Connections, baggage, etc.

Old Dec 19th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Connections, baggage, etc.

I'm a very inexperienced traveler and have never traveled overseas. I'm terribly confused and have some trite questions you've probably covered.

I'm flying from LAX to Edinburgh. Most of the flights stop in London (LHR). I'm looking at Travelocity and Cheaptickets. In some cases you use 4 different airlines for the entire round trip.

How much time should I allow between flights? Do they check luggage all the way or do I have to get my luggage from the first flight and check it in for the second? What happens if the first flight is late? Would I be better off booking with a single airline?

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Old Dec 19th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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If you're an inexperienced traveller, then don't try and get some fancy routing that sees you land in all US time zones before you reach Europe just for the sake of a few extra bucks.

BA flights from LAX-LHR-EDI are all Terminal One in London which makes life a little eaiser.

You may also look at options such as Continental via Newark or KLM via Amsterdam.

Bags should be through checked on any of the above options but if you go via LHR, you will clear immigration there before catching the domestic flight.

Connection time varies from airport to airport. Typically allow 2 hours at LHR (although the minimum is something like 75 mins). I personally find 2 hours to be a decent connection time at all major hubs if you do not having a pressing schedule.

Using 4 airlines is an invitation for your bags to be delayed, so please try and avoid that if necessary! If you are on a through ticket LAX-EDI, then you will be re-accommodated on to another flight should you be delayed on any leg of the journey. The advantage of going via LHR is that there is a huge number of flights to EDI that you can be rebooked to, if necessary.
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Old Dec 19th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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LHR is a large airport with 4 terminals, Terminal 4 is a long way from the other three. But you'll need a pretty long connection regardless as you also clear UK immigration there. [Luggage should be checked through to Edinburgh.] I say 2 hours minimum in general, but find out what terminal those flights use, and then look up LHR's official website to find out.

You shouldn't have to claimed luggage in London unless your LHR-EDI flight is on a budget carrier. But that's highly unlikely because those airlines usually don't sell through Travelocity or other agents, and most don't use Heathrow.

In most cases, if you're flying the same airline (say British Airways) on the same trip, then you can get the LHR-EDI boarding pass when you check-in in the US. That'd save looking for, and going to, a transfer desk in LHR to get your BP for the second leg.

If possible, I'd book on the same airline. If the first flight is late, that airline should automatically rebook you on the next flight (or occassionally they may hold the connecting flight). And it's always easier to deal with one airline when problem arises (like missing bags) than to deal with two.

Two other points:

First, a roundtrip from LAX to EDI may get you over 11,000 FF miles on an airline. That's 40% of a domestic roundtrip ticket. I know you say you fly infrequently, but that may be enough reason for you to fly the same airline across the Atlantic, (or two airlines that are FF partners so that you can earn all miles on one airline). [But forget miles from British Airways if you're buying one of these discount tickets.]

Second, you don't have to fly through Heathrow. Continental flies to EDI from Newark, and on the European side, you can connect through Dublin (on Aer Lingus), Amsterdam (KLM), Paris (Air France), etc. Amsterdam is a pretty efficient airport to transit through, and Newark is okay too except you have to go through US immigration/customs there on your way back.
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Old Dec 19th, 2005, 09:29 PM
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Amsterdam is a very easy airport to transit through so you could look into flying KLM. You'd stay on the international side for your connection, no passport control, and you simply walk from your arrival gate to your departure gate.

Heathrow wouldn't be a difficult airport either if as mentioned earlier your flights are on British Airways. You don't change terminals and would only need to clear passport control on arrival before proceeding to the domestic gates. But if, for example, you fly American from LAX and connect to BA, then you'd need to transfer from terminal 3 to terminal 1 which involves a shuttle ride and additional security check.
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Old Dec 20th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Thanks for the great responses. You've convinced me to fly British Airways and pay a little more than the multiple-carrier deals I can get through the likes of Travelocity. I'd like to ask just a couple of more questions.

First, the flights I'm looking at have 85-minute layovers at LHR. Is that enough time?

Second, the current price is $970. Is that a good deal or should I wait and watch?
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Old Dec 20th, 2005, 10:42 AM
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One other thing: at EDI there's a separate baggage claim area for baggage originating from outside the EU, because it has to pass through British customs. Or maybe it's from outside Britain. At any rate, I recall waiting at the regular carousel for the flight with increasing anxiety until I found a BA or airport staffer who sent me to the right place. It's not a problem at all, as long as you know where to go.

Also, I think 85 minutes is fine, since you're not changing terminals at LHR.
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