Traveling from Washington DC to Johannesburg, SA we have a 10-hour layover in London. Have been to London before, have done the tourist thing, have Oyster cards, and would love to stop in, meet a friend for lunch, have a pint, and get back to the airport.

How much hassle are we talking about?

Can we check bags through, and just deal with customs/transport with backpacks?

  • 1
    What passport / visa are you on? This is the most important part for such a question.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 1:51
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    @MarkMayo +1. How do we ensure that OPs always provide their nationality? Any suggestions, moderators? That is such a crucial piece of information for Travel.SE and Expats.SE.
    – dearN
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 21:56
  • Sorry; we are Americans, so shouldn't require any Visa.
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 15:51
  • @drN maybe raise a support question on meta?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


This is absolutely doable. Ideally, check the bags through. Even if you have to get your bags, there are left luggage facility in each terminal, where you can leave your bags for the day for a few quid (under $10) each.

There are many ways to get from Heathrow into London - depending where in London you need to get to. Search this site - there are plenty of questions about it. Plan on returning to the airport about 2.5 hours before your flight if you need to get your bags and check them in again - or about 1.5 hours if the bags are checked in through and you have boarding passes.

I have done this with a much shorter connection - only had about 6 hours connection with bags checked in through and boarding pass in my hands for the second leg. It took me about an hours to get through the immigration/passport control - no need to wait for bags - and out of the airport. Heathrow Express got me to Paddington about 20 minutes later - roughly about 1.5 hours from the time the flight landed to the time I got off the train at Paddington. I had about 3.5 hours in London then before getting a train back from Paddington to Heathrow - 15 minutes journey time plus a bit of walking on the other end. Took me about 30 minutes through the security in Heathrow - and I was at the gate about an hour before the departure - 15 minutes before the boarding started.


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