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question about Heathrow Airport

I am flying from Austin, Texas to Heathrow non-stop and then I am flying on to Copenhagen. Both flights are on British Airlines but going through American.

I will have a few hours layover at Heathrow before boarding my plane to Copenhagen.

Two questions:

If I want to buy something at Heathrow, can I use US Dollars and or a credit card.

So, I get off the plane at Heathrow and then I will board a plane to Copenhagen. I do not not have to change terminals and as said both flights are British Airlines. Do I have to go through security at Heathrow before boarding my plane to Copenhagen?

Posted by
8984 posts

Some merchants may take US dollars, but they will give you a lousy exchange rate, and any change due will be in pounds; best to use a credit card-all merchants will accept plastic. When you inform your bank of your travel plans make sure you include London in the list of destinations so your card doesn't get blocked.

You will have to go through security again.

Posted by
5138 posts

Credit cards are the way to go at Heathrow.

When you get off of your first flight you will see signs that say "Flight Connections" with a purple arrow. Follow the flight connections signs. You will reach a point where its splits to two lines. One is for UK/Ireland connections and one is for international connections. You will be sent through security again and back into the main terminal. Check the departure board for your flight. Sometimes it will tell you the terminal but not the gate at first. Keep track of the board because there may not be a great deal of time from when the gate is posted and when you are supposed to be at the gate.

I learned (the hard way) to make sure that I got rid of any liquids I might have added to my bag after my first time through security at the initial departure point. Security goes quite fast, unless you have added a water bottle..........

Posted by
3491 posts

BA operates out of 2 different terminals at Heathrow (3 & 5). You may have to change terminals.

Use your credit card to make purchases at Heathrow. Make sure when you give your credit card company your travel details you include UK. It is doubtful anyone in the airport or anywhere else in the UK or Europe in general will accept USD. Too hard for them to get rid of anything other than the correct local currency.

Yes, you will have to go through security again.

Posted by
252 posts

Thank you all for your very helpful replies.

When I booked my cruise, I had no idea how complicated it was going to be. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and I certainly have.

Both my inbound plane and outbound plane will be leaving from terminal 5. Minimum connection time will be one hour. If I arrive on time, I will have 2 hours and 45 minutes between flights.

I travel light and I do get one checked bag free. So I will check my bag through in Austin.

I am afraid to ask this but what happens if I miss my flight? I have bought insurance if that helps.

I paid for TSA Pre and usually it is a breeze but one time, I , also, forgot my water bottle which was full. I could not believe what a hassle it caused but I made my plane on time. I never have done that again.

Posted by
4661 posts

I am afraid to ask this but what happens if I miss my flight? I have bought insurance if that helps.

If you miss your flight you'll have to buy a new one as well as the flight to Copenhagen. Dependant on the reasons for missing the flight your insurance may cover you.

Posted by
4681 posts

As described you are on a single ticket. Should you miss the connection because the first flight is late, you will be accommodated on the next available flight to Copenhagen.

On arrival at Heathrow, check exactly where you have arrived in the terminal and where your onward flight departs from. If both of these are in T5B and/or T5C, go directly to the satellite you are departing from and clear security there. If either flight uses T5A you have to clear security in T5A, is the main building.

It might sound complicated but follow the appropriate transfer signs.

Posted by
1725 posts

It really isn’t that bad, even if you have to change terminals. I flew from Edinburgh to Miami recently via Heathrow on British Airways. I had about the same lay over as you.

I had to go from terminal 5 to 3. There are clear signs for the buses which go to different terminals. I stood in a short line then loaded on a bus. Once the bus dropped us off, we went through security again.

Then I was in an area with stores and shops and I bought a snack using my credit card.

You have to wait until the gate for your next flight is posted which is different than in US where in my experience gates are assigned much earlier. I found waiting for gate to be posted rather disconcerting the first time I encountered it at Heathrow but now that I know that is the way they do things, it isn’t a big deal.

Posted by
11286 posts

Just remember, no one at Heathrow wants you to get lost - it's just more work for them! So, just follow the signs and go with the flow. You have plenty of time to make your next plane.

If you do miss the connection due to something not your fault, BA will take care of you. My sister's flight was from Baltimore to Heathrow to Barcelona. The first plane was delayed over two hours taking off from Baltimore due to an electrical issue at Heathrow. When she got off the plane at Heathrow, her original connection had long since departed, but a BA agent was waiting for her at the gate with a new ticket for a new connecting flight to Barcelona. She had to run, but made the next flight.

However, if you miss the connection because you were busy shopping, or something else that is your fault, you will be responsible for buying a new ticket on your own.

Do look at that Heathrow Connection Guide website posted above. It really is great at laying out all the steps. My sister's immortal words were "Heathrow isn't an airport - it's a city!" It is massive and always busy - just accept this, and it will all work out.

Do heed Michael Schneider's point above. When you call your credit card companies to tell them where you are traveling (if they still require calling - some don't), be sure to mention the UK in your list of destinations, so your cards aren't blocked at Heathrow. You can charge even the smallest purchases there, so you don't need to get cash just for the airport.

Posted by
13068 posts

T5 at Heathrow has 3 buildings, 5A, 5B, and 5C. You may well have to transfer between them, depending on the gate where you land and the gate for your departing flight to Copenhagen. The transfer is by an underground train.

If your plane lands at 5B or 5C, as well it might coming from the US, you will be directed to go to 5A where you will go through security to enter the departure/shopping area. You wait there for your next flight gate to be posted. Often they do not post it until an hour before departure time. As soon as it is posted, you head to the departure gate.

Posted by
64 posts

By the way, it's British Airways not British Airlines.

Good save! May have missed his flight!

Posted by
1775 posts

Just two quick tips -if you buy something in an airport shop they will ask to see your boarding pass. And, unlike TSA Precheck, they want you to take out all your electronic devices when you go through security as well as your quart bag of liquids/gel stuff. In my experience, security at Heathrow is very thorough.

Posted by
4661 posts

Just two quick tips -if you buy something in an airport shop they will ask to see your boarding pass.

Unless you're buying alcohol or tobacco there's no requirement to show your boarding pass, it's a method utilised by stores to evade having to pay taxes on sales that are exempt. If you've left your boarding pass with your wife (along with passport, water, Kindle etc 😉) then stand firm and tell the checkout staff that there's no obligation to present your boarding pass.

Posted by
252 posts

British Airways. Got it but I will probably forget.

I watched YouTube videos yesterday taken at either Copenhagen Airport to Heathrow or vice versa. They made me feel like I was right there very helpful and even comforting.

Terminal 5 is HUGE and I mean HUGE.

I live in Austin, Texas and we have a medium size airport. We could not even fly internationally until a few years ago and international flights are still few in number. You can walk from one terminal to the next

I take one cruise a year and I wanted to be more adventurous on this one coming up. I think that i got more that I desired. In fact, I think that I have bitten off more than I could chew.

I have not traveled internationally before and probably all of you responding to my post have traveled internationally several times. It has been a real shock

First, I booked my cruise and then I looked for hotels. I got a good deal on my cruise and a very good deal on my hotel but then it has been one hiccup after another. I had no idea that flying from Austin to Copenhagen and back could be so complicated and expensive.

Tomorrow, I am going to call American Airlines and talk to them about my transfer from London to Copenhagen. There are other flights and one is about two hours later which will get me to Copenhagen two hours later and then trying to get to my hotel at night .... I HATE rushing and I would rather have time to kill than have to walk fast or worst yet run to catch the plane.

I will post an update about calling and speaking to American Airlines after I do so.

British Airways. I am trying to get it into memory because usually you just see BA.

Posted by
252 posts

By the way, once more, I want to thank all of you for your helpful responses.

Posted by
2911 posts

I thought you said you had 2 hours and 45 minutes between flights, which is more than enough time, but it must have been in a later post. I find I am back into terminal 5 from my first flight, including deplaning, in 45 to 60 minutes, never more than 60...yet. As you deplane from your first flight and proceed to reenter the secure departure part of terminal 5, you will see lots of people standing along the way... particularly after train or bus transport (don't worry, there's no alternative so nothing to worry about there) to help you get to the correct point. These people are dressed in purple (with a tiche of yellow if I recall correctly). Just ask them if you want some direction as to what to do. Heathrow Terminal 5 is my flight change airport of choice so it is big, but not bad, as it is just one terminal. It does take a while to get to your gate once announced, but this is the case for everyone.

Someone reminded you that you need to make sure you are organized again for security; ie, liquids bag out, money belt off...if you wear one, metal off, etc. This is a definite. Although all shoes do not always come off.

Just take one step at a time. If it makes you feel better or you need a reminder, write everything down so if you get panicky or go blank, just check your notes. I do this even now as sometimes I'm distracted or too tired (well not now that I don't do overnight flights). I keep a log, what to do pre security, post security, pre landing, etc. Where I'm going when I land, etc. However, I'm a list maker so I'm sure most people don't do this, but I'm old fashion as I love my planner/journal, and something clear to reference should I need to do so.

Posted by
11286 posts

I agree with Wray. If you have 2 hours and 45 minutes as you said, that is plenty of time to make the connection without rushing. Remember that if you miss the connection due to a late arrival from Austin, BA will put you on a later flight themselves.

Again, look at the Heathrow flight connection planner website: https://www.heathrow.com/flight-connections. Put in your flight details, and it will lay out all the steps. There are signs everywhere - just keep looking for the "Flight Connections" signs, and ask if you're unsure.

You are right, it is only intimidating the first time. Remember the vast majority of Heathrow passengers are connecting, so the airport is set up for this. (Austin airport would be quite different, as the vast majority of passengers are starting or ending their journey there). Since Terminal 5 is BA's home terminal, there are lots of helpers around, and as I said, no one wants you to get lost. If you are unsure at any point, don't wait or hesitate - ask for help immediately. The people who work there do this all day, every day, so they can get your "sorted" (favorite word in the UK) quickly; there's no need for you to fumble or guess.

Posted by
252 posts

I do have 2 hours and 45 minutes, supposedly, but that does not seem like a lot of time to this unseasoned traveler but I am going to trust in the judgement of you experienced travelers.

Nevertheless, I will also call American when I get the chance just to make myself feel better.

Thanks for your input and help/

Posted by
1223 posts

If you have Apple Pay, or Android Pay, you can also use that at Heathrow. Don’t use US dollars, I know many international airports will accept most major foreign currencies, but since you’re returning to the USA, just use a card or Apple Pay.

Posted by
7689 posts

I always hope I go through Terminal 5, the newest, nicest. Some of the others are not very nice.

Posted by
252 posts

Keeping my eye on Heathrow news but my flight is not until mid September and I assume that the situation will be resolved by then.