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Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

El Dorado Hlls, CA
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78 posts
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Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Do we really need to be at Heathrow three hours ahead for international travel?

Thanks,

London, UK
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1,502 posts
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1. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Exactly what ''international travel'' are you refering to? A 30 minute flight to Amsterdam is just as international as a 13hr flight to Singapore but you wouldn't arrive as early for both.

UK, Mauritius
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for Mauritius, Belle Mare, Pointe Aux Piments, Pereybere
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2. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

If you are flying anywhere outside europe then yes. It has been 3 hours long before all the security issues.

London, United...
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3. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Yes - security at British airports tends to be much better than at US airports and therefore takes much longer.

E.g. in January I flew from LAX with various liquids (one a large bottle of cold medication) in my carry on bag - no questions asked. By contrast, when I flew from Gatwick in May, security personnel were handing out ziplock type bags into which all liquids and lotions had to be placed. Anything over a certain size had to be trashed.

I'd recommend that you check online for the maximum size for liquids/lotions, take a ziplock bag with you, and arrive with everything already to show them.

UK
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4. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

'better' security? Not so sure about that, but definitely longer queues ...at the wrong time of day or the wrong airline, you could queue for 45 min for the laughingly named 'fast bag drop' and 45 min for security. (aka people pointlessly checking if you have 100m or 120m of contact lens liquid)....add summer queues its got to be worse, I know sometimes they buffer people in outside car parks.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
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5. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

The potential for bottlenecks at LHR is twofold: the check in process and Security queues.

Some airlines are encouraging pax to use OLCI (online check in) then the fast bag drop at the terminal building - because of this the FBD may now be either Fast or Glacially Slow BD. It seems to depend on time of day and day of the week, but it could take a while to get boarding passes and bags checked.

Security queues can be anything from nearly nonexistent to waits of an hour. BAA have been promising to get more staff trained and ready to go every summer for at least the last two years, but once again this year you may see two of five x-ray scanners working, because the staff just aren't available. Maddening.

Ultimately it depends on your risk tolerance - I prefer to get the formalities over and done with, so arrive fairly early. I'd rather do that than have to sprint like Dame Kelly Holmes to the gate at the last minute.

Guildford, United...
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6,249 posts
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6. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

As a regular, I used to arrive one hour before departure but since increased security I make it one hour thirty. The reason for longer check-ins for flights outside Europe is that it takes longer to load bigger planes. If everyone turned up as late as me the system would collapse but they don't, as some are anxious, some live a long way from the airport and many are transiting. Incredibly, some people even enjoy spending time at the airport! I once arrived at San Diego the recommended time before the flight and had to wait an hour for check-in to open.

One disadvantage of late check-in is that you have more chance of being bumped but I would be happy to get a later flight and accept what can be quite generous compensation.

Dublin
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7. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Good to hear the alternative view of someone who does not feel duty bound to arrive, lemming-like, at Heathrow exactly three hours before take off.

Sydney, Australia
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353 posts
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8. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

I flew out of terminal 3 last Friday and arrived 2.5 hours before. I waited on line for security for over 30 minutes. There are three checkpoints so the queues can be very long. I would leave at the 2 hours at the very least and I would travel by tube to get there.

El Dorado Hlls, CA
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78 posts
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9. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Thanks everyone. We leave for London tonight. Can't wait. Watching The Open now....appears our rain jackets and umbrellas will be getting some good use.

Boston...
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10. Re: Arrive at Heathrow 3 hours ahead?

Hmmmm...what if you're not checking baggage?