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On a Monday afternoon in May 2019, I will take the National Express from LHR T3 to Cambridge. I can make a reservation, or not. Making a reservation guarantees a seat. Making a reservation for two hours after the flight's scheduled ETA would allow for delays, but isn't appealing as my flight has very good on-time performance. No reservation allows me to take the next available bus...provided there are empty seats.

Are buses on this route often or usually full?

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    Have you investigated ticket change costs? It may be reasonable to book a bus you are sure to catch, and change your reservation if your flight is on-time and an earlier bus has seats. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 17 '18 at 0:53
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    @PatriciaShanahan I did. The change fee is £5, payable either at ticket purchase or on the ground (so to speak) at LHR on the day of travel. Yours is a very good suggestion, thanks. I'd hadn't considered aiming long, and it's an appealing strategy. – David Dec 17 '18 at 1:04
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In my experience, this bus is rarely full, and is really very unlikely to be full on a Monday afternoon. One reason for this is that it isn't a particularly cheap or quick way to get to Cambridge (£25, at least 2.5 hours).

Of course there are no guarantees, but in your position I would go without a reservation and see what the bus situation is. In the unlikely event that the bus is full, you could (for about the same cost) take the Piccadilly (London Underground) Line from Heathrow to King's Cross (about 45 mins - 1 hr) and then then train to Cambridge from there (50 mins for a fast service). Depending on how you balance the convenience of not having to travel through London with the duration and discomfort of the bus journey, you might choose to do this anyway.

  • Compared to the tube and the trains from Kings Cross, these buses (coaches, actually) are very comfortable. – Gremlin Dec 17 '18 at 14:09
  • True, the tube can be hellish when it's busy, but it's no fun being stuck on a coach for 3 hours on the M25 either. You pays your money and you takes your choice. – user13190 Dec 17 '18 at 14:16
  • @user13190 Thanks for your observations. I've done LHR > KGX > CBG by Underground and rail several times, visiting our son in Cambridge. This time, I thought I'd try something different and see some different scenery. – David Dec 17 '18 at 17:36
  • One advantage of the coach is you don't have to,lug your luggage around the tube and trains. The driver puts it into the hold underneath and gets it out once you arrive. – Sarriesfan Dec 17 '18 at 23:22

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