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17 hours layover in Heathrow (LHR). What are our options?

17 hours layover in Heathrow (LHR). What are our options?

Dec 10th, 2016, 04:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 4
17 hours layover in Heathrow (LHR). What are our options?

I am new here, so Hi to everyone.

We are traveling from Delhi to Heathrow on 12th May and have have a 17 hours layover for our flight to Washington. We are reaching Heathrow at 5.35 PM. The flight to Washington is next day at 12.35 PM. The airlines is Virgin Atlantic. While I called their customer support, they said there is no hotel transfer and we are on our own.

We have a 5 yrs kid so 17 hours at the airport seems a bit hard on us. But then again going out would require a visa (We are from India).

So I have a question as what would be our best option to spend these 17 hours?

Suppose we get a visa and go out and stay in a nearby hotel, will we be able to see a bit on London? Arriving at 5:35 PM and then again we have to report next morning supposedly at 10 AM.

I am a bit confused about what would make sense.

Any suggestion would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance to all.
bluesapphire is offline  
Dec 10th, 2016, 07:58 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,503
This is a dismal itinerary. Spending much of a day in an airport, or even around an airport, with a sleep-challenged child is no idea of a comfy vacation. Delhi and Washington are major cities and many more options are available. www.itasoftware.com is one of the most useful search sites (run by Google, but doesn't sell tickets.) It shows many alternatives through various European gateway cities, avoiding Heathrow. For instance, Turkish Airways connects through Istanbul to Washington. The airline is modern and price-competitive. Its website quotes a ticket fare about the same as Virgin Atlantic does, but with only ('only'!) a four-hour layover, and it flies daily which Virgin Atlantic does not. I urge you to shop around.
Southam is offline  
Dec 10th, 2016, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,963
This is actually not a bad itinerary, it allows for a night's sleep rather than an immediate and exhausting connection to another long flight. But you must make sure that night's sleep will be possible.

Priority number one: You need a hotel. Arriving at 5:35 PM, even with delays and immigration and customs, will allow time for a trip to a hotel, a meal, and a decent night's sleep before having to check out and head for the airport for your onward flight the next day.

Concentrate on that - and I'll bet you will not be up to any trips into London itself that same night, so forget that, not with the long journey you'll already have behind you and with five children.

Make sure you have the required papers and visa stamps etc. allowing you to leave the airport for the hotel, book everything securely, get confirmations, make copies of everything, including your onward travel papers so you can show that you're en route - just do everything you can to ensure a problem-free arrival. You will be tired, and immigration officials don't like to wait, so have everything ready.

Being well rested, you'll feel like the flight to the US is a breeze!
michelhuebeli is offline  
Dec 10th, 2016, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,522
Sorry - but you will need to get a visa. Unless someone knows of another option, no hotels are airside so you will have to go through immigration.

It would be VERY worthwhile to see what it costs to change your tickets. Otherwise you will have to sleep in airport chairs (and I'm not 100% sure every terminal even allows sleeping overnight.
janisj is offline  
Dec 10th, 2016, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,583
Here's some info on transit visas:


I would just stay at an airport hotel and not try to see anything in London this time.
P_M is offline  
Dec 10th, 2016, 11:56 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 4
Thank you all for your friendly responses.

@southam, I tried searching in www.itasoftware.com but the search results would never show up. The advantage our travel agent gave is that our return is from San Francisco and thus, for online bookings it is taken as a multicity. But we were able to get round trip rates from our booking agent.

@michelhuebeli, actually we have 1 kid and he is 5 years old. . You made a point, I am not sure if we will be able to take some rest comfortably inside the airport, specially the kid. So that brings to the next question if we need a visa. UK has so many different types of visa, probably the airlines can explain what kind of visa we need?

@janisj, point taken.

@P_M, I checked the link. Do we need a 48 hour visa? I will try to confirm with the airlines.
bluesapphire is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,583
I would assume the 48 hour visa is best for your needs but I'm not the expert. Section 1 has a link to check and see if you need a visa so I would start there.
P_M is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,451
I agree with michel that this is actually not a bad itinerary, except that you will need a visa. You can check http://www.sleepinginairports.net/eu...onheathrow.htm but with a kid you really need a hotel.

I think your TA is probably snowing you. How much does the Virgin Atlantic route cost compared to Turkish Airlines multi-city? (Which is a bit over 60,000 rupees on itasoftware). Not sure why results are not coming up for you, but try kayak or skyscanner as well.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 07:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,963
bluesapphire, sorry about enlarging your family by such a frightful factor of (what's the math here?)...

Have you booked and paid for your flights? Or are you still at liberty to find other solutions?
michelhuebeli is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 09:10 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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@thursdaysd, We got a round trip about of 59000 per head. I am not sure why he did not try Turkish. The reason could be we are from Calcutta and Virgin provides the connecting flight from CCU to DEL free (or within that ticket price). This is again a 2 hour flight.

@michelhuebeli, I have already paid for the tickets.
bluesapphire is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 09:11 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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Also our ticket shows the Heathrow Terminal is T3.
bluesapphire is offline  
Dec 11th, 2016, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,314
You likely do NOT need a visa

you need to check the applicable exemptions

sofarsogood is offline  
Dec 12th, 2016, 07:59 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,503
Did you use itasoftware's multi-city search function? Did you specify Calcutta-Washington returning SF-Calcutta? I see that route in May on Qatar Air, skipping Delhi with a direct flight to Qatar and on to Washington. The transfer time is more comfortable and no worries about visa on the layover. Lowest price, ex ITA, is 73,500 rupees, less than $1,100 US, a real bargain considering the distances involved. On this ticket the return flight from SF will require a short hop to Los Angeles on Virgin America (which is not Virgin Atlantic) to rejoin Qatar. There are plenty of other options at higher prices that evade the traffic jam at Heathrow. The time you save will add up to two extra days on your vacation.
Multi-city tickets often are almost as cheap as simple round trips. But you can plan more efficiently if you widen your thinking away from Heathrow as the pivot for world travel. And, politely, it would have saved a good deal of effort on this volunteer board if you had spelled out your complete itinerary in the first place.
PS: However useful the data on itasoftware, it is not necessarily comprehensive (no travel board is) and you will have to turn to expedia, priceline, cheapoair or whatever Indian-based agency board you know to complete the purchase. Or prod your TA into a deeper effort.
Southam is offline  

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