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Air France and KLM returning to Heathrow Terminal 4 with virtually no notice

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Air France and KLM are moving from Heathrow Terminal 3, and will return to their original home in Terminal 4 at the start of the Summer timetable on 26th March.

This begs far more questions than it answers:

  • Why is this happening with virtually no notice?
Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Why has this not been announced to the public? As of last night, the Heathrow website still showed the airlines in Terminal 3 for April flights and there is nothing on the airline websites.
  • What will happen about a lounge, given that the SkyTeam lounge was closed down?
  • What happens to passengers who have a tight connection to/from a Virgin Atlantic or Delta flight in Terminal 3 and were expecting a quick transfer rather than the long trip from Terminal 4?
  • What say did Air France and KLM have in this move, given that the only winner seems to be British Airways? BA will undoubtedly increase its share of transfer traffic when passengers realise they won’t need a terminal change.

The only upside is that the front desk staff at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse will no longer have to turn away a steady stream of Air France and KLM elites each day who want access before their short haul flight.

With Air France and KLM moving back to Terminal 4, it would make sense to re-open the ‘permanently’ closed SkyTeam lounge, although clearly this depends on whether it was stripped out or not. SkyTeam has recently opened a new alliance-branded lounge in Sao Paolo so it has clearly not given up on the concept of alliance-branded facilities.

How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards

How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards (July 2024)

Air France and KLM do not have a UK Flying Blue credit card.  However, you can earn Flying Blue miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.

These cards earn Membership Rewards points:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Flying Blue miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Flying Blue mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Comments (25)

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  • Anthony says:

    I’ve got an Air France flight booked for the 23rd March, when I looked at the reservation the other day I saw a notification saying “From 23rd March Air France is moving to terminal 4”, I’ve just gone to check now and that notification has gone

  • Doc says:

    Quite right that this makes no sense, particularly for VS connecting passengers to skyteam partners KLM/AF.
    I suppose it is no different with Qatar being in Terminal 4 and connecting to or from BA in T5, which never makes sense with One world being so separate with BA at T5/3, AA at T3 and QR at T4.
    Guess that’s Heathrow for you.

    • Charles Martel says:

      I think Oneworld are just too big for any of the existing terminals, the Expansion Consultation document (2019) suggests Terminal 2 will eventually take the footprint of the old Terminal 1 and current Terminal 3 (as T2C, T2D) and have a capacity of 52m passengers. It would probably make sense at that point to shift all OW flights to a single terminal and put Star in T5 but I think the whole plan depends on the third runway.

    • Mark says:

      There was a drive to consolidate alliances around specific terminals after T5 opened, and a number did move at that point. T5/T3 for OneWorld, T1/T2 for Star and T4 for SkyTeam. Most non-aligned airlines went to T4, with Virgin and Emirates in T3.

      The problem is that alliances shift. At that time Qatar was not a member of OneWorld, the plan was for BMI to be the anchor tenant in T3 and that long predated Virgin’s partnership with AF/KLM, let alone SkyTeam membership – in fact it was probably even before the 49% shareholding passed from Singapore Airlines to Delta.

      Flying out of Heathrow recently, T4 was noticeably very quiet with only 2-3 of the stands in use when we departed mid-morning, and one of those had a BA plane parked up at it. I imagine this latest move is being driven by increased pressures on T3 as demand recovers, forcing more use of T4.

      In an ideal world, Virgin would probably move to T4 and Qatar/Malaysian to T3. However I can imagine Virgin not being too keen to relocate their facilities, including the Clubhouse.

      • Mark says:

        Should say BMI anchor tenant in T2 if course …

      • The Jetset Boyz says:

        You’re forgetting that Royal Air Maroc & Oman Air (from next month) are also Oneworld members that operate from LHR T4.

        MH and AT now also direct their business class & status passengers to QRs lounge.

  • Paul says:

    Used T3 yesterday- What a shambles! Fast track security was simply dredful and the presence of Tensa barrier city out side the area suggest there are major issues at certain times of the day. Staff at security were incredibly rude and unhelpful!
    Staff in the shops were universally unpleasant both personally to my wife and I and to others we saw being spoken too.
    The only redeeming feature was Cathay’s first class lounge for a relaxed dinner!
    Relaxed as once again BA delayed, finally advised it was a 40, then 50, then 44 minute delay which in the end was 1hr and 59 minutes late. The comedy of errors that is BAs operational hallmark is too long to detail.

    • Andrew J says:

      Seems the only thing in that list of complaints that relates to BA is a delayed flight.

      • Rich says:

        Whilst I don’t excuse rude staff members, for every one of them there are at least ten bumptious, rude, holier than thou type customers and they are usually heading to a lounge.

        • Swifty says:

          You’ve put that really well, was exactly what I was thinking! Pay me £9.00 ph I’m not gonna bend over to lay out a red carpet for 54 million passengers..especially the passengers who get to security and seem surprised they can’t take liquids through and need to empty their bags, which happens at least 5 times in the 10 ahead of me everytime

          • yonasl says:

            I avoid the T3 security fast track as it seems to be full of people that are flying for the first time in their life.

            – please put all liquids out in a plastic bag
            – (lady) is this a liquid? (Showing a bag full of makeup)
            – yes
            – (lady) and thiiiiis? (Shows a bag full of perfume bottles)
            – yes
            – (lady) and what about this? (Shows a bottle of vodka)
            – yes!

            Then passes and gets stopped for basically not removing her glasses, jacket, belt, high boots and the luggage gets checked as she has more stuff in it while we all wait patiently behind.

    • Rhys says:

      T3 is, oddly, by far the worst of the terminals for security delays.

  • yorkieflyer says:

    Is Iberia definitely moving back to T5 for the summer schedule?

  • Jordan D says:

    T4 is a ghost town. There last week and there was one arrival in a 5hr period from 0730 to 1230. Plenty of space for AF and KL, the latter to its longtime return home.

  • SamG says:

    From what I can tell they’re still selling a 90 min connection which is what is was before. So no ones connections got broken. It’s tight for inter terminal but doable

    I suspect it’s a late notice move to balance passengers between the terminals, with a huge AA operation this summer, EK back in force with A380s etc it’s going to be a busy summer at T3 ! I think in reality most AF & KL passengers are originating in London to connect at their hubs and won’t be massively inconvenienced by this except for lounge access though as you say, something may reopen now there is another all day stream of passengers to cater for

  • Chris D says:

    The airside bus connection between T3 and T4 is awful, as the bus route goes T3 -> T2 drop -> T2 pickup -> T4.

    That probably makes sense under the current very low volumes, but would be a big deterrent to connecting (for those who realise!).

  • Nick says:

    There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that could explain this. HAL is trying to impose caps again (for Easter) and airlines are kicking off. T4 is empty so HAL’s answer seems to be to force some airlines to move across – AF/KL drew a very short straw there. It’s dressed up as an attempt to improve punctuality of course.

    Ironic thing is that T4 stands are being used to park spare BA aircraft and to depart engineering/positioning flights, so the logical answer would be to move some BA pax across…

    @SamG – MCT for T3-T3 connections is 60 mins, so an increase to 90 is significant.

    • SamG says:

      Whoops didn’t scroll down on expertflyer, looks like T3-3 is 1hr 10. I doubt 20 mins causes too many issues and I can’t believe that many skyteam connections over LHR to AMS/CDG get sold anyway . If you have now been bumped you’ll likely be able to get rebooked onto a direct flight and gain out of the situation!

    • Londonsteve says:

      Are they really at it again? A year was insufficient to resolve their staffing issues (or they just don’t want to and seek to get everyone used to peak time queues and limitations in perpetuity)?

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