Changing planes at LHR: Enough time??

Old Sep 26th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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Changing planes at LHR: Enough time??

Once again, American Airlines is messing with my carefully planned schedule. You'd think I'd learn, but the price was right.

They now have my trans-Atlantic AA flight arriving London Heathrow at 9:30 AM; then connecting to a BA flight to Rome, which leaves LHR at 10:35 AM. They show Terminal 5 for both flights, but, before I call AA, is this really enough time?
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 11:50 AM
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The only thing you have in your favor is that flights from the US often arrive early due to the prevailing tailwinds. However, Terminal 5 is a real bear - endless corridors and escalator to get from anywhere to anywhere else.

Since you are connecting to Rome you won;t have to go through Immigration - BUT - if you plane is at all late by the time you wend you way off it you will be entering the terminal at about the same time that your ongoing flight is closing the doors.

My understanding is that legal connection time at LHR is 2 hours. I've barely made connections (staying airside) that were 2.5 hours - jogging with carry-on only - but changing terminals and having to go through security again.

Have you checked the on time record of your incoming flight? Where are you flying from - and how often does it delay flights - esp at the time you will be leaving? 9:30 is well into the day - and you can count on the airport being mobbed - it's not like arriving at 6 am.

I would get an earlier flight in - but then I'm risk averse where flying is concerned.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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It doesn't take 2 hours to connect within terminal 5, but you must clear security even to change from one gate to another, which is a pain. Minimum connection within Terminal 5 is 60 minutes, and if you are coming from one BA flight to another (even if the flight has an AA flight number), things go very smoothly. There are some real Heathrow pros on these boards, so I think you'll get some good advice, but my experience was pretty seamless (for a Heathrow transfer, that is).
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Thanks for the input about Terminal 5, and the recommendation for checking on-time stats.

I'm leaving from Northern California, and my itinerary is now showing SMF to LAX to DEN to LHR to FCO ... hah! Maybe, with some polite whining on the phone to AA, I can get rerouted through DFW, cut out at least one extra stop, and not have to plan sprinting through an unfamiliar terminal.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Depending on the time of year, there are 4 or 5 flights out of DFW to LHR, one of them a BA codeshare. I think the earliest gets you into LHR at 7:30.

To transfer to a flight from T5, you will have to take a plane side shuttle bus from T3, then go up several elevators to security, and then go to your gate.

I have twice had to make an unplanned short connection via that route and found the staff more than helpful in responding to a request for priority in security. Polite desperation seemed to be the most effective way of communication.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 02:21 PM
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Ah, I do "polite desperation" really well! I actually find AA telephone staff to be very helpful; I know it's not their fault that all my flights get changed ... frequently.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 04:49 PM
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Probably NOT enough time... because the lines for Security are LONG, even if you're traveling business class and have a Fast Track pass. Check out later flights to FCO and see if BA will protect you on one of them.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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The reason it is probably not enough time is that they close the gate 20 minutes before the departure time. We had that happen to us in March where we figured an hour in the same terminal no problem! Then when we got through security (after being very assertive about being in the priority line) with 23 minutes left of our hour they were announcing final call for our flight. We ran but made it.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 10:28 PM
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Since when do AA use LHR T5? Isn't this more likely to be a BA codeshare?

In any case the answer is the same

1) Contact AA to change your onward flight as whilst 65 minutes is a legal connection for T5-T5 it's right at the minimum even if, as in this case, there's no need to pass through immigration at LHR
2) If you do miss the onward flight then you will be put on the next available flight to Rome.

My understanding is that legal connection time at LHR is 2 hours.

Varies depending on terminal and whether domestic flights are involved. 2 hours would be a T4 International to T5 Domestic which is the worst connection, other connections have connection times as low as 65 minutes - T5 international to T5 international
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Old Sep 27th, 2012, 06:36 AM
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My 22 yr old daughter a couple of days ago changed BA flights at Terminal 5, arriving 1000 and departing for NCE at 1140. Something seen in her carryon Xray must have triggered alarm, because they verrrry slowly combed through it, making her five minutes late at her gate. Luckily for her, the Nice flight was delayed and she was able to make it.

The BA agent had told us that 1 hr 40 min between flights at Terminal 5 was plenty of time. Her bag was re-scrutinized since she departed from a different gate.
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Old Sep 27th, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Yes, the American flight is a BA codeshare. My new plan, thanks to the above advice, is to find an itinerary with more than 65 minutes between flights at LHR. I'm hoping that AA will allow me to change my flights with no penalty $$. Sometimes they're accommodating, when it's their changes that create a (potential) problem. I'll call them later this evening, after a glass of wine.
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Old Oct 12th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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American were very nice on the phone, and gave me a new itinerary (no penalty) with a two-hour layover at LHR. This is now an AA flight into LHR (was previously a BA codeshare), so I guess it'll be a different terminal to catch the BA flight to Rome. But, it feels much more comfortable. Thanks, again, for the input.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 05:29 AM
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It may just be me, but I would feel much less safe with this new itinerary. AA is being really unreliable right now, so depending on when you are traveling, the labor problems there may be better or worse. And it takes considerably longer to change from one terminal to the other. Still, if you're happy, then that's ok. I would have stayed with the Terminal 5 connection since it was all on BA (a much better option both for the quality of the planes and the ability to remain all in Terminal 5).
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 07:18 AM
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I'm with Doug on this one. We have done it both ways, on AA with a change of terminals, and on BA in and out of T5. 2 hours from T3 to T5 may be legal but is barely doable; it's a long walk to the transfer point, a long bus ride to T5, and it can be a very long line through security at T5. IF your flight leaves the US on time, and given AA's current situation with the pilots could be a big IF, you will make your connection, but it will probably take most of those two hours. Good luck.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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Ditto. IMO the all BA itinerary seems better/safer to me. All you need is one of those 'loose' seats on your AA plane . . .
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Old Oct 16th, 2012, 09:01 PM
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I think the die is cast, at this point. Loose seats and pilots, ack! At least, with my current arrival time in Rome of 2:15 PM, there will be later flights in a worst case scenario. And, thanks to the above posts, I am forewarned that there will be speed walking involved in my LHR layover. I like being somewhere, much more than getting there ...
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Old Oct 17th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Take an ambien, get some books (load up some on your kindle/nook/ipad - on our AA flights both to AND from Europe last year we had 767-300s and the overhead lights didn't work so those books in my pack went unread . . . luckily the ipad had some on it), relax and then put your track shoes on for when you land.

Shoot, even CDG transfers sound easier.
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Old Oct 17th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Ambien, check. iPad, check. Track shoes, check. Maybe I should also check my rollie bag thru to FCO; it would be faster to skedaddle across LHR, without having to drag it.
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Old Oct 17th, 2012, 11:34 AM
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"Maybe I should also check my rollie bag thru to FCO; it would be faster to skedaddle across LHR, without having to drag it."

A short connection makes it more likely the bags will their connection

(I don't find a rollaboard slows me down significantly)
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