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LHR, Terminal 5 logistics

Need clarity and suggestions from the best travel community!!
1.Booked my ticket with AA (have confirm #) to LHR but on the printed itinerary it says operated by BA with a different confirm #.
Q: At the USA airport, do I check in at BA desk and consider my travel with BA.
2. When completing the PLF-- will it ask for all hotels we are staying at?
3. I have downloaded BA and AA apps. After reading past forum topics, sounds like uploading travel docs, covid tests is a good idea. Where on the British Airways app do I do that? Or do I have to use Verifly?
3. Departing LHR, Terminal 5 at 10:00am. I have a few options and would like input! We can stay overnight in London and take Express Train ...does it go directly to Terminal 5??? ( I see that it stops at terminal 2&3)
OR should we get hotel near airport early evening, enjoy a nice dinner. Suggestion on hotel(Bath Road) and how to get to Terminal 5 efficiently. Staying at the Sofitel is pricey but might be best bet.
As always, thank you for the help.

Posted by
3203 posts

AA and BA have been codesharing for years. Since the flight is operated by British Airways, you will check in at the BA counter. I can’t respond to the travel document part since I haven’t been there since covid started. When we’re in London we always stay by the Gloucester tube stop on the Piccadilly line (dark blue on the tube map). The last stop is terminal 5, and the ride is about an hour from the Gloucester stop. The front of the train will say “terminal 5.” If it doesn’t say terminal 5 the last stop is the terminals 2&3 stop.

The first trains generally begin running at 5am Monday-Saturday with reduced Sunday hours. We try to get to the airport 3 hours early. If you’re going to use the tube, its schedule, based on your flight’s departure time, should determine whether you should stay in town or near the airport. Here’s the link for the London Transport website:

Posted by
2621 posts

Departing LHR, Terminal 5 at 10:00am,
I myself would check in at 7:00 AM.
I myself would stay at the Sofitel.
The extra money spent would be worth it (for me) to reduce the amount of
stress on the morning of departure.
Cannot say what would be best for others, but this would be my plan.

Posted by
9777 posts

Whomever if operating your departing flight is who you check in with.

On your return, let's start with where you are staying in London. That will determine your best mode of transport to Heathrow. Where are you staying?

Let's say you need to be at Heathrow sometime between 7 and 7:30 AM due to Covid. You have a few choices. The Express train is good if you are staying in some areas of London while the Piccadilly Line (the tube) is good if you are staying near that line. Both go to Terminal 5.

If you want to stay near Heathrow, the Sofitel is the easiest option. I've stayed there a few times before early morning flights. There are also hotels on Bath Road where you would have to catch the bus to the airport.

Posted by
3203 posts

Leicester square tube stop is on the Piccadilly line, as well as the Northern line. If you stay in town and are taking the tube, ensure you get on the correct (Piccadilly) line. From Leicester square assume the ride to terminal 5 will take about 1:15.

Posted by
12188 posts

Our practice over many trips to London and flying BA, is to spend our last night at the Hotel Indigo a half block from Paddington Station. It is a 5-minute walk to the train, and a 15-minute ride to T5 at Heathrow. It is faster and more comfortable than the Tube (which I avoid as much as possible). After checking in to the hotel we enjoy a walk in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, or wander up to the Regents Canal Towpath and Little Venice. For dinner we like the Mitre Pub at Lancaster Gate.

The one time we deviated from this practice was when we had an apartment near Tower Bridge for a month, and we did not want to pay for a hotel near Paddington for the last night because the apartment stay included that night. So we decided to stay at the apartment and take the Tube to Paddington in the morning (around 8 am) to catch the Heathrow Express. Big mistake. Each train that pulled in was already so crowded it was impossible to board, especially with our luggage. After waiting through 2 trains, we walked to the farthest end of the platform and were able to board the first car. Still so crowded we could not sit, but at least we did get on. Fortunately it was a short ride to Paddington.

Now, if it doesn’t make sense to stay at Hotel Indigo the last night, we take a cab from our hotel to Paddington, and that might be an option for you from your Leicester Square location.

Buy your tickets online well in advance for the best price. (I am not posting a link to the website as it is down for maintenance right now, but the tickets are around half-price if you buy 90 + days in advance, or at least they were last time we were in London (2019).

Posted by
9777 posts

As mentioned, Leicester Square is right on the Piccadilly Line. About an hour to Heathrow. Cost is 5.30 pounds (3.30 pounds before 6:30) You shouldn't have too much of a problem with crowds at 6:00 in the morning. And once you are past Green Park, it won't be bad as you will be headed out of town and everyone else is heading into town.

Or you could take the train from Padddington. (2.40 pounds tube from Leicster Square to Paddington which included a change or tube lines or about 12 pounds via taxi. Then the train from Paddington to Heathrow is 22 pounds or 5.50 pounds if you book online at least 90 days before your trip.) You won't save much time over the tube with this route. Paddington will be a zoo at that hour with people arriving from the numerous train lines for work.

I am not a morning person, and I've seen too many transport problems that I would probably spend the night before near Heathrow. So my suggestion is check out of your hotel the day before your flight. Have your hotel hold your luggage. Spend the day in London, perhaps even have dinner, and then head out to your hotel near Heathrow. You'll get a little extra sleep the next morning.

My normal digs are in Earls Court right on the Piccadilly line. I've lost count how many times I've taken it back and forth to Heathrow. I did try the Heathrow Express once. For me it was a waste of money.

Before you take either of the above, let me point something out. For two people, you might be able to arrange a car service to pick you up and drive you directly to Heathrow. Your hotel will have information. (Estimate is 60-70 pounds from Leicester Square.)

Posted by
916 posts

I have done both: allowed time for transport in the morning and stayed at the Sofitel. If possible, I would choose the Sofitel. Unless I had something on that was a highlight of my trip the night before, I would elect the more leisurely option. BTW, if you are using miles or points at all, check that out. I have often paid for the Sofitel with Avios. Sometimes, spending the Avios on the flight does not yield the boost I want, but it sure feels nice to spend on Sofitel. If you feel like economizing on food, there is a Marks and Spencer opposite the entrance to the Sofitel, but of course, there are dining options in the hotel, too.

Posted by
2621 posts

"Paddington will be a zoo at that hour with people arriving from the numerous train lines for work. "

On the other hand, you could stay at the Sofitel, have a nice breakfast, check out of the hotel, walk into T5, check in for you flight,
sit down to read a book and wait for your flight.

One way is stressful, one is not.

Posted by
9777 posts

Let me just add to what I said before and agree with those who posted after me....

The Sofitel is nice. The Marks and Spencer Food Hall is located directly across from where you get the elevator to the Sofitel. It's open 24 hours. And...if I remember correctly, the Sofitel has a small refrigerator in the room as well, of course, as the obligatory kettle. Of course, they also have restaurants.

In the morning you check out, walk the 5-7 minutes to the check in area. No stress. More sleep.

Posted by
13 posts

_3. Yes, you'll need to use Verifly to do a preliminary document check. If successful, this will allow you to check in online & get a boarding pass in advance. Make sure your name on the BA reservation matches exactly with what you put in Verifly.
They'll still want to physically check your passport at the counter when you check a bag, or at the gate if you go straight there. When they ask for your PLF & COVID test, volunteer your Verifly app and see if they'll take that - it's faster. (I assume you're flying from a major airport. The staff in more remote places are sometimes less familiar with Verifly.)

Posted by
2721 posts

I, too, agree with those who say the Sofitel would be the most relaxed way to get to your morning flight. If flying thru Heathrow (Heathrow is my transfer airport of choice), the Sofitel is always part of my plan. They also have lovely room service,which is my choice when arriving in the evening on the BA’s day flight.

I would also like to add praise for the Heathrow Sofitel. For some reason for a May 2020 stay I had chosen the non refundable price ( I never do this but for some reason this time I did.) I rescheduled the stay twice over the last year+. Finally in early Sept. I wrote them a note and said I would not be able to use the room on the 14th, thanked them and said I would return someday. I asked for nothing. They contacted me and said they would be returning my money, which they did do, because events were out of my control. I am now a loyal fan of this hotel!

Posted by
4363 posts

I like the Sofitel (the Heathrow one is better than the one at Gatwick), it's a nice hotel and it's so much less stressful. I've stayed at several hotels in Bath Road, many were a bit tired and to get to the airport it's a relatively short shuttle bus ride or an overpriced taxi. I wouldn't stay anywhere that necessitated using the Tube, I can't stand it at the best of times least of all with luggage.

Use the Verifly app for all your documents.

Posted by
25724 posts

Paddington will be a zoo at that hour with people arriving from the numerous train lines for work.

If your last night was in the vicinity of Paddington you'd still be in London for your last night.

At 6:30 or 6:45 the commuters will just be just starting, and the flow will be into the station and mostly changing to tube/taxi/bus so not a huge number in the neighbourhood. And you'll be going opposite to the flow.

The station will start getting crowded but it is not a difficult station and has very high ceilings with plenty of ventilation.

Even the Piccadilly Line at 6:00 (you'll need an hour that way rather than 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express (or soon the Elizabeth Line of Crossrail) so need to leave earlier) won't be busy, especially outbound.

Posted by
1934 posts

I'd like to put in a plug for the Premier Inn over near terminal 4 - a very nice place for about a third of what a night at the Sofitel will cost you.
The train between terminals is pretty easy to navigate but it is a bit of a walk, so with luggage we usually opt for one of the local mini-cabs for the convenience of the door to door service. As I recall the cost for two of us (with luggage) to get from the hotel over to terminal 5 was about 15 pounds and took about 15 minutes. Reception at the Premier Inn was happy to handle the reservation of the mini cab for us.

Posted by
6586 posts

We always stay at the Sofitel at Heathrow. Not only is it a wonderful hotel but they went above and beyond for us when one of us became ill. Incredible staff.
Book a dinner reservation in advance at the hotel’s Le Belle Époque restaurant, an excellent place to relax after long travel days.