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time required between flights at Heathrow

Brentwood, Tennessee
posts: 2
reviews: 3
time required between flights at Heathrow

I want to book a flight from Paris to London Heathrow. I need to catch an American Airlines flight to Miami leaving Heathrow at 12:15pm. How much time do I need to clear customs and catch my Miami-bound flight?

posts: 9,979
reviews: 35
1. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

Customs takes 30 seconds to walk through. However to get to that stage you have to go through Immigration which can take up to an hour.

If you are booking the flight as a through ticket with your flight to Miami (which you really should), then you won't go through either as you won't come landside. In which case the minimum connection allowed is 90 minutes.

If you are arranging your own connection on a separate ticket (which you really shouldn't), you will have to come through immigration and customs, possibly make your own way to another terminal, and check in and go through security again. Then you will need more like 4 hours.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 46,861
reviews: 14
2. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

wirewiper is right in that the minimum connection time is 90 minutes; he may be more risk-tolerant than I, as I would allow at least two hours (if not more) to make an airside connection at Heathrow.

T5 and T3 aren't near one another; should you book a through ticket (and you should) you'll take a bus from T5 Flight Connections to T3, with buses every five to 10 minutes and travel time of up to 15 minutes. There is the potential for queues at T3 Flight Connections Security, not to mention the potential delay of your flight from CDG or a delay in it getting on stand at T5.

The minimum connection time is just that: the bare minimum, considered as a best time for when everything goes to plan. That's not always the case in life, so allow some extra time, which you may or may not need, and reduce one stressor, even a little.

posts: 41,821
reviews: 88
3. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

I'd fly in the night before. Your tolerance for risk may be higher, or it may not be you paying for a new flight to Miami should there be an issue and you miss it. In which case you need, as Wirewiper says, to be looking at flight that gets in by 9am latest and 8am much better. I wouldn't do 9am on my money.

posts: 1,940
reviews: 26
4. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

American Airlines is partners with BA - this means that if your first flight is on BA you should be able to check your baggage all the way even on separate tickets, which would allow you to transfer airside and never enter the UK (European countries are different in that respect from the USA - we do airside transfers where you don't have to clear Immigration/Customs). But you want to check with BA to make sure.

On a through ticket (i.e., CDG-LHR-MIA all in one booking) it is the airline's responsibility to get you to your final destination if you miss your connection due to a delay. On a through ticket 90 minutes is fine as long as you don't HAVE TO get back to Miami at a specific time.

On separate tickets, with baggage checked through (or with hand baggage only) I always work on a minimum of four hours.

If you're unable to check your baggage all the way then, as a previous poster said, you really want to play safe and get to LHR the night before.

Liverpool, UK
posts: 10,184
reviews: 24
5. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

I'd definitely book a BA flight from Paris to LHR as the AA policy is to treat seperately ticketed flights as through ticketed flights where the flight is operated by a oneworld alliance partner. This should mean that if you miss the AA flight then they will still get you to Miami - see link for more details on the AA policy.


Phoenix, Arizona
posts: 21
6. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

I am in a similar situation and need advice. Arriving LHR T1 on United fron Washington (IAD) at 0620. Will need to get to BA T5(?) for a connection to Amsterdam. However these had to be separate tickets as the first is free award travel. Is this still a through fare? I was planning not to have to go through immigration, customs, baggage etc. but now I'm confused. Amsterdam departure leaves at 0830.

Thanks in advance.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 46,861
reviews: 14
7. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

If you have bought separate tickets it's not a through fare, and it is very unlikely UA will interline your bags from a Star Alliance carrier to a oneWorld carrier especially with separate tickets. To that end you will need to go through passport control (at a very busy time of day at LHR), collect your bags and then schlep across the airport to T5.

Two hours *may* be enough time if all goes very well and you disembark as quickly as possible, but if the flght from PHX is delayed on departure or in getting on stand at LHR you will miss the flight to AMS. You will have to check in at T5 and be through Security no later than 35 minutes before scheduled flght departure or else you will be off loaded.

The landside connection between T1 and T5 will mean a hike from T1 Arrivals to the rail station for the free HEX shuttle to T5 - and those shuttles run just four times an hour. Taking a taxi from T1 to T5 could be a quicker option, but will cost about £10 - 14.

There are a great many potential sticking points for a landside connection, and two hours allows very little time for irrops. If you haven't booked the flight to AMS yet, I'd consider changing it to one that departs after 0930.

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7,936
reviews: 15
8. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

"However these had to be separate tickets as the first is free award travel. Is this still a through fare?"

Not if the tickets are booked separately. 2h10m is a lot less time to connect than I would be comfortable with.

posts: 41,821
reviews: 88
9. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

I also would be very uncomfortable with such a tight connection, it requires everything to run to schedule. I

Note that if you miss it, the return (if there is one) will also be cancelled so you'll have to buy new, on the day return tickets.

On the upside they are running only about £215 to buy one for today (return) so probably similar to changing flights so you might just decide to chance it, plus its always possible BA will take pity on you and change it for free when you arrive late.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 17,086
reviews: 5
10. Re: time required between flights at Heathrow

I agree with TravellerPlus, not the best thing to allow no contingency for separately ticketed flights.

On the positive side, my experience of immigration at T1 coming off that flight (and similar) is that it's very fast, even for non-EU citizens. I've waited no longer than 10 minutes in line and often gone straight to an officer. Plus, you'll have a long walk from the gate to the immigration hall, and if you walk fast you could pass as many pax as possible and beat them to the hall.

But, that said, it's still no guarantee that you'll make it to T5 in time for your onward flight, and if the inbound flight is delayed you'd be toast. So look into changing your onward BA flight to later.