Heathrow Express raises peak times fares by 10% – and how to save money instead

Heathrow Express has announced a series of ticket price rises which come into force next week.

The announcement was a little bizarre, to be honest.  The headline of the press release was “Heathrow Express to incentivise off peak travel”.

Apart from the occasional plane spotter, most of the people heading to Heathrow Airport are planning to catch a plane.  I’m not sure how changing the Heathrow Express pricing structure is meant to “incentivise off peak travel” – I doubt anyone will be arriving at the airport two hours earlier than necessary just to save a couple of pounds on their train ticket.  Similarly, I can’t see many arriving passengers camping out in Costa for an hour in order to save.

Starting on Monday, you will pay more if you buy your ticket on the day at the ticket office or via a ticket machine:

Standard class peak time (7am to 10am) tickets will increase from £22 to £24 for a single journey

Business class tickets will increase from £30 to £32 for a single journey – this price will apply all day

During the Summer (18th July to 31st October), an off peak ‘bought on the day’ ticket will be reduced from £36 to £25 return in Standard Class.  Heathrow Express has always discounted during the Summer, however, so there is nothing special here.

Heathrow Express

You can still save on Heathrow Express tickets:

MasterCard continues to offer a discount to its cardholders.  The link for your discounted Heathrow Express ticket is here.  This save £3 to £7 depending on whether you buy a single or return, Standard or First Class.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For details of how to earn Avios points or Heathrow Rewards points with your Heathrow Express ticket, take a look at my Heathrow Express master article here.

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  1. Or you could just get the underground….

  2. Justin says:

    I just don’t get the point of the express service, unless you need a train to connect to. So expensive compared to the Piccadilly. Will it shut when crossrail arrives?

  3. Be aware that Bakerloo line trains are not stopping at Paddington this summer. For me this is puts me off taking HEX esp at weekends when circle line is usually not operating, a problem if you live in south London.

  4. IslandDweller says:

    @Justin. Yes, HEx will continue to operate, even when Crossrail has started. Remember Crossrail services won’t serve T5. Also note, tfl and the airport owners have not yet agreed the charge for using the track into the airport (that piece of infrastructure is owned by the airport, not network rail), which could be a spanner in things unless and until heads can be banged together.

  5. Plus if you’re super organised and know you’re travelling 3 months ahead, get the 90 day advance tickets. Adult business single from £7.50 (weekends are cheapest). I’m pretty sure it would have been even cheaper with railcards.

  6. The underground is not the only alternative. There are slower trains to T3, taking about 30 minutes and costing 10 pounds each way. Downside is that you have to get off and get a free train to T5 from there.

    Also, most of the railcards need you to be old, young, or whatever, you can also get a two together railcard (in effect a network rail card for people who don’t live in the south east, but two people need to be travelling). That gets a third off. Not sure if it applies to the DUOSAVER fare.

    I’ve just tried the two together option, and while it doesn’t apply the 33% discount to the express, it seems to apply 25% to the fare. However, that’s pretty much an on day fare, no point in booking in advance if you have one of those.

  7. “I doubt anyone will be arriving at the airport two hours earlier than necessary just to save a couple of pounds on their train ticket. Similarly, I can’t see many arriving passengers camping out in Costa for an hour in order to save.”

    Lots of people do this, but perhaps not the people who would take the HEx or go to Costa anyway. They’re the ones occupying all the rows of chairs at the back of T5…. Some people would rather take the last N9 from central London than pay double to take the tube (or quadruple if in peak hours)…

  8. flyforfun says:

    HEX are gouging before the good times end with the introduction of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail to you and me).

    I take the HEX currently only if I’ve pre bought tix because after a 24 to 30 hour flight to or from Australia sitting on the Piccadilly line is not something I want to do. I worked out Hammersmith way years ago and hated commuting to that side of Zone 2 from my side, hence why the HEX is ok.

  9. Andrew H says:

    Do any of you remember this article published by Raffles back in September?


    We all read it and thought how wonderful it was that Heathrow Express were finally becoming competitive. Shortly after I bought a couple of 90 day advance weekday returns for myself and Mum to travel in May 2016. Total cost – £23.80. For a weekday, this was good value.

    A few months later, the advance weekday return vanished and you could only buy singles. And now they’ve raised the price again. It would have cost me £48.20 with the current prices!

    So glad I booked in that short window when prices were at their lowest. I wouldn’t even buy a 90 day single now…

    • I feel sorry for the visitors landing at Heathrow who feel compelled to buy a walk up HEX ticket as they tend to have their ticket desk straight after arrivals and alternatives like tube etc are not obvious. Also service reliability is not great, even though I can claim the ticket as an expense for work, the cost is exorbitant unless you buy well in advance. I have a moral conscience and paying close to £50 for a return to Heathrow and charging it to my employer (R&D firm) is not value for money.

      • Andrew H says:

        I agree. If you go contactless, a tube fare only costs £3.10.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes. The Heathrow Express ticket sellers do seem to plant themselves practically at the exit from Customs shouting about get your ticket to London here. This is just out of Customs.when you’re walking along that narrow corridor with doors at the end that will swing open to the main landside part of the airport. In fact each time through now, these Heathrow Express sellers seem to be getting more aggressive and kind of plant themselves almost in front of me, blocking my way.

        I think this is a bit unfair on people who don’t know there are other cheaper ways to get from Heathrow to London, who just arrived at the airport. They’re just kind of getting waylaid by these people and might not know better. If they could only make it the extra 3/4 mile to the almost-impossible-to-find London travel information centre near the landside exit… they would be informed of a good number of these other less rip-off modes of travel.

        IMO the Heathrow Express pricing is a shocking example of rip-off Britain. That honour was previously held by the Stansted Express. But the Heathrow Express rip-off pricing has long since blown everything else into the weeds.

  10. Doug M says:

    OT a little. The express train to the airport in Stockholm (Arlanda?) is just like Heathrow Express. Again there are much cheaper options but they’re not obvious and not promoted. So it’s not just the UK that does this.

    • Imbruce says:

      It’s the same with anyone going to Kingsford Smith airport at Mascot from Sydney City that takes a train as the only train line is privately owned and is very expensive,the other alternatives are an airport bus to the city or a cab.