Buyer Beware National Express bus London Stansted to London Heathrow

My incredible 28 GBP ($36.40) purchase price for two tickets on National Express London airports direct bus service from London Stansted STN to London Heathrow LHR was a real deal when purchased in May at nearly 50% off the 25 GBP per ticket regular price.

The deal would have been even better if I had paid 5 GBP ($6.50 USD) more per ticket for a flexible ticket. We missed our London Stansted bus departure by 10 minutes.

Ryanair was 15 minutes late arrival, but Stansted passport control at 60 minutes was the real hold-up.

Missed our National Express 7:40pm bus departure by 10 min.

I paid 32 GBP for replacement tickets on the next bus leaving for London Heathrow at 21:15. We could expect to be at Radisson Blu Edwardian LHR hotel around 23:00.

Flexible Tickets worth the extra 5GBP at London Airports

My quick message and advice for those planning same day airport transfers between London’s many airports: LHR, LGW, LTN, STN is carefully consider paying the 5 GBP ($6.50 USD) surcharge per ticket for a more flexible ticket as insurance against flight delays.

Our Ryanair flight was only 15 minutes late, but we were told after boarding the plane in Brno, CZ our flight had received a ground control stoppage from London delaying departure 3 hours.

After 20 minutes sitting on the runway, Ryanair received permission for departure. We arrived at London Stansted at 18:50. We had 50 minutes to catch our National Express bus in front of the terminal.

Two or three agents handled a line of 150 or so non-EU passport holders. We watched our luggage spinning around a mostly empty carrousel as we neared passport control. Our bus departure time of 19:40 passed.

National Express Flexible Tickets for Airport Transfers

Picking a specific time for your National Express airport transfer bus service time has inherent risk factors beyond your control when airlines are flying you into one airport and you are leaving from another on the same day or going into central London.

  • The cost of the flexible airport ticket is £5 per adult and £2.50 per Child each way.
  • The flexible airport ticket is only bookable online through the website.
  • No discounts apply to the flexible airport journey fee.
  • Only purchasable on services which start at or end at an airport location.

National Express Flexible Fare_thumb[1]

I am not the type of traveler who buys insurance. But I will definitely consider my flight times and paying extra for a flexible ticket next time. My 28 GBP tickets for two ended up costing 30 GBP each ($42 per ticket) to transfer between London Stansted and London Heathrow airports.

And the National Express bus counter agent’s comforting words at the time she charged me for replacement tickets were, “32 pounds for two tickets is a good deal. These tickets would have cost 54 pounds.”

I would have been better off never having purchased online tickets in the first place and purchasing two tickets at the counter upon arrival in London Stansted.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Advanced purchase on trains in Britain are a similar issue. I tried National Express earlier this year. First time in years. Got a good deal. £12 from From one city to London. Coach broke down half way. National express completely inept at dealing with issue. We all got our own cabs to just make flights. Cabbies were great. I was reminded why I thought never again for National Express. Back to the trains, we are forced to give a good amount of time if want to book an advanced ticket (which is the only realistically priced ticket) when connecting from an inbound flight.

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