The Emirates Air Line – flight review from, erm, Royal Victoria to North Greenwich!

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I spent a chunk of last week at World Travel Market, the biggest travel show in the world and, in fact, the biggest trade show of any sort hosted in London.

Whilst I was over at Excel, I thought it was worth reviewing the Emirates Air Line cable car which runs between Royal Victoria DLR station and North Greenwich underground station.

As the terrible usage numbers bear out, this is pretty much a cable car ride from nowhere to nowhere.  The only reason I could see someone using it is if you were at a concert at the O2 and were staying in a hotel at Excel.  This would work fantastically well as you would be in your hotel room within 15 minutes of leaving the arena.

The Emirates Air Line cable car is now available on Oyster Pay-As-You-Go.  I was charged £3.40 for a one-way trip which, to be fair, makes it pretty good value compared to most other London tourist attractions!

This is the station at Royal Victoria:

Emirates cable car 1


Security was not an issue (there isn’t any) and, surprised to find that there was no Emirates lounge, headed straight for the departure gate:

Emirates cable car 2

There was no boarding announcement and no attempt to board by status or ticket class.  Instead, the three of us who were waiting just hopped into the next available car.


There was no time for any pre-departure drinks to be served (and indeed no-one to serve them) and we were soon in the air.

As this is essentially a short-haul economy service there was no in flight entertainment.  However, the views were impressive:

Emirates cable car 5


Emirates cable car 6


We landed promptly at five minutes past departure.  Oddly, at weekends, it runs at half speed with the trip taking ten minutes.  As I was travelling with just hand baggage, I was able to quickly depart the pod and was back on the street within seconds.

You are just a short stroll from North Greenwich underground station.  There are a huge number of bars and restaurants both inside and outside the O2 these days so it is not a bad spot to take a break from sightseeing.

The biggest problem with the cable car is you need to fit it in with some other sightseeing activities.  On its own, it doesn’t really merit the detour.  You could potentially visit on the way to Greenwich itself – perhaps going from North Greenwich to Royal Victoria and then taking the DLR to Cutty Sark.  You could also make a detour if you are heading to the Westfield centre in Stratford.  I wouldn’t necessarily head out from Central London just to ride it and come back.

(There is another attraction in the station at North Greenwich – the Emirates Aviation Experience, which includes flight simulators.  I did not have time to visit.)

If you happen to be down at Excel or the O2 and you have a pay-as-you-go Oyster, however, it is worth a trip for the novelty value.

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  1. Nice little review and as we found a nice curiosity for the GC’s (grandchildren). But surely worth an Instagram?
    Keep up the great work, we are already benefiting even though we have recently retired, just wish I had known about HFP when I was gainfully employed, however your details are now with our and our friends children who now do the business travel.
    Again, many thanks

    • Good point, I will pop them on the Instagram feed during my sons football class this morning!

      • Jean baird says:

        We had a most enjoyable stay at The Sunborn based at Royal Victoria Dock a superb Scandinavian Yatch which has been turned into luxury accommodation. We used the Emirates Cable car to go over to the O2 and see the Elvis exhibition and ate in one of the many restaurants. This is a perfect place to stay on the Thames if you do not want to be in the central London area but still within easy reach and very close to London City Airport in fact you can watch the aircraft depart and arrive from the deck of your cabin on board the Sunborn. Would definitely recommend the area.

  2. Haha great review, Rob 😀 Did you get any miles for your trip though? What about redemption opportunities? 😉

  3. >The only reason I could see someone using it is if you were at a concert at the O2 and were staying in a hotel at Excel.

    Since it closes at 8pm (9pm in summer) it would have to be an early concert to be of any use.

    • Yep, we used in the summer with a Happy Monday’s room. Great for getting to the concert at the O2, need to get tube / DLR back but can leave the venue in a leisurely fashion as it’s still a short trip back.

    • Oh. Bit rubbish then!

      • Great experience, takes Oyster and contactless and sells combination tickets with the Thames Clipper tiver boats.

        Also opens until 11pm on Friday and Saturday now which is very helpful for after weekend events or concerts at The O2

  4. How many Tier Points are on this route?

  5. What’s next? The Emirates Stadium?

    At least, the entertainment lasts longer there.

  6. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    On a nice day, it combines well with a trip up or down the river on the Thames Clipper.

    Half speed on the weekend is a good tip.

  7. robstaaaar says:

    Great blog Rob! Was nice to have a chuckle first thing this am. I do have the required payg oyster and promised myself to head over to that part of town for a gander, so might just give it a twirl. Cheers.

    • You don’t need an oyster – it should take contactless. Which means, of course, you can use almost all of your favourite airmile/hotel-point generating credit cards to directly earn points for this trip! e.g. I earned a whopping 5 Avios for paying for a one-way trip with my BAPP.

      (…. I’m just desperately trying to connect this article to the purpose of the site!)

      • Slightly OT but the TSB current account presently offers 5% back on contactless, up to £5 (£100 spend) a month.

  8. I quite often take people here and to walk under the river at Greenwich. Most visitors have done lots of central London stuff but never ventured out East.

    Also, you can’t use contactless payment cards for some reason (or at least you couldn’t in March) you have to have Oyster or a more expensive paper ticket.

    • Ah OK that’s handy to know – I’ve pretty much not bothered with carrying an Oyster now since contactless came in, so useful to know I’d still need it here (although hopefully something they’ll fix soon – contactless payments by card has gone down extremely well with colleagues here in Oz when they’ve been visiting London – I wish all public transport systems offered this!!)

  9. Baggageinhall says:

    My son is addicted to traveling on the ECC and no Dad-Son trip into town is complete without a one-way ride!

  10. Waribai says:

    It was also very convenient during the Olympics!

  11. flyforfun says:

    Another of Boris W***ker Johnon’s white elephants. Heaven help us if he gets to be PM!!

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