London Heathrow now advising travellers to arrive three hours before departure

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  • AMcWhirter

    By now we are used to long queues on arrival at LHR (although reports say the queues can be minimal at certain times of the day or within certain terminals) but now comes LHR advising that travellers arrive three hours before departure.

    This advice applies to international travellers.

    Kiwi aztec pilot

    A great example of moral hazzard. The longer an airport can keep you on their premises the more opportunity to sell you products and services.

    Remember when it was an hour for international check in and 20 minutes domestic?

    Where will this end? Which pioneering airport will be the first to require airport arrival 24 hours before departure.

    What a great little earner for the airport think of all the upsell possibilities.


    In fact the check-in times used to be shorter than that Kiwi aztec pilot.

    Before LHR became so crowded the check-in deadline for long-haul economy was 45 mins.

    Short-haul economy was around 30 mins.

    Domestic flights was 20 mins as you say but, and it’s a big but, the volume domestic routes were operated by BEA/BA’s Shuttle/Super Shuttle.

    Check-in time, with checked luggage, was a mere 10 mins at the Shuttle gate (a separate area within T1) for all destinations served by Shuttle which were: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester.


    Alex, it would be interesting to hear the reasons for the extended check in times.

    Is it due to Heathrow being short staffed or the confusing and complicated testing and paperwork needed to move through the airport system. Whenever John Holland Kaye is on a TV news programme, he is constantly saying, Heathrow is ready to open to the world…. and the airport has the systems and staff ready to greet and process passengers.


    Hello Martyn,

    I have emailed LHR for more information. I await a response.


    Hello again Martyn,

    LHR has now responded.

    I am told by the media centre that this is information is advisory and is to ensure all the checks and paperwork can be completed in time.

    One can of course adhere to airline check-in times. These ought to be shorter for a premium fare traveller.

    3 users thanked author for this post.


    longer check in times, more time to shop (those retailers must be struggling at the moment), LHR looking out for it’s leaseholders


    Can anyone advise if the Fast Track security lanes are open at LHR T5 please? Also, given the current climate, what time should I arrive with my family at T5 for an 08:00 flight to GVA in BA Club Europe? I have tried contacting BA many times, but to no avail. Many thanks.


    If you need three hours plus after getting to the airport from England what about domestic transfers e.g.Glasgow/Edinburgh/Manchester to points west or east via LHR? My travel agent used to allow two hours to get between terminals at LHR but for at least the last five years they have only booked flights with three hours between arriving and departing Heathrow, e.g. arriving Terminal 5, departing Terminal 3.



    Joined just to relate my experience of going through LHR a few weeks back on way to Madrid for work.

    Departing from T5 with BA – I checked in online beforehand & only took hand luggage – was eligible to use Fast Track – but didn’t bother, as the queue was 30 deep, whereas the non-fast queue next to it was empty – took all of 15 minutes to get through security.

    I then made sure I was at gate in time, so my documents could be checked – took 5 minutes – but that was because I was early and knew I need to have docs checked – my colleague had to check in luggage & even using drop bags took over an hour – as a number of people had the wrong docs etc.

    Coming back into UK, although there were long queues – they moved very fast – I think from memory I was through security in less than 30 minutes. Saying that the machines crashed later that day – so it took some people 3 hours.

    Hope that helps.



    Went thru T5 on Aug 13th, HBO to Edinburgh so no additional doc checks, was like a normal day, except my flight went from B gates. Was surprised how many people were airside actually considering the queue thru security was quite small. No delays worth mentioning, I was through quicker than average.

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