Cautionary Tale re Border Control at LHR

Jan 2nd, 2019, 04:15 PM
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Cautionary Tale re Border Control at LHR

Just a cautionary tale for anyone considering connecting on separate tix through LHR: Late Saturday afternoon I flew BA FRA in to LHR Terminal 5 (was flying back to the States on Sunday noon-ish so I didn't have a connecting flight on Sat). The total flight time was 1:25. . . . And the line for Passport control took 37 minutes longer than the entire flight. Yes, two hours/two minutes from entering the queue til my passport was checked. This was the Non-UK/Non-EU line. The UK/EU line of course moved faster, but it still was VERY long. Even the 'expedited' (business class, etc) line looked to be taking nearly 30 minutes.

Needless to say no one had to wait for bags to come out on the carousel

Now, it WAS the Saturday after Christmas so lots of travelers. But every desk was staffed and it seemed they were processing as fast as they could. It was the longest I've ever seen there.

Just an example of what can happen . . .
janisj is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 04:28 PM
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Thanks for the heads up.
greytop13 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 06:15 PM
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Interesting since it seemed well-staffed and no real hiccups. I have never had to wait in line that long even when LHR had a computer breakdown years ago. Perhaps they had several flights coming in early or late. It would be good to know exactly what the problem was.
historytraveler is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by historytraveler View Post
It would be good to know exactly what the problem was.
The problem was that it was the Saturday after Christmas. It is one of the busiest times of the year so unsurprisingly extra time is needed to get through airports. If you don't travel thu LHR much then all this might seem surprising or unusual. I've been in lines that take hours and that was in the EU/UK passport line and it wasn't Xmas.
Odin is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 01:42 PM
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If you had been connecting directly from Frankfurt or Mumbai or Rome to the US or elsewhere not in the UK, you would not have gone through passport control in the first place.
Unless you had seperate tickets AND checked luggage AND no interline agreement between both airlines - so you had to go landside to collect and re-check your bags.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 01:47 PM
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>>If you had been connecting directly from Frankfurt or Mumbai or Rome to the US or elsewhere not in the UK, you would not have gone through passport control in the first place.<<

Yes -- I know that. That wasn't the point of the post.
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 02:34 PM
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You started the post saying this was for anyone connecting on seperate tickets through Heathrow.
But flying on seperate tickets does not mean that you have to go through passport control, unless... (see above).
Had there been lines only at the staffed border control desks or also at the e-gates?
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 11:07 PM
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Regardless, I have noticed lines getting longer at Heathrow Border Control in recent years, and it will only get worse after Brexit if EU passport holders must join the “all others” queue. Sometimes, when travelling with my daughter who has a UK passport, I am able to stay with her as a family member instead of going to “all others” with my US passport.
Heimdall is online now  
Jan 6th, 2019, 08:20 AM
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For comparison, I believe that the busy day for travellers using the Channel Tunnel shuttles with their cars is at the end of the February school half-term. That's when families are returning from ski-ing holidays.
My point is that different countries have different social practices, and that what might pass unnoticed in one country is another country's busy time.
chartley is online now  
Jan 31st, 2019, 04:55 AM
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Partner & I took BA IAD-LHR-CPH RT this past October. Passport control @ LHR wasn't the issue for us; it was the ridiculous, totally unnecessary T5 security check. Lots of closed lanes, with the few that were actually open staffed with lazy, surly, indifferent slobs. In our lane, there were at least four people standing around watching one person actually doing work.
LT is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 10:19 AM
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Thanks, Janis, for the heads up. We arrived LHR from LAX two days after Christmas. Lines were long, but we did have expedited entry via Biz Class, so it was easy-peasy. Even for our son, who sat in Economy -- they allowed him to join us in the short line.

I want to make a comment about LHR terminal 2 in general, and its weird configuration, because it actually has two buildings, building "A" and building "B", and it takes about 10 minutes even at a quick pace to get from one building to the other. Passport control, and security are all in building "A". Thus, if you are arriving at the "B" gates, you have to walk a good ways to get to border control. Same thing in reverse.

Another thing that bugged us is the location of the Airport Lounges and the building amenities. For example, Air New Zealand, which departs from "B" gates, shares its lounge in the "B" building with Singapore Airlines (next to Air Canada). But the amenities (Duty Free shops, food and dining, pharmacy, etc.) are almost exclusively in building "A" (there's a tiny duty free in building "B" but that's about IT.). On the return trip out of LHR, my son wanted to get some English chocolate and I planned on getting a few things from the pharmacy, but we didn't realize there was no pharmacy and not much chocolate or snacks at the Duty Free shop in building B until we got there. Since we were early, we grabbed food and a drink at the Lounge, but then had to trek back to building "A" to get the items we wanted, then back again to building "B" to get to the gate. That was a 20 minute complete waste of time (well, except for the exercise!). Time that we could have spent enjoying the lounge, which was pretty nice!
Surfergirl is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 12:01 PM
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Yep -- I dislike T-2 as well. I think T's 3 and 5 are much better for shopping/lounges/amenities etc. (Have only used T-4 once years ago when it was exclusively for BA - so don't know what it is like now)
janisj is offline  
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