customs at Heathrow?

Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 01:44 AM
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customs at Heathrow?

I am traveling to Malta from the US in October, with a change of airlines (from BA to Air Malta) at Heathrow.
My travel agent tells me I have to clear customs there - the Heathrow site seems to indicate international travelers making a transfer to another international flight do not need to clear customs at this point.
Does anyone have any knowledge of this?


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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 04:02 AM
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I have transited through Heathrow many times on the way back to Italy, and never had to clear customs. I can't think why Malta would be any different.


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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 04:10 AM
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Hi nw,

If you are just changing planes at LHR, you will stay in the secure are while your baggage is transferred.

You will not go through customs.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 05:04 AM
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Wouldn't it depend on whether she and her luggage were checked all the way thru to Malta from her departure city?

If she has to check into the Air Malta flight at Heathrow, she'll have to leave the secure area and maybe even go to a different terminal so would have to go thru customs ,
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 05:09 AM
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As Ira says, it depends if your baggage is through-checked to Malta when you check in for your BA flight in US. I'd have thought it was possible, but interlining rules differ among airlines. Best to check with BA. If you do have to collect your bags at Heathrow, you first have to go through passport check, then collect baggage and go through customs (green channel if nothing to declare) and then check in for your Malta flight. I'd have thought it's likely you will be able to through-check, as both BA and Air Malta use Terminal 4.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 07:04 AM
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thanks for all the answers.
In order to save on ticket prices, I purchased two individual tickets, rather than one - ergo, I am on BA to LHR, and then have a separate ticket for the AirMalta flight.
I called BA and asked them about the situation, and they seemed to feel that I could check the bag all the way through - I might just try to consolidate everything into one carryon bag and take life as it comes.
Thanks again for your help.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 07:12 AM
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It also depends on whether you can get your boarding pass for your Air Malta flight when you check in for your BA flight. If yes, then you can travel through as if you were a connecting passenger (which you would be).
If not, you will have to clear customs and immigration, go out of the arrivals portion of Heathrow and then back to the departures counter of Air Malta to get your boarding pass.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 07:36 AM
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You will almost certainly have to go through Imnmigration, collect your bags, go through Customs, then check in for your flight. The one good thing is that most BA intercontinental flights arrive at the same terminal (T4) that Air Malta uses. But flights from most California airports don't.

BA almost always nowadays refuse to check bags through if you're travelling on two tickets (unless, a charmer recently told me, both tickets are within the One World system). The old interline system no longer fully works.

The Heathrow system, OTOH, is geared for baggage transfer under customs bond. So, although most BA checkin staff around the world won't book your bags through if you're travelling on from London on another ticket, if you originally check in somewhere BA doesn't serve (say Sacramento), you can usually cajole the, say United, checkin staff to book your bag right through. If you can pull this trick, when the bag arrives at Heathrow the handlers just route it on to Valetta in the usual way.

Don't rely on what BA tells you on the phone. Plan your trip so as to allow at least 90 minutes to get from the plane to the queue to check in for Air Malta. If you can persuade your original checkin staff to book the bags through, you can spend the time shopping at LHR. If you can't persuade them, you'll need every one of those 90 minutes.

If you can't get a through booking, and if your flight arrives at T4, I'd suggest you go straight to the airside transfer desk on arrival. They might - or might not - give you your onward boarding card, and might even get your bag rerouted straight to the Air Malta flight (I've done this at Asian airports when I've been a victim of BA's unhelpfulness about this, but Heathrow's the fussiest airport in the world if there's even the tiniest hint of a possible security issue). But ensure you have enough time for the likelihood you'll have to collect your bag.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 09:28 AM
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again - thanks to everyone for the clarification. At this point, I am listed as going into and out of T4, with three hours and forty minutes for the connection.
Here's hoping nothing changes, and I have a strong tailwind out of Philadelphia!
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