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Should I change my British Airways flight times?

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Should I change my British Airways flight times?

My wife and I will be flying from Ottawa to London Heathrow via Air Canada in May 2014 and then connecting to British Airways to fly on to Edinburgh (and the reverse when we return to Canada in early June). I booked the first flight segment with AC using Aeroplan points and booked the second leg to Edinburgh with BA - so two sets of tickets (and, as I understand it, additional problems if the first part of our trip is late and/or we cannot make the connection). We will need to pick up our bags at LHR T3 and take them to T5 to catch our BA flight as they cannot be checked right through to our destination. I allowed almost 3 1/2 hours between flights (coming and going) and thought that would be enough, but an AC agent suggested that she would have allowed more time just to be on the (really) safe side (i.e. 5 hours).She also noted that there could be flight schedule changes between now and when we fly. Your best advice on whether we have enough time to transfer terminals and catch our flights, and whether or not I should change our times to allow more of a buffer, would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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1. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

Personal preference and depends on your feelings with risk/reward. In normal circumstances 3hrs 30mins should be plenty of time to clear immigration, collect bags and so forth.

If Air Canada are happy to transfer bags onto BA (I know BA won't in the reverse scenario) then that buys you more time.

Transferring from T3 to T5 is easy. The Heathrow Express station for the centre of Heathrow is right under Terminal 3 and that'll take you right to Terminal 5 in a matter of minutes.

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2. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

The problem is that if everything goes well and your flights arrive on time, three and half hours is plenty. You are probably looking at two hours max to disembark, complete security, take the HEX to the next terminal, check in and then redo security.

The difficulty comes if one of your flights into LHR is delayed. As you're aware, if you miss your connection then you're on your own. Maybe not the end of the world for your incoming flight but having to buy a last minute ticket to get back to Canada will be expensive!

How much time to leave between flights all comes down to your aversion to risk, some would say anything other than arriving the night before is too risky others would be happy to take the 3 hour gamble.

Only you can decide what you're comfortable with.

Italy
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3. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

In normal circumstances 3.30 hours would be enough time and as you've already booked the flights I would'nt change them because if you do opt for a flight 2 hours later and the incoming flight changes it's shedule and you wouldn't make this flight either it's going to be an expensive flight. At the moment I would contact BA to see how much it will cost to amend the booking then depending on what it costs go from there.

Italy
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4. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

Just to add, as you're not flying until May 2014 I would'nt change the flight until nearer the time anyway to see if there's an AC schedule change.

5. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

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Edited: 1:44 pm, July 10, 2013
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6. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

As Geordie says, the risk is that if you fail to make the onward flight - that's check-in, bag drop, boarding and with BA their time check after security - you'd be classed as a no show, lose the ticket and have to buy a new one at the walk up fare. The risk of that? Probably slim, but it may not be your lucky day and of course you won't know until the day(s) of the flight(s), and if there's a delay you won't know how long (5 minutes, 5 hours, 15 hours) until it actually happens.

As you're not traveling until May 2014 you've got plenty of time to sit on it and see what happens. You could get lucky and BA cancel that flight and you manage to get rebooked on a later one, or get a full refund on that flight.

There are two things you can look into.

1) Travel Insurance - there are some policies that cover missed onward travel, and so could apply. But, they usually only kick in after a long delay on the inbound flight (c. 3 hours) and if you've allowed enough time to make the transfer. In the case of a land side transfer at Heathrow, if I were looking to be covered I'd allow 5.5 hours minimum and more like 6 (that's 3 hour flight delay and 2.5-3 hours between flights).

2) Can you change your award tickets? If you're just visiting Edinburgh you should be able to use Aeroplan to book Ottawa to Edinburgh using the United non-stop EWR-EDI. That would cut out Heathrow altogether. You would have to clear US formalities in both directions, but on the outbound that would be pre-clearance at YOW.

Edited: 2:49 pm, July 10, 2013
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7. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

Thanks everyone for your responses. More grist for the mill! By the way, USBusinessTraveller, I checked out the United option for rewards travel. I note that flight time to Edinburgh (in total) is about 11 hours, including a 2 1/2 hour stopover in Newark to change planes. Would that be enough time? Are the flights in the same terminal? Unfortunately the flight back would be over 16 hours, including a stop over in Newark of almost 6 hours! Not quite sure why the delay would be so long for the Newark to Ottawa segment. I guess that there is no transit lounge in Newark so we would need to clear US customs with our bags and then recheck for the journey from Newark to Ottawa. Would that be much of a hassle in Newark do you think?

8. Re: Should I change my British Airways flight times?

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