Guide to UA operations in LHR Terminal 1

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by lhrsfo, Feb 17, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    This guide is intended to provide information for arriving and departing passengers on UA at LHR Terminal One. CO uses Terminal Four, which will require a different guide. Terminal One is slated for demolition and rebuilding in an amalgamation with Terminal Two which has been demolished and is being rebuilt, so expect these details to alter as progress on the project occurs. However, the new Terminal Two will not be completed for a couple of years, so much of this should hold good for some time.

    Arriving at Terminal One

    UA uses gates in a newly constructed stand a considerable distance from the main terminal. There are about six moving walkways along the route but even so it is about a ten minute fast walk to Immigration. There are restrooms on the route.

    Immigration
    Non-EU citizens are dealt with on the right hand side of the modern immigration hall, FastTrack in the center and EU citizens on the left. Transfer passengers are on the extreme left. There is also IRIS scan available. Although Terminal One has a preponderance of EU flights arriving, lines can be long if the UA flight arrives after one or more other intercontinental flights. Non-EU citizens can wait for 30 minutes at bad times but often there is no significant line. EU citizens are processed very quickly. The UK Border Agency seems quite efficient at getting more staff on duty when lines get long.
    Transfer passengers are dealt with separately and most reports are that the process is fast. For connections to other airlines operating in T1, you are normally in the departures area in 5-10 minutes.

    Baggage Reclaim and Customs
    This happens after Immigration and is in an old and shabby hall which is too small for its intended purpose. Because the UA gates are so far away, generally the bags are already on the belt when passengers arrive - Priority bags have often been removed to a side area to make space for the rest. To go through Customs, choose between the Green (Nothing To Declare) Channel or the Red (Something to Declare) Channel. Do not use the Blue Channel which is for EU arrivals.

    Onward from T1
    Customs squirts you through your first encounter with LHR's obsession with tacky shops, where you will be faced with LHR hawkers trying to sell you bottles of whisky and tickets for the Heathrow Express. Once outside, go left for cabs and buses or straight and left for the Underground and Heathrow Express. There is a trolley ramp and an escalator down, but it's easy to miss in the general crowd. The Underground is about two minutes' walk and the Heathrow Express about six minutes' walk. The Underground runs about every 5 minutes and takes 40 minutes to Earls Court (where many of the tourist hotels are) and a further 15 minutes to the smart West End hotels. Get yourself an Oyster Card and it's the cheapest, easiest way around town. The Heathrow Express runs every 15 minutes and takes 15 minutes to Paddington. From there it's easiest to get a cab to your final destination. It's fast but expensive and, depending upon your final destination, may not be any faster than taking the Underground. Both systems make limited allowance for luggage.

    Departing

    Check In
    The UA check in area dominates the left front of the terminal. General check in is at the left of the area, Premier in the center and Business and 1K to the right. First and GS are further right in their own little island perpendicular to the main check in. Before you can reach the check in desks you are interviewed by US Government mandated security agents who ask questions about your possessions. If you pass the exam, they affix a sticker to your passport. No sticker, no flight. Check in itself is pretty efficient with few lines, except at weekends or in high summer.

    Security
    Security is to the right of the check in area. Fast Track security is on the far right and, in theory, is limited to Business and First passengers only, although as a 1k in E+, I am sent that way about 1 in 4 times. Plastic bags are available at the very start of the process. The security area is massive with up to about 15 lanes. There are rarely any significant lines - again probably only high summer and weekends - or very early in the morning for first flights out to Europe or early evening for last flights out to Europe - generally not when UA is operating.

    Waiting Area and Lounges
    The waiting area is large and packed full of high street shops. You can buy "Duty Free" but the prices are generally higher than at your local supermarket in the US. Because of all the shops, there is limited seating and it's always full. The restaurant / cafe choice is mediocre, particularly if you want a space near a window. However, if you can grab a quiet table, guard it with your life as it's the only way to make your time in the Departure Lounge tolerable.
    *Gold, Business and First customers have a choice of two lounges, the Star Alliance Lounge and a BMI lounge. The Star Alliance lounge is a five minute walk from Security at the far right of the terminal and is en route to where the UA gates are located. It has a good range of food and drinks but can be crowded and has only a few seats near natural light. It has showers, wifi and computers. The BMI lounge is at the far left of the terminal, five minutes in the wrong direction. It also has a good range of food and drinks and benefits from an excellent view of Runway 27R/9L. Neither Lounge makes boarding announcements and neither is an RCC.
    If you are transferring from another flight, you will enter the terminal near the Star Alliance Lounge, where there is a large UA transfer desk just outside the lounge.

    Gate Area
    The United gate area is in a new building just beyond the former Europier, a good ten plus minutes walk from the Star Alliance lounge and 15+ from the general waiting area - if you are a fast walker. Three moving walkways cover about a third of the distance.
    The Gate Area itself is modern and spacious with good policing of the red carpet. As a 1K, if I leave the lounge 45 minutes prior to departure, I arrive at the gate shortly after boarding has started.

    Departure
    LHR T1 is pretty good up to being onboard and then it all falls apart. Just because you are on board and the door is closed, don't expect to leave on time. It's very common to have a 30-40 minute delay before the plane is permitted to pushback and then a lengthy line at the end of runway. If you are in the air within an hour of your stated departure time, count yourself lucky - on the plus side, schedules are padded accordingly!
     
  2. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    After you exit customs, if I remember correctly, the elevator to the Arrivals lounge is at the far end of the hall. It's open 5am until 2pm and has breakfast, showers, and free wifi. It's a Star Alliance facility and appears to have slightly different requirements for entry than a standard United Arrivals Suite. I've had access as an upgraded business passenger. Show your boarding pass to the agent and they'll check you against a list of passengers that should have access. They've got a closet for you to store your bags while you freshen up.
     
    Freddie Listo likes this.
  3. What do the EU flights have to do with anything?
     
  4. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    EU flights tend to put many fewer people into the non-EU Immigration line, whereas intercontinental flights, especially on non-EU airlines, put far more people into the non-EU Immigration line.
     
  5. Right.
     
  6. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    I finally got a chance to visit the BMI lounge at LHR and completely agree with the assessment that the views are great while the food is less impressive than the *A lounge.
     
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    So transfer pax (arriving on UA, connecting to LH) shouldn't use Fast Track (does UA still hand out passes?) but rather the transfer line?

    Is there security (xray, metal detectors) for connecting passengers, or do passengers stay in sterile area the entire time?
     
  8. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    UA still handed out Fast Track to First and Business a few months ago. Connecting to LH, you want the transfer line. There is security for connecting passengers. Your checked luggage is transferred automagically.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Don't have checked luggage, but am a bit concerned about carry-on size enforcement. Wasn't planning to fly through LHR until re-route a few hours ago.
     
  10. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    I wouldn't worry too much about that; you don't truly exit the sterile area and the transfer/connections desk doesn't have a scale to weigh carry-ons that I've ever seen ;) if you need to pick up another boarding pass.
     
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  11. Infinite1K
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    Infinite1K Silver Member

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    LHR had very strict carry-on rules after the whole 3 ounce fluids bombing scheme a few years ago, even if you were just transiting through.

    But they've relaxed their rules since then and the carry-on requirements are no different than if you were traveling domestically.

    Now flying LH is a completely different matter, as they can be sticklers as to what "cabin" luggage is, particularly if you are flying in Economy.
     
  12. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    I think the food in the *A lounge is enough to make a meal of, although the times I have been there, most of it has been Indian cuisine. Still overall, it's light years ahead of what you can get in a Unted (formerly Red Carpet) Club and even better than what is found in United first class lounges.
     
  13. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    Sadly, the Indian cuisine has been reduced in quantity, with some rather bland items replacing it. Worst of all, the small plastic bottles of water have been replaced by 1l glass bottles, which obviously you can't take on to a plane.
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Baked beans, scrambled eggs, porridge, toast, assorted continental breakfast items, decent coffee and OJ -- I liked it this morning, and it certainly beat the United Club offerings.

    As for arrivals... There was no passport control at all for transfer pax connecting to international flights (wasn't clear to me from OP), just down a floor, then security. Had an interesting "incident" there that will appear in a separate thread in the Security and Safety form as it isn't related to UA.

    Oh, and UA didn't offer me any Fast Track pass (not that I needed it).

    As for LH... I have never even one had a problem getting my standard US sized rollaboard plus laptop backpack on board, and today wasn't any different. It's always interesting to see how much faster LH seems to omplete the boarding process.
     
  15. PhlyingRPh
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    PhlyingRPh Silver Member

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    Couple of points...

    1) The Bataan death march from the UA gates to the UK Border is completely unacceptable. It's a real mess, as there's no space for a golf shuttle to fit in about half the corridors one has to navigate either.

    2) There is one jobsworth manning the entrance to fast track security (just to the right of the 1K/GS check in desks) who insists one's carry on's bear the bright red "LHR PREMIUM" tag before he allows you through. Make sure the UA Check-in staff give you one for each bag before walking over to the security entrance.

    3) The Star Alliance lounge has indeed withdrawn samosa's, pakora's and aloo tiki's over the course of the last ten months. All that's available now is bland, tasteless cardboard fare and crisps.

    4) Good idea, this thread. Fudging brilliant, in fact. And just to say, I can't wait for the construction to be complete in the years ahead and hope BAA's reliance on long, narrow corridors the width of the average Blay House hallway comes to an end at that time.
     
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  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I thought we had landed in Gatwick and had to walk to Heathrow. On the plus side, I got close-up views of the entire wide body fleet of BD while it still exists.

    The walk to LH gate 5 was similarly bizarre and FRA-esque in many ways with it's narrow corridors, turns and staircases.

    This trip really gave me the trifecta of my least favorite airports - IAD-LHR-FRA... And FRA of course gave us the privilege of a remote stand landing with no bus or stairs for 10 mins (because it was a surprise to everyone that we arrived early).
     

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