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Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

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TX
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Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

to get from Heathrow (coming in from Dallas) to Paddington if our flight arrives at 11:35 a.m. on a Saturday morning in March, and I book our First Great Western train to Penzance at 2:06 pm? I understand we'll need to go through customs, baggage claim, and take the Heathrow Express (or Heathrow Connect, which I know is a bit slower), and all of that is going to add up time-wise. The next later train is at 3:06 pm, although that puts us at our destination a tad bit later than would be ideal. I definitely don't want to cut it too close if I'm shelling out $ for a non-refundable ticket, but I would like your thoughts as to whether or not 2.5 hours between the time we land at Heathrow and the time the train departs from Paddington is sufficient. (Of course, I realize we are also at the mercy of the airline, and while we do have a direct flight, there is always the possibility of being delayed in Dallas.)

Edited: 11 January 2012, 18:50
Dunfermline, United...
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1. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

If your flight lands on time you'll have plenty of time. Saturdays can be a bit quicker getting through immigration etc so I wouldn't expect more than one hour to clear this. HEX takes 20 minutes or so to Paddington so if all goes well, I would expect you to be there by 1pm.

I would keep an eye on HEX web site to see if there is any engineering works planned for that weekend that might scunner your plans

England, United...
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2. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Tickets are already on sale for March, so any engineering disruption will already be included in the train times for that date. So book your tickets NOW as the prices will only go up as time goes by. 1st class tickets are sometimes only slightly more expensive than standard at the weekend - given you have just flown and the duration of the train journey, it might be worth it for the extra space (though I'm afraid to say that First Great Western provide little else extra).

Edited: 11 January 2012, 19:30
TX
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3. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Thanks very much. Looks like the only potential problem could be our flight from Dallas. I've been on the FGW site checking out prices and if we book now, we can get our First Class tickets for $50 USD/per person less than waiting to book upon arrival. And prices will likely go UP, you say? That's even more compelling.

Also - re Heathrow Express vs. Heathrow Connect - is Connect roughly twice the duration as Express to Paddington?

Edited: 11 January 2012, 19:39
England, United...
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4. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Yep, 'Advance' tickets are quota limited and as soon as the cheapest tickets are sold for that train, it goes up to the next price band. That is why you can sometimes see big differences for trains that are not far apart time wise. It will be worth checking if there is any difference in price between one through ticket from Paddington (to incl HEX) to booking each part separately.

Click on the 'i' symbol beside the journey times to check if the journey includes a replacement bus service (because of weekend engineering work).

London, United...
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5. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

The Connect doesn't take much longer than the Express, but only runs every 30 mins. They don't both serve all terminals at Heathrpow - which terminal are you arriving at?

TX
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6. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

We are flying American Airlines, and I believe that is Terminal 3.

Good to know about Connect only running every 30 minutes. How often does HEX run?

London
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7. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Every 15 minutes (and it takes 15 minutes) so your best choice probably.

London, United...
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8. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Terminal 3 is served by both Connect and Express.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

So, you can clear customs, go to the HEX/HEC ticket desk, and see which trains are operating when. If you have enough time, and one's coming along soon, you can get a HEC ticket; if not, get the HEX. To be safe for the HEC (not have to wait another 30 mins if you miss one) I'd allow 10 minutes to buy your ticket and get to the platform. You should also allow enough time at Paddington to collect your tickets for Penzance, so if time is tight, use the HEX.

Edited: 11 January 2012, 23:31
TX
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10. Re: Pre-booking train tickets - am I allowing enough time ...

Thank you all so much. This is very helpful advice indeed!