I'm working out the final details of our trip to London tomorrow and ended up getting more confused than when I started regarding getting from Gatwick to London (and then the reverse at the end of the week).
I have a friend that goes there frequently and she advised us to just order Oyster cards in advance so we don't have to wait in any lines or anything after we get there and could just use the Oyster to pay for the train into the city. In doing that, I saw my daughter rides free within the city as she is under 11. So, I ordered 2 cards for my wife and myself and planned to just buy a single ticket for my daughter for the train (probably Southern from Gatwick to Victoria) and the 2 of us would pay with the Oyster cards.
But, as I was trying to verify this all today and getting ready to buy her ticket I read on TripAdvisor or someplace that Oyster cards only worked within London Fare Zones and not at Gatwick. So, do I need to buy Southern Rail tickets for all three of us then? And, if so, is there any advantage to buying online in advance, or should I just wait until we are there. It appears the tickets you buy online are not time restricted anyway, so it wouldn't hurt to buy in advance. But, it seems you still have to go to a machine with your credit card to collect them which sort of defeats the purpose of getting them in advance.
Oh! Prior to our return flight we plan to spend the last night at the Courtyard Gatwick. Looking at the map appears that it is still best for us to take the train to Gatwick Airport and then we can just walk (or maybe take the shuttle from the airport to the Courtyard if the weather is bad). Is that correct?
Thanks in advance!
From January 2016, you can use Oyster Cards from Gatwick to London. At least according to the Transport for London Website you can. It says:-
"From January, passengers travelling between Gatwick Airport and London will be
able to pay as you go using contactless payments and Oyster.
The new payment methods will be available for travel between London and Gatwick Airport on Southern,
Gatwick Express and Thameslink services. Five other stations along the route - Horley, Salfords, Earlswood, Redhill and Merstham - will also benefit from the up-to-the-minute pay as you go ticket technology.
This will mean more convenience and flexibility for commuters and visitors, with improved value for money in many cases, and reduced crowding at stations. It will also allow seamless onward connections to London's transport network and National Rail services.
Already, customers from 70 countries across the world are using their contactless payment cards to pay for travel. TfL's Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said: 'Expanding Oyster and the contactless ticketing system to Gatwick Airport is a great step forward. 'We are committed to making paying for transport easier for everyone and this extension will allow travellers from across the world to quickly jump on a train to central London and start their holiday or business trip with minimum fuss.'
Currently, a single journey paper peak-time ticket costs £15.40 from London terminals to Gatwick Airport
(excluding Gatwick Express). With pay as you go, a rush hour trip will cost £14.00, and £8.00 off-peak. Gatwick Express single journey on pay as you go will be £19.80 - a saving of 10p on the current single fare."
As to getting from the train to the Courtyard hotel, personally I wouldn't mess about with luggage trying to find it on foot. The railway station is one side of the airport South Terminal, the hotel is the other, and therefore on foot it would be a rather circuitous route. I would hop in a taxi at the station and get to the hotel without the hassle of having to find it myself.
The walk from the South terminal to the Courtyard is easy enough, with one peice of wheeled luggage, if you're a parent trying to pull 3 or 4 bits on behalf of kids that's tougher. The Courtyard has a shuttle but it costs so if there are more than 2 of you a taxi is likely to be the cheaper option.
As for getting from Gatwick to London, your tripadvisor review is out of date, as Tommo781 has highlighted, from the beginning of this year you can certainly use an Oyster card but it will be cheaper to buy a return paper ticket. Also, the Gatwick Express is exempt from the free child rule so you'll have to pay child fare for your kids. You can buy your ticket online, the easiest place is thetrainline.com but it does charge a small fee. Sites like redspottedhanky.cm don't charge fees but are more confusing. Your can buy your return anytime ticket online for yourself and the kids but beware, the rules of tickets for Gatwick are horribly confusing and you need the right anytime return for the right train, which doesn't necessarily correspond with the company running the service. You could of course commit to certain times and get an advance ticket but that's not wise with flights as they're non-refundable in the event you miss the train. To see the complexity of it all, go to the trainline and tap in your departure as gatwick and arrival as London (any) and see the different services each different ticket is valid on. if you tap the "direct" link it will list the stops each train makes and the carrier, indicating whether its Gatwick Express, Thameslink or southern.
Although not cheapest way of doing a return journey ( because oyster only charges singles) the Oyster card is accepted on all trains running from Gatwick to London, but your kids will need to be paid for on the Gatwick Express, though not on Southern or Thames-link.
Sorry, I do wish it was easier. It should be!
Oh the vagaries of Transport For London brightlybob. Which is why with luggage I always get a taxi! But I do appreciate not everyone can justify the cost. I guess the best thing for @7 (why doesn't that name come up as everyone elses does) to do, is to buy tickets when he arrives at the station!
I was about to say that someone mentioned before that so many usernames start with 7 that it wouldn't tag me for that reason. However, as I was typing this I put it in as an experiment and it looked like it did: 7
So, beats me!
I did @ my own name, then switched to HTML editor. I changed my user name from Seatexan to 7... I mean, in text only... and it worked!
Edit: ok its not working! :/
Edit 2: I wrote @7 then highlighted, and clicked the A with the link at the top, then went to history and people (scroll down) and you happened to be in my history of people and I could link you from there. How complicated!
Message was edited by: SeaTexan
Don't use the Gatwick express as it's relatively more expensive than the regular train:
If you take a fast train to London Bridge it takes you under 30 minutes and you pay around £10 per person.
Don't use your oyster cards either: when traveling with your family (3-4 persons) you can book a family rate which is significantly cheaper (use the add a travel card option on the website).
So, I assume I should get the "Family and Friends Railcard"? It's funny because it looks like that costs 30GBP, but I guess the discount is so great that the cost of 3RT tickets dropped from almost 70GBP just just under 50GBP. That definitely makes it seem like a no-brainer.
Edit: Or, did I totally misunderstand and "Adding" a railcard doesn't actually add it to your purchase and I have to purchase it separately.
I found this on-line
A: You can only buy online is you are able to give a UK-delivery address. We cannot send Railcards to non-UK addresses. Alternatively, you can buy a Railcard at a staffed rail station ticket office in England, Scotland, or Wales or a National Rail-licensed Travel Agent on arrival.
You can also buy a Railcard at Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport rail stations, Luton Airport Parkway and Manchester Airport – but NOT at London Heathrow Airport.
I remember I bought my first Senior Railcard at a station. My 60th birthday was in the middle of a holiday, so I got it at the station as soon as I could. Since then I have renewed it on-line.