After the Trooping The Colour ceremony ended with a series of flyovers, it was time for me to fly away…but getting to London Heathrow Airport required careful navigation through a labyrinth of crowds and station closures.
Navigating The Labyrinth From Central London To London Heathrow Airport
As I watched the parade, my phone was buzzing from United. I was warned to get to the airport four hours early due to crowding:
Unfortunately, I knew I would have to cut this one close because I was not going to leave the ceremony early after coming all the way from Los Angeles for it.
Tens of thousands of people crowded into the Trafalgar Square area to watch this momentous event and now all of them wanted to leave. After the last flyover, I got a head start and began gently pushing my way through the crowd to get back to my hotel nearby, the Great Scotland Yard.
Crowds were so thick I ended up ducking into bars, shops and restaurants since I found myself trying to “swim upstream” as people walked north.
There was no way I could take an Uber or taxi to Heathrow from my location…it was far too crowded and all roads in the vicinity were closed. I was right at Charing Cross London Underground Station, which serves the Bakerloo and Northern line, but it was closed.
Ideally, I would have been able to walk up to Leicester Square, which has Piccadilly line service directly to Heathrow, but there were simply too many people. It was so crowded people were moving at a snail’s pace.
I scampered down the road and made my way to Embankment Station. From there, I could take the Bakerloo line to Paddington and then the Heathrow Express to LHR or I could take the District Line to Gloucester Road and then connect to the Piccadilly line (18 minutes longer, but a fraction of the price).
However, I encountered this instead:
With so many people around, mobile phone data service was weighed down and I was unable to check alternatives, though I figured if I crossed the Golden Jubilee Bridge I’d eventually hit something…hopefully.
But I waited and about 10 minutes later the gates were opened.
Inside, though, there was still a huge queue to get downstairs and it required several more minutes of waiting.
Finally, I boarded a train where we were told that Westminster and St. James’s Park stations were closed due to overcrowding. Thankfully, those were not my stops!
I opted to take the first train that arrived, which was a District Line. At Gloucester Road, I hopped off and navigated over to the Piccadilly line.
The train was packed…I stood all the way to Hatton Cross station, which is almost to Heathrow.
Finally, though, I made it.
How would the crowds be, though?
Terrible, as expected.
Thankfully, Star Alliance offers Star Gold and business class passengers a special security screening queue that saved me at least 30 minutes.
Not that it mattered.
As I finally walked out into the terminal from the security checkpoint I received another text message…my flight was further delayed.
But I made it.