Since I was doing this in the morning before we travelled, I ended up paying for the full fare for everyone but me. However when they sold me the tickets they were actually just Ealing to Heathrow tickets, as Ealing is in Zone 3 (where my travelcard goes up to) and all Connect trains stop there. Of course anyone can buy a Ealing to Heathrow ticket online and collect them from a machine without having to have the entire party’s Travelcards with them. So if you have a travelcard, buy tickets online from the last station on the Connect route in your travelcard boundary, instead of from the ticket desks.

    (I’m used to having to use a manned ticket desk with Southern, where if you go to Brighton and want the flexibility to eg go out on Southern and come back on Thameslink, you need a ‘proper’ boundary zone ticket with the boundary zone listed on it instead of a station, since by zone 3 those trains go through different stations and thus if you buy a ticket from that station to/from Brighton you then have to take that route).

  11. If you prebook a taxi in advance, it generally costs between £30 and £40 from the South Kensington area to Heathrow, depending on time of travel, I suppose. I use Simple Airport Transfers ad the service is generally very good. As long as there are no traffic delays, and there generally aren’t in my experience, it’s only about 20 minutes or so and it’s cheaper and more convenient and comfortable than the HEX for a couple or small family.

    The main problem with the HEX is that it is only useful if you live or stay near Paddington.

    • But if you don’t live in South Ken how viable is getting a cab?

      • I’d had similar prices for taxis to/from the Langham (Regent St) and HI Oxford Circus, and had no problems then, either. As I said before, I can’t think of any scenario where the HEX would be better than a cab except if you live within walking distance of Paddington (but only VERY close if you have luggage to drag around). Otherwise, the fact that you have to change at Paddington onto a crowded tube/bus/taxi makes if pointless.

  12. You’ll all have to wait until Crossrail put their trains in the tunnel, then the price war can begin.

    • flyforfun says:

      Citymapper has actually put “the Elizabeth” line in its route planner as a “future option”. From Canary Wharf I’ll save about 8 mins vs HEX and 15 on Picadilly line but compared to HEX I’ll also save ££!!

      Once it’s in I won’t have need to use the HEX again. I can’t see myslelf taking the Elizabeth line to Paddington and change to the HEX to save 10 mins from there when you factor in the transfer time and possible wait time for the next HEX to leave – maybe 20 mins if you just miss one? I’m being generous and guessing it may only take 5 mins from the crossrail platform to HEX of course, but in those 15 to 20 mins you’d be most of the way to Heathrow. I’m assuming its the same time as the Connect.

  13. handy tip for us rail commuters- if you have an annual Gold Card (only given to those in south of England) then you will also get a third off. NR treat the gold card like a railcard in these circumstances.

    • And also from SWT at least six free day passes on their network (only to be used on weekends though)

  14. planeflyer says:

    Wow, I had no idea there was a 90-advance £5.50 weekend single. Pretty good, but still more expensive than my £1.50 fare from West Hampsted on the overground/tube via West Brompton!

  15. The carnet option is worth its own mention in the article – at £198 for 12 single tickets, the express class carnet works out to be 16.50 per way, so long as you (or colleagues/family will use all 12 journeys within a year. This is a better saving that the other flexible ticket options.

  16. So can I book my HEX using the link you provided with my HEX account and still get the Heathrow Rewards points and pay using my AMEX or do I have to pay with a Mastercard as part of the discount conditions?

  17. If I have got it right, the Tube to Heathrow from central London (or vice versa) is £5 (morning peak) or £3 (other times). The cheapest HEX ticket is £5.50 each way (90 days in advance, non refundable, weekend or bank holiday only). As a commuter with a Gold Card, the Gold Card discount does not seem to apply to the advance HEX fares. If you are not travelling at the weekend, it is actually cheaper to buy a normal flexible return with Gold Card discount (£23.70) than two 90 day advance non flexible singles for specific dates (£12.10 each). Or save the best part of £20 and just get the Tube.

    Regarding contactless (or Oyster) pay-as-you-go with daily caps versus Travelcard, it is much more flexible to pay as you go for occasional days. The numbers quoted above are not directly comparable – £6.50 is the Zone 1&2 cap, and a £12.10 Travelcard gets you out to Zone 4 (peak) or Zone 6 (off-peak); that said, the PAYG option is still cheaper (£9.30 or £11.80 per day respectively) unless you are in London long enough (typically 5 or more days) to make a 7-day Travelcard worthwhile. (Summary – contactless or Oyster is probably best for short visits; Travelcard for longer visits.)

    Tip: remember to get your Gold Card discount added to your Oyster card.

  18. Ah, here we go: London Travelcard v Oyster Card v Contactless Card in 2016:

  19. Surprised not to see mention of the free upgrade to First with *G!