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LONDON HEATHROW -is it really a NIGHTMARE???

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LONDON HEATHROW -is it really a NIGHTMARE???

Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:01 AM
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LONDON HEATHROW -is it really a NIGHTMARE???

We will be flying into LHR next week and I am concerned after reading all kinds of negatives about the airport and luggage problems.
We will be connecting to a BMI flight to Venice. So we have to go from terminal 1 to terminal 4 or vice versa. How bad will that be. we have 2 1/2 hours between flights.
THANKS>
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:32 AM
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Are you flying into LHR on British Airways? I know BMI flies out of T1 so if T4 is in the mix I'd assume it's BA that's your inbound carrier.

If so, the chances are slim that BA will agree to tag your bags through to Venice. They might, or the bags might get tagged through if your initial flight is on another carrier besides BA, but left to their own volition they don't do interline bag forwarding through LHR to non-BA partners, which BMI is definitely not.

If so, then you may need to go through immigration and claim your bags at T4, get a trolley, ride the Heathrow Express (train - free) to the T1/2/3 exit, walk through the l-o-n-g tunnel, and then take the lift up to T1, recheck your bags, go through security again, and go to Italy. You will need all of your 2.5 hours, but will be okay.

If your bags are checked through, look for "flight connections" when you get off the plane, which will direct you to a bus that will take you to the "flight connections centre" where you'll go through security and then go to the T1 departures area, without clearing immigration or customs. Much easier and faster, although the lines at the security point can be hellish first thing in the morning. You'll have plenty of time going this way, however.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:33 AM
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You'll get any amount of judgements about how unpleasant LHR is. So let's get some hard data.

Presumably you're arriving on BA. If on Qantas (the other intercontinental operator at T4), you might have been able to persuade them to through-check your bags, but if on BA, you won't. So you need to go through immigration, collect your bags, walk through Customs to the Heathrow Express train. On average you'll wait 7 mins for the train: it's a 5 min journey and (I claim but others seem to walk more slowly) a further 7 min walk to T1. There's no sensible alternative to all this: T4's about 3 miles from T1

You'll have had the sense to check in for your BA flight, and change your seat, online before you left home. You should also have done the same thing for your bmi flight.

I've not used bmi since they introduced OLCI, but there was no queue at their OLCI bag drop the other day. With luck, you might have got to this point in 45 mins from landing: allow up to 90 mins.

Security at T1 midmorning the other day was 15 mins from getting into the queue to emerging into the retail area. How pleasant an experience depends on your fellow passengers: I had idiots in front of me, but exceptionally pleasant and efficient security checkers.

In reverse, you might have better luck getting bmi to through check your bags, which means you can go straight to T4 on the airside coach without worrying about your bags. Again, ensure you've checked in online with both companies before getting to the first airport: it's amazing how many other passengers seem to prefer queueing for hours, especially at LHR T4, to spending a couple of minutes on the computer before leaving.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:52 AM
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I can't help specifically with your trip because I don't know. But I always fly thru Heathrow when I go to Europe and have never had any problems. Actually I like that airport quite a bit. Changing terminals is no big deal, you just follow along, signage points you in the right direction.

Will your luggage be checked thru for you? Or do you have to claim it and re-check it? That is one detail I would try to find out.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 07:19 AM
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You will have to go through security again at Heathrow and you may even need to do it again at the gate. But back in January I transfered from Terminal 4 to 3 and got to my gate in just 30 minutes. That includes security.

"Is it really a nightmare?" Sometimes yes and usually no.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Thanks to everyone for your help! Yes, we are flying British Air to LHR then BMI to Venice. I will follow your suggestions as close as I can! I sure want to avoid any hassles if possible. Thanks again.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 01:07 PM
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I forgot to ask you, how do I get BA to through check our bags to Venice when we fly BMI from LHR to Vce? I know I ask them, but do they change tags at LHR and transport the bags to BMI? Sure sounds like that would save a lot of Migraines. Again, thanks.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Some airlines have baggage handling arrangements with each other, some do not.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 01:28 PM
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If BA has a luggage agreement with BMI they should be able to check the bags all the way through I think.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:12 PM
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Did you buy your BA and BMI tickets separately or were they purchased together? I recall seeing on BMI's site that they will no longer interline bags for itineraries that were not booked as one transaction.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:37 PM
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As others have said, it may be difficult to convince BA to check you luggage through on a non-partner airline with separate tickets. They SHOULD be willing to do it if you have ONE ticket.

2.5 hours is generally enough time, even if you have to pick up your baggage in T4 and check it back in in T1. Worst case scenario is that you exist immigration in T4, pick up your bags, rush to the Heathrow Express for the transfer to T1/T2/T3 and check in at BMI. I suggest you use the kiosks and drop your bags off at the designated baggage drop off desk an immediately go through security. Before the recent secirity changes, I would have said you would not have any problems with 2.5 hours, but I have seen some dreadful line-ups recently. However, T1 security line-ups are nowhere near as bad as those in T3 & T4, so I still think you will make it.

Just don't dilly-dally on the way. One suggestion to cut down the time is to get friendly with a FA on the flight and BEG for a fast-track immigration pass, which will cut down the time you wait to be processed in the immigration hall (you would be able to use the line-up for BC travellers, which takes about 1/4 of the time). Also, if you are running late in T1, and security line-ups are back, plead with the security agent on the fast-track line-up to let you use this one (I have been successful in the past when running late). Also, there is a second security check once inside the boarding area for European flights, so don't spend too long in the duty free - get right down to the gate.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:40 PM
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If you're flying with BA from the outset, i.e., not taking some US carrier to a gateway city where you're changing to BA, then it's pretty unlikely that they will tag your bags through to Venice, and you will need to claim them in London and take them to the BMI checkin counter in T1. BA are just awful about this - they'll even refuse to through-check bags on Oneworld partner airlines, when their own policies state they will. BMI is anything but a partner.

So if they agree to check them through when you arrive for your London flight, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise plan on a little bag schlepping in London.

Where are you flying from, by the way?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:45 PM
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Yes, as Garlyloo says, BA are very uncooperative on checking bags through. With other airlines, I have had success when traveling on separate tickets, but the only time in recent years I have been successful with BA is when I was flying business class, even when I appealed to the supervisor and when a BA delay of over an hour (due to aircraft problem (their fault) and not weather, put me in jepordy of missing my connecting flight.

Plan for the worst!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:49 PM
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Hello...Sorry to "hijack" this thread concerning BA to Venice, but you all seem so knowledgable concerning BA and connecting flights. We are flying BA to LHR in May with a connecting flight to Dublin via Aer Lingus. Will we be able to send our luggage all the way to Dublin, or will we have to claim it, go through customs, walk it to our Dublin departure? This is the first time we have used BA to Ireland, had no problem with United. Thanks so much for any info...Helen
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:55 PM
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We are flying BA to LHR in May with a connecting flight to Dublin via Aer Lingus. Will we be able to send our luggage all the way to Dublin...

No.

or will we have to claim it, go through customs, walk it to our Dublin departure?

Yes.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:46 PM
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Laoghaire:

Aer Lingus is part of the one-world alliance, but there was talk of them pulling out a few months ago. They are still listed on the one-world website, so at this stage you should have no problem checking your luggage through, again assuming you have one ticket. If you have separate tickets, BA can object.

How much time do you have between flights? United arrive in T3, which is connected to T1 & T2, so the transfer is a little easier and shorter. BA arrive in T4.

However, Ireland is considered an internal flight, so there is less hastle than when transfering to a European destination. I do the Dublin transfer at least 3 times a year and have done it easily within 2 hours and often a lot less than that. Also, there are hourly flights to Dublin and I have generally found Aer Lingus very accomodating, just in case you miss your flight.

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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:52 PM
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Aer Lingus is leaving Oneworld as of April 2007.

I have not been successful in having BA interline bags to EI services, but there's always a chance. Laoghaire, you should follow the suggestions above. Ask but be prepared to be turned down.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:16 PM
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I didn't know they had actually announced the break Gardyloo - thanks for the information. Are they "going it alone" or are they joining another alliance? I read that they were not interested in making the investment in upgrading their systems to come in line with One-World. Then the bid from Ryanair

Its not a problem for me, as I fly Air Canada (STAR) and use BMI to Dublin, unless a really cheap fare on Aer Lingus seduces me.

Unfortunately, I have had least success in convincing BA to do me a favour and bend the rules.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:34 PM
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I must be naive, but I am amazed that one cannot just check luggage through on a two-legged trip. I have always been able to do this on various flights, from LAX to FCO and back, through Philly, Boston, London, and Zurich, and on a variety of airlines, including BA but not BMI. What gives?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:46 PM
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Thanks to Gardyloo and OReilly..As usual, I can always count on quick and reliable answers to questions!! Helen
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