London Layover - can leave airport?

Reply

Jan 14th, 2004, 05:56 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 38
London Layover - can leave airport?

Hi! We are flying from Toronto to Cairo on British Airways and have a 7-hour layover in London (Heathrow). Does anyone know if we will be able to leave the airport or will we have to stay there the whole time so we don't have to go back through customs? I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but we're both Canadian citizens with Canadian passports.
skidoo_chick is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:15 AM
  #2
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
If you leave the airport, you'll have to go thru security all over again.
 
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 07:20 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
You can leave, and if you take the 15-minute train to Paddington Station, you can spend a few hours in London. But you will need to clear security and customs on your return (but I think the last time I was in London, October 2003, we didn't need to show passports upon departure, just like US, so there was no customs). Getting stuck at Heathrow for seven hours, however, is not bad since its a great airport with lots of food and shopping.
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 08:26 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
My husband had this situation on a Calgary - Johannesburg - Calgary journey in July 2003. He very much enjoyed spending a few hours in downtown London, and considered it more than worthwhile to take the very short train ride into the city. The check in at a train station (Paddington, I guess?) for the Heathrow - Calgary leg of the journey was a particularly convenient feature.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 02:46 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 76
Dont know about Heathrow (sure it is similar) but we flew into Gatwick and they had a quick train ride to Victoria station. From there you can go everywhere. Take the tube to see the London Tower! Trains left every 15 minutes so it was easy to get about and mastering the tube is so easy. Good luck.
Wulfstan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2004, 12:41 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
When I was last in London (October 2003), the BA Paddington check-in (if that's to what Judy is referring) had been discontinued. Security reasons I think.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2004, 12:49 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Sorry, one more thing, re thit cho's comment. I've never heard of bypassing immigration or customs at LHR! Or any Int. airport for that matter. Surely that's not possible, unless you remain within the airport.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2004, 12:52 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
That's wierd. I had made a 2nd post (and hence my apology for posting a 3rd time), that's visible on the "post a reply" page, but not in the main page. In case it doesn't eventually appear, I had said:

But of course that's posted as general info. If you're in transit, you'll probably already have your next boarding pass and your luggage will have been checked through, so check-in alternatives are irrelevant.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2004, 07:12 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Arthur, you've obviously never departed for an international flight from a US airport, where passports are not checked by customs agents upon departure. On international flights departing from the US, the airline checks your passport, but you never present it to a US customs official and you do not receive a departure stamp. I believe, if I remember correctly, that this is what happened when I last left Heathrow (October 2003) -- we were not required to show our passports to customs officials. I guess countries would rather use their resources detecting terrorists on the way in rather than the way out -- on the way out they become someone else's problem.
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 17th, 2004, 12:27 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
thit cho, I assumed you were referring to the formalities (or lack of them), when leaving LHR to go into London. Because although I now notice that you had a few words earlier said "on your return", my mind focussed on your reference to customs, so I thought you meant exiting the airport. I've been racking my brains (such as they are) and I can't recall in all my reasonably extensive Int. travels ever encountering customs when DEPARTING. Other than in my home country, if I wish to declare items that I'll have with me when I return. (And just for the record, I've flown into and out of the U.S. many many times over the past 20+ years.)

In any event, just a misunderstanding. No harm done.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 17th, 2004, 12:48 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
At the risk of turning this into a saga if it isn't already . . .

I guess my main point in my previous post is that countries don't have customs at departure, only at entry. For obvious reasons. But immigration control is a different department to customs. From my shaky memory (my last trip there was just over 3 years ago), my passport doesn't get stamped on exit from the U.S. But they DO remove the card that was stapled to the passport on entry, so that is a measure of control. I can't recall the procedure on exiting the UK, even though my last trip there was only 3 months ago, but with a quick look at my current passport, I can't see any exit stamps. But I can find exit stamps from several other contries, including my own (South Africa), Thailand, Nigeria, Germany, and Hong Kong.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2004, 08:46 AM
  #12
nkh
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 218
Hi Skidoo Chick

As a fellow Canadian passport traveller I can say that as far as security leaving/entering the airport you should have no particular trouble - just allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to get back into the international zone and board your onward flight. London tourist sights are easily accessible either via the Heathrow express, or via the tube. The Tower, the museums etc. are good options, and you can even book tickets in advance and go on the London Eye - which is supposed to be great.

My husband (UK citizen) has just pointed out, however, that there are some new regulations that you may want to check on that concern baggage. Apparently some airlines may not be allowing travellers to leave luggage checked in and then depart the airport - we dont know the details, but it may be worth just confirming with your airline whether you will run into any problems. You may also be able to e-mail Heathrow and ask about any new policies.

Good luck! London is a fun city, much more fun to go in and see a few sights than sit in the airport (even if it is quite a reasonable airport to sit in )
nkh is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2004, 01:29 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,032
Time to straighten out the Customs/Immigration situation.

Immigration is the department primarily interested in passports and visas. Always upon arrival in a country and sometimes on departure (depends on the country).

Customs is interested in people only when arriving in a country, and are keyed on what the passengers are bringing into the country. They rarely ask to see passports; usually only if they suspect a problem.

Airlines are very interested in all travel documents when departing (internationally). This because if there is a problem and someone gets on the plane with improper documentation (passport, visa, etc.) the airline is responsible for flying the passenger back.

All of the above are interested in everything to thwarte terrorism.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:21 PM.