Arriving into Heathrow terminal 2 from Greece. I am a UK national.

I want to prebook an onward train from T2. How long should I allow for, to clear Passport control and baggage reclaim ?

  • 2
    I would allow one hour from landing at the very least, but don't forget that the landing time is not guaranteed. It might be better to have an open train ticket, and catch the first available train. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 18:09
  • Given his quickly things change these days, it’s quite unpredictable. For all we know, you may be sent off to a 2-week mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival. Or you could spend a few hours getting a test made locally if that’s the idea of the day.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 21:41
  • 1
    There is a report on FlyerTalk yesterday of 1+ hour queues at Heathrow at the border even for UK citizens, instead of the usual 0-5 minutes. You need to allow for long delays if Border Force decide to carefully review every arriving passengers PLF
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


How long should I allow for, to clear Passport control and baggage reclaim ?

Very difficult to predict, but it also doesn't matter.

Assuming you are going into London, you have three options: Heathrow Express, TFL (formerly known as Heathrow Connect) and the Piccadilly Underground Line.

None of these require you to pick a departure time up front. The Heathrow Express tickets are "anytime" (on a given day) and TFL and Tube are part of London's transit system using the Oyster Card: You scan your card when you board the train/tube and then again when exit and the fare will be calculated on the fly and deducted from your balance on the card. This is super convenient and works for any public transport in London. I highly recommend to get one.

I also recommend taking the TFL: it's less than half the price of the Heathrow Express, takes just 10 minutes longer and it also includes subsequent tube or bus rides in London. Both trains go every half hour. Depending on where you are going it may actually be faster, since you don't need to ride all the way into Paddington.

While you can pre-buy a Heathrow express ticket, there is really no need for it. There are machines everywhere and it's hard to avoid the human ticket vendors. They are pushing hard to sell you a Heathrow Express ticket, since it's so much more expensive.

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    Very good answer, but with one small comment - if you are traveling by train onwards from London (e.g. if you a Heathrow - Cambridge ticket) then I believe travel via Heathrow Express is a valid routing (unless explicitly mentioned otherwise on the ticket). So, this case, simply take whichever train arrives first at the platform. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 20:25
  • @NeilTarrant but trains to Cambridge do not go from Paddington - those go west or to Oxford, where there is no connection to Cambridge. You need to be at King's Cross and the underground Picadilly Line goes direct to Kings Cross. From Paddington you either need a taxi or the underground, so you might as well use the tube in the first place (unless you have lots of baggage). You can buy a train ticket that includes the underground from Heathrow. Routes from Heathrow are discussed here Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 22:28
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    Cambridge was just an example on an onward destination where I know the Express + underground is a valid routing option. The same argument would apply for other national rail destinations. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 22:45

Hi all thanks for your answers

The timing does matter, I should have mentioned that I have an onward train Journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle while I realise I don't need a timed departure from Terminal 2 I do have to catch a specific train at Kings cross as flexi or buying on the day was looking like too much of an expensive option for me.

A friend of mine did this journey last week and she's jist told me that she got there (kings cross) within 2 hours at the same time of day

On the basis of this and your helpful answers I have left three hours between landing and my train departure from Kings Cross

I intend to use the underground if I get through T2 at reasonable speed, but get the express if it's looking tight and timing permits.

To keep this flexible I just booked London King's cross to Newcastle and not bundled Heathrow to London ticket with it.


made the train successfully

From touchdown to disembarking and joining the border control queue was 15 mins. .note that some (all?) Airlines are disembarking passengers in blocks of seats due to social distancing, and not lettimg the next lot to move until the first lot have cleared the plane. If you are near the back as i was, and the plane only has stairs or an airbridge at the front, this can really delay your disembarkation.

All e-gates were shut down and everyone was being processed manually. It took about 1:15 to get through and a further 15 nins to get to the underground station, which included a detour to the WC after having to wait for so long

Train into kings cross was about an hour.




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