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London Heathrow Customs Help

Old May 20th, 2012, 11:07 PM
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London Heathrow Customs Help

Hello,

What is it like going through Customs at London Heathrow Airport? I will be in London in a few weeks on a 15 hour layover - I'll be staying at the Yotel (Terminal 4?) overnight.

I am flying in on Virgin Atlantic from Los Angeles to London Heathrow, and then taking Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) from London to Oslo, Norway.

A few questions:

1). How long does it take to generally clear Customs? What is entailed in the process?

2). Will my checked luggage be transferred to the SAS flight, or will I have to pick it up at the baggage terminal, and if so, will it still be there after I clear Customs (if Customs takes a long time?)

I apologize for my potentially trivial questions - this is all very new to me.

Thank you in advance,

Eric
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Old May 20th, 2012, 11:10 PM
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Customs only takes a few seconds if you go through the Green channel (nothing to declare).

Do you mean Immigration/Passport control?
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Old May 20th, 2012, 11:44 PM
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Lots of understaffing at LHR right now so lines have been long at Passport controlsometimes over an hour. Customs you just walk thru the green line. When you check inat virgin ask that yur bags to be transferred to your next fight . They should be able to do that even though the airline is different. Taht way you won't have to pick up the bags. Even if they can,t do it, with the time in the Passport line your bags should be in the baggage area!
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Old May 20th, 2012, 11:50 PM
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I guess I didn't know there was a difference between Customs / Immigration/Passport control. Which line will I have to go through?

My worry about my bags going through to the next flight is if something happens to them, I'm screwed for my entire vacation (I'm going on a cruise).

I am coming from Los Angeles, California, and am a United States citizen, en route to Oslo, Norway with a stop over in London.

Should I take a carry-on then of clothes for my stay in London, and then have my checked luggage transfer through from Virgin to SAS?

Again, if I'm asking simple questions, or basic questions, I am new to international travel.
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Old May 21st, 2012, 12:13 AM
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Follow the signs (and the crowds) to the passport control area and you will line up with other non-EU travellers. I always expect it to take about an hour at Heathrow.

After this you will go to the baggage reclaim area and get you bags from the baggage area.

Then you will proceed through customs. There are 3 doors you can go through - green nothing to declare, blue if you are arriving from another EU country, or red something to declare. Obviously you will walk through the green one and out of the airport - easy!

As for your luggage you may want to bring an extra set of clothes and check your luggage through if you can.
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Old May 21st, 2012, 12:17 AM
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I feel your pain. I'm currently in the UK, arrived several weeks ago when, unbeknownst to me, there was a furor going on about the long lines at immigration. My wait was approximately 30 seconds. Two parties in front of me in the non-EU line which is what you'll be heading for too. But despite the promise to add many more personnel it's still a bottleneck so there's simply no way to know how long it will take at a given time.

Regarding checking your luggage through, Virgin to SAS, I wouldn't do it. Changing airlines is an opportunity for your bag to go astray and it won't take much effort to retrieve it and recheck it. The chances are slim but considering you have plenty of time it's what I'd do in your situation with plenty of time.

Whether you retrieve your bag or not, after immigration just follow the crowd through customs, no stopping, to the exit.
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Old May 21st, 2012, 12:21 AM
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That last line should read "Whether you retrive your bags or not after immigration,..." (comma in the wrong place)

The order is immigration, pick up bags (or not), then customs (don't stop), exit.
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Old May 21st, 2012, 01:24 AM
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We stayed at the Yotel at Gatwick and it was fine, though the room was fairly small. If you end up taking your luggage with you, into the Yotel, then check it next morning with your next airline, they have created luggage space underneath the bed. In the room we had, a large suitcase would not have fit beside the bed. Just thought I'd mention in case you open the Yotel door and go EEK!!!

By the way, immigration is where you have your passport and/or visa checked. Customs is where they check what you have in your luggage. If you don't have anything to declare at customs you walk through the green channel but they do have spot checks and can pull anyone aside.

Kay
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Old May 21st, 2012, 01:57 AM
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Though if your luggage is checked through to Oslo (as it should be) you will go through customs there and not Heathrow.
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Old May 21st, 2012, 03:31 AM
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>>Though if your luggage is checked through to Oslo (as it should be) you will go through customs there and not Heathrow.
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