London. A lively, beating heart of Great Britain. It is one of the most popular places in the world for tourists as well as business travelers. Trade through London is stunning, with the financial center second only to New York and service industries that serve both the British, European and international markets. As the most multicultural city in the world – there are over 300 languages spoken by over eight million inhabitants (twelve million if the metropolitan area is taken into account) – business opportunities are clear.
With Britain's strategic position for business travelers on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to continental Europe and a stepping stone to the United States. Served mainly by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London can be easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – the smallest of the five and located in East London, near the Canary Wharf business district – the other four airports are satellites distributed evenly throughout the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located west of London; Gatwick is in the south; Stansted in the northeast; and Luton northwest. Knowing this before making travel plans can be useful. Because the larger metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, the final business goal may not be exactly in the center. Investigating which airport is closest to your destination saves you time, effort and money.
However, whether you are a business traveler flying from the UK or from abroad, your destination may often be the airport you are arriving at. Other factors, such as travel time chosen, budget and availability, will also matter. For example, if you are traveling with a large international carrier from a large city such as New York, chances are you will reach Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York, but is the smallest of the three). If you're traveling locally from the UK with a budget carrier, you're more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you are traveling from a large European city, especially a financial capital such as Frankfurt, London City airport is a likely point of arrival (the airport was created specifically for the business travelers traveling short distances, especially between financial centers).
Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travelers with various options for entering London. All five airports offer direct rail travel to central London, coach travel to Victoria's main terminal, and car, minibus, licensed black taxi and taxi services. If you're a VIP traveler, chauffeur services are also available, except London City City Airport, each also offering a direct helicopter transfer to the city center.
London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow is the busiest of the five airports. Less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is located west of the city within the metropolis of the M25 motorway. The fastest route to London is the Heathrow Express train, which takes just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the west side of central London). If your flight arrives at terminals 4 or 5, this means a further four and six minutes, respectively, and you will need to switch to London's main service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.
The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but it does not always suit every budget for travel. A standard 'Express' one-way ticket costs £ 21.00 (€ 25.00 / $ 35.00), but business travelers can get better value by buying a return ticket at a price of £ 34.00 (€ 40.00 / $ 56.00). The "Business First" ticket is more expensive, and tickets for singles cost GBP 29.00 (EUR 35.00 / USD 48.00) and return GBP 52.00 (EUR 62.00 / USD 86.00), but they provide for travelers for business much more legroom, and privacy in one place, the layout and a fold-out table. This experience is like traveling by plane. All passengers in both price structures have access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of passenger service and experience is generated by the "wow" factor, and if your budget can afford it, it is certainly the most fluid, fastest and most convenient way to travel to London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, especially useful at the last minute to the airport.
For business travelers there are two further rail options, both much cheaper, which is, however, reflected in the quality of services. This does not mean that this is not a good solution for business travelers, but a noticeable difference in comfort and convenience.
The service usually works every thirty minutes, and the travel time – depending on the time of day – from 23 to 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than enough for business travelers who are not in a hurry. Like the competitive Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rivals, it stops at up to five other stations before it reaches the end. The "inconvenience" of this less direct journey is compensated by a much cheaper ticket price. A one-way trip costs £ 9.90 (€ 12.00 / $ 16.00) and a refund of £ 19.80 (€ 24.00 / $ 32.00). You can't save by buying a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of traveling cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits more travel budgets.
The third – and cheapest – railway line is the London Underground network. Despite the name of the network, most journeys from Heathrow are ground-based until business travelers get close to central London. Starting on the Piccadilly line, the service connects all five Heathrow terminals and provides frequent trains to London, stopping at a significant number of remote stations before arriving in the center of the capital. This constantly "intermittent" journey – there are seventeen stops between Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the Paddington tube station (nearest equivalent tube terminal for fair comparison) – and it takes on average about fifty minutes of travel, much slower than its more direct rivals. This travel comparison also requires the inconvenience of transferring between lines.
So why would business travelers consider using the subway from Heathrow to central London? Straight. Service frequency, number of destinations and cost. With a cash price of just £ 5.70 (€ 6.80 / $ 9.50) for one trip in both directions during peak hours (from 06:30 to 09:30), the metro is an attractive option in financial terms. For almost half the price of Heathrow Connect and just over a quarter of the price of Heathrow Express, this service is relatively good value for money. Extra value can be found if business travelers buy an "Oyster Card", a "cashless" electronic ticket system, loved by so many Londoners. This handy option, available for purchase at Heathrow London tube stations, allows you to get tickets cheaper than cash – in this case a discount to just £ 5.00 (€ 6.00 / $ 8.30). Off-peak travel with the Oyster Card offers even greater value, from Heathrow to Paddington in both directions costs just 3.00 GBP (3.60 EUR / 5.00 USD) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unrestricted travel by bus and train throughout London, with a maximum daily expenditure limited to £ 17.00 (€ 20.00 / $ 28.00) at the peak and only 8.90 £ (€ 10.60 / $ 15.00) off-peak for six people a zone ticket (destinations around London are divided into six major zonal rings. A trip from Heathrow to central London crosses all six zones).
The metro is primarily a municipal public transport system, not a "train" service. Therefore, the level of comfort and convenience is much lower than for Heathrow Express and Connect services, and at peak times it can be much uncomfortable. Business travelers who choose this option after their last flight risk being forced to endure the entire journey if they travel during peak hours. If the ambulance is full to the squeeze point (as is often the case at peak times), luggage management can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the pipe network – which as the first urban public transport system in the world is over 150 years old – is often susceptible to signaling failures and delays. If the time between arriving at Heathrow (don't forget to consider customs clearance, baggage claim and customs clearance) and your business meeting is busy, especially during rush hour, it is not unfair to say that you are taking risks if you choose to use the subway.
Compared to rail, traveling to central London is much less convenient. As in every major city around the world, traffic jams haunt the streets of London. The M4 and A4 routes from Heathrow to London are always busy and can sometimes be slow. Regardless of the type of road transport, business travelers are at risk of delays and accidents.
Buses and coaches are abundant. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate connections between Heathrow Airport and London Victoria, the main bus terminal in London. From here, travelers can travel to many other places in the UK. Buses run from the main bus station at Heathrow Airport, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. It's easy to find. If you arrive at terminals 4 or 5, you must first take the Heathrow Connect train to the main bus station. From Victoria station you can easily get to any part of London by subway, numerous buses, local trains and licensed black taxi / minicab taxis.
One-way tickets start from £ 6.00 (€ 7.20 / $ 10.00), while returns cost £ 11.00 (€ 13.20 / $ 18.00). Although you can buy a ticket at Heathrow, it is recommended to do it in advance and online. This will ensure that you have a guaranteed, reserved seat in the coach of your choice, as well as provide you with the option of choosing the departure and / or return time that best suits your needs. Typically, this service operates three buses per hour to and from London Victoria Bus Station. Travel time may vary depending on the route chosen, time of day and road conditions, but you can usually expect to take 40 to 90 minutes to travel.
National Express also offers business travelers a Heathrow hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as Heathrow Hoppa. With hundreds of services around the clock, 24 hours a day, it's a clean, convenient and affordable way to get around the city, costs GBP 4.00 (EUR 4.80 / USD 6.60) per one way trip and GBP 7.00 (8 , 40 EUR / 11.50 USD) for a return trip. This service is especially useful if your business meeting is near Heathrow and you don't have to travel to central London.
An alternative to bus travel is the bus. This can be especially useful if you arrive at Heathrow late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in central London, from 23:30 to 5 am. Travel time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. This is a very affordable service, and under Transport for London infrastructure you can pay for one trip with an Oyster card (£ 1.40 (€ 1.70 / $ 2.30) or cash (£ 2.40 (€ 2.90 / 4, 00 $).
If traveling to London requires you to choose your travels anywhere, anytime or simply need privacy, private rental transport is easily available on Heathrow. If you just want to get from point A to point B and back, without any other journeys between, using a licensed black taxi or minicab taxi can be tailored to your needs. The journey by the iconic, licensed black taxi to central London will take about 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can usually cost from £ 50.00 ($ 60.00 / $ 83.00) to £ 80.00 (96, 00 € / $ 132.00). If you notice a delay in traffic, the journey will cost more, because the black taxi counters also charge waiting times when they are not moving. Black taxis are available around the clock and good signage on Heathrow means they are easy to find. If squeezed, up to five business travelers can be accommodated, but if everyone has a lot of luggage, this will be a problem.
Alternative private black taxi rental services are licensed taxi services. This may be a better option for business travelers, especially if many people travel with luggage. Many types of vehicles are available, from the standard 4/5 limousine and 6/7 passenger cars, up to 15 or 17 passenger minibuses, and even coach taxis. An additional advantage is that you can book your chosen car in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of services – may vary, but usually for one trip business travelers can expect a fixed upfront fee of GBP 40.00 (EUR 48.00 / 66.00 USD) for a car in the showroom; £ 50.00 (€ 60.00 / $ 83.00) for a station wagon; £ 55.00 (€ 66.00 / $ 90.00) for an executive car; £ 55.00 (€ 66.00 / $ 90.00) for a passenger carrier; £ 65.00 (€ 78.00 / $ 108.00) for an 8-seater minibus; £ 80.00 (€ 96.00 / $ 132.00) for an executive carrier; and £ 165.00 (€ 198.00 / $ 272.00) for a 16-seater minibus. You can save on all tariffs if your return trip is booked in advance.
Travel by black taxi or licensed taxi gives business travelers the freedom to travel at their own pace and can make travel difficult. This can be a very relaxing way to travel from the airport to London, especially after a long flight, and offers business travelers the opportunity to relax before a business meeting.
If you need to organize transport for senior executives or VIP transport, driver services are available (booked in advance) between Heathrow and London. The type of vehicle and the time you need it determine the price you pay. Chauffeur-driven services are easily available on the Internet. The same goes for helicopter charter services that can transfer an executive businessman from Heathrow to central London (Battersea Heliport) in about 15 minutes. Flightline Travel Management has experience in providing our clients with both means of transport and we will gladly answer your inquiry.
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