Travelling between terminals at Heathrow

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  • Tom Otley

    It is possible to move from one terminal to another at Heathrow for free using the Underground, Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect.

    Heathrow Airport has a useful section of its website offering a travel planner for doing so.

    This can be accessed on the link below

    Getting between terminals at Heathrow
    “Fast, convenient transfers are available between Heathrow’s terminals. Terminals 2 and 3 are a short walk from each other. Terminals 4 and 5 are served by free trains and buses.”

    As an example, the website offers the following information for a passenger transferring from Terminal 2 to…

    Terminal 3
    You can walk between Terminals 2 and 3 via the pedestrian underpass. The route is well signposted and can be followed on our interactive Heathrow map. If you have walking difficulties, find out how to request special assistance.
    Average journey time: 10 minutes

    Terminal 4
    Free shuttle trains run between Heathrow Central station (Terminals 2 & 3) and Terminal 4. There are four trains an hour.
    Average journey time: 20 minutes

    Terminal 5
    Heathrow Express trains are free for travel between Heathrow Central station (Terminals 2 & 3) and Terminal 5. There’s a train every 15 minutes.
    Average journey time: 20 minutes

    Frequent London Underground trains also run between the terminals.

    The transfer is only free if you use a Transport for London Oyster card or a contactless payment card.
    Average journey time: 16 minutes.

    More information on the Oyster Card….

    What is Oyster?

    Oyster is a plastic smartcard which can hold pay as you go credit, Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes. You can use an Oyster card to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus services and most National Rail services in London.

    Note that you can also use a debit card for direct payment at the ticket barriers where necessary.

    See the following link for a map of the Heathrow Free Travel Zone

    Many local buses visit hotels close to Heathrow.

    Hotel Hoppa

    Unlike at many airports, hotels do not operate individual bus shuttle services, but instead rely on the Hotel Hoppa bus service.

    Hotel Hoppa tickets are £4.50 each way for adults and one child aged between five and 15 can travel free with every fare-paying adult – under-5s travel free of charge. The adult fare is £5 if you pay the driver directly.
    Heathrow Hoppa
    Erratic Heathrow Hoppa Warning


    Note that unlike in Central London, Black Cabs do not have to accept every ride – so while they will very happily take you into Central London, they are unlikely to want to take you on a short ride to a nearby hotel, and in all probability will refuse to do so.


    Relying on the hoppa’s for morning (rush hour) transfers to airport terminals from hotels can be challenging. Whereas the black cabs do not want airport / hotel transfer business, mini cabs do! Be careful of the high prices sometimes being charged and if you try to share a cab with a fellow guest, make sure the arrangement is made between you BEFORE your mini cab arrives as mini cab drivers will try to share the work load by refusing to allow guests to buddy up to share a cab.

    Do leave plenty of time to transfer from hotel to airport in the mornings…


    As an interesting aside, Oyster will be valid on Heathrow Express services from May 2018 – this is when TfL takes over the Heathrow Connect service. Furthermore, today it was announced that, when they start in December 2019, Elizabeth line (Crossrail) services will serve Terminal 5 twice an hour in addition to the four trains an hour to Terminal 4. All 6 trains an hour will serve the station for Terminals 2 and 3.

    Back to the text above – much as black cabs might not want to, they are required to accept any hiring up to 20 miles if starting at Heathrow airport. If they refuse a short trip, you will need to have a word with the taxi marshal on duty who should normally sort the matter out. It’s also handy to note that all black cabs now accept contactless payment cards.

    There’s more information at:


    Afternoon Tom

    You might want to consider adding in a section about the easiest and quickest ways of transferring between London airports used by British Airways.
    The proliferation of cheaper flights transiting LHR but using LCY/LGW as well suggests that there are people out there swayed by the cheapest option without really understanding the distances nor the hassle involved, especially LCY to LHR and vice versa.

    Tom Otley

    Thank you everyone – I will get editing and also prepare something on transferring between airports – something I once had to do when arriving from Central London at Heathrow to discover my flight was actually from Gatwick….


    An easier connection between Terminals 4 and 5 is bus route 490. Up to 6 trains an hour for most of the day.


    “something I once had to do when arriving from Central London at Heathrow to discover my flight was actually from Gatwick….”

    What an admission from the Editor of Business Traveller 🙂

    Tom Otley

    I think if you travel long enough you make every mistake. On separate occasions I’ve also

      turned up to the airport without my passport,
      turned up with someone else’s passport (in my family)
      And had a holiday cancelled because there was only 3 months validity left on another family member’s passport.

    Tom Otley

    Found this thread which has some useful opinions on as well – will also add to the thread about getting in to London from Heathrow

    Is Heathrow Connect the worst train transfer service…?


    That item/thread will make useful reading and may be worthy of an article in the magasine? A one page item can be copied and filed for future reference!
    Question: from May 2018 when Oyster cards are used on LHR Connect and LHR Express what will be their respective additional costs since the card will need to be loaded accordingly. Underground fares are only a few pounds?

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