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Transit time from London Heathrow to London City Airport; logistics at London City Airport

I am flying British Airways from Nashville to London Heathrow to Edinburgh on Sun July 24/Mon. July 25. Based on the recent news about flight cancellations and mandated departing passenger caps at Heathrow, I'm not surprised today to have received an email from British Airways informing me that my Heathrow to Edinburgh flight had been cancelled (the second time in the last 6 weeks BA cancelled my Heathrow to Edinburgh leg).. Looking at the rebooking options, I had the choice of an approx. 9 hour layover at Heathrow (and always the risk THAT flight could be cancelled)...and several late afternoon or evening departures from London City Airport. I chose a departure from London City Airport that leaves 6 hours 40 minutes after my scheduled arrival at Heathrow Terminal 5.

I've visited London many times and am very familiar with Heathrow and the Underground. I've never used London City Airport but 2 weeks ago was told by a Swiss man using London City Airport that week that it was much less of a hassle than London Heathrow.

For those of you who have flown out of London City Airport (the more recently the better):
1. How much time should I estimate for check in at London City Airport? I will have only carry on luggage so perhaps I can skip this line altogether?
2. What has been your experience about how long it takes to clear the security checkpoint at London City Airport?
3. Is there a central departure lounge where one waits for the gate to be posted (as at Heathrow), then you quickly walk to the gate?

4. For a London to Edinburgh flight, is it sufficient to be at the departure lounge (or gate) 1 1/2 hours in advance?

My rough time estimate is:
At Heathrow: deplane at Terminal 5, walk to immigration, clear immigration using Egates, wait for and board the Heathrow Express = 1..7 hrs.

Transit time on Heathrow Express to Paddington, Tube to Canning Town, Docklands Light Railway to London City Airport =2.0 hrs.

At London City Airport, obtain boarding pass at kiosk (if don't already have it), go through security checkpoint, arrive at departure lounge (or gate) 90 minutes before departure = 2.5 hours

That totals an estimated 6.2 hours from arriving at Heathrow until my flight leaves London City Airport. My total layover is 6 hours 40 minutes assuming I land at Heathrow on time, so now I'm wondering if I've allowed enough transit time...maybe I should take a later flight out of London City...or even revert back to having a 9 hour layover at Heathrow.

Thank you for your thoughts!

Posted by
2044 posts

Have you considered taking the train from London to Edinburgh? That way you don’t have the stress of the connecting flight.

Posted by
327 posts

Carrie, thank you very much for your suggestion. I'll take a train from London to Edinburgh if that's really the best option. However, it would be annoying to have to pay the train fare because I think it very unlikely I'd be reimbursed by British Airways. But, I suppose the train fare is not alot of money considering what my entire trip to Scotland will cost.

Posted by
4990 posts

I'll take a train from London to Edinburgh if that's really the best option. However, it would be annoying to have to pay the train fare because I think it very unlikely I'd be reimbursed by British Airways. But, I suppose the train fare is not alot of money considering what my entire trip to Scotland will cost.

Is your flight out of LCY on the same ticket as your flight arriving at LHR? If so, you shouldn’t skip the leg from LCY to EDI. When you skip a leg on a ticket, airlines generally cancel the rest of your itinerary (e.g. your flight back to the U.S.)

Posted by
327 posts

Laura, thanks so much for your comment. Yes, on the same ticket. Very good point that skipping London to EDI leg might cause BA to cancel my flights back to the US. A very valid point arguing to flying from London to Edinburgh as opposed to train.

Posted by
13056 posts

I've flown in and out off LCY a few times.

Let's put this in perspective......if Heathrow was a dog, LCY would be a flea. It's a really tiny airport. (I firmly believe the check in hall at T5 at Heathrow is bigger than the terminal at LCY. No jumbo jets here. Mostly regional jets and turboprops.

1) It's best to check in online.

2) Security can take awhile at LCY because it's small and has to process a lot of people.

3)There is a central area where people wait. This is where the shops and restaurants are located. It can get crowded and seats can be at a premium. What I usually do is go to the closest gate that has no flights and wait there. It's not going to be more than a 5 minute walk to your gate.

4) Plenty of time.

There are no jet bridges at LCY. You walk out onto the field and up the stairs into the plane.

I have not been to LCY since before the pandemic and that is what I am basing my information on.. Things may have changed.

If you take public transportation, there are no exit gates at the LCY station. You need to "tap out" or you will be charged the highest fare. The machines are on the wall on the side of the station as you are exiting.

If I remember correctly, as you exit the station, and before you enter the terminal, there was a row of check in machines that you can use if you don't have your boarding pass.

Good luck.

Posted by
30293 posts

The new Elizabeth Line goes between the two airports. Until later in the year there is a change at Paddington, later on the trains will go straight through.

City Airport is one I have never used, although Southend wins for quirky and I've used that one!

Elizabeth Line makes a few stops but should work better than Heathrow Express/tube/DLR/walk. Far better.

Bon chance!

Posted by
13056 posts

The Elizabeth Line doesn't go to London City Airport.

It passes near the airport but doesn't stop there.

Posted by
5036 posts

London City has been having its own problems over staffing security although being a small airport it hasn't hit the headlines. The busiest time is early in the morning. Early evening is probably the next.

Posted by
2044 posts

I wasn’t suggesting you just skip a leg of your journey. I was thinking you could change your ticket to end in London and then take the train. When you mentioned a possible 9 over layover, I was thinking there has to be a better option.

Good luck!! I hope it all works out for you. I have a trip planned to Edinburgh next year and am trying to sort out my own flight options. Sometimes, there’s just really no great options.

Posted by
327 posts

Many thanks to all who commented.

Frank, your long reply was most helpful.

Nigel, I appreciate all the postings you write on the Travel Forum!