Together, London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports served 123.6 million passengers in 2017, making them easily the two busiest airports in the UK. But with approximately 68km distance between them, it can be difficult to find the best way to transfer from one to the other. Gone are the days of Airlink’s helicopter transfer service between the two airports, which ran from 1978 to 1986, though private helicopter services can still be rented for large sums of money.
Here we outline the best options by coach (bus), car or train.
National Express coaches run directly between Heathrow and Gatwick up to six times an hour, with more than 80 services a day in each direction. The journey takes approximately 65 minutes, and prices for advance tickets start from £12 one-way and £24 return. Tickets can also be bought on boarding. Coaches going to and from Terminals 2 and 3 arrive and depart from Heathrow Central bus station, while coaches going to and from Terminals 4 and 5 arrive and depart outside of their respective terminals. For more information or to book tickets, call National Express at 0871 781 8181 or visit nationalexpress.com. Megabus coaches run direct between Heathrow and Gatwick (and back) hourly, with similar journey times. Book tickets in advance online for as little as £1 one-way, plus a 50p booking fee, at megabus.com.
A wide range of chauffeur services are available for transferring between airports. Prices for these services are usually per car, not per person. BA Transfer offers airport transfers usually for less than £60 (batransfer.com). Airport Cars does the same and its most recent fares start from £71 for a car with space for four passengers (airportscars.co.uk). For a slightly more expensive option (starting from £97), Heathrow has an arrangement with Tristar for travel between the airports or into London and other destinations (tristarworldwide.com). Alternatively, Uber drivers regularly make the trip, and are typically cheaper than the above companies – though fares can change radically depending on time and circumstance.
You can also travel from Heathrow into London and then back out again to Gatwick by train, though the connections are not straightforward. The main terminals for Heathrow (Paddington) and Gatwick (Victoria) are almost 5km apart, and require a further connection. The most popular way is to take the Bakerloo and Victoria lines on the Underground with a journey time of 15-30 minutes. Taxi is another viable option, although traffic means the 15-minute drive will often take much longer.
Gatwick Express trains run non-stop between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport up to four times an hour. The journey takes 30 minutes, and standard-class adult single tickets cost £17.80 online or £19.90 at the Gatwick or Victoria ticket offices. All rail services operate from Gatwick’s South Terminal, though there is an inter-terminal shuttle service between the North and South Terminals that takes only two minutes. Timetables for Gatwick Express trains can be found at gatwickexpress.com.
The options for travelling between Heathrow and Paddington are changing. The fastest is the Heathrow Express train to Paddington (every 15 minutes), which takes 15 minutes. It costs from £22 online for a single journey. Other options are the District and Piccadilly lines on the Underground (50min, £4.80). From May 20 the Heathrow Connect train service will be taken over by Tfl, in preparation for Crossrail improvements.
Finally, an alternative route is via London bus route 285 from Heathrow to Feltham, and then train from Feltham to Gatwick. You will need an Oyster card or a contactless bank card for the bus leg, as cash fares are not accepted (90min-2hrs, from £9.80 with Oyster card). For details, visit tfl.gov.uk.