Sunday Adventures to Heathrow Airport featuring FlixBus… as well as a few other modes of transit
To Aircraft Interiors Expo with British Airways
Let us kick this trip report off in style – with lots of public transport to get us to London Heathrow. How many modes can take to get to Heathrow from Central Birmingham?
In this trip report:
- Back to the industry
- Sunday Adventures to Heathrow featuring FlixBus… and a transit adventure.
- British Airways Galleries South Lounge
- BA974 London Heathrow to Hamburg Airport
- Into Germany, IBIS Budget, Saint Pauli
- When cables go walkies
- What you might have missed from Aircraft Interiors Expo
- Back to Hamburg Airport
- Hamburg Airport Lounge
- BA967 Hamburg Airport to London Heathrow
- The long road home
- Innovation continues
Sunday Adventures to Heathrow featuring FlixBus
5am in the morning never gets easier. Heck, it never gets easier, full stop. But I managed to get my backside out of bed and made myself semi-presentable.
Well, enough for a coach journey and a flight. The rest would follow in due course.
With the coach stop around a 15-minute walk from my home, I headed out with the wheely case and a song in my step.
Or whatever I have in my step working at 5:30 in the morning.
Great Charles Street Coach stop is… a bus stop. Plain and Simple.
Literally just a covered shelter provided by Transport for West Midlands and that’s it. A bit of a downgrade from Digbeth Coach Station, but if you’re only spending a few minutes there – it’s passable.
And yes, I’ve passed by on the bus to work/bus home seeing many a wet human being there, waiting for a coach.
As I approached the bus stop, the Coach was waiting for me. I made my way to the bus and got my QR code which had my ticket scanned. With that, I was allowed to board the bus.
Given that there were plenty of issues with the Piccadilly line in London, I asked if I could swap destinations. This is accepted without issue.
With that, I headed aboard.
Flixbus 020 Birmingham to London Victoria
Boarding the bus, it’s a very modern affair. The seats are a fabric/leather solution, rather than just leather. This has pluses and minus – I found it to be a lot more comfortable than leather seats (but leather seats as we know are very easy to clean).
At the seat, USB Power Outlets were installed – a good passenger thing to see (especially if you forgot to charge your phone).
The bus departed a couple of minutes late thanks to stragglers, but soon, we were leaving the Birmingham City Centre and heading to London.
The route taken is the classic M6, M1, Brent Cross, Finchley Road, past Baker Street, down to Oxford Street, Mayfair and Victoria Coach Route – well-trodden to put it mildly, with no planned stops except for Finchley Road. Thankfully this being a 6 am departure in the morning, the bus made very good time down the motorways.
There was Wi-Fi provided on the bus, however, it felt sluggish. I tried to Speedtest the thing… and, well, that was a waste of time.
It also helped the roads were clear until the coach exited the M1, only being slowed by the speed limits.
Welcome to Brent Cross. You’ll never leave!
We got to Finchley Road a good 30 minutes ahead of time, allowing the driver to have a comfort break, before facing the final drive to Victoria Coach Station. This took us by the Lords Cricket Ground, Baker Street and Oxford Street.
A rather quiet Oxford Street. Before the masses descend.
Closing in on Victoria, with a little pride.
Exiting Victoria Coach Station, it’s the same as it ever was – the reception halls always seemed a little dingy.
Well, it’s one way to end a journey, I guess.
I now had choices to get to Heathrow.
I could have spent £24 on a Heathrow Express or fiddled around with buses – as the Piccadilly Line was shut between Hyde Park Corner and Acton Town for £6 or so, which would have made the journey to Heathrow by tube by pain.
Or I could have headed underground straight away.
But I fancied something a little different, as I had time to spare before I need to be consumed by the maelstrom of Heathrow Airport.
Walking past the empty coach alleyway.
I threw all those plans away and took the 38 Bus from Victoria Bus Station to Tottenham Court Road, then the Elizabeth Line.
Sometimes plans are meant to be thrown in the bin. It also gave me a chance to view the city by bus – something I don’t do enough of.
As well as a deserted Piccadilly Circus.
Don’t get me wrong – I love high-speed transit through a city, but sometimes, there’s nothing like enjoying a journey on a double-decker bus when I have time to spare.
Arriving at Tottenham Court Road, I went through one of the more accessible entrances at the station that were built thanks to Crossrail.
To the Purple Train!
No Piccadilly Line for you!
As I had set my phone up to use one of my credit cards as an ExpressTransit card on the iPhone, it was a matter of tapping and going.
Follow the signs.
I do love the lighting effects here – someone really thought about it when designing this.
Accessibility is good.
By the time I had got down to the Elizabeth Line platforms, there would be a train to Heathrow Terminal 4 in 4 minutes.
People have gone on about the architecture of the Eizabeth line, and I’m in agreement, it’s vast, and still rather clean – if it’s over a year since it opened up.
Insert standard Elizabeth Line Cavernous Halls photo here.
The passenger information systems, as well as the platform screen doors, are good to see, from a safety point of view.
With the train arriving, I boarded and found a seat. Whilst I could have waited a little longer for a direct train… I fancied the adventure.
The Class 345s have bedded in after some years, and it was good to travel through the Crossrail core – their intended routes, even if they have more than the odd software issue.
It’s been years in the making and thankfully, one a minute or two wait at Paddington, before popping out of the Royal Oak portals and joining the slow Great Western Lines.
Once on them, it was the usual route that I’ve trodden many times, calling at all stations. And it is interesting to see even the quieter stations be busy on a Sunday.
Yes – even Acton Town and Hanwell, which always seems deserted when I go through hit.
I guess if you do build high-quality urban transit, people will use it.
Who would have thought?
Leaving the Great Western Main Line for Heathrow.
The train took around 30 minutes to make it to Heathrow Central, where I bailed and switched to a Heathrow Express for the final hop over to Terminal 5.
Swapping one train…
… for another.
It’s interesting to note the passenger experience differences, with the Heathrow Express being much more suited to its express nature – and still pulling in the passengers it seems.
Well, it is a perfect way of accessing West London. Just not at a price point that I welcome.
Popping out at Terminal 5, I headed up to departures, which was in the mood to celebrate Pride Month.
I headed onwards and towards Club check-in, which was busy with multiple switch-backs in the queue.
Normally, I’d skip the bag. But you’ll notice the fashionable accessory (or pain up the backside I have). This bag is getting checked for my sins, and there’s no real reason not to on a Club Europe fare, other than a delay at arrival.
Thankfully, the staff were proactive and filtered people to First Class Check-in – where I was directed.
The wait was short again, and my bag was accepted for travel, along with a boarding pass issued. =
With that, it was time to enjoy the wonders of Heathrow Security. At least the staff seemed happier than they were the last time I went through the hub.
That didn’t help with one of my bags being pulled over for a manual inspection. The security inspector took one look, ran a secondary wipe and look over it, and sent me on my way.
With those formalities completed, there was a decision to make and play Heathrow Roulette. Do I go to the North Louge or South Lounge, and which gate will the plane go from?
Heathows habit of not assigning gates to keep people shopping until the last minute is well-known… and annoying.
I, therefore, decided to let the gods at FlightRadar24 decide. Which direction where aircraft arriving and departing?
A quick look showed that everything was departing towards London on the South Runway, so the South Lounge was the answer.
I’d find out if I won the lotto in regards to a gate much later.
NEXT: British Airways Club Lounge (South Lounge).
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