Getting around Heathrow Airport for Free (2019 Edition)
Heathrow Airport can be perceived to be expensive if you’re coming in fresh off a flight, and you need to get a hotel, or need to swap terminals., and you haven’t planed at all
Thankfully, there are many options to help you, that cost you either 1) nothing or 2) require a contactless payment method to access a gate
Firstly, always refer to the Heathrow Free-Flow Zone Map – this is invaluable when getting around the Heathrow Area.
Heathrow Free Travel Zone – Map, Heathrow Airport – Source: https://www.heathrow.com/file_source/Company/Static/PDF/Heathrowcommuter/travel_around_Heathrow.pdf
Air Side Transfers via Shuttle Bus
If you’re transferring between Heathrow terminal airside (i.e. remaining within the secure area), these transfers are free of charge via the connecting shuttle buses. Follow the purple signs when disembarking the plane
Heathrow Airport has an easy guide – follow https://www.heathrow.com/flight-connections/at-a-glance to get help if you’re connecting air-side.
Heathrow Express between terminals
Heathrow Express remains free between the following areas:
- Heathrow Central (Terminal 2-3) to Terminal 5
- Heathrow Central (Terminal 2-3) to Terminal 4
- Heathrow Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 via Heathrow Central (Terminals 2-3)
In the past, you could just turn up and go without any barrier control. Since last year, you do need a free ticket to use this service (or a contactless payment card/device). Thankfully there are at least two free ticket machines at all terminal stations, and normally not a queue.
When you get to the machine select how many people are travelling with you
And lo and behold, after a short wait – your tickets to use the free transfer service will pop out of the hopper below.
Once you’ve got the tickets – you can proceed through the gate line at the start of the journey and
Simply press a button and a ticket will spit out, free of charge.
Just remember, this is for travel within the Heathrow Zone only and you cannot use this method to travel onto London.
If you want to go into London, you’ll either need a Heathrow Express or a TfL Rail ticket (both of which can be used with contactless payment)
Another way to get around the Heathrow Terminals area is to use the underground – with an average of a 10-minute frequency around the area.
Possible combinations include:
- Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 to Terminal 5
- Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 to Terminal 4 via Hatton Cross
- Heathrow Terminal 5 to Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3
- Heathrow Terminal 5 to Terminal 4 via Heathrow Terminal 2 &3 and Hatton Cross
- Heathrow Terminal 4 to Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3
- Heathrow Terminal 4 to Heathrow Terminal 5 via Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3
To use this, you will need a contactless payment card (such as Oyster, Contactless credit/debit card, a mobile phone with a contactless payment function).
Note, that if you exit at Hatton Cross, you will be charged a Zone 6 to 5 journey – so you will need to stay at platform level when changing trains (thankfully, it’s a cross-platform interchange).
Heathrow has good bus connectivity for local areas – and offers good access to the hotels which sits north of Runway 09R/27L. This includes:
- Thistle Heathrow
- Premier Inn
- Sheraton Heathrow
- Hyatt Place
- Leonardo Heathrow
- Park Inn, Ibis Styles
- Radisson Blu Edwardian
- Marriott Heathrow
- Sheraton Skyline
- Holiday Inn Ariel
- Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow
- Hilton Heathrow T4
- Sofitel Heathrow
- Hilton Heathrow T5
As such, if you’re staying in this area, you don’t need to use the Hotel Hoppa (£5 one way/£9 return). If you see the map above, you can see which services run, where they run to, the hotels they connect, and the area that is free to travel in.
Note, that if you travel on the edge of this area, or if you go beyond the boundaries, you will need a valid payment method – either a contactless payment card or an Oyster card for the £1.50 fare required to ride on London Buses.
Free (or low-cost) does exist at Heathrow!
As the video below shows… it is entirely possible to get around the Heathrow Airport area for free, or with a contactless payment method that should yield low to no charge.
But, you do need to know your way around. And that’s why there’s a map. Use the resources that are out there – and you can make the Heathrow experience a little less painful on the wallet.
I’ve talked about getting around the Heathrow area – but what if you want to head in to Central London? I’ve been working away on an update to that too! Find out more tomorrow!
- Air side transfers at Heathrow: https://www.heathrow.com/flight-connections/at-a-glance
- The Heathrow Free Travel Zone Map: https://www.heathrow.com/file_source/Company/Static/PDF/Heathrowcommuter/travel_around_Heathrow.pdf
- Heathrow Express Train service https://www.heathrowexpress.com
- Transport for London for Underground, Trains and Buses: https://www.tfl.gov.uk
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