THE TRAIN: The Heathrow Express from Heathrow Airport to London Paddington, travelling in First Class.
THE TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased from a machine, ticket office or onboard staff, as well as online or through a new mobile app (available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Java-enabled mobile devices). Tickets booked online can be printed out or sent to a smart-phone in the form of a scanable barcode, which is the option I went for. Single tickets are valid for three days; returns for one month. However, tickets booked online or via the app are valid for up to six months.
THE STATION: The dedicated terminus for Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect was well signposted from the Terminal 3 arrivals area, though the platform and ticketing areas were pretty spartan. Hence there was nowhere to buy a newspaper or coffee in the ten minutes I had to wait for the next train.
THE CARRIAGE: The First Class carriage was at the far end of the train, meaning it was closest to the exit on arrival at Paddington. There's no step up from the platform onto the train meaning luggage easily rolls onboard.There were just a handful of passengers in the carriage so plenty of room in the luggage racks – there was also a rail for hanging coats, suits etc. All seats were at tables, legroom is more generous than 'Express' class, and there were TV screens showing 'Express TV' and free reading material. Wifi access is free for all passengers, though by the time I'd sat down and accessed it we were virtually at Paddington! A member of staff came round checking tickets, and was able to quickly scan the barcode I'd had sent to my smartphone.
THE DETAILS: The journey time is 15 minutes, with departures also every 15 minutes. The first service in both directions is around 5.10am. Passengers of around ten airlines can check-in for their flight before boarding the train at Paddington. Online fares are the cheapest: standard singles/returns are £16.50/£32;
First Class singles/returns are £26/£50.
It's the quickest way of travelling between Heathrow and central London and was a dream compared to the normal slog on the Picadilly line. Even for passengers travelling onwards to the south via Victoria – as I was – it still shaved ten minutes off the normal journey time on the Tube.
Deputy Editor, The Business Travel Magazine