How to get to the airport more cheaply: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, and Edinburgh

Cut-price alternatives for Britain's seven busiest airports

Simon Calder
Friday 18 December 2015 10:42
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UK's best airport transfer links according to Simon Calder

Our survey of public transport links to the UK's leading airports shows a dramatic variation in fares: from £2 for the bus between Liverpool city centre and John Lennon Airport, to almost 10 times as much aboard the Gatwick Express from London. But there are cut-price alternatives for Britain's seven busiest airports.

Heathrow: for our survey, we used the most popular form of transport, the Tube (£3.10 from the centre, using a contactless card). In contrast, the Heathrow Express is the most expensive airport link in Britain (£21.50 one-way). But book 90 days in advance and you can get a return ticket for £11.90. Cheaper still, take the N9 night bus (£1.50), which leaves central London every 20 minutes between 11.30pm and 4.50am, taking 82 minutes to Terminal 5.

Gatwick: off-peak, the Southern train from London Bridge costs £9.40; Thameslink opens up London St Pancras as well as Blackfriars for £10.20. You could buy both for less than the £19.90 for a single Gatwick Express ticket.

Manchester: the train and tram both cost £4.20. But bus No 43 costs only £3.10, though the trip takes 65 minutes.

Stansted: book a month ahead and the £19 one-way Stansted Express costs just £8; a week in advance, it's £12.

Luton: with no rail station at the airport (it's two miles away at the bottom of the hill), direct bus options from London look enticing; easyBus has frequent departures from Victoria, Marble Arch and Liverpool Street for £1.95 if you book sufficiently far in advance. The firm also serves Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Edinburgh: what's the difference between the last two stops on the tram line to the airport? About half a mile, and £3.50. To and from the airport, passengers pay a flat £5. Any other journey, including to/from the next stop along, Ingliston Park and Ride, is £1.50. Take a 10-minute walk and save.

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