I need advice regarding the time it takes to get through customs at Heathrow in order to make a connecting flight on a different airlines/reservation out of Heathrow on the same day.

I am attempting to merge two travel itineraries/ideas. The short of it is that I am hoping to climb Kilimanjaro this August and then fly home to the U.S. using an existing reservation that I have from London Heathrow. My dilemma is how to best match up a flight from kilimanjaro to London Heathrow so that I can make that existing flight.

It looks like I could fly via Kenya Air from Kilimanjaro through Nairobi on August 27th-28th and arrive at London Heathrow at about 6:30am on August 28th. My flight from London to the U.S. is on U.S. Airways (Amer. Airways reservation) leaving London at about 10:00am on August 28th.

Does this give me enough time to get through customs at Heathrow, check in with U.S. Airways, and make my flight back to the U.S.?

Does this cut it too close?

Is this too risky?


  • 2
    This is barely enough time, if nothing goes wrong and you can check in to the last flight online (where are you going to find a printer to print your boarding pass?)... You may find it better to wait a few extra hours, or even tour London for a day, than to pay a large fee to change your existing reservation. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 14:16
  • Thanks. That's what I was thinking. My original plan was to spend a couple days in London and to change my flight back to the U.S., but, unfortunately, the next available flight out (as of when I last talked to the airline) was not until Sept. 9th. So, I was hoping that I could still figure out a way to use my existing reservation.
    – Caitlin
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 15:50
  • @MichaelHampton Why does he need a boarding pass printer?
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 15:58
  • @Calchas Because US Airways does not do mobile boarding passes out of Heathrow. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 17:19
  • @MichaelHampton It doesn't matter for going to the US from Terminal 3. You have to talk to someone (to assure them that you aren't bringing any hand luggage that might have been secretly replaced by explosives or something ridiculous) and they insist on giving you a new boarding pass anyway (even if you already have one).
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Personally, I think you can do this with no bags with a 95% success rate ... but what is your plan if you fail? Are you willing to take that risk if you might have to buy a new walk-up ticket?

KQ (Kenya Airways) arrives at Terminal 4 so you have a terminal change to Terminal 3 for your US Airways flight. KQ might through-check your luggage, but I would not rely on that.

If they do through-check (or you have no checked bags) then you can use the internal transfer bus, which will be much quicker than exiting via immigration and taking the Heathrow Express. It takes about fifteen minutes, and runs quite frequently. Once you arrive in T3, pass through security and pick up your boarding pass at the transfer desk: no customs or immigration. You are looking at less than an hour plane-to-plane.

If you have bags, and need to collect them: 0630 at Heathrow is an extremely busy time because it is just after the landing curfew has lifted (0600). Aircraft which arrive ahead of schedule are required to wait in a holding pattern until then, so you get a lot of aircraft bunching up early in the morning. And of course, this is the best time of the day to arrive in London ready for a full day of work, so there are a lot of flights getting in at this time; immigration is always busy. Baggage delivery is slow, the public transport between terminals is busy ... I would not try this with checked bags.

You suggested that you could change your flight. There are hundreds of flights between the USA and the UK every day. I don't believe they can all be full. AA should be willing to move you to another BA/AA/US flight on that day for a small change fee. If I were you, I would get an evening flight instead.

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