Transiting through Heathrow

My sister and I will be flying separately from the US and meeting up in Heathrow to catch our connecting flight to Brussels for the Rhine River Cruise on April 17. While I have flown into Heathrow several times, I have never transited through. I could REALLY use some help from those of you familiar with Heathrow.
1. My sister is not an experienced traveler so, if possible, I would like to meet her at her gate. We are both coming into Terminal 3-with me landing thirty minutes before her. I suspect I should be able to find out which gate she is landing at thanks to the American Airlines app. Will I have a problem meeting her at her gate?
2. We have four hours in Heathrow so I would like to spend the majority of that time in the AMEX Centurion Club which is in Terminal 3. My plan is to leave the lounge about 90 minutes before our BA flight to Brussels departs from Terminal 5. Is there something I am not considering?

For those of you very familiar with Heathrow, I suspect my questions may seem a bit silly. However, any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated!


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    I won't claim to be a very experienced traveler through Heathrow, but here are my ideas:

    1. I don't think you should have any problems meeting your sister when she arrives at terminal 3. I expect you (and she) will not have to go through a passport check so just see what happens when you arrive and adjust to meet your sister based on what you experienced when you arrived at Terminal 3.

    2. Getting to terminal 5 from terminal 3 can take some time. Is there a club in terminal 5 that you could go to? They start boarding usually 30 minutes before departure time, but if you want to get on early, perhaps because you have a carry-on, I'd get there an hour before boarding and get in line. If you're traveling business class this should not be a problem. Even if you board late in business class, there will be overhead space. Last time I went from terminal 3 to terminal 5 it took a while. You have to wait for the bus to arrive, and the drive is quite long - I was wondering if I had got on the bus to London instead of terminal 5 :)

    Anyway, my advice would be to see if you can use a lounge in terminal 5 and then you won't have an time pressure.

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    Good luck! She will need it.

    Terminal 5 was a horrible experience. The only lounge there was the priority Pass Lounge and there was a wicked smell of stench at the tiny gate, well hidden behind a jam packed escalator. The custom was horrible even for transit passengers. The agent literally threw things in the air after opening up my carry on. They must be practicing their acrobatic skills, The restaurant was so packed, it was standing room only. There was no room to stand or sit.You held on to the utensils for your dear life.

    Worst of all, I was in premium economy and there was no overhead luggage bin available. I ended up fighting for a spot for the overhead bin in economy class.Terminal 5 is where the BA double decker lands!

    Supposedly the bus between Terminal 3 and 5 is always packed and always late. I don't know they will check carry on between Terminal 3 and Terminal 5.

    I flew back from JFK last night.It did not give me nightmares like Heathrow.

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    When we were last at Heathrow within the last year. I’m pretty sure we had to go through security when changing terminals after the long bus ride between them. We also discovered that you now have to make reservations in advance to get into the Amex Lounge. You have to state what time you are arrive and I think you get just ninety minutes there.
    I would also say that you won’t really have four free hours as it were in Heathrow by the time you have exited the planes, walked the long corridors, gotten on the bus to the other terminal and so on, gone through the next security, you might only have a short time until your next flight.
    Heathrow being the crazy airport it is with it’s strict security and so on, I would never linger in terminal three if I was flying out of 5 without a good buffer of time incase of something unforseen.

    Henrypoon, is your cup never half full?

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    I agree with British. I’d meet your sister in Terminal 5 asap. There are so many flights that get in at the same time and you will have to go through security first. The lines are very long and security is very strict about checking the liquids you carry on in your quart clear bag. The whole process can take an hour. Good luck. Perhaps meet her at The Amex Club in Five. At least the airport is marked clearly, it’s just huge! Good luck!

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    Thanks to all for your posts. I didn’t see that there was an Amex Centurion Club in Terminal 5. I did see some Priority Clubs though. Will have to rethink my plans!

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    We just transited through Heathrow last fall from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 and I’m sorry to agree with everyone, it was horrible. Meet your sister ( you will have no problem in this same terminal) and immediately go to get the bus to Terminal 5. The bus from 5 to 3 is ridiculously SLOW!!! We even stopped in the middle of the tarmac for almost 20 minutes, and the agent on the bus would not explain why! When we finally did get to T5 there was a very long line back through old fashioned manual security, where they opened most of the bags. It was a nightmare, and we plan to avoid Heathrow again at all costs.

    So sorry to heap on about this bad news, but better prepared for a real screw up situation and possibly be pleasantly surprised. After you get on the plane to Brussels, take a deep breath of relief! You will have a great cruise once there!

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    My last trip thru Heathrow was for ESW. Going, I changed planes at LHR to get to EDI. On the way home it was non-stop. I flew British Air on an A350, which now has the best biz class seat I've ever flown.

    If you fly British Air, you stay in terminal 5 and don't have to hassle with LHR's crowded waiting rooms for painfully long and crowded bus rides between terminals. If I'm not flying BA, I try to avoid LHR at all costs.

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    baberrice - I have no experience with using this, but there is a concierge service at Heathrow that will meet you upon arrival and will escort you to your next connecting flight. I do not know the fees nor the level of service but thought you might want to look into it. Hope this helps somewhat.

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    To the person who said BA business class is the best.

    That must be in a parallel universe, knowing the CEO of British Airway, or simply Her Majesty the Queen..... or the person has never tried ANA, JAL,Emirates, Qatar,Singapore, Starlux, Air France or even Delta.

    There was one flight attendant for 50 plus passengers on one side. Ran out of choices for dinner half way. Took them 1-2 hours to finish serving a meal with the line for the toilet stretching a few rows.

    Yikes !!!!!

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    When did they open up a Centurion Lounge at Heathrow? Let this card member knows ASAP!

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    To the person who questioned my comment above.

    I have flown ANA twice in the last two years. One time was excellent, the other time, meh. As the old saying goes, your mileage may vary. The new BA biz class seats are cubicles with doors for added privacy. The two things I don't like about BA are, 1. they charge for biz class seat reservations, unless you have status, and 2. like all the other European airlines, they offer fake biz class for intra-European flights, with standard economy seats, but leaving the middle seat empty..

    P.S Guess you haven't been following the news, but it's now His Majesty. Or maybe you're the one in a parallel universe?

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    I too had a great experience with BA biz class. Transiting through Heathrow was rather easy but lots of walking and trams!

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    edited April 9

    If anyone has direct experience with the concierge service(s) noted above, please advise. I will be transiting through Heathrow later this year. My flight arrives into Terminal 5 and I have a connecting flight departing from Terminal 3. If both flights are on time, I will have less than 1 hour 45 minutes to make the connection so any opportunity to expedite the process would be appreciated. I will have access to the FAST Track lane for security, but if there are services that will allow you to avoid the general crowds that would be ideal. It is a relatively short layover and the timing is making me a bit nervous.

    I did look on the Heathrow website and they list multiple VIP-type services, but it is not immediately clear what services they provide or what the difference between them is.

    Thanks in advance.

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    maximgr - I will reach out to my friend who used the service and will get back to you.

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    maximgr - I just sent you a private message.

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    kfnknfzk - If you PM was about the concierge/VIP service, I believe others may find it useful as well. So if there isn't any personal info in it, please post to this thread.

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    I did some research on VIP services at Heathrow and none of them promised fast transit through passport or security. Just hand holding and possibly a golf cart so you don't have to walk. They did say that they would meet you at the gate on arrival so they have clearance to be on the secure side of security checkpoints.

    And some of the prices were high - one was 300 pounds per person. Others were less expensive but I didn't see any less than 100 pounds per person.

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    The most expensive Disney Fast Pass! 240ish Euros.
    I wonder if any one has tried that with the Tauck TD so they can get to the front seat of the bus every morning.

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