The exclamation mark is because it is years since I have been on a coach. I had a meeting at Heathrow last week, and coach is the obvious way to get back to Crawley (because of Gatwick Airport).
The first obstacle was finding out about coach schedules and fares. The Heathrow website has a lot of detail on local buses but little on longer distance coaches. There is no easy way of finding out who the operator might be, although, of course, I know that is is likely to be National Express. So, over to the National Express website. This does not provide any traditional timetables. Instead you have to click on the Book Now sidebar. Type “Heathrow” in the “From” box and you get an extensive drop down list of places in Heathrow. I was travelling from Terminal 1 so I put that in and put Gatwick in the “To” box. Oh dear “We were unable to find any journeys using the locations and dates that you entered.”. That can’t be right? A little more research showed that you HAVE to put Heathrow Central Bus Terminal in the “From” box. This way I found out, as expected, that there are several buses an hour, so no worries.
Once I was en route things improved. The bus terminal now includes a comfortable waiting concourse complete with information screens and retail units. I bought the ticket (£20!!!) using an easy to use self service ticket machine. But even at this full price I had to choose a coach to travel on. (No walk on fares with Natex!)
The coach was three years old and very comfortable. Only four other people on board. Leather seats and plenty of legroom. We called to pick up at Terminal 5. The journey to Gatwick was scheduled for 1 hour 15 minutes and, despite heavy traffic, we arrived exactly on time.
The sensation on the journey is a lot better than a bus. A sort of quiet rolling swaying feeling, rather than being flung around. But it did make me feel travel sick and so I didn’t read while we were travelling.
All in all I think the services was very good – except for the difficulty in finding information.
Oh, I nearly forgot. The transfer from coach to bus at Gatwick is horrible. I will post in detail another time!