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News & Advice

Could the new security rules wreck my flight connection?

Travel Q&A

Q. I have a flight Dublin-Heathrow-San Francisco in September. It arrives from Dublin at 12.30pm at Heathrow, with a connection on British Airways to San Francisco at 2.15pm. That means I have one hour 45 minutes to get through Terminal 2, travel to Terminal 5, go through all the new terror checks, etc. Airlines now recommend arriving at least three hours before departure. What can I do – should I book a separate earlier flight from Dublin? Greg Russell, Co Tyrone

A. Do absolutely nothing – except, of course, turn up in good time (perhaps an hour before departure) for your Dublin-Heathrow flight. At Heathrow, one hour 45 minutes should be quite sufficient to change planes and terminals, and indeed the baggage elves will transfer your luggage in that time while you make your way through Europe’s busiest airport.

If your inbound flight is on time there should be no problem, though you may not be able to dawdle in duty-free at Terminal 5.

The extra security checks on electronic devices on some flights are being conducted within the normal operational parameters – in other words, no one has to arrive three hours ahead.

The most likely source of disruption is a late arrival from Dublin. You are in the strong position of travelling on a through ticket. So in the event that you (and no doubt other passengers) miss the connection, BA will book you on a later flight and, if it involves an overnight stay at Heathrow, put you up in a hotel.

Were you to buy an earlier flight from Dublin to Heathrow, things would go very badly wrong. You would be classed as a “no show”, and your entire Californian itinerary would be cancelled without refund.

There is one more step you could take: arrive at Dublin airport earlier than you need, at around 9am. If there is any disruption to your booked 11.15am flight, it may already be evident and you could ask to travel on the earlier 9.50am Heathrow departure. But the airline is not obliged to transfer you, and anyway the plane may be full.