Here's a money saving way to get into the city fast.
If you've just landed at London's Heathrow Airport and are in a hurry to get into central London for a meeting or to start your vacation, there's really only one way to get there - the Heathrow Express train, which takes just 15 minutes from airport terminals 2 & 3 to Paddington Station in the middle of the city. As I found out however, convenience comes at a price; a walk up ticket at the station on the day of travel costs an eye popping £22.00 ($31.00*); on the train, the ticket is even higher, at £27.00 ($38.00*). At almost £2 per minute, it's hard to think of anything else this expensive that involves doing nothing more than sitting still with your clothes on.
But here's the secret - plan ahead, and big savings can be yours on the 15 minute transit from airport to city center. Unless you booked your flight at the last minute, chances are you know you'll be arriving in London on a certain date far in advance, and can take advantage of an advance purchase ticket. 14 days in advance, prices are £16.50 ($23.00*) on weekdays; £12.10 ($17.00*) at weekends. 30 days in advance, £14.30 ($20.00*) weekdays; £8.80 ($12.50*) weekends. 90 days in advance is even cheaper - £12.10 ($17.00*) on weekdays; £5.50 ($8.00*) at weekends. If it's a dream trip, you're probably booking your flights more than 90 days in advance, so go ahead and book your Heathrow Express ticket at the same time, and save some money to spend on other things in London.
The great thing about the advance purchase tickets is that they are valid for any train on the day chosen; there's no need to commit yourself to taking a specific train, and therefore nothing to worry about if your flight is delayed arriving. The advance tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable however.
Advance tickets for the Heathrow Express can be booked online at www.heathrowexpress.com where timetables and more information are also available.
* US Dollar prices quoted are based on an exchange rate of £1.00 = $1.41, which was the rate at time of publication. For up to date exchange rates, check www.xe.com