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Have you walked the tunnel between Heathrow T5, T5B and T5C?

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A reader reminded me this week that we haven’t talked about the ‘secret’ tunnel between the three parts of Heathrow Terminal 5 for a long time – four years to be precise.

This is a good time to mention it again, because British Airways has recently re-opened the Galleries lounge in Terminal 5B. Open between Thursdays and Mondays inclusive, it is easily the quietest of the BA lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5. Our last review of the British Airways lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 5B satellite is here.

When travelling between the main building in Terminal 5 and Terminal 5B or 5C, you are likely to take the train. You may also find yourself taking the train from 5B to 5C if you have a 5C departure and are using the Galleries Terminal 5B lounge.

You don’t need to take the train, however.

Max Burgess Molly Burgess

If you press the bottom button in the lift in 5A, 5B or 5C then you go below the level of the transit train and into this tunnel.  It has travelators so the walk is surprisingly quick.

The photo above is from 2017 and shows my gang. The photos below were sent by a reader this week.

Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 tunnel


Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 tunnel

and (someone has clearly decided to liven up the walls to make the tunnel less intimidating!):

Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 tunnel

It can often be just as fast to walk, since you are not waiting around for the train. When the train does arrive, it takes a minute or two for passengers to unload first anyway. By the time it is ready to board you can be halfway down the tunnel and well on your way to the lounge.

As the coments pointed out, using the tunnel is also the ONLY way to get from Terminal 5B to Terminal 5 to take a flight. You might do this if you decide to use the quieter lounge in 5B. Taking the train from T5B to the main building drops you at immigration and you cannot get back to the departure gates.

The tunnel is also a good way to stretch your legs before sitting for many hours on a long haul flight. Give it a go and see what you think.

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Comments (62)

  • Nick says:

    The jazzed-up walls were added in 2018-9 when they were doing maintenance on the shuttle and waits for the train were going to be long at times, so they wanted to encourage more people to use it. They also signposted the tunnel from the A transit stop (there’s an escalator from there to the tunnel as well as the lift). Was a big turnaround from the beginning, when they kept it very quiet!

    The one thing to note is that the travelators in each tunnel move in the ‘primary’ direction only (departures or arrivals) so you have to walk if going against that flow. Still pretty quick though as long as you don’t have to move out of the way for too many PRM buggies.

    As well as allowing access back to A gates from the B lounge it’s also good for a faster route through connections as there’s security in B and you can be back in the lounge less than 10 mins from arrival. You have to tell the staff that you know about the tunnel but they’ll always let you through as long as you’re not connecting to a UK flight (there’s no border control anywhere except A).

    @Rob, the next article in this series should be about how to take the bus from B gates to T2 for a faster immigration experience, and how it tends to put you on an earlier HEx train…

    • Andrew says:

      Ooh… Definitely want to know more.

      I tend to go for the cheapest on-site parking options, which often means I’m transitting from T5 to T2/T3 (My preferred parking was the now closed NCP Flightpath).

      It would be great to have a swift T5-T2 transit pre immigration.

      • ChrisC says:

        Only works if you don’t have checked luggage though!

        • Nick says:

          Haha yes, doesn’t work if you have bags to collect, only if HBO. Basically, go to the connections centre at T5B if arriving at B or C gates. All inter-terminal buses call there after leaving T5A (tell the attendant which terminal you want so they can set the flag to make the bus stop). You’ll be deposited at the equivalent connections centre in T2. But instead of going through security, go through the arrivals channel. T3 and T4 work too but involve a much longer walk so you won’t save a huge amount of time doing that, unlike T2.

          This is perfectly legit/legal/allowed, no one will question it and you don’t need to prove anything, but it’s not publicised because for 99% of passengers it’s irrelevant and it’s best not to confuse them.

          • Nick says:

            Also, it’s much less efficient after about 2145 as the bus schedule falls rapidly (not many connections at that time). During the day they’re every 6-10 mins.

          • Sam says:

            @Nick, thanks for this. But this only works for B and C gates which normally host long haul flights which normally won’t be occasions you’re HBO?

          • Sam says:

            I can remember the only occasion I arrived at a B gate was when BA’s 767 was still in use and I travelled from Stockholm. In all other occasions where I arrived in a narrow-body I was always dropped off at an A gate…

  • Laura says:

    Thanks for this!

    Brilliant timing as I’m at T5 next week and due to the joys of public transport, will be there about 6 hours before my flight.

  • A says:

    Always used to take it when I was in & out of T5 multiple times per week. Found it relaxing being a semi-secret and quiet part of a normally busy airport.
    My ex wife didn’t agree when there was a gate change from T5B to T5A and we had to walk all the way back.

  • Bluekjp says:

    If you go to transit level and it is just departing and thus you’d have the maximum wait for the next one, stay on that level and walk to the far end and head for the Emergency Exit. Walk through into the darkness beyond and within a few seconds the lights flicker on. Go down the stairs in front of you and you are channelled into the tunnel and bright lights to continue your walk to B/C. This way you have the option of the transit if it is there but can still walk from this level. This has always been possible and is my preferred modus operandi.

  • MarkZ says:

    If Rob allows it to be posted, then this is the link to the FlyerTalk forum entry from 2014 which first let me into the secret.

    This entry contains a link to another entry which describes the arrangements for arriving passengers.

  • MiddleEngland says:

    But be warned! I used it to walk from 5 C to Arrivals on a Friday early evening five weeks ago. On exiting the lift I was one of a number of very frustrated passengers being accused of trying to jump the queue in a very crowded customs hall. One totally incompetent lady trying to whip us. She ended up calling for the police to arrest us. Shortly after, Heathrow staff ‘moved her on’!

  • Sam says:

    I am pretty sure there’s somewhere at the departure level saying ‘there’s no way back to main terminal’ after taking the shuttle to B gates…glad to know there’s actually a workaround!

  • Nick says:

    I always take the tunnel, nice to stretch the legs after being on a flight!

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