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Customs at Heathrow

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1. Posted by samnason (Budding Member 14 posts) 9y

It's been years since I've travelled internationally, and now I'll be making a trip to UK and Denmark in May. I'm really excited about this, and booked everything.

The problem is I booked my coach from Heathrow to Stansted only 40 minutes from when I land. How fast does it take to get bags and get through customs when you have nothing to declare? The only other option is to book the coach that runs 20 minutes later, but it will be pushing it on the departure flight side.

2. Posted by paulandjes (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y

Hi there! I am English and live in Australia so travel to the UK on a regular basis. Leaving only 40 mins from when you land I think is leaving it WAY to tight. Don't forget that planes often do not land on time, in my experience about 20 mins late. I would then say that it takes at least 20 mins to get your baggage and then maybe 10 to get through passport control but it may take longer for you if you do not have a British or EU passport.

To be safe I wouldn't book your coach for at least an hour after the landing time and I think you will be surprised at how quickly time will pass.

Bon voyage!

3. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 9y

Heathrow is a mega busy airport, but 1 hour should normally more than suffice if you have an EU passport. Worth noting that the National Express desk will let you change your ticket, for a small fee, so if you rocket through customs in 5 minutes you could change to an earlier bus.

4. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

Man you'll be cutting it fine at best! Hopefully you will be lucky and your flight will land early and you can get off the plane quick and your baggage is first out on to the lugage belt. I was waiting for about 1 hour just to reach the desk and I was one of the first off my flight to get to the desk. Because I am an Australian passport holder it didn't help my cause. I don't know if American people are attracted to the UK for working like Australian people, but because of that I was asked almost every question known to man (as I was planning on being a normal tourist and not on a working holiday visa, so they must've suspected me of coming for work purposes without a work visa). So if a lot of young Americans go to the UK to work like young Australians do, you'll probably get the same going over I did. After waiting about an hour to get to the desk, I was at the desk for about another 7 minutes while this mini interrorgation went on. So it was over an hour before I got through and this was in the late evening, so it should have been shorter than normal one would think.

If you've been through the passport control in a large American airport since 9/11 and seen the huge waits and lines for non Americans, you'll have most likely seen what it was like the time I went through Heathrow last year.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 14, 2007, at 3:53 AM by aharrold45 ]

5. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 9y

Its tight but you are not taking into account delays on your departure? Once you get your past immigration and through to baggage collection it should take at least half hour. You may just make it and no more but will your bus company transfer you to the next bus should worst case arise and you miss the first bus? I would find that out just to ensure you have a plan b

[ Edit: I really shouldnt try and have a conversation & type at the same time! ]

6. Posted by samnason (Budding Member 14 posts) 9y

Thanks for all the replies. I hadn't thought of delays, as Dulles (departure) airport rarely has delays outside of winter. Are there often landing delays at Heathrow?

My return flight is 2 weeks later. I'm a blonde/blue american girl and I plan to live another 60-70 years, so assumed I could get through faster because I don't fit the terrorist profile, but I have no idea what they are looking for at customs. How are they on admiting American tourists these days?

I guess I'll go ahead and change my coach for the one 20 minutes later. If I take a later one, I run the risk of missing my outgoing flight.

If I bring my work laptop with me, do I have to declare it?

7. Posted by flo jo (Respected Member 414 posts) 9y

Being blonde and blue eyes wont help you with customs. I have an eu passport and I had to queue for 30 mins at Gatwick ( and i dont think to have a terrorist face) The lady in front of me had a bristish passport and said to the custom officer that it was a scandale to have to queue to enter your own country. The officer had answered `we are in war´.

8. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 9y

Quoting samnason

Are there often landing delays at Heathrow?

Yep - you're looking at an airport which has 90 seconds between each plane landing, and 90 seconds between each plane taking off. Plus planes coming into land at Heathrow half the time use the same airspace as those going to land down the road at Gatwick.

I'm fully aware of this, as I live right under the flightpath for both airports! Some days I see them going overhead having recently taking off, and at other times coming in to land. Most days when they use this area for incoming planes, you get circling planes in a few locations above us - when coming into Heathrow always expect that you'll be put on a holding pattern whether you're on time or not, if you don't then it's a bonus.

9. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 9y

Yes l would definately second that we have spent many times circling heathrow even when take off has been on time only to fly over Heathrow for what seemed an age with blood pressure rising as we had connections to catch!

10. Posted by dwalker66 (Full Member 210 posts) 9y

If you are flying economy (with no Fast Pass through immigration at LHR) and flying into T3 from IAD, then get ready for a long wait and YES change that coach ticket, you may even have to get a bit later, or alternatively, get a mroe flexible ticket so you just jump on the next one available! Most coaches to STN go from the back of T3, but you may have to go to the Coach Station in the middle of the airport, this means taking the underground walk way trowards T1 and he exit is there! Its a good walk and avoid the electronic walkways, as folk just stand there with all the time in the world, you wont get past them! Grab your trolly, and run like hell girl!!!!!!!!!! Shouting I am blonde loudly in those tunnels may help - or hinder if people want to stop you for a closer look! :-)