Your Amazing Race: London Calling

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London at Night

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Wikimedia Commons

Landing in London Town
Last week the racers left Fort Christian in St. Thomas headed to the Tower Bridge in London. The 4,000+ mile flight landed the contestants in Heathrow, one of the UK’s busiest airports. The only shots of the airport were those of the contestants leaving and jumping in the uniquely styled, British cabs. Like many airports, Heathrow has its quirks. I found an incredibly helpful article where an ex-pat pointed out specific tips to Americans. Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan on leaving from or arriving at Heathrow.

  1. Lose Your Virgin Atlantic V-Card – Apparently this is the airline that most locals in the UK choose. For this reason, the majority of passengers are Brits and go to a different customs line at arrival making the disembarking process for Americans much quicker! I personally have flown this airline to the UK and it was the nicest flight I’ve ever taken. Each of the attendants spoke multiple languages and was incredibly nice! The seats in coach were very roomy allowing enough space to sleep on the transatlantic journey.
  1. How Much Do You Love that Watch? – I don’t want to scare you but Heathrow has a reputation for airport gangs. Yes, that’s a thing. Many travel sites advise keeping your valuable items in your carry on and always using a TSA certified lock on your checked baggage. Taking extra precautions can limit the opportunity for theft.
  1. Remember Your Pedometer – Plan on burning a few calories getting to your gate or to baggage claim at Heathrow. The walks to the airport destinations can reach up to twenty minutes. Our local advisor mentions that comfortable shoes are a must. While there are moving walkways for part of the journey, you surely don’t want to underestimate the benefits of sensible shoes and luggage with good wheels.

More from International Travel

  1. Power Up! – Every time I’m in an airport, it’s a struggle to find an available outlet to juice up my phone, tablet or laptop. This is the best tip our local could have given! Traveling with a small power strip is a genius idea. If you do find an occupied plug, offer to split the plug with the user by using your power stip. Obviously, remember that the UK uses different outlets so you’ll need to invest in an adapter. Also while in Heathrow, if you are having a time finding any jack, check the floor! There are several sockets used for cleaning purposes under carpet tiles in the terminals. She also includes that this action may not be 100% condoned by the BAA, but rarely will Brits confront anyone in public.
  1. Know Your Travel Options – Getting into London from Heathrow, you really have three options.
  • As we all saw last week, the racers took a taxi. Using, that trip cost our racers close to eighty pounds. That’s an expensive trip.
  • One less expensive choice is the train. This option will get you to the heart of London in about fifteen minutes for twenty-five pounds. Traveling by train is a European experience in itself and I would recommend anyone giving it a try if the cost meets your needs. The cars on train are comfortable and clean.
  • The least expensive option, but also the most time consuming, is to take the subway or as they call it in England, the Tube or Underground. A ride to the city center usually costs about six pounds. However, our tip giver mentions that there are no racks for your luggage. She describes creating a fort around with herself with her suitcases during the ride. I too have used this method using MARTA in Atlanta and Light Rail in Denver. It certainly is not the most ideal, especially when the train jerks to a stop and your meticulously balanced bags, tip over onto the passenger next to you.