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What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

Delaware
posts: 379
reviews: 28
What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

I'm sure this is answered somwhere in the forums. Can someone point me in the right direction? I have a flight originating at Heathrow for Philadelphia - Terminal 5 at 12:45 PM on a Sunday, mid-September. I have a bag to check.How far ahead should I be at the airport? Thanks for your help.

23 replies to this topic
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 8,245
reviews: 51
1. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

If you're flying anything but business or first class you can't check your bag more than 3hrs beforehand.

2hrs should be plenty.

Phoenix, AZ
posts: 12,598
reviews: 187
2. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

For international travel from LHR (to USA and SFO most often), we allow 4 hours, but many feel that less time is all that is necessary. On UA, we have found that both the UA check-in, plus LHR Security is very efficient, but we would always rather head to the lounge, if things go well, and we have extra time. I flat hate to rush in any airport, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt.

Hunt

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,901
reviews: 5
3. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

PLAN to get there three hours before departure. That may appear too early, but if anything happens en route that delays you by say an hour (snarl up on the roads, signal failure on the tube) you'll still be okay.

There was a rant on the London forum last week from someone who was delayed an hour getting to Gatwick and missed his check in and flight. Had he planned to arrive there 3 hours before departure he would have been okay.

Edited: 10:15 pm, August 06, 2014
San Francisco...
posts: 1,814
reviews: 30
4. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

We usually get to the airport three hours prior for any international flight. With the current security checks for flights to the US I'd personally get there four hours prior especially if it's at Heathrow.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage, Zermatt
posts: 14,354
reviews: 8
5. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

Hi, given the extra security for US flights and the periodic general slow down at security at H'row anyway, I would certainly not be thinking of anything less than 2 hours and then add 30-60 minutes if you have to travel to Heathrow from anywhere but an airport hotel because, as said, you can't predict problems. I was headed out of Paddington on a Heathrow Express train one evening and had to re-think because all the trains were cancelled due to a suicide on the tracks. These horrible things happen along with normal engineering problems, etc. Suddenly a trip that would have been 30 minutes max. was an hour and there was no traffic to slow down my very expensive taxi. There's plenty to do at Heathrow to kill off a couple of hours if you don't have lounge privileges. Much better to be there than to not be there when your plane is boarding!

Edited: 12:18 am, August 07, 2014
London, United...
posts: 18,731
reviews: 23
6. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

I also agree with the three hours ahead for long haul. Particularly if in economy the bag drop queues can be very long indeed, and security, whilst normally efficient, can be lengthy. It's only an extra hour, if you get through in plenty of time, go for a coffee or something,

Abu Dhabi, United...
posts: 2,011
reviews: 1
7. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

I've been through T5 three times in the last ten days, including once to the US, and could easily have done it in an hour. Bag drop and security have been non issues. And I'm a nobody flying down the back.

If you plan to be entering the terminal building two hours before departure you'll have more than enough time and you'll feel relaxed.

But as mentioned above, allow a buffer for transport mess ups. Also, check-in online if you can.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage, Zermatt
posts: 14,354
reviews: 8
8. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

And it sounds, sharp5sharp9, like you are really familiar with T5 so aren't slowed down trying to figure out where to head. I'm rarely more than 20 minutes from the terminal door through security but it can be a somewhat overwhelming terminal. Of course, these folks may not be going through T5 so may have a whole different bunch of circumstances to deal with. Extra time is really the key.

Loughborough...
posts: 2,058
reviews: 20
9. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

The OP says they are travelling from T5 to PHL, presumably on BA067.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,901
reviews: 5
10. Re: What time do I need to be at Heathrow?

The other advantage of getting there early is that IF there's a problem with your flight, you'll be better placed to get an alternative.

I've had my flight canceled while on the way to Heathrow, but as I'd got there 3 hours before departure I was able to get rebooked on an **earlier** flight via another gateway city and got home at almost the same time as scheduled.

Getting to the airport early, when everything runs swimmingly can be boring. But it can pay big dividends if there's irrops along the way.

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