My husband, my self and our 12 year old son will be flying from Los Angeles to London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic this July. My question is-how long should we plan on clearing customs. We will then be flying on British Airways to Vienna. We arrive in London at 12:00 p.m.. Would we have enough time to catch a flight that leaves at 2:30 p.m., or should we take the flight that doesn't leave until nearly 7:00 p.m.?
Thanks for you help
How long is a piece of string - really. Sometimes LHR runs quite smoothly, but when it doesn't - it is decidedly awful. Your flights will be, for sure, from 2 different terminals. The vast majority of BA flights are at T5, but a lot still use T4. Your VA flight should park at T3. If your flight is on time, then anything over two hours will be just fine. However, a 1/2 hour delay and you could be running quite fast. It's a real shame that you couldn't get both flights with BA. That way they would have done something for you if you missed your connection. It's not a disaster though if you can't get the earlier connection. BA will still put you on the later one. I came back from Varna (BG) last year and had to take several flights to get back to Manchester. My connection into and out of Frankfurt-Main went terribly wrong and I missed the flight to LGW by about 20 minutes. Friendly Lufthansa put me on their next flight to MAN, which was leaving in 2 hours or so. If you ask around - sometimes there's help at hand.
LHR is terrible at timekeeping. Around 70% of it's flights are late - both in and out.
Since you're flying with Virgin Atlantic which is a network carrier, your luggage will be automatically loaded on to your connecting flight. So all you have to do is to make your way from your arrival point to the next gate which will take about 10 minutes at the most.
If for some reason or other, your flight arrives late and you miss your connection, then airline has a contractual obligation to get you to your destination under IATA (International Air Transport Association) rules. If there's no alternative flight available, then the IATA resolution which is binding on all network carriers, dictates that the forwarding carrier must provide you with refreshments and if necessary, overnight hotel accommodation.
So there's no cause for concern.
Post #3# is slightly misinformed on this matter. If you have two seperate tickets - with two seperate airlines (as you clearly do), then there are two seperate contracts of travel involved.
To make matters easy for you to understand, you might like to look up:
You will see that it is often the case that refeshments and next available flight obligations aren't fulfilled.
Anyone who travels regularly (especially to and from LHR) will confirm what is written in the above link.
Well, as a correction to the correction - Virgin Atlantic and British Airways actually do have an interlining agreement in place, so IF the itinerary was purchased AS A SINGLE TICKET (which is possible), then Virgin Atlantic should check the luggage through. This would only be the case if a single ticket was purchased for either BA or Virgin Atlantic.
However, if you read the forums at Flyertalk, you'll find that even with interlined tickets, Virgin Atlantic sometimes refused to transfer luggage through.
Well, as a correction to the correction to the correction - the luggage should be checked through regardless of what the airline is. I've flown from Eastern Europe to the UK (including LHR en-route) on 5 different airlines. Checked my baggage in at Varna - and picked it up several airports and airlines later, in Manchester. Agreements mean nothing between airlines. All you need to do is to check that you have all the destinations printed on your hold luggage ticket. Then it should be shuttled through and arrive where it's planned to. As we all know however - that's the theory.