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Arriving Heathrow but connecting flight out of Gatwick


I've dug around in past discussions but am still bit confused on how best to prepare for this. We have a 1st Class flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow as part of a trip to Spain in December. Our flight from the UK to Seville departs from Gatwick. We have about 4 hours between the flights.

How does this impact going through customs? Will it make a difference if we have checked bags? Do our 1st Class tickets make a difference?

What's the best way to get between the airports? Taxi? Shuttle bus mentioned on the Heathrow website? Subway?

Any other tips or details I haven't thought of?

Posted by
3608 posts

Take a look at I can't tell you the best way. I can only tell you what a friend did. She took the coach bus from Heathrow to Gatwick but she had a bit more time than you do for her trip and she wanted a direct trip with no need for changes and she did not wish to spend taxi money. She used the website that I linked to in order to learn about the options. Are these flights that were bought as one ticket or are you splicing together two itineraries? Time of day for this adventure? Exact travel date would be helpful so London experts could note if that is expected to be an unusually lousy traffic day for the London area (every day is a bad traffic day in the London area but maybe your travel day is expected to exceptionally bad).

"Will it make a difference if we have checked bags?" Yes, you will have to wait for luggage and that will take more time than if you had only carryon bags.

"Do our 1st Class tickets make a difference?" Well, of course, they do. You will get off the airplane faster than those in the rear of the plane. But probably the best thing for you is that, assuming you are US passport holders, you should be able to use the egates for passport control. See It is quite quick. As to customs, in all times we have been to London and it has been about 10 at this point, customs has taken all of 45 seconds because we have had nothing to declare and have gone through the nothing to declare channel.

I wonder though if any of this will change if Brexit happens before your trip. I quite literally have no idea if that is even an issue -- just throwing it out as a thought.

Posted by
26441 posts

Not something I'd be willing to do. I suspect the experts will want more specifics: Exact date of this trip and precise times of scheduled arrival at Heathrow and departure from Gatwick.

Posted by
15791 posts

We did this for a BA flight to Venice 15 years ago. We had 4 hours between flights and that was enough. We flew business class so had FastvTrack for immigration. Now you can use the e-gates so it is even faster. You will have to pick up your bags ( they cannot be checked through) but "customs" is a non-event. You take your bags to Gatwick and re-check them there.

We used the National Express bus; I don't know if this the "shuttle" you mention. Therevis no subway connecting the two airports. You "could" take the Tube ( subway train) into London and transfer there to a train to Gatwick but that could take a long time. Taxi between the airports would be no faster that the bus and a whole lot more expensive.

It is not ideal, but lots of people do this transfer and it works out. If your flight to Seville is on the same ticket as the overseas flight, they will help you out if you miss the flight due to late arrival of your first flight.

Posted by
14601 posts

Here is what you do:

1) Upon arrival at Heathrow, follow signs to immigration and go through the egates if you are American or Candian passport holders. (If the egates have trouble reading your passport, don't fret. There is a desk on the side for this and it only takes a few minutes.)

2) Go to baggage claim and get your bags. Walk through the green door (nothing to declare) or the red door if you have something to declare. If the green door, most likely you will just walk through without being stopped.

3) Depending on which terminal you arrive, find the National Express bus stop and get on the one for Gatwick. This is the easiest. No train between airports without going through central London and this will take more time. Taxi will be very, very expensive. You could try a car service if you didn't want to take a bus.

4) Upon arrival at Gatwick, check in, go through security, and find your gate. Just like checking in for any flight anywhere else. (There are two terminals at Gatwick so make sure you know which one you need.)

Four hours will be tight. I hope this is on one ticket.

Posted by
7209 posts

4 hours between flights? Your incoming flight could easily be delayed by 4 hours. But even if it’s delayed by just 1 hour you could be faced with buying a new ticket on the spot for your next flight out.

There’s no way I would personally do that.

Posted by
1318 posts

More details, please. It seems like you might be using points to get to LHR and then bought a separate ticket to Spain.

This isn’t something I would I do. Everything is going to need to go right for to make that flight to Seville. Heathrow and Gatwick aren’t close and London traffic is some of the worst in Europe.

One option is to get a private car service such as Blackberry cars for the transfer. But, first thing I’d do is look to see if you can change the flight to Spain to Heathrow and make things much easier.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks for all of this.

For those asking, yes, this is on points. Yes, we have US passports. And yes, the trip is all one ticket. We leave from Sacramento, fly to LAX, fly to LHR, somehow get to LGW, fly to Seville. (Coming home is a different story, Seville to Madrid to Philadelphia to Phoenix to Sacramento)

I'll check with the airlines and see if we can get a flight from LHR to Seville. Otherwise, I guess we'll just see what happens. I appreciate the clear directions of what to expect with passport control and catching the National Express bus link.

It's funny that everyone is saying 4 hours is tight since there was actually a 3 hour window option too!

Posted by
5293 posts

I'll check with the airlines and see if we can get a flight from LHR to Seville

There aren't any. At least not directly; the most obvious intermediate changing point being Madrid.

Posted by
15791 posts

British Airways sells lots of flights with this transfer built in (like flights to Venice from the West Coast) and 4 hours is considered a legal and safe connection time. But it does assume things go smoothly—-your incoming flight is reasonably on time, and there are no accidents or other traffic problems on the motorway.

If you can find a flight to Seville from Heathrow, that would relieve a lot of stress. But you still need to build in ample connection time if this one flight is separate from the main ticket (and it sounds like it is).

Posted by
1786 posts

In general if booked as one ticket the airline is obligated to get you to your destination. In cases of missed connections they will rebook you on the next flight with available seats. Since this involves a change in airports, I am not sure that still applies.

Do check with BA as to missed connection policies and to see what flights they offer to Seville that are later than your planned flight.

Posted by
3985 posts

I would not do this at all. This is too tight of a time crunch.

If you are a gambler, make sure you check no bags. Check in for your Gatwick flight the day before. Make sure that your carry-ons meet the exact specifications of EasyJet because if they don’t, you’ll get severely penalized. That you will be flying on miles to England, it may not be a big deal to be penalized like that by EasyJet.

Be prepared to miss that flight and have to buy new tickets both going to Spain and returning from Spain because when you miss your outbound, your inbound is automatically canceled. Keep in mind, that next flight maybe the following day if there are no more flights or if there are no seats in the remaining flights. Thus, you would have to pay for hotel and food for that delay.

Good luck!

Posted by
2697 posts

You are flying first class so you will get off first. Great advantage there. Capitalize on it by having carry on bags only. You otherwise are at the mercy of the folks who unload the luggage-what if yours is last off? There goes a precious 45 minutes or more. Since you were lucky enough to have enough points, spend some of what you saved and book a private transfer to Gatwick. Expensive yes. But you don’t want to get on a bus and sit and wait while it waits for its designated departure time. And, a knowledgeable driver may be able to avoid a traffic jam a bus cannot.

Posted by
3608 posts

Did you look at British Airways states: "We recommend that you allow at least 3 hours if you're connecting between these airports. Your baggage will not be automatically forwarded so please collect all your bags before leaving Heathrow or Gatwick airport. The best way to travel directly between Heathrow and Gatwick is to take a National Express coach." I'd take the coach. That way if you miss the flight to Seville, you will have done what BA thinks is the best approach. They will put you on the next flight to Seville so all will not be lost.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes, I saw that info on the website. Given that they say 3 hours and we have 4, I'm trying not to stress too much.

I was mostly posting to get a feel for how things would work at Heathrow and to help make a decision about whether or not to check any luggage. It's a quick trip so going all carry on should be fine for us.