In this post, I’m taking a look at how Journey Planner provides information on travelling to airports. This is very topical at the moment, with London Travel Watch (LTW) producing a report called Improving Public Transport Access to London Airports earlier this month. The report is available to download from this page.

For several years, the different airlines at Heathrow have been available as Points of Interest within Journey Planner. This means customers can enter their airline name to be routed directly to check-in, without needing to check which terminal they are flying from.  This information fully reflects the latest moves into Terminal 2.

The different airlines at Heathrow are included as Points of Interest within Journey Planner

The different airlines at Heathrow are included as Points of Interest, so you can be routed directly to check-in.


We have also added the check-in areas at London City Airport. In partnership with National Express, we delivered a project to include the comprehensive Hotel Hoppa bus network at Heathrow, adding a number of new hotels to our system, and working with the complementary Traveline Journey Planner to ensure that services from places outside London to Heathrow are fully reflected too.

The latter is particularly important for the sizeable workforce at Heathrow as well as those flying. All of these improvements are available not only on the website, but to users of the Journey Planner open data API.

In the future we will add all airlines at Gatwick, distinguishing between the North and South terminals, and contributing to smoother journeys. Fares information will be integrated into the Journey Planner, addressing a common complaint that Heathrow Express is too readily returned in solutions, though the system is well-placed already to support changes in Oyster validity as recommended in LTW’s report.

We believe Journey Planner should help people to decide which airport is best for them in terms of the transport links available, a key factor in the report, as well as supporting TfL colleagues with comprehensive information, particularly if a “city air hub” is set up, as LTW recommend.

Our team is committed to building our knowledge of the aviation industry and its passenger needs, and developing contacts to enable this. We look forward to the further development of Journey Planner to make travelling to London’s airports as easy and convenient as possible.

Posted by Gerard Butler

Journey Planner Lead

6 Comments

  1. A journey to the airport is one where the TfL JourneyPlanner is failing to give the traveller clear and correct information. I raised this during the Beta test stage but there does not seem to be any progress.

    it so happens that I want to travel from Bromley to Terminal 3 tomorrow. If I ask for the default fastest routing it tells me to go to Paddington and take a train from there, showing a service with a National Rail symbol. In the absence of any other information it does not warn me that Heathrow Express is not part of the National Rail network, does not charge standard fares or accept Oyster. The old journey planner did, at least, give that warning. The situation is made worse by the fact that Heathrow Express has open boarding and so someone relying on the information the Journey Planner has given them my not realise that their Oyster is not valid until the doors have closed and the train departed, thus meaning they have no choice but to pay the maximum fare chargeable. Even if they find out before the train’s departure, because of the differences in journey time, there may not be sufficient time to change routing.

    If I were to be aware of this restriction, because my journey has to start on National Rail, there is no simple way of excluding journeys via Paddington because, whilst the planner allows me to add an additional via point does not have a ‘via exclusion’ function.

    Having spent some time with the planner I have found ways of getting the information I need. However, the ordinary punter will expect the information to be appropriate. The lack of non-availability of Oyster also applies to other journeys within the planner. So, urgently needed are :

    1. Warnings when journeys include operators who do not accept Oyster
    2. An Oyster-only filter
    3. A ‘not via’ filter.

    I notice that it is admitted that the inclusion of Heathrow Express is a problem. Whilst being able to add fares into the planner would be a nice enhancement the multiplicity of routes and zones may mean that this is not something that can be fixed quickly whereas more straightforward yes/no filters could surely be added more quickly.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. The warning message you have mentioned has been refreshed and now appears under the “stations and accessibility” link for journeys via Heathrow Express (the titling of this link is being reviewed as part of user experience) – and also to Gatwick, which has been highlighted as well. An Oyster only option is not possible until the integration of wider fares information, and whilst a “not via” function exists on the customised staff version of Journey Planner, this works in terms of avoiding locations rather than operators.

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    2. Lawrence O'Donnell May 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      I find this annoying too. To remove the Heathrow Express option I just select via Hatton Cross.

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  2. I consistently have problems when I click on “View on a map”. A map comes up of the entire London area, but there is no route indicated. I am using Windows 8 and the map problem is seen on both Chrome v38 and Explorer v10.

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  3. Hi, thanks for all the great work you guys are doing, it’s looking good. I have a question. I am using the API as defined in http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/journey-planner-api-documentation.pdf . I have previously been using calls to http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XML_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=en… to request information but calls to this are now failing and my app is no longer working. Has this API been discontinued? Thanks in advance for any information.

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  4. Journey Planner MUST NOT give as the only option to get to LHR as “Heathrow Express” which is what it currently often does. Luckily I live here and know that that is a very costly route. Poor tourists! But for me, I want to see the suggested route EXCLUDING Heathrow Express, WHICH YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO DO ON YOUR PREVIOUS (AND SUPERIOR) PLANNER!

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