Low cost airlines offer deals on flights that often can’t be beat. They can afford to sell such cheap seats for a few reasons. The first is that governments often subsidize an airline’s costs in order to promote tourism. The second is that low cost carriers generally have a very low luggage weight limit, and will charge you a bundle should you go over. Finally and most inconvenient, low cost carriers use secondary airports, which are often hours away from the city center, in order to cut operating costs.
So, unless your destination is near your arrival airport, you are going to need to find a cheap ride to the city center. The high speed train is the quickest yet most expensive means. And many airports around major cities offer this. Your next option, which is substantially cheaper, is to go by bus or local train *if available. However, not all busses offer competitive fares, so be sure to check online in advance. Finally, the cheapest option is to hitchhike. Since almost everyone is going in the same direction, getting a ride with your thumb is definitely doable.
In order to better illustrate the various means of transportation and their costs, lets take a look at London’s Gatwick airport. Not only did I just do a lot of research on this airport in preparation for my arrival here, but it also epitomizes a peripheral airport’s transportation service options.
1) Gatwick Express
A highspeed rail line that runs from Gatwick’s south terminal to Victoria station in central London. Though it is most expensive, at a price of 23 £, it is only a 30 minute ride. Tickets can be found for 16 £ if you buy online in advance. If you’re late to Hogwarts, this is your train.
2) First Capital Trains
Considered a local train, First Capital makes mutiple stops on its way from Gatwick to Kings Cross station. Though it is cheaper than the Express, at roughly 10 pounds, it takes around 45 minutes.
3) National Express
“When your life’s a mess take the National Express!” This Bus is the most widely in used the UK and can often be the cheapest for long hauls. However, if your traveling between Gatwick and London, there are plenty of cheaper and quicker bus services out there. A one way fare from either the north or south terminal to Victoria runs at 7 pounds and takes approximately 90 minutes.
4) Mega Bus
Mega Bus is another popular buss company throughout the UK and offers competitive fares from Gatwick. Prices depend on the dates you travel and can range from 2 to 10 pounds.
A branch of the low cost carrier Easy Jet, EasyBus offers the lowest fare but only if you book online in advance. The starting rate is 2 pounds from Gatwick to West Brompton station and takes a reasonable 70 minutes. Careful though, like the Easy Jet, Easy Bus has a luggage limit of 23kg and if you go over, expect to pay more.
The best way to find a ride begins on the plane. Try striking up a conversation with your neighbor and see where it takes you. If you don’t have any luck, your next best option is to ask around the parking garage. Finally, you can always stand around the airport exit. However, make sure to be discreet in order to avoid power hungry traffic cops. For more information check out, “A Guide To Hitchhiking.”