Last year, I flew NZ 2 from LAX to LHR twice, once right before the Olympics and once in early December before the Christmas on-rush. The first trip, it took about an hour to clear immigration because of the queues; the second trip, under three minutes. In addition, it seems that the online complaints in regards to Heathrow immigration queue times all date from last year.

As I will be traveling to Heathrow again several times this year, I was wondering if anyone knew if immigration times have stabilized to a semi-predictable length since the Olympics?

I'd be particularly interested in information on Terminal 1, but any information at all would be helpful.

  • Are you travelling on an UK/EU/EEC passport, or will you have to use the "others" queue?
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 14, 2013 at 9:28
  • @Gagravarr "Others", unfortunately.
    – waiwai933
    Aug 14, 2013 at 9:50
  • Short answer - depends on the terminal and time of day. Someone can hopefully post stats, but if you arrive at the same time as a load of other long haul flights expect a huge queue as they don't have enough staff to cope with busy times :( At quiet times it's fine!
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 14, 2013 at 11:09
  • I cam in last month at 6AM and there was literally no queue at all in Terminal 3 (EU and non-EU). I don't think there is a way you can predict the length of the queues.
    – user5043
    Aug 16, 2013 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


Honestly, it depends on when your flight arrives (it could be late or early), how many staff are on at that time, and whether other flights have arrived late or early. Peak times are also worse.

The official site is diplomatic and states:

With tougher checks now in place at the border, you may have to wait a little longer to get into the United Kingdom, especially at peak times.

Several news articles talk about waits of 1-4 hours depending on staff, strikes, students, and many other factors.

At Heathrow, Stansted and others, I also take the non-EU queue. Some days I've been lucky to walk straight up and through, other times I've waited hours.

Even if the flights are 'as expected' you could have a contingent of students with messed up visas or something ahead of you, which cause a delay.

Generally Terminal 1 is less busy than Terminal 3 and 5 in terms of passengers, but has the second-most flights. However even if it had the fewest passengers, it might also have the fewest staff rostered on, and so you get a delay.

Long story short; allow for lots and be happy if it's not :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.