If you're traveling to London, it's likely that you'll pass through either Heathrow or Gatwick airport at some point during your trip. If you need to travel between the two airports (you may be using London as a jumping off point to explore more of Europe or you might have scored a long-haul bargain by booking split tickets via different airlines), we've put together a handy guide to make your transfer as easy as possible, including a budget option that'll set you back less than 5 pounds.
Heathrow to Gatwick: The Basics
Located 15 miles to the west of London, Heathrow (LHR) is one of the world's busiest international airports. All five terminals are connected to central London via the London Underground. Gatwick Airport (LGW) is around 30 miles to the south of London and is the UK's second largest airport. The two terminals (north and south) are linked by an efficient monorail service and the airport is connected to central London by train.
The airports are around 38 miles apart. There is no direct rail service that connects Heathrow and Gatwick. To travel by train you need to go via central London.
If you're booking connecting flights that arrive at Heathrow and depart from Gatwick (or vice versa), you'll need to bear in mind that they're the UK's biggest and busiest airports and as such, you'll need to factor in sufficient time to allow for potential delays when it comes to security checks, check-in, customs, and baggage collection in addition to the transfer journey time itself. Always play it safe when booking flight connections by allowing more time than you think you'll need or consider an overnight stay, especially when booking separate flights via different airlines (neither the airline or the transfer operator is responsible for a missed connection and you may be required to book a new ticket if you miss a flight). Note that if you're booking connecting flights via the same airline, you're covered if you fail to make a connection and will be booked onto the next available flight.
Heathrow to Gatwick by Taxi
Black Taxi Cabs are available in taxi ranks outside all Heathrow terminals and will transport passengers to Gatwick. The journey should take around 45 minutes (depending on traffic). Note you may need to wait in line for a long time at peak times. The fare is likely to be more than 100 pounds one way. Black cabs can carry up to five passengers but don't forget to take luggage into account.
Heathrow to Gatwick by Bus
The only direct route via public transport is by bus. The National Express Coach Service takes around 75 minutes (depending on traffic) and runs up to five times an hour around the clock. Fares start at 20 pounds one way if you book tickets in advance for a specific departure time. You can pay extra to board any available coach up to 12 hours before or after your original departure time. The luggage allowance is two 20 kilogram suitcases and an item of hand luggage per person. Note that you'll need to factor in a 15-minute walk to the bus station from Heathrow Terminals 1 and 3. Megabus also operates between Gatwick South Terminal and Heathrow Terminal 5. It takes an hour and 15 minutes to travel between the airports and there is free Wi-Fi, a 20 kilogram luggage allowance, and charging points. Tickets start at 15.75 pounds.
Low-cost carrier easyJet operates a bus service from Heathrow and Gatwick to central London (not between the airports though unfortunately). The cheapest and easiest way to use this service is to take the tube from Heathrow (any terminal) to Earls Court (the journey takes around 35 minutes) and then connect to the easyBus from Earls Court to Gatwick Airport North Terminal (the journey takes around 65 minutes). The whole journey could set you back as little as 3.50 pound (based on a 2 pound easyBus advance fare and a 1.50 pound off-peak Oyster fare).
Heathrow to Gatwick by Train
There's no direct train service between the airports but you can travel via rail and tube through central London.
You can either travel by Heathrow Express to Paddington (a 15-minute journey from terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5). From Paddington, you can board the Circle Line to Victoria Station (a 15-minute journey) and connect to Gatwick via the Gatwick Express (a 30-minute journey). The whole journey costs around 40 pounds one way.
Or you can travel by tube from Heathrow (all terminals) to Green Park (a 45-minute journey) then from Green Park to Victoria (a two-minute journey). From Victoria, you can connect to Gatwick via the Gatwick Express (a 30-minute journey). The whole journey costs around 20 pounds one way. Sometimes the Gatwick Express isn't running (such as on Boxing Day) at which point you will have to find alternative transportation.
Both routes offer step-free access. Something to consider if you have mobility issues, a lot of luggage or are traveling with children.
Heathrow to Gatwick by Private Car Service
To avoid waiting in line for a Black Cab at the airport you could consider pre-booking a private car service. Most companies also offer a discount if you make a booking in advance. The journey should take around 45 minutes (depending on traffic) and cost around 55 pounds one way.