Demand will rise for weekend flights from Heathrow, but cabbies and ‘holiday extras’ will suffer, when Night Tubes are introduced, OTA predicts.
A 24-hour service on the London Underground will dramatically change the way Londoners think about booking their holidays, according to online travel agent loveholidays.com.
With the service set to be launched by 2015, initially on Friday and Saturday nights, loveholidays.com predicts it will be a case of ‘All change, please’ and is forecasting the following trends:
· Heathrow will become the preferred airport for passengers, as it is the only London/South East airport on a Tube line (the Piccadilly line).
· A 24-hour Tube service will mean fewer people will book cabs to and from the airport, opting instead to use the underground.
· loveholidays.com predicts people will put the money they save by not using a cab towards something extra for their holiday, or even spend a little more on their trip.
· What they won’t be spending on, though, are ‘holiday extras’, such as airport parking or an overnight hotel. loveholidays.com believes these ‘extras’ are likely to suffer, as demand will drop.
· With the 24-hour Tube service initially operating at weekends, loveholidays.com believes more people will opt to return from their trip on a Friday or Sunday night to make use of the all-night Tube service, rather than fly mid-week. This will give them the weekend to recover from any jetlag or holiday over-indulgence and give them time to see family and friends before returning to work.
Al Francis from loveholidays.com says: “There’s been a lot of discussion since Mayor Boris Johnson announced the 24-hour Tube service would be introduced by 2015. Some people are welcoming the fact that London is being brought bang up-to-date with other cities around the world, while others lament the end of a great British institution – the rush for the last Tube home and the camaraderie among fellow commuters all crammed into the last Tube of the night.
“We believe a 24-hour Tube service will have a knock-on effect on people’s travel decisions, including where they prefer to fly from, the time of flight they are prepared to get, and what day of the week they want to fly out and return.
“People will be more willing to take flights at ‘unsociable’ times because the 24-hour Tube service will mean it will be easier to get across London to and from the airport.
“The losers will be ‘holiday extras’. With a 24-hour Tube service, people are less likely to need airport parking or book an airport hotel. Whereas in the past they may have been inclined to book an airport hotel the night before an early flight, or on their return if they arrive back into the UK in the early hours, they will instead be able to jump on the Tube from Heathrow and make their way home.”
As every seasoned Tube traveller knows, not all Underground stations are easy to navigate – particularly if you are not sure where you’re going or if you’re carrying heavy luggage – so it helps to do a bit of journey-planning research first.
For a smoother journey to the airport, the team at loveholidays.com can offer the following nuggets of advice:
If you’re going to/coming from Heathrow, Hammersmith and Barons Court offer the best interchange for the District Line, with a simple cross-platform walk. Almost all the other interchanges on the Piccadilly Line involve steps, and some, such as Green Park and Leicester Square, have surprisingly long walks.
At Green Park, for example, you’ll need to walk 220 metres to change between the Jubilee and the Piccadilly line; 160 metres to change between the Victoria and the Piccadilly line and a staggering 380 metres to change between the Victoria and the Jubilee line. That’s more than the shortest street-level distance between Leicester Square and Covent Garden tubes.
Avoid Tottenham Court Road altogether if you and your luggage want to come out unscathed after negotiating the station’s countless steps and huge crowds to reach your platform.
Not all Piccadilly line trains go to Heathrow and those that do have two routes. For Terminals 1,2 & 3, it’s quicker to wait for a Terminal 5 tube. The other Heathrow trains serve Terminal 4 first, then Terminals 1,2 & 3 via a long loop and take more time.
Some tubes are step-free only in one direction. For example, Borough station only permits Northern line passengers to enter and exit the northbound platform step-free. Passengers travelling southbound to Borough need to stay on the train, get off at Clapham North, then take a northbound Northern line train back to Borough, where they will be able to exit avoiding any steps.
In addition, loveholidays.com advises:
Check your return journey as this may require a different route or use of an alternative station entrance.
Call Transport for London’s 24-hour travel information service 0343 222 1234 before travelling to check the availability of lifts.
You can also plan your journey online at www.tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner
Or, for information on which stations are step-free or have the shortest gaps between train and platform, check out: www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/step-free-tube-guide-map.pdf