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Rumours on the opening of Heathrow Terminal 3 and changes at Terminal 5

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The timetable for the reopening of Terminal 3 keeps slipping back, unsurprisingly. When we attended the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 farewell event before Christmas, the airline was hoping to be back ‘home’ by April. The current block on international travel until mid May has clearly put a stop to that.

The wheels continue to turn, however. Chatting to an airline employee last week who had just been on a tour of Terminal 3, in preparation for dusting it down and flicking the ‘on’ switches, this is how things currently are.

Heathrow Terminal 3 reopening date

The following is, of course, totally unverifiable and, even more importantly, hugely subject to change if the 17th May deadline is missed.

Terminal 5 will hit capacity in August

With virtually no British Airways flights out of London Gatwick or Heathrow Terminal 3, and with Qatar Airways and American Airlines in Terminal 5, it will start to get a little cosy.

Given current check-in times due to covid document checks, and the need for distancing amongst arriving and departing passengers, it will soon hit its realistic capacity limit. There is apparently no way, given the current flight plans by its current occupants, that Terminal 5 could operate safely in August.

Terminal 2 is in a similar position.

Terminal 3 will open in June to reduce pressure on T2 and T5

To reduce pressure on Terminal 5, some British Airways (short haul only) and some American Airlines departures will move to Terminal 3.

To reduce pressure on Terminal 2, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Delta will move back to Terminal 3.

Qatar Airways is, intriguingly, rumoured to be moving into Terminal 2 from Terminal 5. This makes little sense from a facilities point of view, since it would require Qatar to use the Plaza Premium lounge whilst oneworld has multiple BA / AA / Cathay and Qantas lounges in Terminal 3 which it could use.

As we said above, you should see this as speculative and still subject to change. There is nothing here which should be surprising, however, given the number of flights currently on sale for the Summer.

Comments (35)

  • Alex Sm says:

    I guess there are other reasons behind terminal switches, apart from lounges…

    • ChrisW says:

      I would have thought the best lounge access would be close to the bottom of priorities for both airlines and HAL right now.

  • Lady London says:

    T3 was always a hassle-filled old-design dump though. The lounge choice made it tolerable. But for me that would include the QF and CX lounges. I just can’t see either of those being back open ti almost the end of this year at the very earliest.

  • Andy says:

    As QA is part of Oneworld, would they not use the BA lounges in T5?

    • Andrew says:

      If you mean Qatar Airways (QR) then that is the current temporary situation – they are using T5 and the BA lounges. But QR have quite high standards and the BA lounges are not at that standard and so they have their own lounge at T4 and once the terminal is operational again they will return.

  • Chris D says:

    I’m just surprised T3 is reopening as opposed to T4, since the latter is a far more modern terminal (albeit also a bit old!).

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