Transferring between London Heathrow to London Gatwick Airport
Summary: If in a rush, take a National Express coach if you are on your own and have not much luggage, or if travelling with two or more passengers (or if you are alone and in a real hurry) consider a pre-booked private hire vehicle, licenced minicab or private airport taxi.
Three hours is the minimum time to allow between Gawick and Heathrow and vica-versa if using an airport connection car hire service. Give more time if you are travelling by coach. This allows one hour for customs and check-in at each airport and another hour for the journey between the airports. (Typically a 40minute car journey).
WARNING: IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING ON A MONDAY MORNING OR ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON / EVENING ADD AT LEAST ANOTHER HOUR TO YOUR JOURNEY TIME MAKING A MINIMUM OF FOUR HOURS! (SUNDAY EVENINGS CAN ALSO BE BUSY!)
Note: If you have a booked through flights (typically British Airways or Virgin) between Heathrow and Gatwick, then the online booking engine should have allowed sufficient time for you to make the connection (minimum of 3 hours). If you miss a connection booked through one airline, then the airline is responsible for flying you on the next available flight. If you are considering trying to connect flights e.g., between one airline at one airport, and another airline at the another, then you need to give as much time as possible between flights, or even consider staying overnight at an airport hotel near your departure airport. By road, London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports are about 40 miles apart. The route is all motorway, but delays can occur.
National Express Coach Service
The only direct public transport link is by road, via National Express coaches, there is no direct rail link. Coaches are generally very frequent from all terminals (hundreds of coaches per day), but note that there is a 15 minute walk to the bus station from Terminals 1 or 3 and do check the website for timetables.
The fare is £25 one-way, per person. Coaches allow a maximum of 2 medium size suitcases per person, and folding bikes, surfboards etc are carried only at the discretion of the coach driver. Bikes must be packaged like that required by the airlines. No animals except guide dogs, which is the same as Taxis.
Licensed Airport Transfer Private Car Services, Pre-booked Taxi Cab’s & Private Hire Minicab Companies and Mini Bus Options
The fastest route is by pre-booked Licensed Private Hire Company, or Private Taxi. Without traffic congestion the fastest transfer can be achieved in around 45 minutes. Look up “London Airport Transfers” online – plenty of choice…
Most transfer companies offer advance payment and booking facilities, saving you having to change currency into UK Sterling at the airport and wasting time. Dollars and Euro’s are not generally accepted in the UK. (Most London Black Taxis accept cards too). If you pre pay, often the fare will be an all-inclusive price too! Most credit card bookings are guaranteed and are covered by your insurance when you are purchasing directly by card with a company in the UK, which means if you complain about the vendor, the card company will investigate your complaint for you. (Debit card companies do not always, so ask your bank before you use a Debit card!).
Generally minicab companys not specializing in airport transfers do not accept credit cards readily, and you will need to pay cash in UK Sterling to cover the fare if you don’t prepay. Using a currency desk at the airport can be time consuming, but there are ATM’s available in most arrival halls.
Fares of around £55-£60 are advertised online, but this is for a standard saloon car (small!) and often there are hidden charges, such as Meet & Greet fees, driver waiting charges and additional car parking fees, etc. so check before booking – larger vehicles cost extra, and the advertised “Saloon” car are often not suitable for a family of 4 and several large suitcases… a Minivan will often cost about 50% more, but might be worth the expense if you have more than 3 cases. Expect a charge of £80-85 for a family of four, as this is about the average genuine cost…
London Black Taxi cabs do have ranks in front of all the terminals at Heathrow, and will go to Gatwick. Both 5 and 6 seat taxis are available, all take disabled passengers, they have special ramps if needed. Most modern Black Taxis will accept credit cards, but get a price agreed with the driver at the commencement of the journey, and pay only the agreed fare. Black Taxis will take a great deal of luggage. Be aware however, that the cost will certainly exceed £100 and there may be a queue/line of other passengers waiting for taxis at Heathrow, particulary at peak times.
You will get the best price by booking in advance.
Competition is fierce and advertised headline rates by taxi companies can be misleading.
The most common extras to look for in the small print are:
- surcharges for paying by anything other than cash.
- car parking, which can go up sharply after a small ‘free’ period.
- ‘meet and greet’ charges.
- waiting time (remember the average traveller will take 45-60 minutes to clear customs) many companies start charging after 30 minutes
- not enough luggage capacity requiring an upgrade or extra car.
- rescheduling your pick up if your flight is delayed or when your flight is cancelled.
Things to look out for when booking a ride online:
A few licensed online London airport connections companies are ‘all-inclusive’, others have hidden small print and extra charges, so check properly before you book.
Also check you have a full UK address before you book – many websites have no real contact details!
Lastly check they have a fixed land line telephone number.
- Fixed land-line telephone numbers, in London, start 020**** or +4420**** from overseas.
- If you see a number starting 07*** or +447*** it’s a mobile telephone!!
- If it starts 0845*** or +44845**** it a purchase and divert number – not necessarily a problem, but check there’s an address before booking. This also applies to number starting 03*** or +4403*** in the UK anywhere.
By Licensed Private Hire Car, Licensed Taxi or Minicab the journey will take about 45 minutes. If the main motorway is congested it could take much longer, taxi drivers may know detours or have traffic-details on GPS but often there is little choice but to sit it out.
- Arrival Terminal to Car Park: 5 minutes
- Actual Journey: 45 minutes
- Drop off to Departures: 5 minutes
Very few road trips taken during day time will not experience some level of traffic congestion though. Journeys between 07:00 and 9:00 and 16:30 and 19:00 can take up to 90 minutes by road. Avoid transferring on Monday mornings and Friday and Sunday afternoons when traffic levels are higher if at all possible.
Most airlines suggest a minimum of three hours between scheduled arrival and departure time when travelling between these two airports, but bear in mind this is a minimum and flights do get delayed. Also British passport control lines can be long, especially for non-European passport holders at Heathrow. At both Heathrow and Gatwick it takes on average about 45-75 minutes from landing to clearing customs with luggage.
As an alternative to a rushed transfer, you could stay overnight near your departure airport, and eliminate the risk and stress of the transfer.Check on Tripadvisor for some airport hotels, some have amazing deals and include a transfer to your terminal when you check out. An overnight stay could save you a missed flight, a bit of stress and perhaps a bit of jet-lag, plus there might be time for a civilized breakfast.
Travel by train:
There is no direct rail service, to go by rail you must go via central London, train – tube or taxi – then train. Since the road route will normally be quicker and certainly more straightforward, there are two reasons to go via this route: to avoid rush hour traffic, and to save money.
The fastest rail route is as follows:
Arrivals to rail station – 5 – 10 minutes depending on terminal
Heathrow Rail – Paddington via Heathrow Express (15 minutes from Heathrow Central Rail station for Terminals 1 and 3, 23 minutes from Terminals 4 or 5; every 15 minutes) – £19
Paddington – Farringdon by Circle Line (16 minutes, but allow 7 minutes for the interchange) – £4.30
Farringdon – Gatwick by First Capital Connect (41 minutes, allow another 5 minutes for the interchange) – £9.90
Gatwick station to South Terminal – 5 minutes
Gatwick station to North Terminal – 15 minutes via shuttle
Total cost: £33.20, travel time around 1 hour 40 minutes
Obviously this is rarely going to be a sensible option given the alternative of the road route,and involves steps and escalators, so if you have baggage or children this might not be practical. It’s rare that it will be faster than going by road. Given the cost it’s really not recommended, as it approaches the cost of a minicab.