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Updated advice on transferring from gatwick to heathrow in 3 hours

We are flying BA from Naples to Gatwick on May 24, a thursday. Arriving Gatwick 12:55 and departing Heathrow for the US at 4:05. I am gathering we need to collect our luggage from wherever, go through customs, find a bus, drive to HR and go through security again. Is this enough time???? BA scheduled the trip like this...we didn't, and didn't realize at the time the distance between airports, or that it would not be an intra security transfer (like from the tarmac on a bus kind of thing). Silly me. Live and learn. What to do?

Posted by
19 posts

I am calling the travel agency and BA tomorrow, but in someone else's post but going the opposite direction, responders were saying even 4 hours is tight. Thought I might get some opinions about this direction before calling them.
At worst, next I might be asking...what is good lodging and what is there to do around Heathrow in the evening!!!!????

Posted by
18889 posts

There's a relatively new Premier Inn that's connected to Terminal 4 via a covered walkway (maybe 10 minutes' walk). It was offering really reasonable rates last September--under 50 GBP for a single.

Posted by
4368 posts

Emma, to my knowledge there are no flights that leave Heathrow at 04:05 especially to the US. I read the timings as 12:55 and 16:05, in which case 3 hours and 10 minutes is way too short for me. If this is correct I'm surprised BA has scheduled the booking in this way.

Posted by
9793 posts

For our British friends, we Yanks don't usually use the 24 hour clock.

Three hours is way too short for a transfer. Gatwick immigration can be very busy and take awhile. There could be traffic on the road. Security at Heathrow could take awhile.

Since you mentioned using a travel agent, are you sure this is the itinerary put together by the agent who doesn't know London?

If you do miss your flight, they will put you on the next available one. Are there more nonstop flights that day? If not, you may be put on a transfer somewhere. (Probably JFK as they have numerous flights there every day.)

If you do have to stay overnight, there is a Sofitel attached to Terminal 5 which is the terminal you will be using at Heathrow. Not the cheapest but a nice, pleasant stay just a couple of minutes (enclosed) walk from the hotel into the terminal.

Posted by
4528 posts

Three hour transfers are certainly possible especially outside of commuting time; if they weren't BA wouldn't sell them as otherwise they would be picking up the tab too much for misconnects.

Whether this is a comfortable, stress free time allowance is another matter.

However, the inconvenience is reflected in the ticket price.

The 24-hour clock has been exclusively used by transport in the UK since the mid 1960s; not using it can confuse the locals ...

Posted by
19 posts

Sorry to confuse international friends....it is definitely 12:55 arrival and 16:05 departure, as some astute person suggested.

Posted by
9793 posts

Emma...I guess our two nations are divided by more than just a common language :)

When I'm in Europe, I tend to switch to 24 hour time and metric so I'm more easily understood. I will admit that the calendar sometimes gets me.

Posted by
118 posts

I am so thankful for my experience working at Disneyland... who does their employee schedules in a 24 hour clock because someone is always there... I am very fluent. :)

If only I was as fluent in French.

Posted by
25742 posts

agree with emma that the roads between Gatwick and Heathrow in the middle of the day may not be too bad, but I did want to point out that the vast majority of that trip is on the London Orbital Motorway, sometimes known as the M25.

Things do sometimes go wrong on the M25. This morning as I was trying to get home the motorway just stopped for 90 minutes between junctions 9 and 10 due to an accident.

On Saturday afternoon I was trying to get clockwise around the M25 just north of Heathrow when I got word that the motorway was completely closed in both directions due to the Air Ambulance responding to an accident was landing on the motorway. My detour added 25 minutes as I bailed immediately but the main carriageways were closed for quite a while.

That's not to spook you but to make you aware that the M25 does from time to time bung up a bit so you can be prepared if it doesn't all go to plan.

Posted by
19 posts

Just to put an end to this tale, the third party travel agency ticket seller says the flights can be changed now for $450 fee plus any difference in ticket price, and BA says three hours is the minimum connection allowance and we have more than that, so good luck to us. If we miss the connection and BA takes pity on us, they MAY put us on another flight at their expense, but they have no obligation to do so. This great flight cost could end up biting us in the arse! We will be boogie-ing through those airports! I’ll report back at the end of May as to how it goes. Thanks for everyone’s suggestions/comments.

Posted by
3178 posts

Vicki: you have mis-purchased your tickets. If what you are being told is true then you have separate tickets for one journey and that’s a mistake. If you are on a single ticket # then you will be reassigned a later flight for free and are being incorrectly informed (happens frequently).

I’ve seen Haneda / Narita airport transfers (Tokyo) in the same journey and those airports are 50 miles apart.

Posted by
19 posts

To Tom and Laura...yes both legs are on BA and they have the same flight number from Naples to Chicago.
Also, Emma, that is a great idea...I checked briefly about drivers, and it doesn't look like it would be that much more than for the two of us to buy fully amendable tickets for the express coach at around 25 pounds each.

Posted by
3178 posts

Vicki: what matters most is if it’s one ticket. You could still have been issued 2 tickets for the different legs even if same airline and flight number. BA.com does sell this as 1 ticket for $2400 OW.

Checking, the flight numbers are not the same. Google flights said the second flight is usually 30 minutes late.

Posted by
3178 posts

Check for more than one ticket number. It’s a 13 digit number on the reservation pdf. I don’t know who marketed the ticket so I don’t know the 3 digital prefix. Delta tickets start 006- for example, American start 001- Looks like BA marketed tickets start with 125- but any airline could have issued tickets for a BA flight.

When you called BA did you give them a PNR (6 character code) so they knew you weren’t flying into Gatwick on easyJet or Norwegian?

Posted by
7474 posts

Not sure if it makes any meaningful difference, but the NAP-LGW flight is BA 2607; the LHR-ORD is BA0297. Two different flight numbers, not the same, as mentioned in an earlier post.

This is what the BA website shows.
They also show an itinerary with the NAP-LGW departure and LHR-ORD on AA that leaves at 1715, so if you miss your connection, there is at least the possibility of another flight to be put on.

Sure hope you got a whale of a good deal on the tickets to make up for the stress of a 'challenging' transfer.

Good luck!

Posted by
19 posts

Yes Joe, we were pretty pleased with ourselves about the ticket price. This story goes on that other thread about getting what you pay for. But it has been a learning experience and I have appreciated all the good ideas from other travelers on this forum. I see the different flight numbers now...I was obviously looking at the reference or booking number (whatever). I am going to try to have a positive mental attitude about this and assume we are going to make it to our connection. Keep your fingers crossed. Thanks for the extra info.

Posted by
25742 posts

there are no dedicated bus lanes on the M23 or M25.

Is the Heathrow flight from Terminal 5 or one of the old ones? If Terminal 5 you will save some time because it has its own exit from the M25 and you don't have to go all the way to the M4 and in the long way....

A good private hire driver will know diversions if the M25 bungs up.

Posted by
3178 posts

Vicki: You really need to know your exact situation. If you can't find a 13 digit number (or 2) in your pdf then plug the 6 character PNR into ba.com and see what comes up there. You have to know if you have 1 ticket or 2 before planning further.

Fortunately there are a lot of flights/day between LHR and ORD, at least 6 nonstops. There's even a day trip eastbound leaving 9 am arriving 10:45 pm, one of the rare not-overnight flights to Europe.

If you do have 2 tickets and miss the flight, as long as you arrive within 2 hours of when baggage check-in closes you will normally be able to claim "car breakdown" excuse and get on a later flight for free, although May 24 this would be their partner American.

Posted by
19 posts

OK...was finally able to get a flight number (only 1) out of the travel agency...they say it is one flight...?

Posted by
3178 posts

Hang up the phone, that's not productive.

Get out your reservation pdf, somewhere will be this info:

Ticket number: 125 1234567890 (3 digit prefix, then a space, then 10 digits, or 13 digits all run together).

Booking Reference, or Confirmation Number: (6 characters, mixed numbers and letters).

When you have found those (DON'T CALL ANYONE!) then post back. Ultimately you are on your own and you need these two pieces of information before you leave.

Posted by
4368 posts

OK...was finally able to get a flight number (only 1) out of the travel agency...they say it is one flight...?

It won't be one flight. British Airways, Naples to Gatwick is flight BA2607 for example. The flight from Heathrow to Chicago will be on an entirely different plane and will have a different flight number (there are several flights from Heathrow to Chicago every day, each with its own separate number). It may be one booking but it certainly isn't one flight, what sort of travel agency are they if they don't understand this!

Posted by
9793 posts

Here are the simple steps to answer what it going on:

Look at your e-ticket or receipt. There should be a six letter code in all capitals. This is your Booking Reference. In emails it might even be in red.

Go to this page: British Airways

You will see a tab that says "Manage My Bookings." Click on that. a drop down menu will show up and on the right side it will say "Find my booking." Fill in your Booking Reference number and your last name. Click on "find booking."

When the flights show up, and there are two NAP-LGW and LHR-ORD then you know it is on one ticket. If only one flight shows up, then you are on two tickets.

Don't bother asking your travel agent. A good one will know the difference. A bad one, and it seems you have one that doesn't have a clue, isn't going to help.

If my instructions are oversimplistic and you already knew all of this, my apologies but it just seems like you keep going back to your travel agent and that person is giving you bad information.

Posted by
19 posts

Sorry to be so obtuse. I realize it is not one flight, but it is one ticket. I have one e-ticket number now that is 13 digits, not 16. When I enter the 6 digit confirmation number in the BA website as Frank describes, all four "legs"/flights come up in succession. That is all I know to say. We are going to hire a driver, as Emma and others suggested, and hope for the best. Thank you all.

Posted by
19 posts

Tom, you are cracking me up! I have both now!!! Wish there were emoticons I could use right now. LOL!

Posted by
3178 posts

Vicki:

It's worth posting the first 3 digits of the ticket number. If it's 125, then you bought your tickets from BA. This info can come in handy if you miss a connection, then contact whoever sold you the ticket for help. If it's not 125 then BA can't help you if you misconnect or face a cancellation. It will also determine how many miles you earn, e.g. tickets bought from KLM but flying Delta earn different Delta miles than tickets bought from Air France and flying Delta.

Posted by
9793 posts

lf all four flights show up under that one booking reference then you are on one ticket. If for some reason you miss your return flight to Chicago from London, BA will put you on the next available flight. That doesn't mean the next flight, but the next one that has seats.

The ticket number starts with 125 so that means you were booked through BA. If you miss the fight, the airline has to fix it.

Posted by
4368 posts

Sorry to be so obtuse. I realize it is not one flight, but it is one ticket.

I know you know it's not one flight but it appears the travel agent thinks it is!

Posted by
19 posts

Now that all that is settled, does anyone have any suggestions about private transfer? How about Sixt? Pro/con on this or other companies.

Posted by
18889 posts

Vicki, a private transfer is effectively a taxi, and they aren't cheap. I suggest that you check on the likely cost of that 46-mile ride before you get wedded to the idea. I would be shocked if it was anything like two times the cost of public transportation between the two airports. More likely it will be something like eight times the cost. Keep in mind that no amount of money for ground transportation guarantees that you will make your ticketed flight out of Heathrow. If everything goes well, public transit will be OK. If your inbound flight is late and the highway is severely backed up, even a private transfer may not be sufficient. So it is only under certain (unpredictable) circumstances that a private transfer will end up being helpful. What is certain is that it will cost you quite a lot of money.

Posted by
11262 posts

For your transfer, companies that are often recommended are Just Airports, Simply Airports, and Blackberry Cars (no personal experience with any of these). If you go to their websites, you can get a quote for how much they will charge for your transfer, for the size car you need (note that the UK uses different terminology for various cars than the US; the Just Airports site shows what they call each size car and how much it will hold in people and luggage).

Posted by
4666 posts

Yes, the bus between Gatwick and Heathrow runs at high speed by the most direct route and does not have any intermediate stops. If there are major road delays between the two airports a private transfer service won't be able to magically fly or teleport past the traffic jam.