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Aversion to connecting through LHR - is it just me?

We are planning a trip to Spain and I’m already pouring over choices to get there.

I’ve connected through LHR twice and both times it was a bit of a mess one cancelled flight one crazy reroute with the plane leaving from another gate that took us outside the airport then back in and we had to explain why we’d already cleared passport control.

Third time’s the charm? Or does everyone hate connecting there? Looks like the other options are CDG or AMS.

Posted by
7655 posts

As we use British Airways the vast majority of the time, and they’re currently using Heathrow as the airport for the direct Denver flights, it’s our most practical option, love it or not. But it’s usually been OK for us. Flights that have connected thru London Gatwick have been a bigger ordeal, with really long walks down endless corridors, and confusing signage and inconvenient/disorganized security and border control operations.

Biggest pain with Heathrow is that they wait until almost the last moment to announce the actual gate from which your connecting flight departs, then you have to scurry to that gate to make the flight. That, and options for enduring long layovers are decreasing. The Yotel at Heathrow has shut, and we wanted to get a tiny but convenient room to rest there this September, because BA has dropped their mid-afternoon flight to Bologna. Now we have to wait until a nighttime flight, so that means hanging out in plastic chairs in the departure waiting area for a really long layover, until that departure flight many hours after we first arrive.

Would you at least land and connect in the same terminal (maybe Terminal 5?), or do you know right now that you’d have to transfer terminals to catch your connecting flight?

Posted by
64 posts

I can't blame you for being averse to it, given your past experiences! I never really mind it; there's a nice quiet area in terminal 5 with comfy lounge chairs and I think I've had better sleep there than on some of the flights.

Personally I think AMS is fantastic and CDG is really not. If you're looking at the Delta flight to AMS, they use an A330 with a 2-4-2 configuration that's excellent for couples traveling together. If the LHR flight is on British Airways, keep in mind that advance seat selection requires a fee (typically more than I expect) unless you have status.

Posted by
6113 posts

Ignoring what the airport is like, this year, I would try my utmost to take a direct flight in case there are Covid issues between countries. Now that the U.K. has fully Brexeted (I have just made up a new verb) and the spat with Europe continues, I wouldn’t transit through the U.K. as there maybe restrictions going to the Schengen Zone.

Posted by
9892 posts

Right now, I would keep in mind what Jennifer has mentioned. The UK and Schengen are not mixing together very well.

Posted by
885 posts

I too would avoid connecting in the UK if at all possible. AMS would definitely be my choice over CDG. Far less chaotic in our experience.

Posted by
8067 posts

I agree avoid connections if you can get a direct. I am flying to Switzerland today but through NYC from Chicago

Posted by
2765 posts

I have connected through there quite often. No issues. I'd certainly pick it over CDG. AMS wasn't bad the one time I did it.

Posted by
4305 posts

I've only been through Heathrow once, on a connecting flight from Rome.. We had a 2:50 layover and we barely made the flight because of the lineups going through security. I'm lucky that we have direct flights from Calgary to Gatwick as well as to many other European destinations so I can avoid LHR.

Posted by
6671 posts

No, it's not just you. I also avoid connecting in Heathrow as much a possible and would gladly pay extra to connect somewhere else.

A number of years ago the EU countries agreed on common standards for airport security to avoid the need for extra security checks at connecting airports, but the UK opted out of that agreement. So while transfers in EU airports often involves walking from just one gate to the other, at Heathrow (as well as Gatwick and other UK airports) you still have to go through security again.

Also, the airport has only two runways and operate at close to 100% capacity, meaning that small delays can easily become large delays. I one heard a story somewhere about a flight that was delayed from Heathrow. Something didn't work as it should so a mechanic had to take a look at it, and it took him 20-30 min to fix the issue. Once he was finished the flight had missed its slot and had to wait for over an hour for a free slot to be able to depart.

Posted by
1097 posts

We flew Delta direct to Barcelona through ATL. Is that an option for you?

Posted by
4003 posts

We just booked a flight to Zagreb through Amsterdam. We also avoid Heathrow and that decision was made long before COVID.

Posted by
3961 posts

I too would avoid Heathrow & CDG. We fly out of SeaTac on Delta & our favorite connection is through Amsterdam. It is a large airport but they are well organized. We don’t mind the 3+ hour wait.

Posted by
9 posts

We also have an aversion to Heathrow. I am always expecting Rowan Atkinson to be working security when I get to the front of the que. I can’t think of any other major European airport that makes me as anxious about connecting flights.

Posted by
3961 posts

@Clay5313, as an aside I had to think a moment when you referred to Rowan Atkinson. Then I burst out laughing!! Fond memories of “Mr. Bean.” He used to keep me amused while flying internationally.

Posted by
5688 posts

Of your choices, AMS is the most efficient for transfers.

I actually don’t mind Heathrow although it is not the easiest airport to transfer. The one good thing is there are lots of flights to many destinations. I’ve missed connections a couple of times at Heathrow due to delayed flights from the U.S. Each time I have been put on a later flight and arrived the same day.

I think CDG is worse than Heathrow. YMMV.

Posted by
4600 posts

some years ago I flew United through Heathrow to Zurich, no problem at all. Our only problem was the gates were nowhere near each other. I've never seen another airport where there are little signs with not only directions, but estimated walking times!

On an upcoming trip to Austria we purposely did not want to connect anywhere in Europe, for reasons noted above, we've got a nonstop from Newark.

Posted by
5159 posts

We have always had good experiences at Heathrow, and no delays.
Safe travels!

Posted by
11368 posts

We choose to fly into LHR as we can fly there from the east coast on a daytime flight. Easier and eliminates jet lag. If we continue on to other places in Europe immediately we never have any problems as we use ( Google it) Heathrow Connects which describes it all in detail. Enter your flight numbers and dates.

Posted by
338 posts

We, too, avoid Heathrow whenever we can. As someone mentioned, the gate information appears so late, and we’ve often wondered how people who have any type of mobility issues get to their departing gates in time.
We’ve had issues clearing carry-ons through security as well…the staff often seems stressed and understaffed for the crowds.

Posted by
3263 posts

I do as Suki does. Heathrow is my airport of choice, but I stick to terminal 5.

Posted by
19170 posts

Looks like the other options are CDG or AMS.

Doesn't Lufthansa have a flight from Frankfurt to Spain (via FRA)? If there is a Lufthansa flight available, I will never fly an American flag airline. Been there, done that, nie wieder.

I once (1989) flew British Air to London. It was OK. Would fly them again. But I was going to London, not changing planes. I changed planes in Heathrow in 1987. That was not pleasant.

Posted by
43 posts

What I have been doing recently is laying over at Heathrow. I fly LAX to LHR and book an overnight at one of the Premier Inns to get over jet lag. The cost Is around 39-49 pounds, depending on whether you choose refundable or not and how far in advance. My flights usually get in LHR around 3pm, I get a relaxing dinner good night sleep and then take the morning flight out getting to my destination around 11am refreshed. On my last trip the flight was about 2 hours getting out of LAX. I didn't need to stress about how I was going to get another connection, and getting into my destination late at night, paying a premium price of the destination hotel and being sleep deprived and miserable that first day.

Posted by
4175 posts

I'm an Amsterdam fan. I like to arrive and depart from there. But I usually spend a night or 2 in the area before going on to my next destination.

Lots of cheap intra-European flights, but I've never connected through there or LHR or CDG. As for arriving in the 3, CDG was the worst, LHR was tolerable and AMS is always easy.

My last trip (in 2019), I flew nonstop Delta to AMS, spent 3 nights in Haarlem, flew nonstop AMS to Lisbon on TAP for the RS Portugal tour, flew nonstop Porto to Barcelona on Ryanair for the RS Spain tour, flew nonstop Transavia back to AMS from Sevilla, spent one night and flew nonstop back home on Delta. Note: TAP was good. Ryanair was not, and Transavia was okay.