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Customs in London Heathrow

Hi,

When arriving in London, then, going almost immediately to a flight to Italy, does one have to go through customs or security process twice, or just once? I am assuming I would have to change from Terminal 2 to 3.....(Flight to Venice, after arriving in Heathrow).. Any estimate on the time this would take? I have read that it is a ten minute walk to change terminals--but not sure about the time spent in security and or customs. Thanks for any help or advice! Happy New Year!
Karen

Posted by
8889 posts

Karen, a terminology point. Customs never takes any time. Customs is the check on goods, i.e. the contents of your luggage. All you do is walk through the "nothing to declare" door. They only do a spot check (1 in 100 or less)
It is immigration (passport control) which takes time. This is the check whether you are allowed into the country and for how long. It is here they stamp your passport.
The sequence is: Get off plane - Immigration - luggage pick-up - customs - emerge into outside world.

In your case you will almost certainly stay "Airside" in Heathrow and not legally enter the UK. You may well have a security check before boarding the flight to Venice. You will go through immigration, and your luggage will go through customs after you land in Venice.

I hope you have this booked as one through ticket, and do not have to check in again at Heathrow. Checking in again would mean you miss your second flight.

Posted by
8889 posts

Karen, I've just noticed you have another post (here https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/transportation/london-to-venice ) where you say you are flying into Heathrow but out of Gatwick.
That is something totally different. If you are changing airports you have to go through immigration and customs to enter the UK, get your transport to Gatwick and then check in again at Gatwick. That would as the other posters say, take many, many hours and a high risk of delays meaning you miss your second flight.

Posted by
5383 posts

Terminal change MCT is generally 90 mins on a single ticket, although it is rarely needed. Transfer airside from T2 to T3 by bus, then through security (the UK doesn't trust any other countries' security including the USA). Not sure who you would be flying with to Venice though from T3 - I see now there is a question over that from your past postings.

Posted by
16903 posts

Karen, just minutes before you posted this question, you wrote another saying that your flight to Venice departs from Gatwick, not from Heathrow T3. Which is it? Can you clarify and then delete the incorrect post to avoid further confusion?

Posted by
7720 posts

In addition to if the departure is Gatwick or Heathrow, and if there was luggage checked, the other bit of information is if the flights were all purchased on the same ticket, or if they were purchased in separate transactions, and from which airlines.

Posted by
138 posts

Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate it. No checked luggage-- just carry on. Booked these flightsnot realizing the connecting flight was at Gatwick and not Heathrow...stupid, I know. Don't think we can make the 2nd flight in time. So are trying to come upwith some options that don't cost a thousand bucks to change the ticket! On to plan B for us! Thanks for you help, and certainly lesson learned here..... I am a bit shocked American Airline would pose this itinerary as an option, given the distance of the airports..... Live and learn..... Happy New Year to you all!
Karen

Posted by
16903 posts

Karen---I posted this on your other thread after finding the flights you mentioned on the BA website. I assume you booked this as one ticket, in which case it is a legal connection, and you are protected if you miss that second flight. There is a reasonable chance you will make that flight if your flight from Dallas is on time, and the line for non-EU passengers at immigration is not long. But those are big "ifs". If you don't make it, BA should put you on the next flight to Venice.

We did that same transfer when we went to Venice the first time, in 2003. I think we had about 3 1/2 hours, and made it easily, using the bus. But we were flying Business Class, so first off the plane, with Fast Track through immigration.

You can speed things up by choosing seats as far forward in your cabin as you can get. And let the flight attendants know you need to make the airport transfer as fast as possible---ask if they can give you a Fast Track card ( Indon't know if they can).

And take a cab rather than wait for the next bus---there should be a cab stand right outside T3 where you will land.

If your plane from Dallas is late landing, so late there is no chance of getting to Gatwick in time, stop at the BA help desk before you go to immigration---I assume there is one somewhere in T3. Ask them what to do---they should be able to change your boarding pass to the next flight. Then you can slow down and lose the stress.

Posted by
7720 posts

If you did indeed book a single ticket with American Airlines with Venice as the destination and this is the itinerary given, then you have more recourse with AA. First, they are obligated to get you there, meaning if you miss the connecting flight, they will book you on the next available flight at no additional cost. You can also call AA and point out that the connection is not possible, they should rebook you with no change fee, there may be some additional cost (or less) for a different flight. In short, at least call and discuss with Customer Service.

Posted by
5383 posts

Three hours is bang on the minimum connection time that BA will sell a connected itinerary and I guess AA will be in line with that. Whether this is a realistic time is another matter.

Be aware that if you just don't take the leg from Gatwick you risk any return itinerary you have booked being voided as well. So you may not have the option of just taking a different flight from Heathrow. Talk with AA if you are concerned, although as it is a legal connection any change will be on goodwill (and quite probably some kind of fee).

Posted by
1108 posts

AA did the same thing to us on our flight last month. We didn't notice until after we booked that we were flying into heathrow and our of London city airport. We had four hours between, but we didn't want to risk it either. We paid the fee to change it. It is not AA's responsibility of you miss your flight due to the time needed to get to another airport.

As to immigration: yes you will go through that, as well as security again even if you change your ticket to fly out of Heathrow. We flew business class and so we were fast tracked but even that still took 15 minutes.

Posted by
16903 posts

There are not many options to Venice from Heathrow with BA. If they do want to change their ticket, the only option would be the 18:45 BA flight, so they would have almost six hours in the airport. But it would save the stress and expense of the transfer. And you would not have to go through immigration at Heathrow----you can transfer airside. You would go through security again, but there is plenty of time for that.