Heathrow transit times

There are airports that should be avoided when transiting. London Heathrow is one such hub. But if the price is right, how long does it take to cross this airport?

Q. Tom

I’m planning on flying to the UK in April and have previously avoided transiting through Heathrow; however, I have seen some reasonably priced flights for this route and would like your advice on how long I should give myself between flights?

A. There is a minimum connection time (MCT) listed for each airport around the world. The International Air Transport Association decides the MCT, however, actual airports take little notice of it. This means they generally won’t take any responsibility for disruption to your journey, so it’s important that you choose your flights carefully.

Heathrow, along with LAX in Los Angeles, is notorious for being a bottleneck for transiting passengers, and many travellers will try to avoid it at all costs. However, if you find a fare with the right price tag, there is no real reason not to fly that route.

Most international flights heading from this side of the world land at Terminal 1, with regional flights departing from the new Terminal 5. The MCT between these two terminals, which is serviced by a free trip on the Heathrow Express, is 90 minutes. If you are booked straight through from Australia to your destination and don’t need to collect any luggage at Heathrow, this is definitely achievable – but you will need to keep your wits about you and move quickly.

If you are planning on booking your regional UK flight separate to your international flight, then you will need to give yourself much more time. You will have to factor in any delays to your international flight, time to collect your bags and clear customs, plus you will need to check in at least 40 minutes before your flight.

There are, of course, other options depending on where your onwards travel is taking you. You can fly direct to many of the UK’s regional airports via airline hubs in Asia and the Middle East. And rather than an onward flight, you may wish to consider taking the train, which will usually see you arrive in the centre of town.

To help you plan your journey, check how to get between terminals at Heathrow, and the time it is likely to take, visit www.heathrowairport.com.

Written by Debbie McTaggart