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British Airways tries to fix its Heathrow problems by increasing Minimum Connection Times

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From January, British Airways will increase its minimum connection times at Heathrow by 25%.

Minimum Connection Times (often referred to as MCTs) govern the shortest time available for bookable flight connections. These are set by airlines and airports to ensure you have the best chances of making it from one flight to the next and to prevent you from booking flights where you (and your baggage!) would not have enough time to transfer to the next flight.

Minimum connection times can vary by airport and airline, with ticketing websites taking into account any MCTs as part of your itinerary.

British Airways increasing Minimum Connecting Time at Heathrow

The MCT is calculated as the period between the scheduled arrival of your first flight and the scheduled departure of your second.

At most airports, it is between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on whether you are connecting to a domestic or international flight, as well as the size of the terminal. At Munich, for example, German effiiciency means that they can offer a Minimum Connection Time of 30 minutes.

British Airways increases Minimum Connection Time to 75 minutes

At present, British Airways operates an MCT of 60 minutes for connections at its hub in London Heathrow. This increases to 90 minutes if you need to change terminal.

This is changing in early January. British Airways has already started emailing passengers whose flights no longer meet the MCT guidelines:

“From 9th January 2024 we are changing our connection times at London Heathrow. Due to this change, your upcoming British Airways connection at London Heathrow will no longer be possible. We are in the process of reviewing your booking to ensure you can make your connection and if required we will look to rebook your connection/s free of charge on your behalf.”

The change is likely due to an increasing number of passengers failing to make their connections due to delays at security, immigration or simply delayed arriving aircraft

The change only applies to passengers connecting from:

  • a long haul flight to another long haul, short haul or domestic flight
  • a domestic flight to a short haul or long haul flight

Minimum Connection Times from one domestic flight to another remain unchanged at 60 minutes. Inter-terminal MCTs remain at 90 minutes.

British Airways Minimum Connection Time Heathrow

How this affects existing bookings

As noted in BA’s email, it is currently reviewing existing bookings to ensure that you have enough time to make it to your second flight.

British Airways has confirmed to us that anyone with a minimum connection of less than 75 minutes from the 9th January will be rebooked onto another flight. This will be free of charge.

BA was unable to tell us how many passengers would be affected, although it is likely to be a relatively small figure as most people prefer to book flights with slightly longer connection times when they can.

What about new bookings?

Any flights now bookable will take into account the new minimum connection times and you will only be offered flights at Heathrow with at least 75 minutes between arrival and departure.

You won’t be able to book a flight with an MCT of less than 75 minutes, even if there is an earlier flight departing.

In the medium term it is likely that timetable adjustments will be required to ensure that the most popular connecting routes are not forcing passengers into multi-hour waits – something that is likely to ensure they book elsewhere.

This won’t be straightforward, given that British Airways does not operate a ‘bank’ structure like Emirates or Qatar Airways with long haul arrivals landing (and later departing) back to back in short bursts.


British Airways clearly feels that more customers than it would like are missing their connections and – with the underlying problems seemingly unfixable – is increasing Minimum Connection Times in order to reduce misconnects.

It does mean that British Airways now has one of the longest minimum connection times at its hub at Heathrow versus its competitors. Paris Charles de Gaulle has a 60 minute connection time, whilst at Schiphol it is 50 minutes. Things are even better in Zurich (40 minutes) and Munich (30 minutes).

A 75-minute same-terminal minimum connection time suggests that Heathrow and British Airways are still struggling to ramp up services in the post-pandemic environment. At least passengers in the future should have a better chance of making their flight.

If your booking has been affected you may wish to join the discussion on our forums.


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Comments (154)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris says:

    Made a 15 minute connection through Schengen to non Schengen passport control in Munich last year. Never been happier to get on a Lufthansa flight.

    • John says:

      Yes German efficiency applies to MUC but not other German airports

      • Chris says:

        Well aware of that; didn’t write about the 3 hours getting through passport control at FRA more than once in last year

  • peterjgwilliams says:

    If you are sitting at the back of the plane it can take 20 minutes just to get into the terminal. More like 40 if there’s a bus involved – and in that case everyone has to wait for the last passenger to disembark.

    • Rob says:

      A few weeks ago we had to leave a short haul BA flight by the back door as the airbridge broke. I was in my usual Row 1. I admit I was shocked how long it took to get off.

      Of course, the real issue was people sat at the back who had put their luggage into the first empty bin as they boarded. These people had to push through 100 people to get to their bags ….

      • Harry T says:

        That will serve them right. I personally think it’s poor form that BA don’t disembark business class first in these scenarios.

        • Rob says:

          This would require a level of ingenuity from BA cabin crew that is rarely seen …..

          Similarly, telling people whose bags were at the front to remain seated rather than push past 100 people in the aisle would have been useful.

        • Ken says:

          As if British people would take any notice of an instruction to stay seated where people at the front waltzed past them.

          • Kevin says:

            Exactly. And if “German efficiency” is a myth, they do tend to follow rules and instructions better.
            One example of this was BA’s LHR-DUS leaving from T5 Gate B36 last week. I arrived at the gate to see everyone seated awaiting the boarding announcement. Pre-boarding, then Group 1, then 2 and so on. No one hovering around the Tensabarriers. As each group was called, the relevant people in that group stood up and walked through the gates. It was poetry in motion!

      • lumma says:

        Once paid for row one on Ryanair and could only put my bag about 6 rows back. Literally had to wait until everyone had got off before being able to get it. Never again

  • Hardpack says:

    I get MCT and conformance mixed up. I had a short-haul then connection to domestic T5 recently on a single ticket. Incoming short-haul was on time but by the time the bus arrived at the remote stand, we couldn’t get on the departing domestic because we missed the 35 min conformance at LHR. When I asked about compensation for the long delay (more than 6 hours IIRC) , I was told that we had missed the 60 minute MCT and no compensation was due. As far as I was concerned I had bought a through-ticket and missing MCT wasn’t my problem

  • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

    Currently in the air flying AY LHR to HEL with a 40 mins connection to ARN.

    The IFE shows the gate of the ARN flight as well as an airport map so I know where I’m going. There is also a video of the connections process.

    Screen is being regularly updated with the arrival time.

    If I had baggage (I don’t as these are last legs of a BA Holiday) I’d be pretty confident they’d make the ARN flight as well.

    • Harry T says:

      AY are in a different, far superior league to BA in my book.

    • jjoohhnn says:

      If you were on an AY A320 on the otherhand, you wouldn’t have that information available via IFE!

    • Numpty says:

      Emirates do that for connections at Dubai, the IFE shows you the gate numbers.

      That said I did arrive once into one terminal and then got shepherded to security at the other terminal to then find my gate was back at the first terminal.

  • Kevin says:

    This will only make T5A more crowded than it already is, especially at peak times. More people will have more time in the terminal as they wait for their next flight. The lounges will also be busier. The area around T5A Gates A1-A7 is disgraceful at the moment with overcrowding. As far as I am concerned, the more flights that BA move to T3 the better.

    I would love to work for BA in their Operational Control Centre. Of course we, the general public, are not privy to all the details of what’s going on and I appreciate running an airline and terminal is not an easy thing, but surely there is room for more common sense? Utilising B and C gates more often for the A321 flights would be a big help.

    I always wondered why there was never an extra access corridor/travellator/lifts etc. built from T5A South side where First/Concorde Room is, directly to T5B and T5C. There is a real steady flow of people from this area down to the lifts and Automated People Mover tracks. More so as it caters for the International OW passengers with status, who are more likely going to be heading to T5B/C anyway.

    I do have to give BA some credit however. I flew BHD-LHR recently and the passenger beside me had a 90 minute connection to JFK onto BA113 to JFK. We were a little delayed en route and several other passengers in the Club Europe rows who might now miss their connection. The crew were excellent and told them not to worry. Funnily enough, the Captain of the 777 which was due to fly to JFK was also on the plane with us. Just as the seatbelt sign came on and we were preparing to land, a crew member brought a receipt-style piece of paper to several of the passengers stating they had already been booked onto the next flight to JFK. I met them in the lounge and they said this was the best experience they had in 30 years of flying. No anxiety and no queuing at a CS desk. One gentleman was an AAdvantage Executive Platinum status holder too.

    • Stuart says:

      They need to announce if it will be depart from a satellite a lot sooner to relieve 5A. I was on a short haul that went from 5C last week, if they said that before hand we would have gone to the 5B lounge upon arrival at the terminal

      • Londonsteve says:

        Invariably when they announce a B or C gates departure and you’re in either of the A lounges, you’ve missed the priority boarding opportunity by the time you’ve made it to the gate.

  • dougzz99 says:

    @Kevin. I’m BA gold (no idea if relevant) and have on a few occasions been met on the airbridge at JFK by AA staff with my onward boarding passes and an ‘Express’ jacket thing to queue jump. I’ve never needed it as GE is a huge advantage in time and ability to make connections. But I’ve often thought AA do a better job at proactively helping people make tight connections.
    Once again I’ll beat the GE drum, travel to USA even once a year and it’s worth every penny, about £120 or £24/year. The TSA Pre that comes with it is so slick compared to regular US security.

  • Derek Scott says:

    They need to fix the root cause, not plaster over the cracks. Today alone 8/9 EDI-LHR flights were late in departure (so far) minimum of 49 mins up to 1:28. Regardless of which end caused it they need to do something different to get a different pattern of outcome. The boarding process by group doesn’t work either as it hasn’t made any clear difference to boarding start to doors closed and I’ve never understood why they don’t board front and back to speed things up… even if just on flights where to avoid delay that would risk missing the landing slot and added holding pattern.

    BA need to work on these basics to reduce passenger annoyance and impact… get these right and you are halfway to passenger satisfaction

    • Chris Pocock says:

      Yes indeed. They cancelled my CDG-LHR last-flight-of-day last week. Nearly all hotels in Paris fully booked thanks to the Paris Air Show. No sign of the BA station manager to try and help. Many pax spent night in CDG. Next day, my flight was delayed two hours. No explanation as to why from BA fo either flight, so I presume it was their fault, and probably caused by the over-extended operational issues described here.

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