Heathrow Express is launching a Business First Fast Track service from July 1.
Passengers who purchase a Business First ticket will be able to use the priority lane for security at Heathrow airport, enabling them to skip the normal queues.
This does not come at an extra cost to passengers, with tickets priced at £32 for an anytime day single and £55 for an anytime day return.
Business First passengers also benefit from extra legroom and a worktable.
Heathrow normally sells fast-track security passes online, catering to those who are willing to pay a fee for priority – this is available regardless of whether you travel by Heathrow Express or not. This service, however, is currently unavailable. The website states:
“We are currently unable to offer our Fast Track service to customers online. However, please do check with your airline if you are eligible to use the Fast Track departure service provided on behalf of our airline partners.”
This means that you can only get fast-track security access if your airline provides it (usually because you are travelling in premium cabins) or if you buy the Business First ticket with Heathrow Express from July 1.
Business Traveller spoke with Mark Eastwood, commercial strategy lead at Heathrow Express, at the Business Travel Show.
“The enhancement to Business First is brilliant for those in a rush. If you’ve got those corporate travellers who are on shorter flights, a lot of the travel policies are that they can’t go in business class, so it’s great for them to be able to whizz through the airport. It makes a good offering. Paddington to your plane.”
When quizzed on the competition with the newly opened Elizabeth Line, Eastwood commented:
“We’ve put a lot of thought into this. One thing that we’re standing by is that our trains are there to target travellers, we have those massive luggage racks and the onboard facilities. We’re not running commuter trains like the Elizabeth line.
“Children under 15 travel for free, so it’s also really great for families. Especially since the pandemic has seen more leisure travellers, as corporate travellers might now be coming from home rather than central London.
“We’re not really competing; we’re actually just continuing with who we are. We believe quite strongly that we’ve got very loyal [customers]. They like the calm environment that we’ve got.”
Eastwood added that passenger numbers are “pretty much back to 2019 levels”, with mostly leisure bookings.
“We used to be quite half and half, corporate and leisure, but we’re leisure heavy at the moment. I think that’s because our work from home culture is still there. People on a business trip before would have come from their office [in central London], but now they might go from home to the airport.”
The rise in interest for rail was also a key topic.
“When we speak to many of our corporate partners, they’re trying to encourage people to use rail more. We see that a lot in Germany, with Deutsche Bahn working with airlines. That shift is definitely coming to the UK.”
Eastwood also highlighted the rise in digital bookings. Last year the rail service partnered with Google Maps, allowing users to find travel information and access tickets via the app.
“It’s brilliant for the international audience who trust Google Maps. That whole mobile journey planner, digital world is just booming for us. A definite acceleration since the pandemic.
“[There’s also that] next generation of people coming up through the ranks who have only ever known mobile phones, so we’re keen to adapt and meet the needs that they ask for… That digital growth is our number one topic.”
Heathrow Express offers non-stop 15-minute electric trains between Paddington and Heathrow’s Terminals 2 and 3, which run every 15 minutes. It takes an extra six minutes to reach Terminal 5, and there’s a free transfer to Terminal 4.
In April the service launched an onboard entertainment digital platform which includes complimentary access to national newspapers, magazines and games. Passengers can access the media by connecting to the free wifi and scanning the onboard QR code, located throughout the train on digital screens, seatbacks and windows.
Heathrow Express said that the digital platform has saved the equivalent of 850kg per month in wastepaper.