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Help! LHR Transfer--Must I hit Passport Control first????

Help! LHR Transfer--Must I hit Passport Control first????

Dec 2nd, 2013, 07:25 AM
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Help! LHR Transfer--Must I hit Passport Control first????

I am connecting through Heathrow. I arrive at Terminal 1 and then take my next flight out of Terminal 5. I have gone through every darn thing on the Heathrow website and I have a sticking point:

Technically, my flights are NOT connecting. I have a certificate I used on USAirways for Envoy Class. I bought our second flight, First Class, on BA.

So here's the deal:
--We will have no checked luggage from the first flight (USAirways Envoy overhead room is enormous). We will probably have to check luggage for the BA flight.
--I WILL have a boarding pass in hand for our next BA flight.

So even though technically, this is not a connecting flight, in essence, because I do not have to pick up baggage, it could work as a connecting flight.

PLEASE tell me if I can just jump on the Connecting Flight bus and then check my luggage in Terminal 5.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 07:36 AM
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AFAIK you can't check bags airside which would mean having to go through immigration.
janisj is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 07:50 AM
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It would be helpful if you said where you are going on the onward BA flight. As you said First Class, it must be another long-haul flight (at least outside Europe). How big's your bag?
Gordon_R is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Agree you will need to exit airside to check your bags at Heathrow so yes you will go through immigrations...
jamikins is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:18 AM
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Gordon--We're going to Gran Canaria on a cycling tour. Each of our "big" bags can meet BA overhead requirements. It's the darn second bag, the "personal item", that will be the problem. We do pack lightly and smartly--I could easily pack for six weeks in Paris in one carry-on--but the darn cycling shorts and seat take up room.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:24 AM
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I'm honestly not altogether sure it's totally accurate to say "you can't check bags airside"

You're certainly not supposed to. But it's not at all rare for flight staff - esp on BA - to look at a bag that's made it to to the gate, say "that's not coming on this plane", then put it in the hold. And there also are facilities at some airside airline desks to relieve you of your bags.

There is no Heathrow limit on cabin bags, but you cannot get into T5 departure area from another terminal without you and your proposed cabin bags going through security no matter how many foreign security inspectors might have frisked you already (we simply don't trust foreign government employees. Ever)

The likelihood is:
- If you've got a boarding pass, you'll be allowed onto the inter-terminal bus.
- If you can then get your bag through T5 access security, you'll be able to lug it to the gate.
- If BA don't like it, they'll put it in the hold for you.

But the experts on this aren't LHR managers, or anyone here. It's down to BA, and since there is the risk, I guess, of them throwing a hissy fit and denying you boarding (though I'd doubt it), it's them you need to talk to.
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:29 AM
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If you're going to Grand Canaria then you'll be in business class (Club Europe) and not in first class. I believe there's a bag drop desk post security in T5 but can't promise it specifically. I think your best bet is to do what flanner says - take the bus, and when you get through security at T5 take your bags to the gate and gate-check them if necessary.
Gardyloo is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:30 AM
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This is the relevant page on the Heathrow website


Simply get the bus to Terminal 5 and check your bag, if necessary, at the BA desk.

Nothing about going though immigration so I wouldn't worry about it. Passengers are funnelled towards where they need to go, so if you do need to go through passport control you will - but you don't.
sofarsogood is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Thanks, Flanneruk. What you have said is logical from the aspect of our travel history. We DO fly frequently outside the US--just not on BA. The LHR website, while very nice from so many aspects, sort of decides NOT to address certain issues.

When I booked these flights, I certainly assumed that 3+ hours between flights in the same airport would be sufficient, but I'm gobsmacked to realize that it should have been 5+.

I've tried to talk to BA to get these questions answered, but they have certainly outsourced their customer service to at least 3 or more 3rd-world countries. Giving up on phone service a few weeks ago, I wrote out my questions and emailed, which was answered FIVE days later in an out-of-syntax manner. It's very frustrating when the only answers I get are to questions I never asked

I had run into a similar problem--although not half as bad--with Turkish Airlines, and I recalled that at the time, I just started hanging up on whoever it was that could not "really" speak English and redialing until I got a person who had a serviceable command of language. So I tried that this time, and my last BA contact more or less said most of what YOU said.

The sticking points, as you certainly thought:
"Will t5 security let my one slightly over bag through?"
"Can BA check my bag at the gate?"

I do remember sweating out all of this big time for a connection at LAX with Air New Zealand, an airline that had a horrendously tight weight restriction, even in Business, for international flights. The two agents looked at our bags and said, "You're great!" And we said, "But we asked and asked and asked and everyone said, 'No you can't do this.'" The agents laughed said we would still have the lightest luggage in Business. And I think we did.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:53 AM
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OK so it's not First Class, but Business Class (BA doesn't do First inside Europe). That's precisely why I asked. The overhead lockers on BA Club Europe are just the same as Economy so they definitely won't take large cases. They will have t be checked-in, and I'm sure the BA people at T5 will help as suggested above.
Gordon_R is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:55 AM
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So what's the plan if they do say you've got to check stuff and it has to be done landside?

THAT'S the only question that needs answering
alanRow is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Thanks. I was typing while you were answering.

I printed out that diagram, which seems to be helpful, a few weeks ago, but the website also says that if your flights are not on the same ticket, then technically, you are not a connecting passenger. GRRR.

I also had two BA agents this morning (ones who did not speak great English) who were adamant that I would not be a connecting passenger. Of course, since it took at least five minutes with each to have them understand my flight record number, I was reluctant to go with their opinion.

My final BA person of the day who spoke a pretty good version of English said that he thought that as long as I a) had a boarding pass and b) did not have to pick up luggage, I certainly could use the connecting bus (as illustrated on the website).

But then he became hazy.

It might be time to pull out the....


For anyone else who answered--I appreciate your input.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Gordon--YOU ARE RIGHT! We are "Club Europe". I made these reservations so long ago I forgot.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:33 AM
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This is only based on my experience but if your second bag is no larger than a tote-type handbag and fits under the seat, BA is not going to say anything about it because you are in business class.

Worst case, but doubtful, the gate agent might not allow two bags and you'll have to gate-check one. They won't send you to the naughty corner and certainly not back to check-in.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:49 AM
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Oh I love this! The Naughty Corner. Where I send my poor husband.

I'll deny I ever wrote this.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 26th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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We made it on time! Easily. Thanks for weighing in.

I am going to post a separate thread within a few days about our experiences at Heathrow so it will index properly, but basically, we lucked out because our plane landed early, which it NEVER does.

Total irony: our US operator flight attendants were also under the impression that we would have to go through passport control before we could get to another terminal, something most of the BA people had previously told us because we were not "technically" a connecting flight. We smiled at them, said thank you, and then said to each other, "Remember, we're NOT doing this."

Following our gut instincts, some of the confirms here, and the final confirmation from one BA guy via phone, we just pretended we were "real" connecting passengers.

Luggage (both backpack and roll-on confirmed to BA standards) and BA Boarding Passes in hand (I was able to print before we stepped on board our stateside plane), we bypassed the passport control, followed those lovely purple connecting bus signs, snagged a Terminal 5 to Terminal 1 bus within 5 minutes at the exit doors, ignored the line at Terminal I at the escalator up to the security line to take the elevator (no one on it), and we were approved to enter security with our BA Fast Track signs in hand.

The swiftness of all of this positioned us to go through security when a) no travelers were there just at the time b) when security was fully staffed. My husband and I were the only ones in the Fast Track line.

So we had a lovely relaxing hour in the BA Executive Lounge, especially when we knew that had the plane been delayed--it had been delayed two hours the day before--or if we had obeyed most of the advice and gone through passport control upon landing--we would probably have spent some fretful hours trying to find another means to our final destination.

Thanks again, guys!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 26th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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Cathinjoetown is offline  
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