Weekly commuting from Frankfurt to the UK

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Have any of you commuted on a regular basis to South East England?

 

What was the best way to travel between Frankfurt and South East England. There are flights to London Heathrow and London City, but I don't really want to drive to Heathrow every Monday morning, and park my car there for 5 days, almost every week.

 

Has anyone tried to connect via Eurostar in Paris or Bruges?

 

Flights would cost EUR110 - 120 if these prices are available, is that the best method of commuting?

 

I'd expect to have to travel from either Heathrow or City airport for another 2 hours by car or train?

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Thanks

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Paris to Frankfurt "fast" is still four hours. It's about 3.5 from Brussels and 5 from Bruges. dbahn.de can be used to see train timetables for such connections.

Add on the train from the UK and through the tunnel / getting to your UK departure place / connection waits and that's really a heck of a lot of time. You also have to incorporate a one hour time difference forward into your plan (so, say, even a 0630 flight departure would touch down earliest at 0830 in Germany when many people are well into their workday). So probably not advisable / non-starter.

 

One of the major advantages of living near a massive European airport is that there is rarely need to commute to London / SE / any served UK airport (or even major German cities) in any other way. Door-to-door to where I need to go in London / Manc etc is under four hours. No other route can possibly compete with that (and it's usually cheapest too).

 

If you really can't hack the 0700 red-eye or whatever, your best bet is to do what a lot of European commuters do and catch the last flight back Sunday where, in your case, at least you have no onward late night connection to worry about.

 

As to flight prices, there tons of seats on offer between these two places so its generally cheap although you might expect the usually work start / end peaks to be more in demand particularly when big events etc are on.

 

EDIT - There are no flights from London Gatwick and the "Southampton" ones are an 8 hour journey involving a stopover in Manchester!

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EDIT - There are no flights from London Gatwick and the "Southampton" ones are an 8 hour journey involving a stopover in Manchester!

That's not true, some are, but there are also direct flights from FRA to Southampton with Flybe.

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So where are these direct flights from Southampton then (that would be in anyway suitable for a normal Monday commuter)? Picking Monday 13 September at random, there is one, flight 1277 at 1535. Every one of the options listed earlier is listed as going by Manc.

 

I've had problems like this before running project teams in Europe. Team members all started out presuming their local "low cost" airline with a "route" to their destination was an easy solution to avoid LHR but there were either no flights at times anyone would want, or the Monday / Friday routes were booked up months in advance, or they were stopovers.

 

And same for Gatwick? Where are these direct flights? Neither the FIA nor Gatwick website timetables list the other place as a destination. From the years I lived close to Gatwick before moving here, there were never any (or I'd certainly have used them). If you want central London from FIA you have City or Heathrow and that's it.

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I have no idea re Gatwick, I only made a comment about Southampton, and also not about whether the direct flights were at convienent times or not, just wanted to correct the fact that no direct flights wasn't accurate. Who knows what arrangement he may have with his employer or what his working hours are anyway (unless he stated those and I missed it, also likely), my friend commutes often and she can often work the Mon or the Fri from FRA from home. I know there's a flight Friday evenings from Frankfurt to Southampton (direct) but no idea re Monday morning, that wasn't my point anyway. F*** it's Friday, everyone should be in a good mood surely!

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Eight years on from this earlier discussion, and I'm wondering if there's anybody out there who commutes regularly from Frankfurt to London nowadays (by plane, rail or some other means) - if so, how do you do it?  Do you have any hacks to make the trip work for you with a minimum of fuss and/or expense?  Doesn't have to be any particular rhythm of travel (whether Mon-Fri, or once a month or whatever) - just looking for general experiences and trying to figure out how do-able it would be should I find myself in a position to need that kind of commute.

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I have not done it long term recently, last regularly was 2015.    Obvious hack that makes most of the difference for most of us - Get someone to pay for it.   That's what most of rest of us are doing.  We're not forking out 150 Euro a week of our own wealth.   Second - Live with quick and easy access to your departure airport.   On your own money, total flexibility is what you need.  Then you can find a lower end fare but it is often total flexibility (the 7am take off, the 2300 arrival).  Early flights from here are good because the time difference can get you to UK by 8am.   

 

It also depends on your London destination:  LHR quicker for west, LCY for centre / east.   The biggest difference from 2010 is probably that Ryanair also uses FIA now (not only Hahn) but lands in Essex with a 40 min ride to London.  I can do home to UK destination in under 4 hours and I don't find it difficult - flying from FIA is a breeze.   Not a lot different from a past Manc - Lon train routine.   However, there will be transit issues and you would be at the mercy of providers.  I can do it for projects (and not just London) but not long term and, as I say, I'd pass on the cost.

 

There's been talk of a direct train for years, which would go north presumably to KX, but the current 7 hours is too long I think for frequent travellers.

 

I've seen many people working for me and such over the years who tend to start extremely positively with an "of course I can just jump on ryanair..." idea, but the irregular schedule does take its toll and, really, a lot of them were at the end of the day wanting the standard Monday / Friday (which is at least pricy and possibly not on offer even on "budgets").

 

 

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9 minutes ago, swimmer said:

...

 

There's been talk of a direct train for years, which would go north presumably to KX, but the current 7 hours is too long I think for frequent travellers.

...

 

 

The last information on this is that DB would like to launch in 2020 with a direct Frankfurt to St Pancras  train which would take ~5 hours.  But they need special trains to do this (to handle the different overhead currents which each country has!) and they don't have enough of them at the moment and especially not for the UK lines.  

 

So they are saying 2020, but also say that they want to prioritise other routes first so that this might take up to a decade before it is realised!!  

 

And who knows how this might be impacted by Brexit and increased/different border controls.

 

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Thanks, swimmer and DJ_Jay. 

 

I'd be flying to Heathrow given my West London destination; other airports wouldn't really help.

 

I hadn't even thought about the impact of changes to border controls... and didn't know about the fast train service on the horizon. I've done the 7.5 hr-trip by rail and found it fine as it was, but not sure I would want to do it on a regular basis.  Five hrs by rail FRA to St Pancras would be a huge boon if it ever comes to fruition. 

 

 

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The UK part is now quite a bit faster (relative of course), so it's already only 5 hours on a train from Frankfurt to London, but you need to change at Brussels (Midi/Zuid). On top of the travel time you need to allow for the change and customs checks at Brussels. 6 hours is feasible (if...big if, there are no delays). It isn't a cheap option unless you book in advance. Oh, and if your client is in West London, you've then got the joy of trecking across town by Tube. 

Probably more of a pain in terms of logistics, but if you can travel a bit either end, you could save time any money by using cheaper airlines and smaller airports. For example, if I have to go to Reading, which is only about 20 miles from Heathrow, it's actually quicker to fly in and out of Southampton (about 50 miles away), because there are rarely any check in queues, and a small train station/car park right next door. If you're on a late night flight, the plane sometimes even taxis right up to the door for passport control.

 

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I did London<->DUS for several years, and London<->AMS for a while before that, living variously in Hammersmith, Charlton, and Greenwich. I would double-check if LCY is doable for your use case - an hour crossing London may be worthwhile if you save time queuing to get through security (or, in the worst case sometimes, to get off the motorway exit to the terminal at Heathrow!) When I was in Hammersmith, LCY was 75 minutes' commute rather than the 30-45 for Heathrow, but it was often worth it for me.

 

One other thought is, if this is mostly for work, whether your employers (if any) would allow you to include train travel as 'work time' to some extent. It's far easier to remain connected on the train with a mobile hotspot or on-board WiFi these days, and much more pleasant too. Taking part in conference calls or similar might also be possible. One of my co-workers takes the ICE up from Munich to Dusseldorf every Monday morning, and can process e-mail and work on documents fine.

 

As mentioned above, you also need to gut-check your own constitution. Up before 5am-ish every Monday and spend 4-5 hours travelling? Lose your Sunday evening to get a good night's sleep? Take a Sunday evening Eurostar to Brussels, sleep there, then onwards into Germany on the Monday morning? I've done all three; it really depends on how you value your time, how you react/cope with travel, and how much you can get by on early Monday starts.

 

For me, a couple of hours on a train let me get work done while chilling to some music, while an hour on a plane + security + terminal time was generally time to doze or stare blearily ahead.

 

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I don't think anyone can give you a magic recipe. I've been waiting for the fantasy direct Frankurt Hbf-St Pancras connections for years. I still remember when they announced that it would be running by 2012. I've given up on ever being on that train. I travel regularly to London because my better half lives there and at this rate, he will have retired and not living there by the time you can get on a train in Frankfurt and get off in St Pancras without changes and in less than five hours.

 

I've been doing the monthly, or bi-monthly commute for almost twenty years now. I did a weekly commute for about three months but that was too much. I could cope but I was younger then. How to make it easiest depends on where exactly in London you have to go to. For me, London City is the most convenient airport but I mostly can't afford the fares and I have to fly to Heathrow and spend an eternity on the Picadilly line. Of course, if you live near Paddington and you can afford the fare every week, the Heathrow express is great. It doesn't really work for me, unfortunately.

 

The main problems I find with commuting to London are:

 

1. You have to book all your travel way ahead of time in order to ensure that you get a seat at a low price on the flight you want. This means that if you have to change your plans you are screwed because cheap fairs are universally non-refundable. You then have to live with the fact that everything has to be planned months in advance. You can't spontaneously change your routine without forfeiting a paid airfare.

 

2. Flight disruptions/delays. You constantly have to deal with the inherent unreliability of flying. Delays and cancellations happen; a lot. Besides strikes, snow storms, computer failures and other minor catastrophes, British Airways has screwed up on me twice in the last few months. They just canceled my flight without an explanation. I am almost 100% certain the cancellations were due to flights having light loads, which prompted the airline to save money by canceling flights and consolidating passengers in other flights. This means that you have to be prepared not to be able to make it to your workplace or miss other appointments.

 

I don't think Brexit or no Brexit is going to make much of a difference. The UK is not in Schengen anyway and it already became more time consuming to get across the border shortly after 9/11. Things have got better in the last few years because of the ubiquitous automated gates, but it's still a far cry from just being waved through by the immigration agents by just flashing a burgundy passport, which was often the case before 2002.

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1 hour ago, liebling said:

I'd be flying to Heathrow given my West London destination; other airports wouldn't really help.

 

 

 

That's actually the point.  If you have to do this, a work location close to an airport is what makes it feasible.   It's actually a pretty good route for west London.

 

What I recall about doing it and colleagues is that work is increasingly flexible but our wider lives still are not.  That is still hooked to Mon-Fri 9-5 and there's an increasing expectation that one has a home life now, packed full of family and interests.   (There wasn't when I started in the 90s, the slacker heyday). 

 

Those colleagues quickly hit cycles of needing to be home at the typical weekend times.   If you have much homelife, it quickly gets difficult.   The last one I got everything from  kids wailing "But where are you???" to your family and mates saying "but you forgot the football season's so we'll need to go to Matchday 2 at blah blah..." and god knows what.  In addition, "flexibility" is a nice idea but it can quickly wear to be the person hanging round for the 1930 flight home when everyone else is heading off at 2pm, or departing at 2200 on Sunday when everyone around you's not.   That requires a certain mindset.

 

Quote

Flight disruptions/delays. You constantly have to deal with the inherent unreliability of flying.

 

Right.  The first time you get the Friday delay and your 48 hour weekend is blown away by a 1am arrival time, not 6pm, the reality hits you.    Any sort of commitment on top, and it's hard to keep that up.

 

Another thing better for me is that the airport bus now stops on my street.  Not turfed off at the station.   Transit this end does tend to follow societal need.  Great :).  For 19 Euro return, however.  Not the absolute bargain £3.00 offpeak return in London Zone 2-6. 

 

One hack I mentioned the other day.   Unlimited free hot drinks at FIA (courtesy LH).   At least you do not have to pay for that, during regular hours anyway.    Also increasing number of other amenities and services.  

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1 hour ago, swimmer said:

One hack I mentioned the other day.   Unlimited free hot drinks at FIA (courtesy LH).

 

Did they reintroduce free drinks? Last I was there (some time last year) they had introduced machines which take money and removed all free drinks. They're cheaper than the shops but not free

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Yes, some of us others had this discussion last week.  Little machines at many of the main T1 LH departure gates but it is freely available i.e. you do not have to be on that gate's flight or an LH passenger.   They are not new, I've used them for years.  I'd never come across these others.   Modern good stuff too - proper strong tea bags, brewed coffee etc.    You can sometimes grab it on arrival as it's an open airport (but not sure if that applies to people directed from non-Schengen).

 

As to Brexit, one of the replies probably hints where it's heading.  Fewer flights (those BA merged cancellations).  The UK government has a stated priority for new trade with different nations, after all.  They are pretty clear things will change.  And business here is moving on too.

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12 minutes ago, swimmer said:

 

 

As to Brexit, one of the replies probably hints where it's heading.  Fewer flights (those BA merged cancellations).  

 

i agree. I’ve noticed that flights between London and Frankfurt are not as full as thry used to be. Prices also seem to have come down a bit. 

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I do this trip quite a lot, for similar reasons to Smaug by the sounds of it but in my case my girlfriend lives in Middlesex so LHR makes sense in terms of location.

 

For FRA-LHR return typically BA have been the cheapest, and their Avios points scheme has come in handy to - if you have an Amex BAPP you get 3x your spend on BA.com back in Avios points, and 1.5 points for everything else. And if you shop at Tesco, there are sometimes Clubcard bonuses that double or triple the value of your vouchers if you exchange them for Avios points. And finally, Aer Lingus and Iberia occasionally do Avios point sales and sometimes these offer superb value (I was happy getting 16K Avios points for around 170€, as off peak it's about 8000 points for a return FRA-LHR trip, even when booking last minute when the cash price has skyrocketed).

 

If Stanstead is okay, then Ryanair have some very cheap fares, but often their timetable seems incredibly inconvenient.

 

Lufthansa offer the earliest LHR-FRA departure times, and flying from FRA T1 always feels a much better experience than FRA T2. And the security design of T2, having the scanners just before the boarding gate... so many times I've been stuck there for ages whilst fretting about missing my flight!

 

Personally I prefer flying Lufthansa (although really enjoy the 767 flight that BA puts on this route once a day, will miss the 767 when they retire it soon) but with Avios points easier for me to obtain than Miles and More points, BA made more sense. I can use BillHop to pay my rent with my BAPP card, which means getting a healthy dose of Avios points for just paying the rent on time.

 

For BA, I tended to find that the best prices tended to be flying out on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and returning on Sunday or Monday. Return tickets tended to be cheaper than singles.

 

 

Occasionally, if not booking too far in advance, sometimes using a flight engine would throw up Austrian, Brussels, or Swiss as being the cheapest options; but that does mean a layover, which might be inconvenient and not good for tight timescales.

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On 04/06/2018, 17:11:15, Smaug said:

 

i agree. I’ve noticed that flights between London and Frankfurt are not as full as thry used to be. Prices also seem to have come down a bit. 

 

I've been on a big BA 767 and only counted 5 other passengers... but I've also been on A319s that have been completely rammed.

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On 4.6.2018, 16:56:06, swimmer said:

   Modern good stuff too - proper strong tea bags...

 

 

- you crack me up, Swimmer!!!

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