Please sign in to post.

How to spend a day at Heathrow long layover

We are flying into LHR, arriving on Saturday morning at 10:25 from Nashville. Our flight to Prague leaves at 4:30 pm. Anyone have suggestions on how to spend our 6 or so hours (I know some time will be eaten up by immigration, not sure how long.) There are 4 of us, 2 kids (12 and almost 15). Usually I'd get fresh air and sunshine to combat the jet lag and help us stay awake to reset our clocks but I'm not sure what to do being stuck inside all day. We will eat lunch somewhere (suggestions?) but that won't take long. I know we don't have time to actually go anywhere-or do we? Has anyone used a longish time between flights to explore anything outside the airport? Just trying to get ideas to keep us and the kids entertained and awake...thanks!

Posted by
5101 posts

Assuming your flights are all on time, and no major kerfuffles with anything, you should have about 3-4 hours - which isn't really all that long. It's not enough to zip into London and back (I certainly wouldn't chance that, given traffic and hassles of getting in/out/through the airport). You might have enough time to pop out of the airport and visit someplace nearby if you're careful about time. Windsor (castle and adjacent park) seem to be the most popular option for a quickie off-airport getaway. There's also a Legoland nearby.

These options would help in your goal of fighting jet lag by staying active and getting outside. You just would need to be on your A-game about watching the time and ensuring you get back in time.

Is your onward ticket to Prague booked on the same itinerary as your Nashville-London flight? If so, then popping out for a couple of hours might be a reasonable option. OTOH if you're on two different tickets, then you could have much bigger headaches ($$$) in your missed your connecting flight.

Posted by
441 posts

Thanks for the replies! It is one ticket.

I have seen mixed reviews on the feasibility of going to Windsor Castle, and I think London itself is too far and not worth the hassle, so I was not considering that.

Has anyone done Windsor on this timeframe? Was it worth it? Stressful? (I may be asking this in the wrong place)

Posted by
441 posts

I think we would be happy just to get outside and walk around someplace-has anyone taken a cab/bus to a nearby town to dine in a pub or maybe the tube to a stop that isn't too far? I am researching options now but if anyone has done this, I'd love to hear where you went and how much time you had. Of course, if it takes us longer than expected to clear immigration, we would alter our plans accordingly. Thanks!

Posted by
5042 posts

If you are lucky, you will be through passport control by 11.30. Presumably, you would then need to put your bags into short term storage, so say you would be ready to leave the airport at noon.

You will need to be back at the airport at 2.15 to pick up your bags and then head to check in.

Windsor is at best a 30 minute taxi ride in each direction, which doesn’t give you very long there plus you have the anxiety of trying to find a taxi back from Windsor.

The areas immediately around Heathrow aren’t the most salubrious to spend any time. You could take the tube to Osterley, which is 16 minutes travel time, plus waiting for a train, then visit Osterley House and gardens, although this also isn’t going to give you long there, but you could stretch your legs.

Posted by
1203 posts

Since it’s one ticket, you don’t need to go through U.K. immigration. You get a security screening as you move to the gate for the Prague flight. Maybe a passport check too but not formal immigration check. It’s when you decide to leave the airport that a true immigration screening from UK border force would kick in.

You can pop your flights into the LHR connections page to get the details.

https://www.heathrow.com/flight-connections

Windsor is supposedly very close to LHR but I’ve never traveled between the two. Nice place to spend a few hours.

ETA: I find that U.K. immigration screening times can be highly variable. Sometimes you get lucky and it’s 10 of 15 minutes. Sometimes it’s more like an hour.

Posted by
6880 posts

I have gone through LHR immigration twice recently, an hour each time.

Posted by
441 posts

Thanks Jennifer, Rocket and Suki-

If immigration takes an hour, that would not leave us much time to get out of the airport since we need to be back by 2/2:15 to get through security for our connecting flight. Just over 2 hours...its too bad because it's too short to really do anything, but 4/4..5 hours is a bit long to just hang around at the airport. Oh well, we'll figure something out :)

I appreciate the information!

Posted by
2789 posts

We have just returned from London after doing a 14 day Rick Steves tour, then several days in London, several days in Windsor. We took a cab from our hotel in Windsor to Heathrow.

I would not leave Heathrow if I were you. There's plenty to do in whatever terminal you will be spending time in. Terminals 1, 3, and 5 have a Giraffe restaurant, which is a casual place serving salads, sandwiches, breakfasts, child's plates, good coffee and tea.
https://www.giraffe.net/
There are many other good upscale restaurants and coffee/pastry shops in the terminals.

Lots of bookstores, newstands, gift shops and upscale shops (Harrod's) in the terminals.
You can always take a Prague guidebook with you--or any other book--and read for the time you must wait in the terminal.

In which terminal will you be waiting?
https://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-3
http://www.londonheathrowguide.com/terminal-3-restaurants/
https://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-5
http://www.londonheathrowguide.com/terminal-5-restaurants/
For this Saturday, the schedule shows your flight leaving from Terminal 3, if its British Airways BA856.
(https://www.heathrowexpress.com/flight-information/flight-departures?date=20180519&airport=Prague)

One more thing.....
You have posted your question on 05/15/18.
You say, "We are flying into LHR, arriving on Saturday morning at 10:25 from Nashville."

If you mean this coming Saturday, the 19th of May, don't take a taxi to Windsor as some conversations have said.

There's this wedding going on there this Saturday...........

Some guy named Harry is getting married.

Posted by
441 posts

One more thing.....
You have posted your question on 05/15/18.
You say, "We are flying into LHR, arriving on Saturday morning at 10:25 from Nashville."
If you mean this coming Saturday, the 19th of May, don't take a taxi to Windsor as some conversations have said.
There's this wedding going on there this Saturday...........

Hah Rebecca-that is too funny! I did not realize lol. I think that seals the deal, sticking to the airport! We arrive at terminal 5 and depart from terminal 3, so I think we will mostly be in terminal 3. Thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by
4452 posts

British Airways has lounges in Heathrow that are free to First Class travelers but others can pay about $30. to get in. I believe that would be access for all of you.

You cannot pay to access the British Airways lounges. Entry is determined by ticket class, business or first (first class have their own lounge distinct from business class) or by frequent flyer status (gold or silver or equivalent).

There are non BA lounges that can be paid for but I question their value.

Posted by
489 posts

have a leisurely lunch and people watch. I'm glad someone reminded you of the Royal wedding. I dislike Heathrow and it usually always takes way longer to get to the area near the gate.

Posted by
441 posts

have a leisurely lunch and people watch. I'm glad someone reminded you of the Royal wedding.

Me too, tgreen! This sounds like the best plan for us given what is happening in the area :)

Posted by
6580 posts

We were in Heathrow the other day flying over to Dublin. it was a pretty pleasant place to spend a few hours with decent stores and places to eat.
We got there on the Heathrow Express train from Paddington Train Station in only 15 minutes. The Paddington underground can get you all over town promptly.

Posted by
8670 posts

I’ll add some completely off topic advice. If you decide to go out of the airport and have to clear UK Immigration, no matter what the Flight Attendant says when they are passing out the landing cards you’ll need one for each person not one for a group. Just landed yesterday, traveling with brother and SIL. FA insisted only 1 was needed for the 2 of them. Not so! They and others all had to go back to complete a card for each.

Posted by
441 posts

Thanks Pam-that is good to know!

David-I wonder if we can just go to Paddington Station, walk around a bit, maybe eat something quick, and go back to LHR on the Heathrow Express. Seems silly but could be fun if not too much hassle?

Txtwinmama-we are on one airline ticket it's American/BA, so we could check bags through to Prague. I was considering it for ease of travel, even though we will be able to do carry-on only. I figured with a 6 hour layover, the bags would make it but some of the posts make me nervous about checking bags!

Thanks everyone!

Posted by
30 posts

In September, we had 3 hours between flights at Heathrow. We thought we had a lot of time-we had lunch at Giraffe restaurant waiting for our departure gate to be posted. Then we had to RUN to the gate. Heathrow is huge and confusing-so much under construction! My advice: find out as soon as you can about your departure gate-get there and then relax!! good luck

Posted by
30 posts

In September, we had 3 hours between flights at Heathrow. We thought we had a lot of time-we had lunch at Giraffe restaurant waiting for our departure gate to be posted. Then we had to RUN to the gate. Heathrow is huge and confusing-so much under construction! My advice: find out as soon as you can about your departure gate-get there and then relax!! good luck

Posted by
3176 posts

Your flight arrives at 10:25. It may take you all 15-20 minutes just to deboard. Your time at immigration could be 20 minutes; it could be 2 hours. So it could be 12:45 before you're done with immigration and if you leave airside to go landside, for a 4:30pm flight to Prague, you will want to be back at LHR at 2:30pm. So not much time really depending upon deboarding time, the queue at immigration and perhaps the transfer to another terminal. You won't have "all day" of free time between flights.

Your kids will be tired and cranky -- just like adults would be. When I flew with my parents overseas at age 12, it wasn't their job to keep me entertained. We stayed with them and read when we were awaiting our flight connections. We weren't the age of toddlers who needed constant attention just like your children aren't either. If one adult wanted to walk around, one of us or all might have joined that parent. Just play it by ear and you'll be fine.

Posted by
441 posts

Thanks Continental, but our trip was 6 months ago. :-)
We did not leave LHR in case anyone was wondering.

Posted by
3176 posts

6 months ago? I guess people like bringing up old threads. Well, why not ask -- do you remember how long it took to deboard the aircraft and go through immigration? The immigration line can go quickly; it can also take forever. It's so hard to predict.

Posted by
441 posts

It did not take us very long (maybe an hour) to get off the plane and get to the other terminal. We did not go through immigration since we did not leave the airport, but I remember that we did have to go through security before we entered the other terminal before we flew to Prague. I think the lines for immigration were pretty long though.