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Heathrow int'l to int'l - T3 to T1 connection. Baggage, passport and customs?

Heathrow int'l to int'l - T3 to T1 connection. Baggage, passport and customs?

Old Jan 9th, 2007, 04:54 AM
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Heathrow int'l to int'l - T3 to T1 connection. Baggage, passport and customs?


I seem to remember going through passport control and customs going from T3 to T1...

However, this particular upcoming trip, we arrive from the US and connect to a GB Air flight to Morocco that seems to leave out of T1. Anyway not to go through those morning lines if we're NOT actually entering the UK or Europe? Will do what it takes, but if standing in line to do UK formalities isn't necessary, would prefer to avoid.

Also, if you DO have to go through the process... must you claim baggage and recheck it? With the one carry on rule, would prefer to check bags all the way through to Casablanca and I think we can as GB Air seems to be a BA subsidiary (we start on AA). However, if this were being treated as a Int'l to domestic/intra-Europe sort of entry just to change terminals, I thought perhaps you'd have to present your bags. Or is it just the US that does this at point of entry? We used to carry on only, so I'm not sure.

Anyone?
Thanks!
Clifton is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Here is a quote from the Heathrow Web site:

Please note that all connection times below are approximate and are for passengers with through checked bags only. If you need to collect your luggage in the terminal of your arrival, please allow extra time to reach your connecting flight.

Should you be concerned about making your connection within the time available, please speak to your airline at your arrival gate or in the Flight Connections Centre.

Connecting from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 International. Your connection will take approximately 55 minutes, from landing to departure gate. From Terminal 3, take a coach to the Flight Connections Centre. Pass through customs and security and visit our airline desks before making your way by foot to Terminal 1.

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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Morocco is a foreign country. Few more so.

In principle, all intl-to-intl (including even to our fellow members of the Common Market) in Britain involves:
- off the plane
- bus to the FCC
- security
- walk to the gate for the connecting flight.
No immigration. No customs

In practice BA seizes any opportunity to get difficult over bags. If GB Air is a normal BA franchisee (it certainly isn't a subsidiary), and if it's all on the same ticket, your bags should be checked through, since AA is a One World partner.

If BA won't accept through checking, then you should go through immigration at T3, collect your bag, walk through the underpass to T1 then check in. But I THINK this is one of those rare occasions (if it is really on one ticket) even BA can't get difficult.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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There was a brief period in August this summer when LHR wasn't allowing through-checked baggage, but they've reverted to standard procedure now (it should be checked through and you won't have to pick it up at LHR).

As others have explained, the T3-T1 connection is usually done "airside", rather than "landside", so you don't have to go through Customs and Immigration. There are buses that that passengers in transit use to get from one terminal to another, on the same side of the terminal as the airplane gates. You will have to go through security again (this is true even if you're doing a T4-T4 connection), but the only people in line are those in transit (i.e. not people checking in for the first time in London). Usually, this is a good thing but in the past, sometimes the security lines for transit passengers in the Flight Connections centre were longer than the security lines for passengers checking in at Heathrow. If you encounter a monstrously long line-up in the FCC, you could clear Customs/Immigration and then go through security from the landside to the airside (but these days, that line-up is going to be just as long).

Don't forget that LHR only lets you take one carry-on bag through security. Only one. Not one plus a handbag. Not one plus a shopping bag. Not computer bag + carry on. Just one. If you have more than one, they'll make you exit, check the bag and you'll probably miss your flight.

If you're travelling business class or first, you will probably be able to use Fast Track to clear security in the FCC. I'm reasonably sure that just having Elite status on an airline isn't good enough. It has to be a business class or first class ticket.

The normal line for security at the FCC ranges from almost nobody to an hour's wait. Usually, when I do T4-T4 transits, I have to wait about 5-10 minutes in line, but I've had a few trips where the line-up was more than 20 minutes long.

If you have a choice regarding your flights and the length of the connection time, I would recommend that you budget at least 2 hours. There is a lot of congestion at Heathrow and even if your flight reaches LHR airspace on time, you can sit in a holding pattern over the airport for an hour, or wait 30-45 minutes for a gate. I prefer to have at least a 2.5 hour connection and sometimes even plan for 3 hours, especially in winter (because winter weather increases the likelihood of delays). (Plus, I like to shop at LHR and have access to the BA lounge with showers, so waiting around is pleasant.)

Have a great time in Morocco. We went there for our honeymoon in 2005 and it was amazing. Don't forget to pack immodium and hand sanitiser, and make sure you wash your hands any time you handle Moroccan currency (it's old and filthy). A long-time resident advised us that she thinks that a lot of the tummy bugs that tourists pick up are due to handling the money, because the tourists are quite careful about everything else (e.g. water, unpeeled veg) etc.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 06:38 AM
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Flanner's description is correct.

Just make sure you physically witness AA tagging your bags through to CMN, and be mindful of the UK carryon baggage restrictions.

Note that on returning, doing the opposite might very well entail a struggle with the GB Airways/BA people at checkin. In my experience with smaller BA outstations the "Oneworld partner" card isn't always playable, regardless of BA's internal rules. You might find yourself hoofing a landside transfer at LHR.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 07:50 AM
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flanner and Gardyloo,

If, in your experience, a person does NOT have to go through customs when transferring from T3 to T1, why does the reference I quoted from the Heathrow site say that a person does go through customs as well as security?
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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T1 has both domestic and international flights, so some transfers to T1 would involve passport/customs. So the explanation might be (a) they didn't put both in the description in order to avoid confusing the readers, or (b) they goofed up. I go with B.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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There are Customs points in the airside connection areas. They're virtually never manned, but might be if authorities think some passengers, somewhere, are bringing contraband in their handbaggage. You are, after all, entering Britain even if you don't go through immigration, and you come into contact with hundreds of other people while you're here.

The phrase (used for all airside transfers at LHR, including those like T4-T3 that virtually have to be non-Europe to non-Europe)) emphatically DOES NOT mean luggage is searched in the airside transfer area. There simply aren't any facilities for delivering checked bags into this area.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 08:31 AM
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Think you'll find that checked through luggage is checked at Heathrow even if it's just a quick X-Ray - Lockerbie still rings bells around here
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 08:35 AM
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What I meant was:

The phrase "pass through customs and security" (used on the BAA website for all airside transfers at LHR, including those like T4-T3 that virtually have to be non-Europe to non-Europe)emphatically DOES NOT mean you will be asked to present your through-checked luggage for inspection in the airside transfer area. There simply aren't any facilities for delivering checked bags into this area.

Alan is right that all sorts of things are likely to be done to your luggage out of your sight. Most of them benign.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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Would be interested in knowing whether when travelling in business (not an BA) and doing a T3-T1 transfer you can use the fast track at T1. If you can I will kick myself - have never tried it - for some reason I thought it applied to BA business and first only. If someone has done it, please let me know and I'll try next time
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 09:12 PM
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Exactly the information I was hoping for. Thanks everyone, I appreciate it. This sounds like it's probably going to relatively pain free. I'd looked at the Heathrow site before I first posted, and since their graphical step-by-step appeared to have you going through the all the motions, I was a bit confused. This is a coach flight incidentally. Miles are set aside for a pair of BC seats to Oz in the late fall. 24 hours each way... yep, that's definitely where the miles are going.

Since we won't have to collect them (here's hoping), then I don't anticipate then any baggage issues outbound. Except as you say, whatever normally happens to baggage left to the usual suspects (ha, a film reference after all). I would imagine all the good stuff will have been picked clean by the time it makes it to LHR anyway. As my camera gear gets favored cabin status, hopefully my poor style choices will leave me with a few things to wear once/if we've made it and I won't be emergency jelaba shopping. On the way back, our first leg is with Iberia (our return begins in Granada), another OW partner. With luck, they'll be more prone to embrace the relationship.

By the way, you're correct flanner - GB Airways is a franchise flying BA flight numbers, despite what I first read on a few sites. Oh, and for whatever their intent, I very much liked your first lines of your first post, re: Morocco. That it is so foreign has been the appeal. We're still young, now's the time.

Thanks for the detail Kate. I think I have a pretty good visual now. I vaguely recalled the bus, but last time we passed through, we just had the carry ons and were heading to EU territory. Could not recall who we talked to... I am not a morning person anyway, but after a shot of rye and a hard night in stowage, I may well have spoken to Mr Bean in a red bowler and I wouldn't have noticed. We'll remember to take a few things for health along. Actually, I think I still have the prescription intestinal meds from our last trip. Fortunately never needed it, but it's probably good to take it along again. At least we won't need anti-malarials.

I'm especially pleased to hear good things about your trip. It's a country that definitely gets mixed reviews. And a belated congratulations on your marriage!

Again, to all, thanks.
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