How to Survive the Lines at London Heathrow Airport in Summer 2022

Empty Lighthouse is a reader-supported site. This article may contain affiliate links to Amazon and other sites. We earn a commission on purchases made through these links.

Things have gotten pretty crazy at airports during the post-COVID rush.  Many airports aren't handling the additional traffic well, but there is one airport that stands out as particularly bad.  That's London's Heathrow airport.

The entire airport is understaffed, and many vital functions such as security are running on a skeletal crowd.

This is especially bad at Terminal 5, due to the large number of flights going in and out of the terminal, and the terrible layout of the terminal itself.

There are no longer any priority or fast lanes at Heathrow T5, so all passengers go through the same line for resecreening. And multiple hour long queues snake throughout the terminal.

On a recent day, we had to wait over 2 hours, and pass several stages of lines in order to reach the baggage screening area.

And while Heathrow used to keep dozens of screening lanes open at once, it's no longer unusual to see a handful of lanes open.

So what can you do to make things easier?

Tips for avoiding transfer hell at Heathrow

The best thing you can do to avoid this mess is to choose an airline that doesn't do any transfers at Heathrow -- that is, no BA.  But this isn't an option for many, depending on where you're going. 

Instead do the following:

  1. Don't schedule tight transfers.  Allow at least 3 hours for your transfer,  otherwise you may find yourself misconnecting.  
  2. Minimize items in your 3oz liquid bag, and (more importantly) make sure you don't have any additional liquids in your bag.  If you're stuck in secondary screening, expect to spend an additional hour waiting for that to complete.
  3. Let any airport staff know if you're going to be late to your flight.  They can take you to the front of the line, and they're surprisingly helpful in doing so.
  4. Try to get out of your arriving plane early.  An additional 200 people will increase your wait time by at least 45 minutes.

How long do transfers take at London Heathrow in 2022

This can depend on the terminal. Some of the less busy terminals have only slightly increased transfer times.

If you are transiting through Terminal 5, allow 3-4 hours to disembark from your flight, take a bus to the terminal (if necessary), go though security, take the train (if necessary) to your gates, without having to scramble to catch the plane.

Got any of your own tips for saving time at top airports? Email us and let us know!