London Airport Transportation - Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Updated: Jan 13
Flying into Stansted Airport on the outskirts of London during the midst of the Covid-19 Virus was quite the challenge. Coming out of Spain where the virus was spreading like wildfire, we were pleased to be in the UK. But once there, I realized we had not taken time to figure out how to get to the city.
Once through customs, we became frustrated trying to find clarity for travel to our hotel downtown. I found an information center unable to assist with the location of the hotel nor the best mode of transportation. There were lots of hawkers trying to sell inexpensive bus rides that would take several hours and multiple transfers. The hotel was only 35 miles away, but we had no idea how to get there. Having just paid top dollar for a emergent flight from Barcelona, we knew an expensive trip downtown was probably on the agenda. But how do we get there?
Finally, I decided to locate the train system and see what they had to offer. After searching for the location of the trains, I finally found an elevator leading downstairs and we made our way to the train tracks. After asking several people wearing mandatory Covid-19 masks, we finally found a small Kiosk selling tickets.
It was not cheap, as two tickets to on the Stansted Express to Liverpool Street Station with a fantastic exchange rate of 1.25 dollars to the pound, still ran about $22 each. This is by far the fastest way to travel between Stansted Airport and London. The trains depart every 15 minutes and take around 45 minutes either direction. We found the train had complementary internet, which was essential for us, as American travel restrictions were changing hourly.
Upon arrival at Liverpool station we found a cab to the hotel. We began to analyze how to get home, no easy chore as flights were being constantly deleted and changed. We managed to find a flight out of Heathrow two days later. However, it was an early morning flight and necessitated a stay at an airport hotel.
Getting to Heathrow from London is no easy task either. The easiest method is to get on the Heathrow Express at Paddington Station. Fortunately, Paddington Station has Wayfinding Signage for the Heathrow Express, as shown in the picture above. Once we made our way to the Heathrow Express gate, ticket purchase was easy. You put your credit card in a machine, a ticket is produced, the gate opens, you walk to and get on the train for a 37 minute ride.
Once we arrived at Heathrow Airport, we had to find our hotel. Heathrow has a “hotelhoppa” bus system for hotel transportation. These two bus loops travel totally different circuitous routes. You must know your hotel and get on the right bus at the right time. Both routes use the same pickup locations at the Airport. You can save several pounds by buying the return fair as you get on the bus. We managed to find our hotel, get a good night’s rest, rise early, and make it back to Heathrow in time for our flight to Miami. It was the end to another momentous Covid-19 event. It never felt so good to back in the US.