Bus transfers to terminals

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This topic contains 29 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  SimonRowberry 27 Dec 2012
at 14:39

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  • Anonymous


    I’ve noticed this over the years and recently have had a few occurrences where I was bussed to/from aircraft where gates with air bridges were free.

    The BA flights to MIL always pull up on the Tarmac and require a bus transfer.

    A recent BA flight from MXP required a bus even though the terminal used by EK etc (where the BA flight has departed in the past) had unused air bridges. The BA metal was the only full service airline parked in the Tarmac with 5 or 6 charter or lo cost carriers.

    The arrival in T5 ales required a bus transfer! As a CE pax I was not impressed with the extra inconvenience but at least BA used a separate bus for CE.

    On another occasion, a BA flight from ZRH pulled up to a domestic gate in T5 (presumably so that the metal could be used for a domestic flight) and all Pax were deplaned by using a external stairs at the rear of the aircraft and bussed to the terminal (international arrivals) Am glad I was not in CE that day as I’d have been livid!

    Is this on the increase ? I’d also note that BA are not alone in this. (I once had an otherwise very enjoyable SWISS flight in F to Bombay ruined by the plane parking remotely and being packed into a crowded bus to their terminal in BOM)

    Sometimes I feel that airlines don’t realise just how detestable bus transfers are for pax, especially for the elderly or during bad weather when you are standing on the Tarmac waiting to climb the stairs.


    Sadly, big airports often mean inconvenience for passengers. Not just bus transfers, but also long walks, unnecessary weaving round barriers, and all sorts of mechanical intervention.

    This year in London, the Olympics showed that volunteer ‘ambassadors’ could make people’s experience that much more pleasant, with personal service, a smile and a helping hand. If only the whole air transport experience could be like this.

    Imagine being welcomed to an airport with free valet parking, front door drop-off, a personal greeter to take you and your luggage to drop-off, welcoming and unobtrusive security, a nice comfy seat to sit and watch the planes from, a welcoming cup of tea and a biscuit, then a personal escort along the nearby airbridge to your aircraft seat.

    Sadly, the reality is Oh so different. On the subject of bus transfers, they don’t only happen at big airports: I arrived at Constanta in Romania on a 50-seater and was taken the 50 metres to the tiny terminal by bus!


    If BA are allocated a ‘domestic parking stand’ at LHR T5, pax cannot enter the terminal using the jetty as it leads straight into ‘landside’ with no immigration or customs facilities, hence why the seemingly daft disembarkation from the rear doors and the free airport tour on the bus to the terminal.
    So there is method in the madness, albeit it is not great for the customer and absolutely it is a pain to be carted to/from aircraft on buses.

    BA does have some limited input to where the jets are parked but ultimately this is controlled by the airport operator and they have the final say.

    Seeing empty stands whilst cramming on to a bus is frustrating, but changing gates are a logistical pain in the ass as it involves informing not only the dispatcher who meets the a/c but also baggage, catering, cleaning, security, engineering and all the pax who will be flying on the a/c’s next trip who may well be already waiting at the gate before the plane has even landed.

    So, sorry my friends, buses are far from finished at BA@LHR and if it is any consolation your crew will not be happy about you being ‘bussed’ either as it starts everyone off on a negative.


    Buses are fine, so long as (a) premium classes get a separate bus, and (b) they pick up from near the lounge, and deposit you back right next to immigration

    Even SQ managed to screw up an otherwise outstanding longhaul first class flight for me, by being bused from the aircraft at SIN, and the first bus being filled to bursting point with Y pax


    My best bus experience has to be LX at MCT where ALL arrivals and departures are met by buses. There is a separate bus for premium cabins.


    Is there not a cost to the airline whether they use a jetty of a stand requiring buses??


    very few airlines seperate business from economy pax on buses and as business are usually first on the bus, it means we are last off! the only airlines i have had regular bus treatment and always seperated is Qatar and most internal chinese airlines


    Sacre bleau!!!

    Charles De Gaulle!!!

    More buses than TFL!!!!!


    Two comments.

    First, bus transfers where plane and gate are within a very short walk are a pain. Naples is a good example. I know that security will tell us that passengers walking across the apron are a security risk, but I would rather the drivers were used as marshals to ensure that the walking PAX don’t run amok.

    Second, flights that always leave and arrive off-stand are very annoying. Since Czech airlines pulled out of the UK, BA are the only carrier between LHR and PRG. The PRG flights are always bus transfers from T3. A pain in the butt.


    My main reason in creating this post was to see if other pax feel that bus transfers to terminals are perceived as negatively as I see them.

    I expect a ‘full service’ carrier to ensure that their pax get the best service available at all airports they choose to serve. To me, having a bus transfer to or from a terminal is a SIGNIFICANT reduction in the service, especially for the elderly or these needing to carry young children or indeed require wheelchair assistance.

    It seems to me that many carriers (Not just limited to BA) are not advocating on behalf of their pax by DEMANDING access to air-bridges when they are available.


    Yes, SwissEP, and good that you opened the subject. To return to one of my examples, BA now has the monopoly on the LHR – Prague route, and the bus transfer every day, outbound and inbound, suggests that they are now treating their Prague passengers with contempt because they just do not need to bother. I could tell you what the Czechs think of that…. Exactly your point.


    Hi DavidGordon

    And I assume that there are plenty if airbridge gates available with other carriers such as LH, AF, LX using these air bridges?



    I was under the impression that BA manage their own stand allocation at T5. If a domestic flight parks on an international stand, it is because that aircraft’s next sector is to be international.

    There have been many occassions when, disembarking a domestic flight on an international pier, on asking the crew where they are off to next, they have answered with an international destination.


    For me a bus transfer on arrival is even worse than a bus transfer on departure – you are there and simply want to get on with things.

    BA to Helsinki is always a bus transfer on arrival, and about 2 years ago I made that trip in temperatures of below minus 20. We crammed on the bus and waited for about 10 more minutes – all doors open and severe risk of freezing for those not appropriately dressed.

    And that is when it does not rain. I once had a bus transfer and then 30 metre walk in Zurich in an absolute downpour – we asked the driver of the bus to get closer but he refused, and then we had the farce of waiting on open steps up to the plane while those ahead of us shook and furled their umbrellas on boarding – we all got soaked to the skin.

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