Heathrow Express is a train service from Heathrow International Airport to Paddington Station in the heart of London. I prefer flying into Heathrow rather than Gatwick because I find it less stressful and more convenient due to good access to Paddington. The train takes about 15 minutes and although more expensive than other routes it’s still worth it for the convenience. I’ve also been happy with the performance in the past, never had a problem, that is until now.
This is a review of my journey on Heathrow Express in March 2019.
Booking was easy enough, no issues online.
When printing off the tickets a QR code was split over 2 pages. This is because they are designed for A4 paper and not for US letter size, therefore I added them to Apple Wallet (as I discovered later that may have been a mistake).
They didn’t have a gate into the train service before and appeared to be causing customers some issues, including me. I had 4 QR codes in Apple Wallet, 2 each for my partner and I, scanned the first one in without problems, my partner went through, swiped to scan the next one in which was rejected. The customer service rep at the gate seemed disinterested in helping out as he was talking to his colleagues. Eventually got him to scan me in.
The journey was ok but crowded, but enough room for us to sit down, not enough room to store luggage. Some senior passengers were having issues so we helped them out.
At Paddington had problems getting out of the gate, one rep was extremely rude and wouldn’t help, he was shouting obscenities at customers, and another was just slumping against a wall with her eyes half shut pretending not to notice the chaos going on. Eventually, she responded, with a very bad attitude, making me out to be a criminal who hadn’t paid my fare but eventually let me out. Part of me, at that point, wanted to cancel my return journey and just organize a taxi back to the airport.
At Paddington, there was only one member of staff and the gates were open. Maybe a sign that they weren’t working out due to the multiple reports of chaos on other occasions.
Plenty of room on the train and the journey was pleasant. Someone came round a read our ticket.
At Heathrow, the gates were operational, a little bizarre if they were checking tickets in the train. I had no problems using the gates but I decided to use the paper tickets, I came to the conclusion that the QR codes in my Apple Wallet would not work.
Due to the number of errors, and bad attitude, on the Heathrow to Paddington trip, my view of Heathrow Express has somewhat changed. When people arrive at the airport they are tired and want a seamless, and polite, journey to their destination. For me, Heathrow Express failed to deliver that experience.
Hopefully, they have learnt from feedback provided by customers, especially on the gates, and reviewing the situation in order to improve the journey and experience for all. By the time I am reading this hopefully all is well.
We recently took a trip back home to the UK and decided to go on Air Canada this time.
Booking The Flights
There was no issue booking our flights online but had some difficulties with their system entering other information they were asking for. Air Canada is known for its website and computer systems not quite working very well. However, when we called they were able to fix the issue quickly.
YVR to LHR AC854 7/8 March 2019
- Check in was very easy, there were more agents then there were customers, machines were easy to understand, staff very friendly.
- Boarding the flight was crazy with a sea of passengers all over the place, couldn’t hear what agents were saying, staff checking tickets were friendly though
On the plane
- In the age of very expensive checked luggage many people try to cram in their stuff in the cabin, this caused the usual chaos on this flight which is not fair for staff as they already have quite a lot to resolve with many passengers on this flight.
- The flight was delayed due to de-icing of the hull and they hadn’t emptied the toilet tanks, all this could have been done earlier if they had organized themselves properly.
- On the surface, the aircraft looked ok but the seats in economy were extremely tight and very uncomfortable especially for someone who has a bad back. A 9 hours flight was quite painful.
- The food was awful, quite inedible, probably the worst airline meal I’ve had in many years.
- There was a wide gap in-between the seats in front which meant you were a victim of the flashing TV screen in front. No chance of falling asleep, even when closing your eyes you could see the flashing of the TV. Also, if the TV in front had adult orientated content a child would clearly be able to see that. A very poor design issue between Air Canada and Boeing.
- There was an overdose issue on the plane, obviously, someone had over-enjoyed themselves in Vancouver, the staff handled this quite well and luckily there was a health care professional on the flight.
LHR to YVR AC855 14 March 2019
Issues with check in because the process wouldn’t complete its workflow. Spent 3 hours trying to resolve it and ended up paying CAD $49 in phone charges. We were not impressed.
No problems at Heathrow check-in. Much easier boarding process than in Vancouver.
On the plane
- Much nicer flight than the YVR to LHR journey.
- Freezing cold for part of the flight.
- No problems with tv screen of person in front as no one was there.
- The main meal was still inedible but luckily we had come prepared and ate well prior to the flight, we’ll remember that next time we fly via Air Canada.
- Ice cream and cookies being served at the mid-point of the flight was a very nice surprise.
I tried using their iPhone app. However, as many reviewers report it really doesn’t work well. Air Canada does seem to have quite a few IT issues, unfortunately.
Air Canada isn’t really my airline of choice, I’ve had previous issues with the airline but this was the right schedule and the right price, but overall uncomfortable.