Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club LHR airside transfer – T5 to T3 and back again

  • gavman99 22 posts

    I asked this question the other day as part of a larger post but didn’t seem to get a definite answer so trying again to see if others know.

    Our BA flight from Edinburgh arrives into T5 and our connecting long haul flight departs from T5 9 hours later. We are flying in Club World and have Bronze status.

    As we have a 9 hour connection time, we were hoping to remain airside and visit a few of the nicer T3 oneworld lounges for lunch and dinner before heading back to T5 for our connecting flight.

    We live in Scotland and have been to London many times so we have no desire to exit the airport to do sightseeing.

    Q1 – is it possible to go from T5 to T3 whilst remaining airside even if you don’t have a boarding pass for a T3 flight ?

    Q2 – if the answer to Q1 is yes, will the oneworld lounges in T3 grant us access even though our boarding pass is for a T5 flight ?

    Flights are tomorrow so hoping for some quick definitive answers one way or another.

    Thank you.

    ChrisC 956 posts

    Yes and Yes

    You may get some puzzled looks from security etc at T3 but that’s more to make sure you know you’re in the “wrong” terminal but there is no ban on doing this.

    Remember to leave plenty of time to get back to T5 though.

    Thegasman 204 posts

    It’s theoretically possible. You need to get the airside transfer bus to T3 from T5.

    The issue arises if you are marked as being in T5 on Fly (BA’s IT system) as you will then run into problems when you return to T5 later in the day. You would then need to find a suitably senior/experienced BA staff member to resolve this & they are not in abundant supply at the moment! If they get it wrong you’ll be automatically offloaded from your longhaul flight & won’t know till you get to the gate. You would also be a low priority for them so would potentially have a reasonable wait at T5 security (the security staff are not BA employees so can do nothing to fix this).

    If you can access the transfer bus from the area where you emerge from jetbridge or bus from domestic flights then the process is much simpler as you won’t be marked as having entered T5 on Fly. I’m not sure if you can get access to transfer bus without entering T5 as I’ve not done it but I would guess you can. Look for purple flight connections signs. If you have to go up the ramp through the boarding pass scanner that spits you out in main T5A departure area then you would need to follow a different route the same as if you were originally departing T5.

    In this scenario you have to get the train to T5C & stay on it at the end of the line so you then return to T5A in the arrivals stream where you can access airside transfer bus through flight connections. To return to T5 you again use flight connections stream from T3.

    Note that you will need to go through security again at both T3 & T5 whichever way you access flight connections bus. You may meet some resistance from either security or lounge staff in T3. I’m describing what is technically possible (boarding pass scanners at T2 & T3 security are not programmed to automatically reject a T5 BP whereas T5 ones are in the reverse situation) but this is also not specifically permitted in any policy. If you ask a Heathrow agent for advice they will likely tell you that it’s not possible so very much a case of knowing what to do, not asking for help & hoping those you meet along the way aren’t having a bad day.

    I’m summary, would I do this with a 9 hour layover? Yes if solo or with my wife who is fairly understanding of TP runs, ex EU’s etc. If I was with children or parents etc then I wouldn’t bother as it’s a bit of a schlep with no guarantees of success & a potentially major pitfall.

    John 1,052 posts

    If you can access the transfer bus from the area where you emerge from jetbridge or bus from domestic flights then the process is much simpler as you won’t be marked as having entered T5 on Fly. I’m not sure if you can get access to transfer bus without entering T5 as I’ve not done it but I would guess you can. Look for purple flight connections signs.

    Of course you can! Consider someone who has an actual connection from T5 arrival to T3 departure. How would it make sense for them to enter T5 departures (which they can’t do with a T3 BP in the first place) before being able to go to T3?

    As you correctly say, a problem will arise if they do enter T5 departures, then leave via the train to T5C and back to T5A arrivals for the bus to T3. On return to T5 the BPs won’t work as they have already been used to enter T5 departures and will require being offloaded and reloaded (which may go wrong, as you say).

    Also, leaving T3 departures to get back to T5 departures is not straightforward, it requires asking a staff member to escort you to T3 arrivals, or at least to open a door (although I have seen it unlocked with no staff around on occasion). From there you pretend you have arrived at T3 and take the airside bus to T5.

    qrfan 3 posts

    Something else to consider is this: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/shopping/terminal-shopping-transfer. If you can find a shop that only exists in T3 (Joe Malone seems like a good candidate) then you can claim you have a purchase to make that is £250 or more and they should facilitate this transfer for you legitimately.

    Personally I would have no issue bailing out of the purchase after the transfer, though I don’t know if they expect you to go straight back to T5.

    Have you been to these lounges before to be 100% sure this is worth the effort though? I’m a big fan of the Qantas lounge, but I’m not sure I’d bother with this. How much is food at one of the T5 restaurants really going to cost in the context of your overall trip?

    Andrew. 514 posts

    Nine hours to kill at Heathrow…

    So that’s about 13 hours from the time after you’ll be leaving home in the morning? It only takes 6.5 hours to drive it.

    There’s more to do than just London near Heathrow. Grab a Zip car and you’ve got Kew, Richmond, Windsor all nearby. Oxford is just 45 minutes away, Bicester Village an hour away.

    Mouse 193 posts

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but when I did an airside T5 to T3 transfer a couple of years ago as part of an ex-EU trip, I’m sure I remember showing a boarding pass to get on the bus.

    Andrew J 777 posts

    Something else to consider is this: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/shopping/terminal-shopping-transfer. If you can find a shop that only exists in T3 (Joe Malone seems like a good candidate) then you can claim you have a purchase to make that is £250 or more and they should facilitate this transfer for you legitimately.

    Personally I would have no issue bailing out of the purchase after the transfer, though I don’t know if they expect you to go straight back to T5.

    Have you been to these lounges before to be 100% sure this is worth the effort though? I’m a big fan of the Qantas lounge, but I’m not sure I’d bother with this. How much is food at one of the T5 restaurants really going to cost in the context of your overall trip?

    Jo Malone is in T5 too – in World Duty Free. Fendi is only in T3.

    gavman99 22 posts

    Thanks everyone. Sounds like it can be done but has potential pitfalls so maybe won’t bother. I believe São Paulo flight departs from T5B so at least we can do T5 north for lunch, T5 south for dinner, and T5B for pre-flight drinks. Slight change of scenery!!

    Jacob 223 posts

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but when I did an airside T5 to T3 transfer a couple of years ago as part of an ex-EU trip, I’m sure I remember showing a boarding pass to get on the bus.

    I did the transfer last week. There’s no boarding pass check before getting on the bus. At T5 you only take the escalator down (opposite to the passport control) to the ground floor to catch the bus. Then at T3 before going through the security you scan your boarding pass.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.