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Transferring from one airline to another at LHR

I am a US citizen traveling from Atlanta (ATL) to Barcelona (BCN) via London Heathrow (LHR). I will arrive at LHR Terminal 4 on a Delta flight this coming Sunday, and will transfer to a British Airways flight to go to BCN, which leaves from Terminal 3. I understand that Delta will not automatically transfer my luggage to a British Airways flight, since DL and BA are not Code Share Partners. I am familiar with LHR, as I have flown to and from there nine times, most recently last month, but I have never changed planes there. If I plan to check luggage on the Delta flight should I go to the area for passengers whose final destination is LHR, pass through UK Border Control, retrieve my luggage, and take the Piccadilly Line from Terminal 4 station to Terminal 1,2,3 station and check in at the BA counter there? (Can I do that if my final destination is not the UK?) Or, is there a way that I can have my luggage routed to the BA flight if DL won't do so, so that I can use the Connecting Flights route at LHR and not have to exit and re-enter LHR? TYIA.

Posted by
23465 posts

Are you using two separate tickets?????? One to London and one to Barcelona? If yes, big problem.

Posted by
3 posts

Yes, I have two separate itineraries: on Delta from ATL to LHR and back, and on Orbitz, from LHR to BCN, and from Madrid (MAD) back to LHR on the 24th. I have nearly 3-1/2 hours between my DL and BA flights on Sunday, so I have plenty of time to exit Terminal 4, travel to Terminal 3, and check in at the BA counter there, if need be.

Posted by
5382 posts

Yes as you have two itineraries on airlines in different alliances you have to collect your bags and transfer terminals airside.

Only take the Piccadilly line if you have an Oyster card or contactless form of payment which makes this free - otherwise you will need to pay a cash fare. The alternative is the transfer service that runs from the Heathrow Connect station that is free for all. I recommend checking into the BA flight online the day before and use their T3 bag drop.

For future reference Oneworld allows interlining of bags on separate itineraries, so you could have flown into Terminal 3 on either AA or BA and had your bags transferred and avoid a terminal change (or T5 on BA and just have the terminal change). They also have a policy of protecting travellers if the first flight is late beyond their contractual obligations.

The other better alternative would have been VS into T3. No bag interlining or protection, but the same terminal.

Posted by
4535 posts

I truly hope everything goes smoothly, but for future reference and others reading posts, this is a really bad idea.

While you may have 3.5 hours to transfer flights, a delay could wipeout much of that time. You'll also need quite a bit of that time to go through immigration, collect your bags, transfer to the other terminal, check in and check your bags, and go through security.

Normally, a code share transfer at LHR is about 90 minutes (including being at your new gate prior to boarding). It can be done in less if things go smoothly and security lines are minimal. In your case, you'll need at least 2 hours to transfer, only leaving a 1.5 hour window. It's not uncommon for flights to be delayed 90 minutes or more. My last connection through LHR was 1.25 hours delayed and we barely made our connecting flight (codeshare and they gave us priority access through security).

If you miss your connecting flight because of a delay, you'll lose your ticket for the flight to (and returning) Barcelona.

I would HIGHLY recommend you not check bags. That will help cut out a decent amount of waiting time for you - both in collecting them at LHR and having to re-check them. And most airlines require bags to be checked at least 60 minutes prior to flight time. Even a slight delay might mean not getting your luggage on the plane.