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British Airways Extends Minimum Connection Time at London Heathrow Airport

British Airways is revising its inter-terminal connecting time to increase from 60 to 90 minutes. Additionally, there will be a further increase of 15 minutes in 2024

by Matteo Legnani

June 27, 2023

Photo: Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. Courtesy of BAA Airports Limited.

British Airways (BA) has decided to increase the Minimum Connection Time (MCT) at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), allowing passengers more time for seamless connections.

The MCT represents the duration between the scheduled arrival of a passenger’s flight and the scheduled departure of their connecting flight, and it is jointly determined by airlines and airports. Effective January 9, 2024, BA will extend the MCT by 15 minutes within the same terminal, bringing it to 75 minutes.

Photo: London Heathrow Airport. Courtesy of David Parry / PA Wire

The current MCT at the airline’s hub in London Heathrow stands at 60 minutes, which extends to 90 minutes for passengers requiring a terminal change for their connecting flight. However, BA has proactively adjusted the MCT to recognize the need to accommodate potential delays and improve connection efficiency.

British Airways has already begun contacting thousands of passengers whose flights may no longer meet the revised MCT guidelines in preparation for the change. The airline is diligently reviewing affected bookings and, if necessary, will rebook connections free of charge to ensure a seamless travel experience for its customers.

“From 9th January 2024, we are changing our connection times at London Heathrow,” said the airline to affected passengers. “Due to this change, your upcoming British Airways connection at London Heathrow will no longer be possible. We are in the process of reviewing your booking to ensure you can make your connection, and if required, we will look to rebook your connection/s free of charge on your behalf.”

Passengers primarily affected by the change are those arriving at London Heathrow on long-haul BA flights and those transferring from domestic UK flights to international destinations. The adjustment aims to address increasing instances of passengers missing their connections due to delays at security, immigration, or delayed arriving aircraft.

Photo: Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. Courtesy of BAA Airports Limited.

The decision to extend the MCT likely reflects ongoing challenges related to limited airside infrastructure and outdated security screening equipment at Heathrow. These factors have historically impacted connection efficiency, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complexities surrounding Brexit further exacerbated the situation, as more passengers must undergo immigration checks. With a significant rebound in air travel demand and the long-term nature of these challenges, BA officials deemed it necessary to extend the MCT.

To align with the revised MCT, British Airways will incorporate the new minimum connection times into its flight offerings at Heathrow. In the medium term, timetable adjustments may be required to ensure popular connecting routes do not result in long waiting periods. This could drive passengers to seek alternative European hubs for their transfers.