London/Heathrow Gets Ready to Play Musical Airlines

There has been a ton of interesting news to write about in the last few days, and I’d been having trouble figuring out with what to lead . . . until yesterday. Turns out that I was voted one of the the world’s 50 most powerful blogs by The Observer in the UK.

Holy crap! That’s kind of scary. But, I’m guessing that means I’ll have a bunch of new visitors from that side of the Pond (welcome, everyone), so I’m going to post Sunday night instead of my usual Monday morning. And, while I’m being accommodating, let’s focus on something that probably causes you newbies pain and suffering more often than not: Heathrow.

Usually, any discussion of Heathrow involves a lot of cursing, rising blood pressure, and possibly some crying. With any luck, we’ll see less of that in the near future, but it’s likely to get worse in the short term. Why?

Well, we’re getting closer to the big terminal move. On March 27, BA will land its first flights at the brand-spanking new Terminal 5 and that begins a long period of transition for the airport as just about everyone save Virgin Atlantic moves locations.

I’ve tried to put together a handy guide on all the terminal moves so you can actually figure out where you’re supposed to go for your next flight. First, we’ll start with oneworld airlines, since they have the most changes happening the earliest.

Flights Current terminal New terminal When? Done?

American All flights 3 3 No change N/A

British Airways UK domestic flights 1 5 March 27, 2008 Yes

European flights (except for Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Nice and Helsinki), Tripoli, Johannesburg, Algiers, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Hong Kong 1/4 5

Miami 3 5

Warsaw Heathrow Gatwick

Algiers Gatwick 5 March 30, 2008 Yes

Houston, Dallas Gatwick 4

New York/JFK, Abuja, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Lagos, Phoenix 4 5 June 5, 2008 Yes

Abu Dhabi, Accra, Bahrain, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Dallas, Dar es Salaam, Doha, Entebbe, Grand Cayman, Houston, Kuwait, Luanda, Lusaka, Mauritius, Mexico, Mumbai, Muscat, Nairobi, Nassau, Newark, Philadelphia, Providenciales, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Washington/Dulles 4 5 September 17, 2008 Yes

Boston, Calgary, Chennai, Delhi, Denver, Dhaka, Dubai, Islamabad, Kolkata, Montreal, Seattle, Shanghai 4 5 October 22, 2008 Yes

Barcelona, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Nice 1 3 February 25, 2009 Yes

Bangkok, Singapore, Sydney 4 3 2008 Yes

Cathay Pacific All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Finnair All flights 1 3 January 27, 2009 Yes

Iberia All flights 2 3

Japan Air Lines All flights 3 3 No change Yes

Qantas All flights 4 3 Early 2009 Yes

Royal Jordanian All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Now let’s take a look at SkyTeam. In short, when Delta, Northwest, and Continental start flying to Heathrow in March, they’ll be in BA’s old Terminal 4. The rest of the carriers won’t move until early 2009, when a major terminal renovation will have been completed. Anyone who has flown BA out of that terminal lately knows that it is in desperate need of some help.

Flights Current terminal New terminal When? Done?

Aeroflot All flights 2 4 November 17, 2009 Yes

Air France All flights 2 4 November 24, 2009 Yes

Alitalia All flights 2 4 November 10, 2009 Yes

Continental All flights N/A 4 March 30, 2008 Yes

Czech All flights 2 4 November 24, 2009 Yes

Delta All flights N/A 4 March 30, 2008 Yes

Kenya Airways All flights 4 4 No change N/A

KLM All flights 4 4 No change N/A

Korean All flights 3 4 November 10, 2009 Yes

I’d like to list the Star Alliance changes here as well, but I haven’t been able to find them. In fact, while oneworld and SkyTeam have been on top of the changes, Star Alliance has been silent. I sent the alliance a request and their response left me wondering if they actually meant to insult my intelligence or if they just don’t speak English very well.

We would like to inform you, however, that the Star Alliance is a network of 19 individual airlines. Operational matters are handled by the airlines themselves. Therefore, for more information, you will need to contact the individual Star Alliance member airlines directly.

Really? You guys aren’t an airline yourself? No sh**. Well, I also asked United directly and spokesperson Robin Urbanski told me that the airline will be moving to Terminal 1, but it’s unclear when that might be and that will happen on June 1. Clearly, this alliance is a little less organized, probably because the changes aren’t coming as quickly as with the others.

We know that the airlines in Terminal 1 will stay there for now. Terminal 2 will be demolished starting this year, so those guys have to move somewhere. On March 27, BA moves nearly all of its domestic and European flights out of Terminal 1, so I have to assume that everyone from Terminal 2 will move in before their terminal disappears. Will the Terminal 3 airlines move at the same time or will they stay longer? My guess is that they won’t move immediately because there’s no urgency. Here’s how they stack up right now along with my best guesses as to where they’ll go. The only thing I know for sure is that US Airways will go to Terminal 1 when it starts service to the airport on March 30.

Update 3/25 @ 822a – Star has put out a press release with much more guidance. All Star carriers will be expected to move to Heathrow East in 2012 when the terminal is completed, but I haven’t included those changes in here.

Flights Current terminal New terminal When? Done?

Air Canada All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Air China All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Air New Zealand All flights 3 1 June 10, 2008 Yes

ANA All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Asiana All flights 1 1 No change N/A

Austrian All flights 2 1 November 2008 Yes

Blue 1 All flights N/A 3 March 30, 2008 Yes

bmi All flights 1 1 No change N/A

Croatia All flights 2 1 November 2008 Yes

LOT All flights 1 1 No change N/A

Lufthansa All flights 2 1 November 2008 Yes

SAS All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Singapore All flights 3 3 No change N/A

South African All flights 1 1 No change N/A

Swiss All flights 2 1 October 2008 Yes

TAP All flights 2 1 November 2008 Yes

Thai All flights 3 3 No change N/A

Turkish All flights 3 3 No change N/A

United All flights 3 1 July 4, 2008 Yes

US Airways All flights N/A 1 March 30, 2008 Yes

Of course, not all airlines are in alliances. Virgin Atlantic, for example, will stay in Terminal 3, so you won’t see any changes there. All other unaligned airlines (except for former oneworld member Aer Lingus which will be in Terminal 3) will end up in Terminal 4. Again, I’m not entirely sure when that might happen, but one thing is clear . . . there will be a lot of confusion at Heathrow until things settle down, and that could take years.

If you have to go to the airport in the near future, leave plenty of time and bring lots of patience. If you have the misfortune of connecting through Heathrow, especially while these changes are in progress, may God have mercy on your souls.

Click for more on Heathrow and more on BA. And click if you’d like to subscribe via RSS or daily email.

Post Sponsor: Find Calgary Hotels at

47 Responses to London/Heathrow Gets Ready to Play Musical Airlines

  1. Alex C says:

    Very good info!!

    I have a feeling that within a matter of time on FT there will be a new forum, “What alternative routings are there to LHR for my trip?”

  2. united says:

    Hi there, just to let you know, United will be moving to terminal 1 beginning of june 2008!

    dont know why they have all been so quite about it. the employees have known a while :-)

  3. united says:

    and i forget, at lhr we are under the impression that singapore isnt moving to terminal 1 because as they will be flying the a380 to lhr soon they will only be able to park at the new a380 gates in terminal 3.

    Hope all the BA customers enjoy the new terminal, especially since most likely they will still be bussed to aircraft afterwards as term 5 turns out to be too small for BA’s whole operation :-S Great design guys!! Thats LHR for you!!

  4. Jamman says:

    I watched a interview on TV and a spokesman from BAA basically said there’s going to be some problems in the short term when the changes take place. I guess their not going to hide it from the public, there WILL be problems!

    Well done on being one of the most powerful bloggers (I guess your like Oprah now!)

  5. I would respectfully suggest that terminal changes will not solve LHR’s many problems. What is needed is a complete overhaul of the operational system. I travel to 25+ countries a year and always try to avoid transiting in LHR whenever possible.

  6. CF says:

    united – How strange that United’s spokeswoman hasn’t been able to confirm that for me. I will double check with her and see if maybe she has some new info.

    As for Singapore, that does sound right, because I believe that T3 will have the only A380 gates for now, right? Maybe they’ll move into the new Heathrow East when that’s done in 2012.

    I will keep updating this chart as I get more info.

  7. Bryan in San Francisco says:

    Me at Heathrow: “No I’m sorry, I haven’t got time to take your survey.”

  8. Pingback: Who’s moving where at Heathrow | London Logue

  9. United and Air New Zealand are apparently moving from T3 to T1 early on (logically this must be before the One World airline moves to T3 in September.

    However, given even BAA is refusing to commit to a schedule (at least publicly) for the Great LHR Terminal Shuffle, I would not count on any of these dates sticking – except hopefully T5 opening date.

  10. Oliver says:

    That’s awesome — my two favorite blogs, “Girl with a one-track mind” and “Cranky Flyer” are both part of the Top 50.

    Just kidding :) Congratulations and keep up the good work!

  11. clung says:

    Heathrow Airport’s website has a form for checking which airline is where according to your day of travel. No idea how reliable it is though.

  12. CF says:

    Ok, UA has now confirmed that the move will take place on June 1. Any more updates?

  13. Richard says:

    I have read tons of blogs and news articles on the development of LHR and its terminals and never really grasped what all the fuss is about. I have never experienced any problems passing through LHR or travelling from LHR. It then dawned on me that I always depart from T3 and always use Virgin Atlantic.

    Hopefully my blissful lack of awareness will continue to bear me well at LHR

  14. kt74 says:

    Oooh, harsh words about *A… Unlike the much smaller Skyteam which can fit easily into T4, half of T1 needs to be rebuilt to separate departing/arriving pax and allow for international flights. So perhaps they don’t want to say anything until they get definitive timings from the shambles that is BAA?!

    Anyway, look here: S08 Initial Coordination Report.pdf

    This document is out of date (most timings have slipped), but at least the sequence of moves should be right. The gist of the story is that:

    – UA and NZ will move some time in June
    (June 11th according to this:

    – The T2 European *A carriers will move in Autumn

    – SQ will definitely stay T3 because of the A380s

    – SK and AC are apparently resisting (maybe because they’ve invested so much in the London Lounge?)

    – A mega *A lounge and arrivals lounge are being built in T1 where the current BA lounge complex is (already announced on the bmi FFP page)

  15. CF says:

    kt74 – Thank you so much for this excellent information. I’ve updated the chart with this. It does seem strange that AC and SK would resist, but maybe they’re trying to get some compensation for it.

  16. Pingback: View from the Wing » Blog Archive » British Airways Terminal 5

  17. Cal says:

    Great info, thanks! But it all goes to show that you’re better off flying from London’s premier airport for private jets, Luton! Not well known in the US but a great connection with EasyJet flying from there to just about everywhere in Europe and Silverjet going twice daily across the pond. Better than Heathslow any day!

  18. ML says:

    Wouldn’t TG have to stay at Terminal 3 for the same reason as SQ. They don’t have any A380s yet, but delivery is planned for 2010, before the new terminal will be ready, and T1 can’t handle them.

  19. CF says:

    Don’t know, ML. Has TG announced they are flying them to LHR when they receive them? Remember, once Heathrow East opens in 2012, I assume they’ll have A380 gates over there. So if the airline doesn’t need gates before that, they might still be able to move. (I wouldn’t count on any 787 delivery dates right now either – they’ll probably slip some more.)

  20. Bob says:

    EI are refusing to move from T1 , SK and EK are staying put in T3 , 9W are refusing to move to T4…..makes for a fun day doesnt it!! Let the anarchy begin!

  21. CF says:

    Yes it does, Bob. Thanks for the update. I’ll put SK as a question mark for the new terminal.

  22. Scott says:

    So some those Skyteam will eventually moved differente terminal 4 instead of T1 or T2. I’m sure other airlines will eventually join new T4 due to reduction less crowded. I know what exactly I don’t remember other airlines will not even moved this time.

  23. CF says:

    The plan is for all SkyTeam airlines along with all unaligned airlines to be in T4 (except for VS). Of course, as you can see from Bob’s comment, that appears to be easier said than done.

  24. CF says:

    That’s good stuff, kt74. I’ve updated the table.

  25. Bobber says:

    Apologies if I missed this, but with the T3 to T1 move by UA, does this mean the Red Carpet Club will also move or will UA customers be able to use the existing BMI lounge as Star Alliance members? If the latter, will the current arrangements whereby UK-based Premier members can use the existing lounge regardless of their class of travel be extended to using the BMI lounge? Small details, small privileges, but it all makes the hell that is Heathrow just a little more bearable.

  26. CF says:

    That’s a good question, Bobber. I would imagine they’d want to build a Star Alliance lounge, but that may wait until 2012 when Heathrow East opens. I’ll see if I can find anything out about this.

  27. CF says:

    Bobber – Ok, here’s the scoop. Star Alliance will be taking over the current BA lounges there and will offer a Star Alliance First Class lounge, Business Class lounge, and an arrivals lounge. They’re going to be completely remodeling the lounges as well.

  28. Bobber says:

    Many thanks, CF – I’m flying United within a week of the move to T1, so will let you know what a hash of it (or wonderful job) they make!

  29. ML says:

    THAI have confirmed that their first A380 will be on the LHR-BKK route in 2010. So that would certainly explain them staying at T3 until 2012.

  30. CF says:

    I just updated BA’s long haul from from April 30 to June 5. They’ve pushed it back, but it may be longer than that.

  31. CF says:

    I’ve just been told UA will now not move to T1 until July 4, so I’ve updated it.

  32. Bobber says:

    Cheers for the update, Cranky – not a word from United themselves to the ticket holders about where they MIGHT find their planes waiting for them at Heathrow!

  33. CF says:

    Updated BA this time. Instead of moving all long haul to T5 on June 5, only New York/JFK, Abuja, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Lagos, Phoenix will go now. The rest of the long haul moves will be determined at some point in the future.

  34. CF says:

    Updated BA again. Most remaining long hauls will go to T5 on Sept 17 with some stragglers going in Late October. Australia, Singapore, and Bangkok flights are still in T4 until they move to T3 eventually. Barcelona, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Nice all remain in T1 for now.

  35. CF says:

    Looks like the date has been set for the last of the T5 moves. Boston, Calgary, Chennai, Delhi, Denver, Dhaka, Dubai, Islamabad, Kolkata, Montreal, Seattle, Shanghai will go on October 22. The rest of the flights will stay where they are until they eventually move to T3.

  36. Bobber says:

    Hi CF,

    Just had first-hand experience of United post Terminal 1 relocation at LHR. There are good and bad points. First, the good: Immigration at Terminal 1 is a whole heap better than Terminal 3 (aka cattle shed). In fact, the new building are very pleasant all over Terminal 1. The gates are light and spacious. Which leads me to the bad; Organisation at the gates is cr@p to non-existent. We flew LHR-DEN-OAK with our 4yr and 2yr old kiddies, and the gate at LHR was right next to a US Airways flight (to PHL??) which boarded at the same time. I’m guessing there were 300+ passengers on both flights (ours a 777, theirs an A330), yet the gates are so poorly organised that passengers on both flights were queueing together, in the same line, resulting in a bunfight when trying to get on board. The Section boarding arrangements were irrelevant as you couldn’t get passed anyone to actually board when you were called. Typically dire Heathrow organisation (or lack of). The other downside for non-premium UA flyers is that the lounge agreement, whereby UK-resident elite status passengers could use the UA Red Carpet club lounge regardless of which class they booked in (a small, but pleasant frill) no longer applies as the lounge is now Star Alliance, and they don’t want any old scum in there anymore!!

    On other matters, the LHR-DEN flight is a great one, with good connections (well, should have been), and I can’t understand why they cut it. I spoke with the aircrew, who all said the LHR-DEN is routinely rammed full (as it was on 7/31) and they can’t fathom why it’s been cut.



  37. CF says:

    Thanks for the info, Rob. About that DEN flight . . . full doesn’t mean profitable. It’s a long and expensive flight to fly, so the fares must not have been high enough to sustain. Maybe we’ll see it again when fuel comes down, but for now, it apparently doesn’t work.

  38. Bobber says:

    Take your point, Cranky. However, I would have thought they could adjust that relatively easily (and modestly), and use LHR-DEN as a staging point for more access to West coast and mid-West cities. LHR-IAD is very well catered for but connections from IAD to West coast (as I have had to make on numerous occasions) are very tiresome and often problematic.

  39. CF says:

    Updated once again. BA has confirmed its last remaining short haul flights will move from T1 to T3 on January 27, 2009. That just leaves the three long haul flights in T4 and discussions continue on the timing there.

    Also, Iberia/Finnair have adjusted their times to move to T3 until January 27, 2009 as well.

  40. Pingback: The Cranky Flier » The Latest on Heathrow Terminal 5

  41. CF says:

    Updated again to show that the remaining BA short haul flight moves have slipped into February now. I’m looking into dates for other airline changes as well.

  42. CF says:

    Updated to show the move-in dates for SkyTeam carriers this November.

  43. Pingback: The Great London Heathrow Terminal Shuffle Extended - Musings of The Global Traveller

  44. Pingback: UK flying tips - Musings of The Global Traveller

  45. Pingback: Terminal shuffle - The Wandering Aramean

  46. Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] It’s Time for Musical Airlines at London/Heathrow as the Queen’s Terminal Prepares to Open | The Cranky Flier

Join the Conversation