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International British Air and Virgin at Heathrow

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Our May 2020 cruise ends in Athens.  We will spend a few days in Athens and then take a British Air evening flight to Heathrow (arrives 9:45pm).  Our Virgin flight to Seattle leaves 11:30am the next day.  Does anyone know what Heathrow terminals we will be using?  My goal is to determine a very convenient hotel for our 9 hour stay.  TIA!

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Agree with Zach. The Sofitel is absolutely lovely.  If you book far enough in advance the rates are much more reasonable.

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5 minutes ago, ducklite said:

Agree with Zach. The Sofitel is absolutely lovely.  If you book far enough in advance the rates are much more reasonable.

 

I'm a somewhat regular at the Sofitel (I am often on the daytime ORD-LHR AA flight, and then connect on to continental Europe the next morning), and only issue I ever encounter is that a majority of their rooms have no outside views. Not so bad when I am just getting off a plane, grabbing a drink at the bar, crashing, waking up, and heading back out (as OP appears to be doing), but it is a knock on them in my book. 

 

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Thanks for the "which terminal" link!  It looks like ATH-to-LHR will arrive terminal 5 and LHR-to-SEA will depart terminal 3.  The Sofitel at terminal 5 looks great.  Any thoughts about the Hilton Garden Inn at terminal 3?  Is it really at terminal 3 or is it off property?

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15 minutes ago, CruisingIGo said:

Thanks for the "which terminal" link!  It looks like ATH-to-LHR will arrive terminal 5 and LHR-to-SEA will depart terminal 3.  The Sofitel at terminal 5 looks great.  Any thoughts about the Hilton Garden Inn at terminal 3?  Is it really at terminal 3 or is it off property?

 

It's...kinda in between. It's not at T3 like the Sofitel is at T5 (where it's directly linked to the terminal). There is an underground walkway from the HGI to T3. So, it's technically on Heathrow property, and it's quite close to T3 (5-10 minute walk, depending on your speed, with moving walkway), but it's not immediately at T3 (it's closer to T2). I would say it's a solid second choice for me, personally. But if you want to get over to T3 the night before, it's definitely your best bet. 

Edited by Zach1213

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Curious about your itinerary, especially since British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are competitors and both serve the LHR-SEA route.  Was this put together by the cruiseline?  Are these two separate ticket numbers?

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Yes, these are separate tickets that we booked ourselves.  One is RT SEA-LHR using Virgin and the other ticket is LHR-FCO/ATH-LHR using British Air.  When selecting flights (like most people), we try to balance equipment, schedule, price, and airline.  We strongly prefer to fly on 787s on long flights......hence Virgin (we have also flown Norwegian's 787s).  The pricing was excellent and the schedule was acceptable.

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Hope that your flights don't go mechanical, as you have not protection if you miss your second flight.

 

Especially with the last flight of the day from ATH to LHR.

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44 minutes ago, CruisingIGo said:

Yes, these are separate tickets that we booked ourselves.  One is RT SEA-LHR using Virgin and the other ticket is LHR-FCO/ATH-LHR using British Air.  When selecting flights (like most people), we try to balance equipment, schedule, price, and airline.  We strongly prefer to fly on 787s on long flights......hence Virgin (we have also flown Norwegian's 787s).  The pricing was excellent and the schedule was acceptable.

 

Out of curiosity, what's your layover at LHR on the way out? 

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We are aware of the potential problems with having 2 separate tickets...all part of the adventure!

 

Our LHR layover is 4 hours.

 

In April of this year, we took this same SEA-LHR Virgin flight.  Since we were in Virgin's "Upper Class", we were able to use the shorter immigration line (5 minutes) but did take notice that the "normal" immigration line looked about 10-15 minutes long.  For our May 2020 flights, we are in Economy delight......hopefully the immigration lines will be about the same.

 

BTW,  Virgin's Upper Class is not worth the premium price.

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13 hours ago, CruisingIGo said:

We are aware of the potential problems with having 2 separate tickets...all part of the adventure!

 

Our LHR layover is 4 hours.

 

In April of this year, we took this same SEA-LHR Virgin flight.  Since we were in Virgin's "Upper Class", we were able to use the shorter immigration line (5 minutes) but did take notice that the "normal" immigration line looked about 10-15 minutes long.  For our May 2020 flights, we are in Economy delight......hopefully the immigration lines will be about the same.

 

BTW,  Virgin's Upper Class is not worth the premium price.

 

I have seen serious inconsistencies in immigration lines at LHR, even coming off the same flight on the same day of the week in the same time of the year (for example, I flew the same BA flight IST-LHR Friday night departure twice out of four weeks last summer, and the immigration line was shockingly short one time and agonizingly slow the next...and that was in the priority line). Just make sure you know your alternatives should you miss your LHR-FCO flight and BA cancels the ATH-LHR as a result. 

Edited by Zach1213
For some reasons I wrote JNB when I really meant IST

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We are just back from Europe on flights via Heathrow.   The new Epassports have made a huge difference in the immigration lines.   Took us about 5 minutes in total.  There is no priority line in terminal 5, but this was faster than any priority line.  We were so pleasantly surprised!  

 

We stayed in the new Hilton Garden Inn attached to Terminal 2 and found very spacious quiet rooms and were upgraded.  It takes about 20 minutes to get from terminal 5 as you have to take the train followed by a long walk. So for me I would do that the night before and stay at the Hilton.  We do like the Sofitel for terminal 5 though, and those Dreamliners! 

 

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7 hours ago, bennybear said:

There is no priority line in terminal 5, but this was faster than any priority line.  

 

This is incorrect. There's Fast Track immigration for non-EU citizens in Club World/First.

 

There's Fast Track security for anyone with oneworld Sapphire and above or flying Club Europe, Club World or First. oneworld Emeralds and those in First get a completely separate security channel that feeds directly into the Galleries First lounge from landside. There's one FastTrack security channel for all eligible passengers on connections. 

 

 

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There is still fast track security, but in the past you got a fast track pass if you were in club world, but not this fall, you went to epassport lanes, no line ups. 

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7 minutes ago, bennybear said:

There is still fast track security, but in the past you got a fast track pass if you were in club world, but not this fall, you went to epassport lanes, no line ups. 

 

You've never needed an invitation to Fast Track immigration (or security) in Terminal 5, just the boarding pass. When you come up the escalator from the train and you walk to the left to Border Control keep walking away from the escalator and you'll see the Fast Track lane.

 

The fact BA and IB are the only T5 tenants means it is much easier to keep track of. The other terminals have a myriad of other airlines and some carriers give out Fast Track passes to elites in the cheap seats. 

Edited by fbgd

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You’re right that your business class boarding pass works for security fast track.  

 

We did receive these passes for immigration in the past,  this year no need as we have the biometric passports that work for the egates. Maybe we missed the lines, flying overnight but in any event with the new egates, the slickest ever in Heathrow, under 5 minutes!   We have waited well over half an hour previously in the old fast track. So for us a vast improvement.  

558A9CB3-870B-4970-82FC-931D10CCF529.png

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4 hours as a connection is pretty tight. I hope you have a Plan B.

And, purely a personal bugbear, you are flying with British Airways, not British Air.

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7 hours ago, wowzz said:

4 hours as a connection is pretty tight. I hope you have a Plan B.

And, purely a personal bugbear, you are flying with British Airways, not British Air.

Well, and that's the thing...it's NOT a connection. It's two origin & destination (O&D) tickets...Virgin only cares about getting OP between Seattle and London, and BA only cares about getting OP between London and Athens/Rome. There are no protections at all should there be a "misconnect" in London. Now, OP knows this by their own admission, but for others...what OP is doing is not a connection, but rather two completely separate O&D trips. 

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12 minutes ago, Zach1213 said:

Well, and that's the thing...it's NOT a connection. It's two origin & destination (O&D) tickets...Virgin only cares about getting OP between Seattle and London, and BA only cares about getting OP between London and Athens/Rome. There are no protections at all should there be a "misconnect" in London. Now, OP knows this by their own admission, but for others...what OP is doing is not a connection, but rather two completely separate O&D trips. 

Sorry Zach, you are exactly right. I should have said that the OP has 4 hours to make the next flight, as you pointed out.

In fact the OP has less than 3 hours 30 minutes to enter the T5 security area, before he will be automatically  be denied entry. If all goes well, the time allowed should be fine, but if things ago awry, it could suddenly be tight.

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