We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

New Jersey
posts: 13
reviews: 16
Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

I absolutely hate suggested arrival times e.g. (For international flights, be at the airport 3 hours before departure).

Now I have never been outside of N.A., but on most flights, I have checked in online made it through bag drop in 5-15 minutes, then security in 5-10 mins. (30 mins max). The most I have spent trying to get to a gate was an hour in SFO, and that is because we had to go back through security.

Realistically, is 1-1.5 hours before hand enough time at Heathrow. It will be terminal 5, Monday late afternoon.

posts: 1,485
reviews: 200
1. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

Are you asking if getting to the airport 1.5 hours before departure is enough time before coming back to the US?

Or, are you asking, is 1.5 hours enough time of a layover before moving onto another destination?

posts: 2,634
reviews: 73
2. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

I've never turned up at LHR more than 90 minutes before a flight if I only have hand luggage and have never missed a flight and pretty much always have time for a drink in the lounge. If I've a bag to check I do aim for 90 minutes plus.

But past performance is not an indication of the future and I pretty much always have fast track security access.

Also consider that some of the satellite gates at T5 require you to take a small train from the main terminal and this can add 15 minutes plus to the journey time to the gate.

New Jersey
posts: 13
reviews: 16
3. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

1.5 hours checking in at LHR for flight to the US.

Also thanks for the T5 train tip!

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,838
reviews: 53
4. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

Put it this way, there's a conformance check before security. If you are arrive there less than 35min before departure they don't let you through.

I've flown through T5 dozens of times and find it is, on the whole, a very slick operation. I'm Fast track eligible and it's never taken me more than about 10mins to clear security (and that includes times of heightened terror alerts), it doesn't look like SlowTrack is much slower.

I always leave the lounges when the signs change to boarding now and have never missed a flight yet, even from the C gates. There are more things to do (i.e. shop and eat) in the main terminal versus the satellites.

I'd say 1.5hrs would be plenty.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 46,385
reviews: 14
5. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

If you walk in to T5 on a Monday afternoon at 60 - 90 minutes before scheduled flight departure, you may have to scramble to ensure you're not offloaded as a no show.

BA's rule for T5 departures is that pax must be checked in, bags dropped and through Security no later than 35 minutes before scheduled departure time. Add to that the potential for queues at Security and a 20 minute journey from Security to gate* and you will need to get your skates on.

*If your flight is long haul, it will probably depart from a gate at one of the satellite terminal buildings. It's a hike to those satellite gates, including a short trip on a free transit train and a handful of escalators. 15 minutes from the main terminal building to a B or C gate isn't an unusual length of time for the trek. Pax must be at the gate at least 20 minutes before scheduled departure time, as doors will close 10 minutes before pushback.

Also, T5 is a large building on a small footprint. There aren't (in my view) enough escalators or lifts between floors, so making your way through the building isn't a straightforward walk from here to there (although there may be a few shortcuts).

If you check in on line you need not be at T5 three hours before departure, but I don't think one hour is enough time; 90 minutes is the absolute minimum I'd want at that busy airport.

Keep in mind that any delays in transport to the airport could throw a spanner into the works.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,363
reviews: 76
6. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

My suggestion is 2 hours. 90 minutes is way too close. I am a frequent flier with status so I can make it in 90 minutes, but it doesn't feel too comfortable after considering all the formalities.

Calgary, Canada
posts: 2,814
reviews: 41
7. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

I like to clear at 3 hours and then sit with a very big glass of wine near the departure gate.

Call me weird.

North Attleboro...
posts: 3
reviews: 7
8. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

Well, it all depends. Sometimes I get though bag drop and security pretty quickly, and by that I mean 90 minutes. I'd never hope for less than that. Last time, it took me over an hour to get through security, then you have to take the transport to the gate area. I always do give myself the recommended 3 hours, and although it's never take that long, there are plenty of things to pass the time in Terminal 5. I hate to leave London so early to get to the airport, but I'd rather take my time rather than run frantically through the airport with my heart pounding! I usually get a snack and then shop around the shops while I wait- it's all part of the experience! :)

posts: 586
reviews: 1
9. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

I'm with Africandaisy. Get there early and relax. Also unless you are staying very near Heathrow you need to consider possible delays on your mode of transport to the airport.

Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse
posts: 2,623
reviews: 69
10. Re: Realistically, how long to get to the gate - (LHR) Heathrow?

Absolutely agree - I wouldn't risk getting there any less than 2 hours before the flight. The routine feels different than the USA airports, as you can't go to the gate once you are through security - they won't even post the gate number until they want you to go there.

It's not worth the risk of missing the flight.