Anywhere Once: Heathrow Part 1
This March, I decided to spend my spring break in the beautiful Mediterranean Maltese Islands. Malta has been on my travel bucket list for over 10 years, and I was more than ecstatic to finally reserve this picturesque trip. My first step in planning any trip is purchasing the plane ticket. While researching the ticket, I soon realized that my trip would be a double adventure.
I will admit that I have chosen travel destinations based partially on incredibly priced finds at 3a.m. So, it is no surprise, that while browsing on https://www.aa.com/homePage , I immediately focused on the lowest priced plane ticket to Malta (MLA). I quickly noticed a message, in red, below the fare on the outbound flight stating, “Connecting airports are different,”. There was also a red warning on the return flight stating,” Connecting airports are different, Overnight flight or connection. “ I had previously booked an overnight flight through Heathrow Airport on a return flight from Tunis(TUN), but I had never changed from Heathrow to Gatwick Airport while in transit. Well, l there is nothing like a challenge with a prize of a better fare, so I accepted.
Here is what you need to know to make this transfer work.
1. As stated in the British Airways High Life magazine and here https://www.britishairways.com/en-us/information/airport-information/flight-connections, you will need a minimum of three hours for the connection from Heathrow Airport to Gatwick Airport. My flight into London Heathrow landed at 7:25a.m. and my departing flight left at 11:35a.m. from London Gatwick. We made the connection between the two airports, with 30 minutes to spare.
2. I did not check luggage, instead I used a carry-on suitcase, which for me is miraculous. I advise you to check the carry-on size requirements for your luggage with European airlines. Most of the time, their sizing scale is smaller. I chose a carry-on over checked baggage, because switching airports in London requires you to collect your checked luggage.
3. You must clear customs and immigration before you leave Heathrow and travel to Gatwick. This can take an uncertain amount of time. Be patient and drink your coffee or tea before you disembark from the plane.
4. After clearing customs and immigration, you will follow the signs for the Coaches for National Express. And, if you get confused or lost, the airport agents are readily available to assist you.
5. You will purchase your ticket for the National Express Coach on the lower level. The ticket will cost £25.00 GBP and the agent will tell you the location for your pickup. The commute can take as long as an hour, due to traffic. Mine did.
You can now enter Gatwick airport, clear security, and board your flight onward to your next destination.
This is an important fact to remember, when booking flights in or through London, there are THREE MAJOR AIRPORTS. They are Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW) and London City (LCY). Each airport is located in a different part of London and requires a connection or transfer. Check your airport codes carefully when you are booking flights online. Make sure your connecting flights are in the same airport. If your flights are in different airports, make sure you have enough time to make the connection. It is your responsibility to critique your travel plans and make sure the schedule is one in which you are comfortable and can execute. After all, no one wants a missed flight or a delay when such a headache could have been avoided. Happy travels. Ciao!
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