In a few months I'm going to fly from Manchester to London Heathrow with British Airways, then getting on a plane to Melbourne with Air China. I have bought the tickets separately (a return ticket from Manchester to London and a return ticket from London to Melbourne).

It's my first time travelling and I'm doing it alone. I was wondering what the process will be when I land in London and will be switching terminals, airlines etc.

Once I land at Heathrow at terminal 5, I'll have to go pick up my checked baggage, and then I'm assuming go straight to terminal 2, or is there anything I need to do beforehand? Once I make it to terminal 2, will I go through the same process as I will in Manchester (rechecking baggage, security check etc)? Also! I saw there's a free train from terminal 5 to terminal 2, is that the only way of getting there?

I'm sorry if these are dumb questions or there's anything I'm not clear enough about, I just have bad anxiety and want to make sure I understand everything 100% so I can be fully prepared for travel. Any help and guidance on what the process will be would be really appreciated!! I'm a British citizen with a British passport if this matters.

  • 5
    I hope the connection time is very long. If you flight from Manchester delays and you miss your flight to China, it's considered your fault.
    – ugoren
    Mar 5 at 23:59
  • It is a long time! it's almost 9 hours. Mar 6 at 0:09
  • 2
    9 hours might not be enough if your flight is cancelled. Make sure there’s at least one more BA Edin>LHR flight after yours that would get you there in time to make your connection, allowing time for the self-transfer, gate closure of your onbound flight etc. See this guide for info about LHR
    – Traveller
    Mar 6 at 0:21
  • okay thank you! i do have a back up in case my flight is cancelled, so hopefully it will all be fine. Mar 6 at 0:30
  • 1
    @Traveller 9 hours should be comfortably enough, provided the cancellation has sufficent notice. It's an approx 3 hour 30 journey by car or rail from MAN to LHR
    – CMaster
    Mar 6 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


Yes, that's the basic process. You will leave the airport and start from scratch travel-wise.

Terminal 5 is remarkably far from terminal 2. Walking is not practical. If the flights were on the same ticket then you'd be able to use the transfer shuttles, but landside your best option is the train or underground, of which the underground is easier and more frequent. You can use an Oyster card or contactless credit card to enter and exit (you will not be charged).

  • I believe the train frequency departing Heathrow T5 Rail and Heathrow T5 Underground are the same (6 tph). Though you can definitely argue the Underground has a more regular schedule and has its station exit closer to T2 (by around a 2-3 min walk).
    – B.Liu
    Mar 6 at 19:04
  • I should say that I’m basing that off a single experience in which I spent 20 mins waiting for a train. It’s entirely possible that’s not representative of the normal schedule. And, of course, with a nine hour layover time is not of the essence.
    – Sneftel
    Mar 10 at 8:39

As one thing to double check/plan for which hasn't been explicitly mentioned in other comments or answers, since you are travelling on separate tickets, you may be expected to follow the rules from your Air China flight in terms of how early you can drop your bag in Terminal 2. If you're travelling on a cheaper ticket, this might be as late as three hours or so before that flight's departure, which for some less frequent airlines is also around when their check-in desks open. I note you have a considerably longer planned connection than this.

In general, this rule is inconsistently enforced, both worldwide and at Heathrow. Allegedly, using self-service machines is more likely to get you accepted than talking to a human. At worst, you'll need to sit with your bag in Departures for a while or (at worst) use the left luggage service in Arrivals which isn't particularly cheap.

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