I am travelling from New York City to Paris, with a seven-hour layover at Heathrow Airport. I would like to meet up with one of my close friends during the layover, but we will not be leaving the airport; we just want to grab a bite together in the terminal (pre-security). I have a few questions about this and would appreciate it if you could leave me some advice.

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

  1. As I am a U.S. citizen, 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 the "arrivals route"?

  3. If I do meet my friend, do I have to go through security again?

  4. How long does it usually take to pass through security, customs, etc. before arriving at my gate for the second flight (LHR to CDG)?

  5. Do I have to pick up my luggage from the carousel or can I just leave it, since it will 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?

  • 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 an 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
  • 2
    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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