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answerjill's avatar

Connecting flights: Is this enough time to go into London?

Asked by answerjill (6164points) May 14th, 2010

Hi.
My flight should arrive in London Heathrow at 7:20 AM on a Sunday. My connecting flight leaves Heathrow at 3:35 PM that day. My connecting flight is with El Al, which requires you to check-in 3 hours early. I am very tempted to take a super-quick trip into London during the wait. I have been there before and I know my way around. Do you think that it is worth it? Too risky for getting connecting flight? Thanks.

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12 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

If my estimates are right, and I have not been to London since I was young, there probably is not enough time. I am assuming you are travelling to London from outside of the EU, so you will have to clear immigration and customs. Since it is so early in the morning, that might be very quick, but it seems at the very best you will make it into London at 9:00am, that gives you about 2, 2.5 hours before you have to be catching a cab back to the airport. I personally would feel too rushed. What do you think? Are my estimates off?

answerjill's avatar

Hey, JLeslie—Good to hear from you—I haven’t been here in a long time… Yes, I am coming in from Boston.

JLeslie's avatar

One more thought. I don’t think you will be given paperwork for a Visa in England, since it is an intended connection. (I have not flown internationally with connections in a long time, so forgive me if I am incorrect on any of my assumptions here) if you decide you want to go into London, I think you will have to fill the paperwork that explains how long you intend to stay in the country blah blah, so that will take a few minutes too, unless you can do it on the ground in Boston or if the flight attendant can provide the form in flight.

Well, come to think of it they will have the forms in flight since the flight is ending in London.

janbb's avatar

My niece is a manager for Heathrow Express – the train line that takes you directly into London from the airport. The train is quite reliable and takes about 30–40 minutes. You do not need a visa to go in to England. @JLeslie is correct that you will probably get out of customs around 9 a.m., so you could theoretically go into London for about 2 hours. Only you can deicde if it is worth it or not for that amount of time.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The Picadilly line on the underground will take you directly to Picadilly Circus in about 50 mins. You ‘ll have time to see Picadilly Circus, then walk to Liecter Square which is about 5 mins. From there you can go to Trafalgar square (another 5 min walk). From Trafalgar square you can walk to covent Garden in about 20 minutes. There are buses from Covent Garden (The Strand) that will take you to St Pauls cathederal or to the Houses parliament, etc.
If you plan it well and you know what you are doing then you could see quite a bit of London.

lilikoi's avatar

You have 8 hours between when you arrive and when you leave.

Agree that you’ll get out of customs around 9 am. That brings 8 down to 6.

You need to check in 3 hours early (assuming this is enough time to get through customs coming back in). That leaves you 3 hours.

Takes you an hour to get to and from London… yep, 2 hours.

If you must leave, I’d plan it well, in advance, and pick one small part of London with a direct connection to LHR to spend the time at. You don’t want to try to see lots of things all over the city and then find out one tube line is down for maintenance or have some delay that will cause you to miss your flight. You don’t want to spend most of the 2 hrs traveling in the Tube.

LHR has luggage storage lockers so you can leave any things you don’t want to take with you into the city for a reasonable fee.

Really, I’d probably just spend the time at the airport. It is a large airport. There are shops and food and lots of space to walk around. It would be much less stressful than a 2-hr jaunt into London. Or maybe you could take a bus to something closer to the airport.

perspicacious's avatar

It sounds like it may not be a great idea. I don’t blame you for not wanting to hang around the airport for so many hours. I’m shocked about the requirement of having to get boarding pass three hours prior to your flight.

Fred931's avatar

And one more thing: If you hear almost any announcement about bad weather causing a change in time length of flight, and I’m not just talking about Mt. Frikenmindfuckjykotllmbphzzzes, you can almost guarantee yourself a fuhgeddaboutit. My flight from Orlando to Gatwick was slightly offset and held back about half an hour by a nasty storm, and we wound up arriving at the place next to 3 other 747 flights at the exact same time. That wait in customs was at least 4 hours long.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Fred931 GA for just the name of the volcano alone. ;-)

The wait time in customs is notoriously unpredictable. I once arrived in Toronto at 10 p.m., figuring that I’d just breeze through because it was a small flight. Fuhgeddaboutit. The agents were switching shifts, and it took almost 90 minutes.

answerjill's avatar

Thanks for the answers! I just found out that if I check in online, I can cut the time needed before the flight to something more like 1 or 2 hours. I think that when I get to Heathrow, I will go to the desk for El Al, and ask them when they think I should be back to catch my flight. I will use that answer—and the amount of time that it took me to get through customs—to help me with my decision.

mattbrowne's avatar

Walking to the Heathrow Express station from the terminals seems almost like walking half-way into London.

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