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Los Angeles to London (LHR) to Madrid - connection question

Los Angeles to London (LHR) to Madrid - connection question

Dec 18th, 2003, 12:41 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,041
Los Angeles to London (LHR) to Madrid - connection question

I'm taking a Virgin Atlantic flight direct from LAX to London (LHR), then from LHR taking an Iberia flight to Madrid. I arrive in terminal 3 at LHR at 3:30 pm and need to get to terminal 2 for the 5:05 pm flight on Iberia to Madrid. When I made the initial reservation and later when I confirmed I questioned the 1:35 minute layover and both times I was told that the minimum was 1:30 and I would be fine to make the connection. All of the ticketing was done by Continental airlines. I contacted Continental and they said 1) I would be able to check my bags through to Madrid from LAX, 2) I would have to clear customs in LHR (but would not have to pick up my bags until Madrid) and 3)would go through customs and pick up my bags in Madrid.

Can anyone confirm that 1) 1:35 minutes will be enough time for the transfer (granted I do not have to retrieve my bags and recheck them), 2) the information that Continental relayed to me regarding my bags and customers is correct and 3) IF I did miss my connection to MAD from LHR what recourse would I have - the last Iberia flight from LHR to MAD is the flight I'm on!

Just trying to put my mind at ease. I usually wouldn't book the flights this close but got a rate of $580 USD round trip!

Thanks in advance.
CathyM is offline  
Dec 18th, 2003, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Cathy..the connecting time in LHR is sufficient.Are you sure about the last flight out....you dont say when you are travelling but I see an Iberia flight out of lHR at 6.05pm and then a British Airways flight out at 6.50pm.So yo do have some back-up...............S
BeachBoi is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2003, 10:27 AM
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Virgin will check your bags all the way through to Madrid when you check in at LAX. IF your Virgin flight departs on time, there shouldn't be a problem making your connection. From your arrival gate at LHR's T3, just follow the signs for the Flight Connections Centre for T1/T2. You will go downstairs and board the airside busses for your transit to the Flight Connections Centre (there is another way to transfer landside but you will have to go through immigration/customs so it's much easier to take the airside busses). Once you get off the bus, you will go through a security check. Right after the security check area are the airline desks where you will pick up your boarding pass for your flight to Madrid before proceeding to the departure lounge. You should not have to clear customs at LHR IF you stay airside and use the transfer busses. Do not follow all of the people heading to baggage claim.

It all sounds a bit convoluted but is actually pretty efficient. We made it from Virgin's T3 gate to the T1 departure lounge in about 30 minutes.

If at the time of check-in at LAX, Virgin already knows that there will be a delay, they will change your Iberia reservation to a later flight if there is one (are you sure there isn't?) and tag your bags for that flight. If there isn't a later flight, then I don't know what happens. You may want to call the airlines and inquire.

Hope this helps.
Patty is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2003, 12:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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CathyM, by all means check out this thread:


Did you also get this fare on Orbitz or from CO directly?

What it boils down to is that there's a significant chance you'll miss your scheduled connection. It is then at CO's discretion to determine on which flight you are rescheduled, provided this is within a reasonable time frame - an overnight stay (paid for by CO) at LHR cannot be ruled out, although I am certain there are later flights (probably on BA) that day.

In any event, if things do go sour, you will need to get help from a CO representative at LHR - they issued the ticket and are responsible for getting you from LAX to MAD, not Iberia. In this case, be prepared for some shuffling from airline counter to airline counter and perhaps from terminal to terminal (while hoping that your checked luggage is following you)...

It really boils down to how much you're willing to put up with to save some money... how much does the next cheapest fare cost?

Andre is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2003, 05:16 PM
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Thanks all.

Andre- the ticket was issued by Continental and Orbitz was not involved so at least that's good. I've already bought the ticket and the next cheaper fare was almost $100 USD more at the time. Also, I can leave in the evening take one long flight LAX to LHR and I find my time clock adjusts much easier especially on a one week trip.

BeachBoi-thanks for the note. I did check and there is indeed the later flights. This puts my mind at ease. I'll print them out and have them with me (along with worst case the following early morining options).

You've put my mind somewhat at ease! This fall I traveled to Madrid via Paris (CDG) and how you described is exactly how it worked. I didn't go through customs but instead got on an internal bus to the next terminal. Of course, my luggage didn't arrive with me on this trip but that's another story (the saga of traveling with a buddy pass at the same time a hurricane was going through New York!). I'll do some online research to familiarize myself with LHR before the trip and study the in flight magazine so this with your handy notes will hopefully get me through (saving a delay).

Either way I'll make it an adventure!

I usually don't worry as much about the luggage as I pack enough clothes/toiletries for 2 days in my carry on (along with my camera/film) but with the strict weight limits for the foreign carriers I won't be able to do this with VA.

I'll be sure to let you know how it works. Thanks again.
CathyM is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2003, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,843
Virgin no longer has an in flight magazine but there are lots of maps of LHR online. My carry-on wasn't weighed at either LAX or LHR. It was 1-2 kilos overweight but is small and compact. Sometimes I think if you have a bulky looking carry-on, they're more likely to weigh it. Have a great trip!
Patty is offline  
Apr 14th, 2004, 12:30 PM
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Well I'm back and the connection went fine! My luggage was checked all the way through and I made the connection in less than 30 minutes. In fact, iby coincidence the guy next to me on the LAX-LHR flight was also transferring to the same Madrid flight so we made the connection together.

After all the anxiety about my carry on weight, it wasn't even weighed but it was not a large bag.

I only had one minor "snafu". A couple of weeks prior to my flight Continental notified me that the time for the LHR-Madrid flight had moved forward 10 minutes. I contacted Continental and told them that I no longer had a legal connection at LHR so they reluctantly told me that I needed to go to the airport and get my flight changed (could not do on the phone). I happened to be at LAX the next week and got my flight changed to 6:05. I was a little concerned because the ticketing agent didn't seem to really know what she was doing. She didn't give me a new ticket but just hand wrote in the new flight number and time on my ticket and said it was all done on the computer and I was fine. I actually called Iberia and confirmed that my flight was changed. When I went to the Virgin checkin counter the day of my flight (thank goodness I got there 2.5 hours early) Virgin couldn't see the Iberia portion of my ticket and the Continental agent had neglected to afix a change sticker to my ticket - hand written changes were not acceptable. So, they would not be able to check my bags through! The Virgin gate agent was very accomodating though. She kept my luggage behind her at the counter, wrote down what I needed and gave me her phone line (in case I had problems with the Continental agents). I had to jump on a LAX shuttle and go to the Continental counter and get the sticker for my ticket. Luckily it only took me about 45 minutes but it was a cause of last minute stress especially when I had done everything that I should have done! Lesson learned for next time....

CathyM is offline  

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