BA offering car transfers at Heathrow to late-running domestic passengers

British Airways has launched a new service at Heathrow to help delayed inbound UK domestic passengers reach their connecting flights.

It is, I assume, a delayed reaction to the (no fault of BA) traumatic transit experience at Heathrow.  KLM has built up a major franchise by persuading travellers outside London that they will have an easier life if they transit in Amsterdam via a KLM connection from their local airport instead.

The service is called Premium Transfer Drive.

Premium Transfer Drive British Airways

To qualify you must be:

on a domestic flight into Heathrow

running late

travelling onwards in Club Europe, Club World or First, or holding a British Airways Executive Club Silver or Gold card

This service is not guaranteed.  BA is not stating the parameters under which you will be collected from your incoming flight, and there will obviously be capacity controls too.   You should also remember that, whilst you might make the plane, your luggage may not …..

You will need to be booked on a single through-ticket in order for BA to know you have a connection.

Whilst this service will only be used by a handful of people, it is – to be honest – more ambitious than we have come to expect from British Airways of late.  Perhaps things are picking up.

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Comments

  1. I can’t help but think they should do something similar for the 480 of us who are Concorde Cardholders who do 5,000 plus tier points per year. A meet and greet, and expediated passage through passport control would be nice. Even AA manage it.

  2. This is a welcome move & should pay for itself if it saves some EU261 payouts. However why is it only offered for late running domestic passengers?

  3. Lewis Watson says:

    Wish this existed last year. Ba moved me off my flight made me wait in Heathrow for 5 hours. Even though I would have made my initial flight. Hate that they insist on transfer times. If your willing to walk quickly you can make tighter connections

  4. Joseph Heenan says:

    I’m not sure you can remove all the blame from BA for Heathrow’s horrendous transit experience; being a major customer of Heathrow and having been heavily involved in the design of T5 it’s clearly something BA could have influenced if they wanted.

    This service doesn’t seem to make any realistic difference and I’ll continue to transit through anywhere other than Heathrow as much as I can. (To be honest there’s a lot more issues than just transit – BA is rarely if ever price competitive with KLM/Emirates/etc for a start.)

  5. I have no love for BA, but I find the domestic > international transfer process a doddle! How in any way is it traumatic? Any A gate to First lounge in 5 minutes. 10 minutes max if you dawdle. If you have to transfer to T3 then it is a pain having to redo security again. But other than that, and the occasional B gate arrival when a bus is not already waiting, the T5 domestic > international process is much better than regional > AMS, CDG or FRA transfer. HOWEVER: as Butch said to Sundance, its the INBOUND transfer process that is a PITA. That is poor at best, and dreadful at worst.

    • Maybe the header of this article is misleading in the use of ‘inbound’ UK domestic passengers given that term is used in the travel industry to mean passengers on the return leg of a return flight booking.

  6. Aaron Quigley says:

    I wish BA did more regional flights to long haul destinanations. There must be a market for weekly MAN or EDI to JFK etc. Are they lazy or
    just risk adverse?

    I actually quite enjoy the transfer process in terminal 5. When I’m forced to change terminals I see why people dislike it. Occasionally BA have terminal 3 flights which makes no sense to me but must be a T5 capacity issue (if there is any other “logic” then someone needs a lesson in customer experience management).

    Accessing the southern lounges is a classic example of design being used to introduce a little pain for all but 1st but everything else is generally fine. Functional fun?

    I live in Edinburgh and the airport is quite embarrassing, not Dublin airport in the ’90s embarrassing but given the gleaming structures and space on the continent embarrassing none the less. Manchester airport is a disgrace and Glasgow is a death trap.

    All in all, T5 isn’t so bad and while I don’t look forward to needing this service I’m glad BA are trying.

    I still enjoy flying with them. It reminds me of the fading British Emipre, trying to be a little bit stylish on the cheap. Indeed, this sort of sums up life in the UK during Brexit to me.

    • Interesting, I quite like EDI, although I’ve got BA Gold and PP so mainly in one of the 3 lounges and only walk through the terminal to get to the gate. Fast track security works pretty well and security staff much friendlier than LHR. Don’t like exiting via duty free but lots of airports now do that. New Edinburgh sign outside is quite stylish and I saw lots of Festival tourists using it. Tram fine but still wish they’d added train station where the line goes past the end of the runway!

      • Tram is fine?? It’s sooooo slow! The Airlink 100 is far better.

        Edinburgh Tram(S) = ONE SLOW LINE (costing almost a billion pounds)

        • Haha I know, the Airlink bus was fine, but I can imagine many tourists prefer tram over bus just for being more certain re route and stops. They’re looking at finally extending it to Leith, although sadly they killed off the idea to taking it out to RIE after Edinburgh residents unsurprisingly voted against congestion charging.

    • the_real_a says:

      EDI is great for transport, but the security is horrific at times. 1 or 2 lanes open and queues flowing out of the area.

      • Yes, well said. Edinburgh is one of the worst security experience one can imagine – even makes Gatwick seem efficient! The so-called FasTrack premium Lane just dumps one into the general melee

        • Last time I went via Edinburgh, it was 45 minutes through security.

          Our queue snaked around, then ended up at a the scanner that was servicing both our queue and the Fast Track queue – one side open, two members of staff working it.

          If you protest about the luggage disappearing as you wait for the scanner, you get the “there’s cameras everywhere like”. It’s no reassurance, I know colleagues who’ve had bags swiped.

  7. The concept is great but given the caveats I do wonder (given Cruz Cost Cutting) how often they’ll actually offer the service if you’re not an IAG Exec running late…

    I hope they focus on those with terminal changes, leaving from B/C gates or not arriving into A gates. For A to A domestic to international transfers it only takes a few minutes anyway!

  8. I don’t get the connection phobia at Heathrow.

    Domestic to non-domestic T5 has been a breeze at Heathrow for as long as I have been doing it. Quick boarding pass scan and through a door that brings you out by WH Smiths under Galleries North. You can do plane to that lounge in 5 mins and on to any gate in <15. Haven't done a T5-T3 connection yet but have one coming up soon.

    Coming into the UK and transferring onto a Domestic used to be a nightmare – typically 2 or 3 staff tackling a mix of EU and non-EU passengers, have waited 30 mins there in the past. There are now new eGates at the Domestic connections bit (new since April anyway) and the security channel seemed much more efficient so you're in departures within 15 mins.

    • T5 to T3 can be painful if you just miss a bus and security queues at the other end are big, it’s annoying you don’t get the same benefit of remaining airside as you do at T5. Also can be frustrating if you end up landing as domestic at a bus stand then wait ages to get bussed in to T5A only to have to get the train back out to B or C gates where you got off the plane. Doesn’t happen that often, but did have a run of it. For international to domestic I tended to go landside as the queues were so long at connections although it sounds like this might have slightly improved.

      • I don’t think I’ve ever had a bus arrival at T5, sounds like I should hope that continues.

        We did international to domestic last weekend and it was far better than any previous experience. We were through connections, UK border and Fast Track security in about 10 mins last weekend (Sat mid-afternoon). I don’t think I have ever managed anything close to that, it was the eGates that made most difference.

        Obviously the caveat is that it’s only going to be better if the eGates are actually working.

        • Yes, you’ve definitely lucked out! I had a run of about 5 trips in a row EDI-LHR where I had bus gate on arrival. One of them was a departure bus gate form EDI too, at the completely opposite end of the airfield from the terminal!

          So did you go landside or is that eGates now available for connections too?

        • We’ve had a few EDI departures and arrivals at “Hijacker’s Corner” at the cargo end of the terminal, usually first or last flight of the day when you most want to have a proper gate.

          The eGates are at T5 domestic connections airside, I think they have completely redone that area as it looked nothing like it used to. Still brings you out at the same escalators that take you up to South security but apart from that nothing else seemed familiar. Huge improvement on the previous situation.

        • Ah excellent, sounds promising. My recent international flights have been via AMS or LHR T3 so haven’t experienced the new setup yet.

        • if transiting at LHR T5 from international to domestic, can you now use the e gates? On last trip i saw that the domestic transit area had been changed. The queues for passport check could take an hour, with only 2 desks manned. I always regret not going out landslide and back in.

        • @CV3V yes, the were new eGates in the domestic transfer bit. You can see them from the point you have to decide what route you’re taking. We were considering going landslide and back in but figured the eGates route would be quicker and it was. If you get there and they aren’t in operation then you would probably be better going landslide if there’s any queues to speak of – you have to do security whatever happens anyway.

        • Although with the Wing now open I’ll probably still go landside to try it out – hopefully security via it will be faster!

        • It’s one of the mid-afternoon flights that always ends up on a remote gate with bus to terminal.

  9. We now just leave a bigger gap between connections if possible.
    I hate arriving at a destination to find my bags didn’t make the connection and then wait 5 days for them to all turn up.

  10. great just need ba to introduce IOM-LHR now ,,,grrr

  11. Peter Taysum says:

    Oh they’re playing that dreadful “safety video” on BA… Thankfully my screen wasn’t working so I insisted they did a manual safety demo.

    I think my screen won’t be working quite a lot in future…

    • Selfish g*t! Who are to decide the safety briefing? By lying? If you don’t want to pay any attention then don’t.

  12. You are right about KLM. From Glasgow the flight takes around the same time as a Heathrow flight. You still get your free G&T and Amsterdam airport is easier to get around. My only gripe is when flying KLM business class passengers are invited to the dreaded Glasgow Upper Deck Playground.. sorry lounge, while the BA lounge is superior.

  13. Ha ha ha you’ll be driven at high speed across Heathrow only to be barred from actually getting on the plane by BA”s stinking “conformance” which will have offloaded you automatically 35 minutes ealier