Please sign in to post.

Flight Layover at Heathrow question

I have a penpal in London whom i've never met. I will be on a 2-hour layover at Heathrow airport in a few weeks. He said he'd meet me there for lunch, but apparently said security may not let me into the main terminal if i'm only on a layover. Does anyone have any info regarding this?? Additionally, i'm not sure if i'm taking a cell phone with me on my trip yet. Is there a well-known place (restaurant or landmark) we can designate to meet up at?

Posted by
8700 posts

People with longer layovers than yours often leave the airport and go to Windsor or London for a few hours. At Heathrow, all connecting passengers go through security before boarding, even if they stay airside. The key for you will be to allow enough time to go through security and get to your departure gate. I suggest you agree to meet at a restaurant that is BEFORE security. To find a list of restaurants by terminal, go here: http://tinyurl.com/3x9sw9.

To end any doubt of your being restricted, ask your friend to call Heathrow for up-to-the-minute information.

Posted by
10344 posts

Megan: You mentioned you might be taking a cell phone--do you know whether your cell phone will work in Europe (many US phones don't)?

Posted by
70 posts

I haven't had the time to look into that yet but it's on the to-do list!

Posted by
4647 posts

Megan,
I think this will be challenging. Heathrow is very much like US airports. Only ticketed passengers are allowed into the gate area of the terminals. If you are coming in on an international flight, you will need to go through passport control to get out of this area. You would then need to go back through the main security line to get back to the terminal. So you have the challenge of going through immigration who will question you as to how long you plan to stay and may not let you out with only 2 hours and the challenge of going back through the main security line.

I'm assuming that your layover is on a flight to or from the U.S. to elsewhere in Europe. If it happens to be within the UK, it would not be as difficult.

Posted by
70 posts

My flight will be a layover on our way from Prague back home to the US... sounds like it might be tricky to pull this off.

Posted by
8700 posts

Now that I know you'll be flying to the US you can ignore my previous post. Security can be extra tight and time-consuming for US-bound passengers.

Posted by
808 posts

A two hour layover is probably just too tight, all things considered. So don't be too disappointed if it doesn't work out. Sounds risky, not to mention stressful! If anything, "lunch" will be reduced to a quick hello over coffee.
Even if you and your friend both carry a cell phone, chances are you won't be able to get a proper signal in the terminal. Often cell phone signals are blocked for security purposes in Airports. (That's why you can make free local calls from any payphone in the terminal at the majority of Airports where cell phone signals are blocked)
The only other thing I can think of is to call the Airline's Special Services. Maybe your friend could call Special Services at LHR? (Give him your PNR#/Flight info etc) Perhaps they can make a suggestion or recommendation as to how or where you might be able to meet up, if at all.

Posted by
505 posts

On a bad day, 2 hours can be barely enough time to get from flight to flight at Heathrow, so I can't imagine you'd have enough time to meet someone for a meal.

Remember that to connect from flight to flight, you pass through the connections area which is not open to the public. To leave that area, you'd probably have to clear immigrations(though that might not be part of the deal if you are going straight to a US flight)and then leave plenty of time to get back through security.

And, the check in time for US bound flights is often up to an hour prior to the flight because at Heathrow you often have to go through secondary screening at the gate and then there's 30-40 minutes to get a large plane boarded. My guess is that you'd have to be at the gate an hour prior to take off at the earliest, allowing for the time it can take to get from terminal to terminal.

I'd say the meet up isn't going to happen.
Kate