It’s Time for Musical Airlines at London/Heathrow as the Queen’s Terminal Prepares to Open

LHR - London/Heathrow

In 2008, I wrote a post about the massive airline moves being made at London’s Heathrow Airport when British Airways opened its new Terminal 5. Now, it’s time to do it all over again, just on a slightly smaller scale. We’re only a couple of weeks away from the opening of Terminal 2, the Queen’s Terminal.

Heathrow Queen's Terminal Change

The previous Terminal 2 was knocked down after Terminal 5 opened, and a brand-spanking new, massive terminal was built it is place to house the Star Alliance. Today, Star Alliance airlines are scattered. Some are in Terminal 1 while others are in Terminal 3. Oh, and yes there are even some flights in Terminal 4. But now the airport where more Star Alliance airlines (23) fly than any other will put them all under one roof. And they all move on different days. Here’s the plan.

Flights Current terminal New terminal When?
Aegean All flights 1 2 July 23, 2014
Air Canada All flights 3 2 June 18, 2014
Air China All flights 3 2 June 18, 2014
ANA All flights 3 2 June 18, 2014
Air New Zealand All flights 1 2 October 22, 2014
Asiana All flights 1 2 October 22, 2014
Austrian All flights 1 2 October 1, 2014
Avianca New airline None 2 July 4, 2014
Brussels Airlines All flights 1 2 October 15, 2014
Croatia Airlines All flights 1 2 October 15, 2014
Egyptair All flights 3 2 September 17, 2014
Ethiopian All flights 3 2 September 17, 2014
EVA All flights 3 2 July 2, 2014
LOT Polish All flights 1 2 October 22, 2014
Lufthansa All flights 1 2 October 1, 2014
SAS All flights 3 2 September 10, 2014
Singapore All flights 3 2 September 17, 2014
South African All flights 1 2 October 22, 2014
Swiss All flights 1 2 October 15, 2014
TAP Portugal All flights 1 2 October 22, 2014
Thai All flights 3 2 July 2, 2014
Turkish All flights 3 2 July 2, 2014
United All flights 1 and 4 2 June 4, 2014

You’ll notice that United is the first airline to make the move on June 4, and that’s really good news. Today, United remains split along pre-merger lines with Continental flights in Terminal 4. Finally they’ll be able to run a single operation.

As part of all these changes, there are 4 non-Star airlines that will move as well for various reasons.

Flights Current terminal New terminal When?
Aer Lingus All flights 1 2 July 9, 2014
Germanwings All flights 1 2 October 8, 2014
US Airways All flights 1 3 June 24, 2014
Virgin Atlantic Little Red short haul 1 2 September 10, 2014

Germanwings may not be a Star Alliance carrier, but it is owned by Lufthansa. So it’s no surprise that Germanwings will go with its parent to Terminal 2.

Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red are in Terminal 1 today and will be making the move to Terminal 2 as well. Flights within the UK and Ireland are considered domestic, so Aer Lingus and Little Red need a separate area of the terminal. Space is being built for them in Terminal 2. By 2016, Terminal 1 will be demolished, and Terminal 2 will eventually expand into that footprint, at least partially.

US Airways will move into Terminal 3 at the end of June. That is no surprise since it is now part of the new American. And American, along with all oneworld airlines except for BA and Iberia, lives in Terminal 3. (Affiliated airlines, like Emirates which is close with Qantas, and Virgin Atlantic also call Terminal 3 home. And there are still a few randoms there as well.)

That leaves Terminal 4, across the runways, as the home of SkyTeam airlines (mostly, though Delta has moved some flights to be with Virgin Atlantic in Terminal 3). It will also continue to be the home for wayward airlines that have no other place to go.

So what does this really mean to you? Make sure you know which terminal you’re in. And keep in mind that if you arrive in one, you might depart from another a few days later. Oh, and if you’re connecting between Star Alliance carriers, check the schedule to see if one will have moved while the other hasn’t. You might want to make sure you have some extra connecting time in that case.

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11 comments on “It’s Time for Musical Airlines at London/Heathrow as the Queen’s Terminal Prepares to Open

  1. What about the other airlines that operate at Terminal 1? They’d better move before it’s demolished…

    1. Ron – Well, they have until 2016 before they demolish it. My assumption is that BA moves its Terminal 1 ops either into T5 (and shifts others to T3 to compensate) or it goes to T2. The other airlines in there will probably end up in T4.

  2. Why does it take four months for all carriers to move over? I can see it not all happening on the same day, but that seems like a long time for moves. Isn’t the new terminal really all ready to open or are parts still under construction so it’s not all ready?

    Overall a big place like LHR having the three big alliances groups together makes sense not just for travelers, but for overall operations of the airport in general.

    1. David SF – My understanding is they finished construction late last year and wanted to do 6 months of testing. So it should be ready. As for the move dates, I’d bet the airlines chose them when they did. United had a real incentive to move because of its split operation but the others are probably more inclined to find times that work well in their operation. Maybe after the peak summer, for some.

  3. I do not understand why its so staggered I get that while yes it does make it easier then having everyone move in on June 4th but I do not see any reason on why they can not do 7 or so a week moving in which would allow an end date at the end of June other then Avianca and not having the last airlines move in Oct 22 seemes like it would be easier.
    That being said at least UA will be the first to get into T-2 and be able to stop flying out of two terminals which would confuse a whole lot of Pax I am assuming if they flew in from IAD and are flying back to the US via IAH or EWR

  4. The opening of T5 in 2008 was not a great success – the baggage system was an area of particular concern. This time round the airport is doing the moves in small steps to minimise the risk in case they forgot something during the planning and testing

  5. And don’t forget: the “United” United basically is already in parts of the new (and already existing for some time) Terminal Two…

    1. Thanks, just flew in there a few weeks ago and thought to myself “they are demolishing that, it seemed so nice!” makes sense now…

  6. This is starting to solve the LHR terminal problem. United should be very happy with a brand new lounge and all its European partners under one roof. Star alliance actually does significant connecting traffic through LHR and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some point to point routes that take advantage of London o&d (I.e. something that wouldn’t work from FRA)

    Now T4 is a mess. honestly I wish it didn’t exist and they added more gates near ba engineering on the east side. My guess is DL will move everything to terminal 3 to be with VS, regardless of skyteam in t4

    Also please build T5D and move BA once and for all under one roof

  7. Just did a roundtrip out of T2; the terminal is lovely – let’s just get that out there, now. The walk to the gates takes FOREVER. However, the new United Club is vastly superior to the Star Lounge in T1, and better than the SIA club in T3. Return experience today was much, much better – walked off the plane at 9.43, it took 2 minutes from plane to Immigration, 90 seconds in immigration, straight through baggage hall (which is adjacent to the immigration – caveat being I only travel with carry-on), and was waiting on the Tube platform before 10am.

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