London airport shuttles are some of the most convenient of any metropolitan area in the world. These shuttles include not only buses and taxis, but also trains to all parts of the UK and one of the most efficient and far reaching underground systems in Europe. Probably the least efficient London airport transfer is on the highways and surface streets. This is especially true for Heathrow Airport transportation as it is located within the M25 Highway ring that completely encircles the city. Within this ring, the legendary London traffic becomes extremely heavy.
The Heathrow Airport subway is on the Piccadilly Line—the blue line on subway maps. Its central terminus is Piccadilly Circus, located in West London, home of the city’s celebrated West End Theatre District. Don’t call it the subway while in London, or you’ll brand yourself as a true tourist. Here it’s the tube or the underground. Other branches of the Piccadilly Line lead north to Wembley, home of Wembley Stadium. Another branch of the Piccadilly Line runs to the northeast, to St. Pancras Station and all the way to Cockfosters, the end of the line.
Other Heathrow Airport transportation includes the Heathrow Express, high-speed train service taking a mere fifteen minutes to get to Paddington Station and Hyde Park in Central London. The train system in the UK is very extensive, connecting every corner of England, Scotland, and Wales. You can even connect to the Eurostar from St. Pancras Station for a high-speed train under the English Channel to Calais and Paris, France.
The London airport transfer that is the least practical and most expensive is by taxi. The traffic between Heathrow and Central London and Westminster is extremely heavy (the trip can take two hours or longer), and taxis are extremely expensive—the cost from the airport can be as high as $100 or more, depending on number of riders and amount of luggage. In addition to this simply being an expensive city, there are high charges to bring vehicles into the main part of the city, and this cost is passed on to taxi riders. An option for Heathrow Airport transportation that travels on highways and surface roads, but is not expensive is taking the bus. The length of the bus ride will generally not be quite as long as taxis because of extensive dedicated bus lanes.
If you have the time and the money budgeted, taxis and other surface road vehicles provide a very convenient London airport transfer because you can simply step into the vehicle and relax without worrying about lugging your bags down long tunnels and on and off trains. Many of the London hotels also have London Airport shuttles that continually circle the airport, stopping at all terminals. Most of these are complimentary, though a few may charge a nominal fee. Many of the smaller, boutique, and exclusive luxury hotels will arrange complimentary transportation for you if you make the arrangements in advance.
London Airport shuttles between the city and Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport, and Stansted Airport are similar to those available from Heathrow, including the high-speed Gatwick Express train, taxis, and buses. The tube does not run to these airports, but there are many options for shuttle buses at each, and there are connections to the train at Victoria Station. There is also train service to London City Airport. However, since this facility is in the city itself, a taxi may be more practical.