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I'm travelling with my wife to London, and each of us has a 23kg suitcase with wheels and a backpack.

I understand that bus routes 490 & X26 will take me from T-5 to East Croydon, but I'm worried that we luggage of this size won't be allowed on the bus. Am I right? I read somewhere that X26 has a luggage area.. can someone help confirm that?

What are my other inexpensive options?

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    I almost always take a combination of a bus and the subway when visiting London while wheeling one 23kg suitcase + a standard checked baggage + backpack. I have never had any problems although my flights tend to arrive and leave after peak travel hours. Dec 13, 2018 at 14:08
  • Not sure about those particular buses but most of them have somewhere for wheelchair users which are also used by people with baby buggies (US=strollers) or shopping trolleys. If that space is needed by a wheelchair you may be out of luck but otherwise you should be OK. Only a comment not an answer as I have no direct knowledge of those routes.
    – mdewey
    Dec 13, 2018 at 16:55

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Summary: Route SL7 (formerly X26, formerly 726) is generally served by buses with luggage racks. If not, use the wheelchair/buggy area instead.

Furthermore, travelling by Bus is generally the most economical option for this journey, but you shouldn't take bus 490 to start your journey, as you will be joining SL7 after it departed Heathrow and hence be potentially deprived of luggage rack spaces. Consider taking the free train transfer between T5 and T2/3 and get on SL7 at its terminus.


Route SL7 is generally served by buses with luggage racks

I read somewhere that X26 has a luggage area.. can someone help confirm that?

Extremely highly likely. While I am unable to find official sources that confirm the definite existence of luggage racks in SL7 buses, this bus and coach magazine suggests that when Go Ahead-London Metrobus won the tender for SL7 (then X26) back in early 2017, they sent at least one bus to

undergo a full refurbishment, which included removing the rear door, installing luggage racks and fitting USB charging points.

Since then they have sent more buses for such refurbishment. I have employed an unusual way to check (nearly) all the buses running on SL7 are indeed equipped with luggage racks - see the last section.

It is worth noting that a bus company can sometimes send another bus, which may or may not be equipped with luggage racks, to serve route SL7. If you are lucky/unlucky to encounter one, read on.

Otherwise, use the wheelchair/buggy area

I'm worried that we luggage of this size won't be allowed on the bus. Am I right?

Not really. Let's start with the official rules, TfL condition of carriage states in Section 9:

9.2 You may bring with you:
• personal luggage that you are able to carry yourself (including on stairs)

In practice, people in London, commuters and tourists alike, regularly haul 23kg suitcases, large backpacks, shopping carts, and buggies (US read: strollers) with them on buses. Nowadays most of the London buses come with a wheelchair area. While wheelchair users get the priority, when none of them is present the space is frequently used by parents with buggies and people with heavy luggage, provided there is enough space left.

The bus driver can indeed "refuse permission for you to take any item onto our services" (condition 9.4), but they usually only exercise that power if they think letting you and your luggage on would impose a risk to other passengers, say when the bus is packed, or there are already two buggies using the wheelchair space.

In general, it is considered discourteous if you attempt to squish yourself and your luggage past other passengers when the bus is getting tight (if it is just yourself, it is slightly more acceptable, but I will leave the debate open). Otherwise, especially during off-peak hours when the bus is less packed, do get your luggage on there.

Travelling by Bus is generally the most economical option...

What are my other inexpensive options?

Depending on how you define inexpensive, you can consider using the tube and sub-urban train(s) to get to East Croydon. They are a few times more expensive than the bus, but only deliver marginal time gain, assuming you don't get lost while changing trains.

If you can drive in the UK, sometimes car rental companies offer a £1 one-way trip to get you to drive their car to a specified location, so that they don't need to spend money doing that themselves. If you managed to find a match that could potentially be a good deal (mind the hidden cost, especially on petrol, which is expensive here), but I won't count on them for availability.

...but you shouldn't take bus 490 in Heathrow T5

While taking Bus 490 would normally not cost you extra due to the hopper fare, it does mean you are changing for an SL7 at Hatton Cross, the first stop after it departs Heathrow Central Bus Station. This means you are more unlikely to get a luggage rack space when you board an SL7, as they may be already taken by passengers getting on at Heathrow Central (which serves T2/3).

There are three free options to get from T5 to T2/3 to board SL7 at Heathrow Central instead:

  • Piccadilly Line
  • Elizabeth Line
  • Heathrow Express

Bus nerd alert

For those who got some time to spare, you can check out the live bus map for SL7, and as I type the following buses are being assigned to the route. For each bus I have linked a recent photo of it - all copyrights belonged to the original uploader:

  • LX59 DFA (Photo in Aug 2018 by Howard Pulling)
  • LX59 DDL (Photo in Jul 2017 by #RandomBuses Gίrl)
  • LX59 DFD (Video in Aug 2017 showing it being assigned to route 293 on the day of filming)
  • LX59 DDY (Photo in Nov 2017 by #RandomBuses Gίrl showing it being assigned to route 405 on the day being photographed)
  • LX59 DDV (Photo in May 2018 by Bestieboy666)
  • LX59 DDN (Video in Mar 2018 by the Independent)
  • LX59 DFC (Photo in Sep 2017 by Aubrey Morandarte)

Notice all the buses come with only one set of doors and are fitted with luggage racks.

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