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I’m an Indian citizen and I’m arriving at Heathrow on an Air India flight from Delhi and connecting to a British Airways flight to Milan Linate. Both the legs are on different tickets. Do I need to reclaim my bags and check in again if my transit time is 3.30 hours? (I was told by Air India that my baggage would be transferred to the British Airways flight in LHR if my transit time is under 4 hours. I’m kinda doubtful of that since both AI and BA have no codeshare agreement and the legs are on different tickets)

Also, would I be crossing the border control at Heathrow? And if yes, do I need to apply for a visitor in transit visa to access the baggage claim area, even though I have a Schengen Long Term (D) student visa for Italy?

Thanks in advance :)

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All flights operating internationally from India during the lockdown phases have to comply with Intergovernmental Air Bubble Agreement. The current air bubble agreement allows travel to the UK for :

Any Indian national holding any type of valid UK visa and destined for the UK only.

So I think based on what I gather you will not be able to board the flight at New Delhi for your journey to the UK.

You will need to book your flights through Air India, KLM, Air France, or Lufthansa to a location in mainland Europe and then to Milan, Italy.

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  • Thanks for this useful information. I haven't booked the ticket yet, it is still an itinerary. Strangely, I did ask Air India a couple of times whether I would be able to board the plane in New Delhi whilst not holding a UK visa and just connecting, and they said yes. Dec 16 '20 at 14:22
  • @DaryllSamuel is just AI customer services at its best. Actually, the people on counters(rather than customer services helplines) at bigger airports are able to keep track of changing rules.
    – a_parida
    Dec 17 '20 at 9:14
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If it's two separate tickets you are a "self connecting passenger" and not a "connecting passenger". That typically means that you need to collect your bags, go through immigration and customs (which requires proper credentials), go the the check in counter for your second flight and check in over there. For specifics, you can put your flight details in here: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/airport-maps/travel-between-terminals

I was told by Air India that my baggage would be transferred to the British Airways

That would be unusual. In order to transfer baggage, the airlines would have to have an "interlining" agreement, which is different from code share or alliance partner. Unfortunately, interlining information isn't easily available. Your best shot would be to confirm this with British Airways as well. If both airlines say "yes", you are good to go, but it would be safer to plan for a self transfer.

You can always ask at check in and also look at the tags they put on your checked bag: if it says only LHR, you need to collect them yourself. If it says LIN as well, you are good.

do I need to apply for a visitor in transit visa ,

You probably need a transit Visa for a self transfer. See https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

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  • The website which you quoted below tells me that I am eligible for a transit without visa exemption if: I arrive and depart by air, have a confirmed onward flight that leaves on the day you arrive or before midnight on the day after you arrive and, have the right documents for your destination (eg a visa for that country) Also, if I hold a uniform category D Schengen visa to enter an EEA country or Switzerland, which I do. Dec 16 '20 at 14:27
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I was in a similar boat in November. I had a ticket on BA from Toronto to India transiting at LHR and I was told by BA that I will not be allowed to board the return flight to Canada as per the air bubble agreement since BA will carry passengers with a valid UK visa and destined for UK only. Very strangely they said they would let me board the onward leg from Toronto to India.

I checked this with many other airlines and they say the same. As per the air bubble agreement you are allowed to take only either the Indian carrier or the destination country's carrier (usually their flagship). So for travel to Canada (unless one is a Canadian citizen), only Air Canada or Air India would be allowed. For UK its either BA or AI. For US it either United or AI and so on.

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  • Thank you for the information!! Dec 16 '20 at 14:28
  • @Bhusan the GoI wants to restrict travel as much as possible. It allows your onward journey as it knows it is logistically impossible to get all people back from foreign countries(who are mostly in trouble) thru the agreement. For people going to foreign countries, it has monopolized the routes(with higher rates), so only people with real "needs" travel.
    – a_parida
    Dec 17 '20 at 9:21

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