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Luton Airport is getting an express train to London

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Luton Airport is getting an express train to London.

The East Midlands Trains rail franchise passed from Stagecoach to Dutch group Abellio this month.

The rebranded East Midlands Railway has announced a new ‘Luton Airport Express’ service between London St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway, starting in December 2020.

Luton Airport to St Pancras express train

Details are very sketchy.  The service will run every 30 minutes from a dedicated platform at St Pancras.  It is not clear if it will run non-stop or not, although the airport claims it will take ‘under half an hour’ to get from the terminal to St Pancras.

This will need to wait until 2021, however, when the new Direct Air-Rail Transit system – a version of the shuttle train which runs between the satellites at Heathrow T5 – opens, linking the station and the airport.

You can find out more on the Luton Airport website here.

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  1. No EU261 ‘protection’ fro Turkey. Would like to see more emphasis on sub£1500 exUK flights than the over emphasis on ex who now knows where flights from QR.

    • Finnair works well for you too…they are due a sale sometime, been quiet for a while. Won’t be too many sub 1500 ex uk, wishful thinking. Good to keep on top of ex eu sale fares tho.
      On a side note we fly to ARN on Oct 31st, then HKT. Who was to know? Think we better buy an extra flt day before just in case!

      • Yes, that’s why I want to hear about them 🙂 £1500 is now a good deal, even from the regions. AY and KL were typically £1400-1600 about 18-24 months ago but have now crept up to around £1750 or more. Good sales on AY now seem uncommon. Not much of a hardship to spend an extra night than Stockholm, enjoy, and Phuket too.

    • On the Eu261 subject, return leg must be on an EU airline, as I learned last year returning on DL metal, but what about AA-BA combo on return with BA domestic being the final leg?

      • Only get compo if you make the BA flight and it is subsequently delayed. However, AA protects on separate tickets

  2. Q: I am booking a flight comprising a domestic connection to LHR then onward to the US.

    I could conceivably have made an earlier second leg but the website doesn’t offer it, I assume as it’s too tight.

    If I were to arrive in time and get to the gate is it possible to get moved to the earlier connection? Will be on flexible (Y) ticket

    • On a US airline generally yes; on other airlines generally no.

    • I have done this a number of times over the years but usually on the inward flight connecting to domestic. Go to the ticket desk not the gate. You’ll need to be travelling HBO I think, I always was. They went through a phase when they tightened up on this but I I suspect it is more relaxed again since the rules on same day departure changes came into play a few years ago. You are on a flex ticket which obviously helps your case. IIRC the website does not allow T5 connections under 90 minutes but I’m not sure about that.

      • My comments relate to BA.

      • Thx

        Concern is that ging via ticket.desk will eat the time I may have had – my thought had been to pass security with original BP and chance arm at gate of earlier flight – or is it definitely not the right approach?

        Is ba domestic connecting to AA long haul so terminal transfer necessary anyway

        • I’ve successfully changed flights at check in and at ticket desks, and in USA at the gate. ISTR that any time I tried it at the gate here I was sent to ticket desk. My experience relates to a decade ago when I was flying and making changes very frequently and may not reflect current practice. You will be passing flight connections centre on your transit, they can definitely do it there so all down to time.

        • Lady London says:

          As far as I know in Europe you’d still have to go via ticket desk – but I gather same day change can now also be done online. I don’t think it’s possible to do at gate in Europe. In lounge, possibly.

      • Lady London says:

        I’d be very interested to hear if the website will not allow connections in T5 under 90 mins. Iberia was telling me i had to accept a reroute with no more than 50-60mins in T5 from incoming IB from Spain to outgoing BA on Translantic. This at Christmas after an earlier short connection in Madrid.

        Apart from the distances of walking in T5 being mostly long i also have a disability that can slow me in airports especially with pullalong luggage but Iberia was having none of it.

        If Iberia was incorrect in trying to force me to take a reroute with less than 90mins then this would be helpful. Their refusal to ticket a reroute with longer connection time in T5 after an earlier Vueling cancellation on the itinerary meant i was forced to cancel my 90k ticket and quickly move the miles to BA where i could find Avios availability on a route including Alaskan (Iberia can’t book Avios tix on Alaskan) to replace the IB booking. Which has now left my Iberia account at -90k unuseable!

        But if connection time really should officially be at least 90mins in T5 that would mean I’ve ‘got’ those Iberia b**t****.

        Wonder if no-activity negative balances expire in three years on iberia the same as positive balances would? Otherwise i shall have to go thé gdpr route…

        • Easy to check, just do a series of dummy bookings with a domestic connection to Europe for destinations with frequent departures such as EDI and FRA. Look at what flight pairis and transit times it offers. If shorter connection is possible but not offered, double check those by doing a multi city dummy booking where you choose flights with connections under and over 90 minutes to establish if it will allow the under 90 minute itineraries to ticket.

        • Look at the connections planner on the LHR website. Put in the arriving and departing flights and it will tell you if it meets MCT or not.

          IIRC MCT at T5 is 60 minutes for all flights and 90 if it involves a terminal change.

          • I am not sure if it is as simple as this though Chris, perhaps there is a disconnect between the two. I often connect to the 20.05 LHR-EDI but when schedule changes to incoming flight let the transit time fall below 90 min T5-T5 they have moved me to the domestic flight around 9pm.

          • Lady London says:

            It sounds like regardless of official MCT, BJ, BA knows full well that 60min is impractical at T5 and so is giving you a 90min minimum connection. Which is exactly what I wanted Iberia to do. Those of us who know T5 fairly well, would defo not accept 60min connection on anything involving an international connection. We’d be nuts.

            In any case it should have been my choice to reroute or refund – not Iberia’s. They were unreasonable since with the help of one of their agents I had even found a reroute that had avios seats available (which is not even a requirement in the case of a reroute). There is no way I would have made the Transatlantic flight, the incoming from Madrid would only have had to be 10mins late taxiing plus the extra time I take on long connections due to not being able to guarantee moving fast over long terminal distances. As it was Christmas and I was only going for about 3 days, I probably wouldn’t have got another flight till after I was due back if it had misconnected! And all because Iberia couldn’t be a$$ed and tried to force a connection I told them I couldn’t make. I will get around to following your gdpr suggestion I think BJ

          • That’s my reading of it Lady London, and I think MCC are just recommended, not official. If that’s the case then they are as good as worthless. I cannot recall the specific laws, Disabilities 2003 I vaguely recall, has certain requirements of service providers in the UK being mindful of and accommodating disabilities. Might be worth looking into it as an arguement to have at your disposal in future circumstances you may need additional support, time etc due to disability. In most cases I imagine it will fall on deaf ears unless you kick up a real stink. You mentioned about pulling your case. Don’t you have a four wheel version? If not then you should consider getting one. I used to scoff at them, extras to break etc, but after seeing them become common place and people now just effortlessly walking them along beside them, I very much regret buying another two wheel case.

          • BJ, you shouldn’t necessarily regret buying a 2-wheel case until you actually try pulling a 4-wheel case on city and village streets almost anywhere in Europe.

          • @Lyn, good point, I just see them gliding smoothly along highly polished airport floors and forget the rest.

          • Lady London says:

            Lyn you are right. I have a lot of old solid luggage (Lark, Samsonite, Briggs & Riley) with 2 wheels that there’s no excuse to swop out as it just jeeps on going. Like BJ I’ve been envious of people with 4 wheels just ‘dogwalking’ their suitcases alongside them in Heathrow for awhile now.

            However I got a newer lighter Samsonite at Christmas in thé US – and you are so right Lyn on Uk and European pavements it’s mostly still used on only 2 wheels ! Next time it will be a 4 wheeled Travelon as those seem to be particularly well balanced on either 2 or 4 wheels. Bit short of excuses for a new one though when the brands I’ve got are still holding up. Newer Samsonite not a patch on the older ones for quality though. But 4 wheels a lot more fun as BJ says.

  3. Gumshoe says:

    Re Luton – I assume the “Luton Airport Express” is just a branding exercise as the actual service will be operated by the previously announced half hourly electric trains to/from Corby rather than a new, dedicated shuttle.

    • Yes. And there has also always been an hourly direct train from St Pancras to Luton Airport Parkway that just takes 21 minutes, so the only thing that actually changes is that this train becomes more frequent.

  4. Seems like they are trying to join the “Gatwick Express” gravy train. There are already 4 Thameslink trains per hour which take 30 minutes from St Pancras (albeit the Thameslink platform is quite a walk from the rest of the station) and EMR itself runs an hourly service to Nottingham that only takes 20 minutes.

    Until Crossrail arrives the Heathrow Express actually provides an express service for people who can get to Paddington. Thameslink _is_ a north/south crossrail and unless you bought one of the million pound flats around Kings Cross probably already passes somewhere more convenient for you. I mean you only fly from Luton if you want to save money or live somewhere convenient to get to it.

    What is truly positive is that it will be getting contactless (but not Oyster) readers soon so no need to buy a separate ticket before travel any longer.

    • i think they’re already on the gravy train !

      15 quid for a 20-30 minute train journey (no matter how far in advance you book) … sounds like a nice (big) earner to me. plus the extra 2 quid for the 5 minute bus journey. total rip off already.

      i can usually get to Liverpool Airport from London cheaper than i can get to Luton Airport.

      • Lady London says:

        You can chose Luton Airport (and not just Luton Airport Parkway) on rail apps and websites. This will include the bus and will ensure any discounts also apply to the bus link.

        It’s a wheeze Luton Corporation, who own Luton Airport, thought up a few years ago to get more money. Previously, the bus was free. As it should have been. I mean, who would go to Luton Parkway for any other reason than to go to Luton Airport?

        I travel to Luton Airport by bus only anytime except in rush hour to make a flight when i take the to avoid road blockages that could miss me the flight. Booked ahead especially, the bus cost is far more reasonable and most of thé time it’s quick.

        • yeah, i always buy the combined rail/bus ticket – but it only saves a few pence !

          i was separating out the prices to emphasise what a rip off the whole thing is … especially compared to travel to other UK airports

          i normally travel to Luton during rush hour, so i can’t risk taking the coach

  5. re Luton Airport. The train will be non stop to Luton Airport Parkway but the final destination of the train will actually be Corby. The new transfer train from Luton Airport Parkway to the airport will be finished by then so no more buses!

    • The Original David says:

      So this new airport express not only stops on the way to the airport, but you actually have to change trains! Luton is a joke…

      • EvilDoctorK says:

        I think it will be non stop between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway .. but the train originates/terminates in Corby which will mean that at busy times it’s going to arrive at Luton pretty fully ( will stop at Kettering , Wellingborough & Bedford ? at least ) – so it will be a bit like the current arrangement with some Gatwick Express trains that actually run London-Brighton

        The problem with a train to the terminal is that Luton is up a big hill and normal trains aren’t very good at going up hills .. at least the new transfer thing from the train station should be less erratic than the shuttle bus

        Agree with the general observation about Luton Airport though !

        • whilst bus transfers are annoying – i actually find the (v expensive) bus from the station to the airport pretty reliable / frequent. maybe i’m lucky, but it has always departed within about 5 minutes of me arriving at the station, and the journey time seems fairly reliable too.

          i haven’t seen anything about how often the new cable driven train will run. i’m guessing there will just be two trains – so if the journey time is 5 minutes, then i’m guessing the highest frequency they could operate is about every 7.5 minutes ?

      • RussellH says:

        No different to the people mover that shuttles between BHX and Birmingham International station.

    • Lady London says:

      The buses are a joke that you have to Get on from Luton Airport Parkway as of course the station is not actually at the airport. It’s a perfect introduction to the Luton expérience really.

    • Lady London says:

      There are already nonstop trains from mainline London station to Luton Airport Parkway. About 1 an hour I think on E. Midlands, at least.

      All these things and plans have been in place for a very long time already. Nothing to see here, move along folks. It’s a marketing wheeze “look we’ve got an airport route now” from thé incoming operator, at best. No value added here that wasnt already scheduled.

  6. O/T: what’s the state of mortgage payments through Curve card? What MCC would they use, and what MCC(s) are the ones most credit card companies treat as a cash advance?

    • What mortgage lenders allow mortgage payments by debit card?

      • Genghis says:

        We were with Halifax and they did

      • Many of them. If you are a bad debt and deal directly with the arrears department.

        If you’re trying to hit a target, have you checked your car finance deal? VW & Audi finance allows you to log in and make the upcoming payment by Visa & MasterCard. They also allow lump sum payments of up to £5,000 by card (by phone I think).

        • Many of the biggest lenders take debit card for good debts too (Lloyds, Halifax, Barclays, Yorkshire BS to name a few).

          Not trying to hit a target, just trying to not waste collection opportunities when making large payments.

          I know ATM payments are still going through Curve with a non-cash-advance MCC for most, trying to figure out whether mortgage payments are different.

      • Many. Lloyds, Halifax, Barclays, Yorkshire BS, …

        • Andrew you are way off… you should be asking who isn’t paying IBH by some sort of points cash back card… partic over payments.

          I ll add Santander to the list

        • LLoyds? Mine is with them and I’ve never seen that option. When I can to the “overpayment” section the only option is by direct debit. How do you do it?

          • OK, I found it buried somewhere on Lloyd’s website:
            “Alternatively, you can call us on 0345 603 1637 and make a payment up to £60,000 by debit card (we do not accept credit cards or debit Mastercards).” But I’m guessing the later point excludes Curve.

    • All this talk of whether each lender accepts each kind of debit card is great.

      Does no-one have an answer to the question at hand (MCCs / cash advance status), on the assumption that some people do bank with lenders who accept Curve?

  7. O/T IHG: Time to register for the new accelerate ‘Make every stay count’ which starts 1 September. Mine is simple: 3 challenges for stay 4 nights, 3 brands, 2 weekends for 48k. Thanks IHG.

    Edit by Rob: link here, article to follow:

  8. OT – Virgin Credit Card sign up bonus.

    Could someone please remind me how the recent 30K sign up bonus offer is paid out and what the spend target was. My wife took out the paid card when the offer was running and has been statemented twice. 15k bonus miles on the first statement after spending £3.8k; no bonus miles on second statement after spending a further £4.7k

    When can we expect the second 15K miles to come through?


    • I hit the spend figure a few days after my first statement and had either a text or email shortly after to state the additional 15k points would be in the next statement – and they were.

  9. OT: The current Google Amex offer. The offer mentions Pixel Phone but the T&Cs appear to suggest any Google store spend. I’m about to send my Ring doorbell back and try a Nest Hello. Has anyone triggered this offer?

    • According to HUKD it looks like the offer includes any spend on the Google Store

  10. OT – like a poster yesterday I have just used a 241 for the first time, flying out in F back in CW to California next summer so thanks to all for the advice and tips I’ve read over the years.

    I called the Japan number at 2am to add my return (I’m not in the UK presently) but unfortunately spoke with quite an unhelpful person who insisted on an incorrect calculation of the adjusted fees etc. Having already paid £451 each when booking the outbound I was expecting an additional £221 ish to get to the £672 quoted by BA when I did a dummy booking.

    She was adamant I needed to pay another £380 each and despite me querying this and being put on hold for ages there was no budging. I asked to speak to someone else but she quite rudely said there was no point.

    By now it was closer to 3am and I saw that the number of seats on that route had gone from 6 to 2 and just went ahead and booked it to avoid missing out, hoping I could ring the UK in the morning to sort it out.

    Thankfully later on in the day I spoke to a very helpful chap who immediately noticed the amount quoted was too high, adjusted the booking and assured me when my card is charged it will be for the correct amount.

    The only thing left to deal with was my wife who instead of being excited for the trip spent all day moaning over the cost of the phone call (>£50). She has a Three contract so I was effectively calling UK to Japan. I’m half tempted to complain to BA as it would probably be half that if the person I spoke to had not made a mistake.

    Irregardless is there any way to avoid high call charges or just accept if I have to call at that time its the cost of securing the seats I want?

    • I use skype for overseas calls. The cost would have been a matter of pence.

      • Plus they have various free trial offers for new customers(accoubts) so could be 0p.

      • David Phillips says:

        Agreed! Let’s hope they don’t run out of LPGS now

      • Ah OK thanks, have flakey wifi in our apartment so probably wouldn’t have been able to use that (it can’t handle WhatsApp calls). But will definitely use it for next time.

        • Worthwhile getting a Giffgaff or Lebarra sim with £10 on it and keeping fof such eventualities

        • Lady London says:

          You can still use skype app on a mobile you dont need wifi. It will take data from your allowance and these days you may well have enough.

    • Why wouldn’t you find out how to make cheaper calls before you needed to do it? It isn’t like it came as a surprise…. is the way to do it if you don’t want to create a new Skype account. £50 would get you 21 hours of talk time to Japan.

      In the good old days of telecom wars I was involved in (1990s), £50 got you a year’s unlimited dialup internet or a permanent connection between Hong Kong and the big 4 (US, UK, CA, AU). Unfortunately Hutchison (owner of 3) ran us out of business because they wanted to raise prices.

  11. 1687 miles surely gets you 80 Tier points instead of 40?

    • 80 return, 40 each way.

      Whilst a similar length flight on BA probably would fall into the 160 TP return category, oneworld partner flights use the 2000 miles rule.

      • Interesting. DOH-SOF is 2002 miles and earns 140 TP. Makes me wonder what distance will actually earn 80 TP..

        • I don’t think any flights on Qatar earn 80tp one way. There was a £900 fare from Bucharest to Colombo recently which also only earned 360tp despite Bucharest to Doha being only a few miles shorter than Doha to Colombo

        • Only selected BA flights and Finnair MAN-HEL earn 80TP IIRC

          • EDI-HEL is 80TP as well but DUB-HEL, which usually overflies Edinburgh, is only 40. It’s almost like there’s no real logic to it…

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