So I am traveling to Paris from NYC, but I have a layover at Heathrow for about seven hours. I wanted to meet up with one of my close friends during the layover. We are not going to leave the airport- we just wanted to grab a bite together in the terminal (pre-security). However, I have a few questions about this and would appreciate if you could leave some advice for me.

Flight info: JFK to LHR --(seven hour layover in LHR)--> LHR to CDG. All flights are under British Airways.

1) I am a U.S. citizen so is it possible for me to meet my friend without buying a visa?

2) When I get off my flight and arrive at Heathrow, do I have to go through the "connections route" or just through the "arrivals route"?

3) If I do end up meeting my friend, do I have to go through security again?

4) Usually how long does it take to pass through security, customs, etc. before arriving at your gate for the 2nd flight (LHR to CDG)?

5) Do I have to pick up my luggage from the carousel or do I just leave it, since it'll be going to the final destination?

6) Do I have to convert my money to use when I am outside of security (pre-security) if I want to buy a meal? Or do they accept USD?

Thanks in advance :)

  • Where is your friend going to be? Jul 14, 2019 at 4:22
  • She will be in the terminal, just not catching a flight or anything. Jul 14, 2019 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


1) You won't need a visa: US citizens are allowed visa-free entry to Britain

2) Go through arrivals

3) you'll need to pass through security to get airside again

4) it can take a hour or more each way to get through passport control and customs, and security Check with BA how long they recommend, but expect to need 1-2 hours to clear on arrival and the same when you return for your connecting flight.

5) If you're booked through with one airline on a single PNR I'd expect your luggage will be interlined, and you can just leave it. Check with BA.

6) Not sure what you mean here. You'll need Sterling, but you can probably get away without if you have Visa or MasterCard available. Amex is less widely accepted.

If you're hoping to meet your friend at the airport this should all be fine. If you want to go into central London this will be tight, and if your inbound flight is delayed, maybe not even possible.

  • 1
    Last time I travelled through LHR it took me ninety minutes to get from the aircraft to the bus stop outside the terminal, and much the same going the other way 10 days later, and that's for a British passport holder. Obviously, times can vary, but I wouldn't want to risk leaving Central London just two hours before my flight was due to leave.
    – user90371
    Jul 14, 2019 at 5:18
  • 1
    And most importantly, British trains are notoriously unreliable. If you rely on Heathrow Express and it happens to be cancelled at that hour you might not make in time by other means.
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 14, 2019 at 7:25

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