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Travelling From London To Glasgow: British Airways vs. Virgin Trains – Travel Europe Tips

Travelling From London To Glasgow: British Airways vs. Virgin Trains

This yr, I began traveling between London and Glasgow pretty often. On this article, I’ll evaluate and distinction the journey between these two UK cities by high-speed rail operated by Virgin Trains, and the aircraft journey by British Airways from London Gatwick and to London Heathrow.

Virgin Trains and British Airways each have over a dozen each day providers between London and Glasgow. Picture: Chris McKenna by way of Wikimedia / Tom Boon / Easy Flying

Different methods of traveling between London and Glasgow

Aside from Virgin Trains and British Airways, a number of different choices can be found for travel between London and Glasgow so I shall get them out of the best way first, with explanation why I don’t have a tendency to decide on these choices.

First, there may be the Caledonian Sleeper: an in a single day sleeper service that runs six instances every week. This feature is inconvenient for me as I’d lose one complete night time on traveling, and much too rigid to mix with work commitments on condition that it has only one each day departure.

Then there may be the British Airways CityFlyer service between London Metropolis and Glasgow, which is tempting due to the far bigger legroom BA has on its Embraers than its Airbus plane. However Metropolis Airport is trickier to succeed in by public transport than Gatwick or Heathrow, and flights departing for Glasgow from Metropolis are usually far costlier for Friday night – Sunday afternoon return journeys.

There may be additionally Nationwide Categorical, which is by far the most cost effective possibility. It might value me lower than £6 with my Coachcard, however the journey takes far far too lengthy to justify a weekend journey.

And lastly, there are easyJet flights from Luton, Stansted and Gatwick. Whereas I typically like easyJet, they’ve a fairly poor on-time efficiency document on their night flights. Their turnaround time is so brief that any delay on their plane at any level within the day has an immediate knock-on impact on the flight I’d be taking with them late within the night. British Airways have way more beneficiant turnaround instances and extra capability to reassign plane to completely different routes, and so I’ve by no means really been delayed with them.

london at nightThe view from the aircraft: London at night time. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying


scotland trainThe view from the practice: Scotland by way of the window. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying

The journey itself

london euston to glasgow centralThe complete journey between London Euston and Glasgow Central takes four.5 hours. Picture: Screenshot by way of Google Mapsba flight to glasgow londonThe precise flight period between Gatwick or Heathrow and Glasgow is an hour. Picture: FlightRadar24

The flight is way shorter than the practice journey, however that is clearly misleading. On my final flight out of Gatwick, we waited 20 minutes for the runway to away from touchdown plane earlier than we may take off. That was so long as a 3rd of the flight time. Taxiing after touchdown at Heathrow can generally take even longer, relying on which runway the plane lands on and the way far that is from Terminal 5.

Subsequent, reaching Gatwick Airport and even Heathrow by public transport will usually take longer than reaching London Euston. In reality, once I used to travel to Gatwick from North London I needed to move by way of St Pancras, which is true subsequent to Euston.

Maybe most significantly, if you find yourself arriving late in your practice you merely hop on the following service, which is rarely greater than an hour away within the afternoons. If you’re late in your flight, you could have a critical challenge. This flexibility is much more of a bonus if you end up arriving early to the practice station, and handle to catch an earlier practice. At no further value. I managed this a number of instances, particularly if the practice earlier than the one I used to be attributable to take was delayed.

virgin trains empty seatsEmpty seats on the practice are yours to take when you miss the sooner practice. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying

Additionally, Virgin Trains closes the doorways of the high-speed practice two minutes earlier than departure. Which means you solely need to enter Euston station at 17:26 to catch a practice departing at 17:30. Examine this towards the beneficial time of arrival to the airport for home flights of two hours earlier than your flight!

Taking the practice additionally eliminates all the effort of safety checks, which cuts time and provides you extra freedom to take issues with you. Like water! Or all of the whiskey you buy in Scotland that you simply want to take right down to London with out having to pay further, as you’ll for maintain baggage when you have been flying.

BA A320The load issue for this late Friday night flight from Gatwick to Glasgow was some 98%. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying


If you’re shopping for many months prematurely, it’s positively value getting the aircraft. easyJet sells tickets from Glasgow to London for as little as £22 for each Stansted and Luton. British Airways tickets begin from £32 for flights to Gatwick and £37 for Heathrow.

Flights was once priced in single digits when Ryanair used to fly between London and Glasgow, however that is now not the case.

Video of the day:

Advance practice tickets from Euston to Glasgow will promote for as little as £19.80 (e.g. Friday 1 November, with a railcard). However these tickets will not be obtainable for buy greater than two and a half months prematurely. They’re additionally daytime tickets on workdays, so the Friday night time / Sunday afternoon equivalents are usually extra expensive.

google flights glasgow heathrowTicket costs for my Sunday night flight from Glasgow to Heathrow started climbing exponentially a month earlier than the flight, going from £37 to close £400 one-way. Picture: Screenshot, Google Flights

Buying a weekend return practice ticket simply earlier than departure will value you £90 with a railcard. That is far cheaper than aircraft tickets, which British Airways pushes as much as as excessive as £400 one-way on the day of departure. The return journey for this weekend would value an unbelievable £537 if bought on Friday morning for a LHR-GLA flight on Friday at 21:30 and GLA-LHR on Sunday at 18:25.

Onboard service

Whether or not you’re flying easyJet, British Airways or taking Virgin Trains, it’s a must to pay for meals and drinks. Except, in fact, you’re flying in BA Membership Europe.

If I’m eager to eat and drink through the journey, Virgin Trains is my most popular possibility. The onboard store has a wider number of sizzling drinks, sizzling meals and chilly snacks (and fruit!) than both British Airways or easyJet do. It is usually simpler to carry your personal meals onboard for consumption.

virgin trains legroomVirgin Trains’ legroom is fairly tight for a 5-hour journey, particularly if you’re not sitting by your self. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying


british airways legroomBritish Airways legroom is even worse, however nearly ample for a one-hour flight. Picture: Jakov Fabinger, Easy Flying

WiFi is free and obtainable to all on Virgin Trains, in contrast to on British Airways or easyJet. However be warned: streaming isn’t allowed and the pace is pretty sluggish. I used to be as soon as on a delayed practice the place the WiFi was not working in any respect.


Maybe one of the best factor about taking the practice is that the refund coverage is extra beneficiant.

For flights, you have to be delayed for 3 hours to assert compensation. You possibly can declare a refund of your full ticket for delays above 5 hours.

With Virgin Trains, after I as soon as arrived 60 minutes late I obtained refunded the complete ticket value. If the delay had been 30 minutes I’d have been compensated a 3rd of my ticket, and if it had been late two hours I’d even have been refunded even for the return ticket.

The judgment

So – finally – what do I like to recommend? My alternative is the flight, with British Airways. And right here is why:

  1. The Avios earned. I obtained 250 Avios for the Gatwick-Glasgow flight. Once I flew Heathrow-Munich I solely obtained 125.
  2. The trouble that British Airways places into on-time efficiency. I’ve by no means been late with them, solely early. Granted, I’ve all the time been fortunate with the climate, however I solely ever take flights late within the night so I’m amazed by no means to have had even a slight delay.
  3. Virgin Trains is extra susceptible to delays, both as a result of sign failures or sluggish trains being queued in entrance of their quick service (neither of which they’ll management), or for his or her inside points like the driving force needing a break (which delayed us by an hour!) or the practice breaking down mid-journey and needing a reboot (no kidding).
  4. Flying is extra fragmented: the travel to the airport, the wait, the safety, the boarding, the flight, the stroll out of the airport, the taxi to the vacation spot… This makes the 6-hour trek from England to Scotland appear shorter and much much less painful than being seated in the identical seat for 5 hours. The exception is if you’re a type of individuals who can go to sleep simply. On this case, the practice is certainly for you.

What do you suppose? Would you somewhat fly or take the practice? Tell us within the feedback.

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