Connecting through Heathrow

May 11th, 2007, 08:29 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Connecting through Heathrow

I'm flying from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, with a connection through Heathrow. I arrive on Air New Zealand and switch to British Airways. I have two questions:

1. Will I have to go through customs in Heathrow? How about my luggage ... will I have to pick that up and re-check it, or can I check it all the way from LAX to Amsterdam?

2. I found a web site for Heathrow that shows where the different terminals are, but how can I find out which terminal I will be arriving at, and which terminal I leave from?

I guess technically, that was three questions ;-) Thanks in advance for your help.
chatenever is offline  
May 11th, 2007, 09:09 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,464
- NZ arrives in Terminal 3
- BA to Amsterdam departs from Terminal 4
- NZ and BA are NOT partners, so it is “iffy” (but not impossible) that NZ will check your luggage through to Amsterdam unless you have ONE ticket all the way. You should contact your TA or NZ to confirm before you leave. If you have separate tickets, you probably have little chance of the luggage being checked through. If you have not booked your ticket yet, consider BMI to Amsterdam, part of the STAR alliance group. Even if NZ tell you they will/won’t, it tends to be up to the individual agent at check-in and sometimes you can convince a nice agent to do it.

Let’s assume your baggage is not checked through. Exit the plan, hit passport control/immigration – sometimes its OK, sometimes a bloody nightmare! Downstairs to the baggage hall to pick up your bags. Exit through the doors and keep walking straight until you see the ramp to the Heathrow Express. Go down the ramp, follow the signs the Heathrow Express (about 7-10 mins), take the elevator or escalator down to the platforms and make sure you get on the train to T4 (not Paddington). The trip takes about 4 minutes. Exit, up the elevator and you are in the departure hall. Check in and through security to your gate. Leave plenty of time, as security can be awful at certain times of the day.

VERY IMPORTANT WHEN FLYING THROUGH LONDON: You can only bring ONE bag with you through security and on the flight – you cannot bring a carry-one AND a handbag. If you have two bags when you leave NZ, you have to be able to merge them into one when leaving London.

On the way back from Amsterdam (or anywhere else) on BA, I can pretty well guarantee you BA will NOT check your luggage through to NZ, so you need to do all of this in reverse.

I have never transferred from T3 to T4 without picking up my luggage, so hopefully someone else can provide you with directions on this.

I do hope you have at least 2 hours between flights?

Regards … Ger
OReilly is offline  
May 11th, 2007, 10:44 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,215
O'Reilly has it totally right. Of the three airlines connecting Heathrow and Amsterdam, BA is the most hostile to interlining baggage, except with a One World alliance partner on the same ticket. bmi, by comparison is a model of helpful collaboration, and Air NZ are a Star partner anyway. I don't know about KLM, but try to get on a bmi flight if you can.

HOWEVER the Heathrow system defaults to automatically transferring bags, so if you can sweet talk the Air NZ clerk at LAX into putting an AMS tag on your bag, you'll be fine. In the other direction, BA at Amsterdam will have been instructed to be completely unhelpful.

IF your cajoling works at LAX, follow the signs at T3 when you get off the Air NZ plane for the Flight Connections Centre (FCC). You'll go through security again (Britain - rightly - trusts NO foreign airline security), check in with BA for your Amsterdam flight then get bussed to the T4 departure lounge. There will be no immigration formalities, but security queues at the FCC can be lengthy.

Not only do British carry-on rules apply at Heathrow, but you can't take duty-frees you might have bought outside the EU onto the plane with you. In the reverse direction, there is an EU scheme by which duty-free purchases are put into special sealed packs. If this is working at Amsterdam, it's supposed to mean UK security will let you take it on the plane when you transfer at Heathrow.
flanneruk is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 06:17 AM
  #4  
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Great info here (as usual). Thanks!
chatenever is offline  
May 12th, 2007, 08:40 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,068
If you don't find out ahead of time, once you're on the flight you can find out the terminal you'll arrive in. I realize you aren't on British Air arriving, but their magazine has a map of Heathrow which I study before arrival. Also I feel free to ask the flight attendants for advice on what to expect. Signage is decent at Heathrow so you just go with the flow.

I think the biggest favor you can do yourself, is if you are able to get your luggage checked-thru, so you do not have to deal with picking it up and customs in London.
suze is offline  
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