Please sign in to post.

Layover at Heathrow

I'll be traveling through Heathrow Airport for an eight hour layover, in about three weeks. I'll be returning home to the United States from a trip for work, and am looking at this as a reward, even if I only have a few hours. Many good tips have already been shared on this forum for where to go and what to do, so I don't want to rehash those questions and answers. But there are a few things I couldn't figure out. I would appreciate advice from those familiar with Heathrow.

(1) Are the Left Luggage centers reliable, and easy to access from the international terminal? For 10 pounds ($15), it would be worth it to me to leave my duffel, and even my laptop, so I don't have to carry it around. Would love to hear from someone who has experience using this facility -- if I think I may have to keep all my things with me, I'll carry-on less items for my trip home.

(2) If I get asked to go through one of the body scanners, I will opt out as long as that is an option. Is the resulting pat-down similar to what I'm used to getting in the U.S. when I opt out, or more intrusive? How long does it take?

(3) I think London should be reasonably warm this time of year: 40's or 50's Fahrenheit? I'm traveling back to Boston from Lagos, so I want to take the lightest jacket I can get away with. If I think it might be necessary, I will pack my Smartwool mid-weight shirt.

Thanks for any advice! I have not taken a Rick Steve's tour, but have read these forums for a while. My hope is to plan a real vacation to London, Wales and Scotland later this year or in 2016, so I'm looking forward to this quick glimpse of London.

Posted by
4731 posts

Never used the left luggage centre so will pass on (1).

(2) There is a right to decline body scanners now in force. The alternative is an enhanced hand search in private which may involve loosening or removal of outer clothing items but not a full 'strip search'. Current rules are here. Note that the use of body scanners is less than in the USA and are not used at all as primary, although if you are in the lane where they are in use a random percentage may be directed there.

(3) Average maximum temp would be about 9C/48F. Max temp today is around 5C, tomorrow 2C.

Posted by
101 posts

Thanks, @Marco! That reinforces what I have read about the body scanners -- nice to know it most likely will not be an issue for me.

Posted by
16883 posts

I have not used this Heathrow bag storage office, though but experience with similar, staffed facilities has always been good. That said, we normally consider them to be plenty safe for low-value items but caution against leaving laptops or other high-value items in any storage situation. If you don't need the laptop for work and have the option of carrying a more portable tablet or smart phone, then this is a reason to choose the lighter option.

Posted by
9885 posts

I would definitely keep the Smartwool shirt at hand. Do you have a rain/wind layer to go over it?

I have been using Smartwool glove liners this winter as well and they are wonderful. Very light, non itchy and warm as can be. I have only had a few occasions in the coldest windiest weather to need heavier gloves on top of them. If you have time before you go you might investigate getting a pair to shove in your pocket. I can stay warmer all over if my hands and head are warm. Obviously would only be needed for London, not Lagos, lol!

Do consider a Rick tour. They are such fun!

Posted by
101 posts

Thank you!

Yes, I'm traveling for work during the previous week, so I will need a computer. However, I will get by with my 11 inch Macbook Air, so it won't be too heavy.

I plan to take an Uniqlo down jacket as well, which scrunches up very small when it not being worn. The one I have is not waterproof but should cut the wind, and between that and the Smartwool shirt, I should be toasty!

My latest plan is to take the Tube to the Tower of London and also grab a bite to eat. So I won't have to do a lot of walking if it is pouring rain, though hopefully it will not be. If needed I'd buy an umbrella.

Posted by
998 posts

I have used the luggage lockers in T5 at Heathrow. I was spending the last 2 nights of my European trip in London and didnt want to lug my carryon suitcase around. This was in 2010. You actually hand your suitcase to an attendant and they check it in for you. If you feel secure enough to bury your macbook deep in your suitcase then lock the suitcase then you dont have to carry it with you. It's up to you though. Enjoy the Tower! There's a Wagamama right by the entrance. Great place for noodles and its an RS recommdation.