American Airlines Splits Operations At London Heathrow

American Airlines Splits Operations At London Heathrow

31

If you’re flying American Airlines to or from London Heathrow Airport, the experience potentially just became less seamless…

American now using LHR T3 & T5

As of August 2021, American Airlines is operating flights out of both London Heathrow Terminal 3 and Terminal 5:

  • American flights to & from New York operate from Terminal 5
  • American flights to & from all other destinations operate from Terminal 3

For some context:

American has been operating exclusively out of Terminal 5 for months

This isn’t exactly a great arrangement

To me, American’s new setup seems like the worst of both worlds. From a passenger experience standpoint, it at least simplifies things if all of a carrier’s operations are out of a single terminal. It creates confusion when some flights operate out of one terminal, and some flights operate out of a different terminal, especially at a non-hub airport.

In the past I largely considered Terminal 3 to be better than Terminal 5 from a oneworld lounge standpoint, as Terminal 3 had both the exceptional Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge and the Qantas Lounge, which oneworld Emerald members had access to.

The Qantas Lounge Heathrow is closed right now

Unfortunately both of these lounges are closed, with no timeline for when they’ll reopen. The only oneworld lounge in Terminal 3 is the British Airways Lounge, and only the business class section is open. That’s quite a downgrade from the lounge setup in Terminal 5.

I’m curious to see how this situation plays out in the long run. If it’s important for American and British Airways to operate from the same terminal, then they should just have all operations in Terminal 5. If not, it seems better to just stick all operations in Terminal 3.

Bottom line

American Airlines relocated all flights to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in the summer of 2020. While this coincided with Terminal 3 closing due to lack of traffic, it was part of a long-term plan for American to move to Terminal 5, to be closer to British Airways.

With Terminal 3 having now reopened, most American flights are once again operating from there. Unfortunately with most lounges closed in the terminal, it’ll be a pretty disappointing ground experience for passengers.

What do you make of American operating out of LHR T3 & T5?

Conversations (31)
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  1. Bryan Sharkey

    Worst connection situation ever. Terminal 5 to terminal 3, dealing with American transfer passenger section. Almost 2 hours alone and completely repetitive of original checkin system. I felt bad for the people working behind the counters to always be in stressful situation. They absolutely need more people working there or more efficient process for all the people with short connections.

  2. Tommy

    Dealing with this today and it’s brutal. They have not updated the bus schedule. You’ll be waiting for up to an hour just to get the bus from T5-T3. The buses are only running every 30 minutes and they are limiting the capacity so you won’t get the first one. Typical LHR cluster. Don’t book tight T3-T5 connections here unless you want to deal with missed connections. Anything less than 2 hours you will not make right now.

  3. LaLu

    Heathrow has all the potential to be a great airport but there is always that one thing that is a disappointment, and that one thing is a big enough disappointment to taint the whole experience. Why you have to clear security
    at Heathrow when transiting through when changing to terminal 5 has always struck me as overly paranoid and a useless waste of time. The same goes for the covid restrictions and how they...

    Heathrow has all the potential to be a great airport but there is always that one thing that is a disappointment, and that one thing is a big enough disappointment to taint the whole experience. Why you have to clear security
    at Heathrow when transiting through when changing to terminal 5 has always struck me as overly paranoid and a useless waste of time. The same goes for the covid restrictions and how they feel the need to create lines to check documents that have already been checked before departure. It's very annoying. When there are more options to go to Gatwick that is where I will choose. It might not be as pretty but it is easier to get in and out of.

  4. Steve

    Just few LAX-LHR-CDG, AA to LHR BA to CDG. Arrived T3 departed T5.

    There was a BA desk in T3 checking paperwork. We were traveling AA F so got there pretty quickly but was moving very slowly. After we showed up the line grew so the wait became long as a substantial number of passengers had issues that took time to work out.

    We had all our forms ready but the agent misunderstood the testing...

    Just few LAX-LHR-CDG, AA to LHR BA to CDG. Arrived T3 departed T5.

    There was a BA desk in T3 checking paperwork. We were traveling AA F so got there pretty quickly but was moving very slowly. After we showed up the line grew so the wait became long as a substantial number of passengers had issues that took time to work out.

    We had all our forms ready but the agent misunderstood the testing requirement and kept insisting that our Covid tests had to have been administered within 24 hours of arrival (it's 72 hours) and was going to refuse us entry. Just as I was about to show her the official UK.gov website someone came over and set her straight.

    The problem is that the agents are being expected to understand not only the rules for admission to the UK but every other country passengers are connecting to. They read from the BA website and even if the information is correct, which it often isn't, the rules are complex and hard to understand. It's easier for them to just say no so anyone transiting LHR needs to know what the rules are and be able to show paperwork to prove it.

    The bus to T5 was long enough that it took waiting four the third one to get on so allow plenty of time to transfer. Once we got to T5 the BA club needed a bit of help confirming inbound AA F passengers were to be admitted. The Concorde room is closed but service was being handled on the Terrace.

    Summary. Make sure your paperwork is in order and be prepared to have a discussion about it. VeriFLY helped enormously with check but doesn't help at arrival. No one even looked at our UK.gov forms. All they cared about was our Covid tests and they never checked whether those were compliant but just when they were administered.

  5. Cristan Conner

    AMERICAN AIRLINE SHOULDN'T RUN ANY KIND OF AIR CRAFT AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED. What was supposed to be a couple day trip to watch my son graduate the Army has turned into I spent more time watching my flight change or cancel in the fucking airport then in the Shit box hotel I stayed in. This is ridiculous & on top of that your customer service rep at gate B24 @ Dallas Airport...

    AMERICAN AIRLINE SHOULDN'T RUN ANY KIND OF AIR CRAFT AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED. What was supposed to be a couple day trip to watch my son graduate the Army has turned into I spent more time watching my flight change or cancel in the fucking airport then in the Shit box hotel I stayed in. This is ridiculous & on top of that your customer service rep at gate B24 @ Dallas Airport helped 4 people & left a long ass line behind saying these 2 can help I have to change trash which is shit because customers should be the #1 priority this has been the shittiest airline experience I have ever had. I would rather fly allegiant airlines with the issue of a door could fly off it may not then this POS airline fucking ridiculous 10 hours the whole round trip in the same fucking airport

    1. Mad

      Hope you feel better for getting that off your chest.

  6. Sherman

    This is a shame for AA. Connections at LHR are a pain if you have to change terminals. The bus system and passport control is awful when transferring between T5 and T3.

    What a shame.

  7. Ryan

    Heathrow is one of the worlds worst airports for transit and I’m guessing nothing will ever make it better. It only keeps getting worse.

  8. FlyerDon

    Flown an AAL domestic widebody into LAX lately? Only an American flight can land early and then arrive at the gate an hour late. The gate was in terminal B, the Bradley Terminal. What no one tells you is your checked luggage still goes to baggage claim in terminal 4. Departing last Sunday the flight was scheduled to depart from terminal 4, but a few hours prior to departure it was switched to terminal B....

    Flown an AAL domestic widebody into LAX lately? Only an American flight can land early and then arrive at the gate an hour late. The gate was in terminal B, the Bradley Terminal. What no one tells you is your checked luggage still goes to baggage claim in terminal 4. Departing last Sunday the flight was scheduled to depart from terminal 4, but a few hours prior to departure it was switched to terminal B. I had the Avis bus drop us off at terminal B and after wondering around searching for some sign that said American, we were informed we needed to check in at terminal 4 and then walk back to terminal B. After finally getting back to terminal B, we thought we would crash in the Admirals Club for an hour. Guess where the club is located?

  9. Gregilioids

    Can you find out the current status of transit passengers from US on the way to Croatia in T-3? AS I understand you only need a vac card to transit Heathrow but then you need a test to enter Croatia. We have 7 hour layover at Heathrow (from ORD) so is thee any rapid testing available? Will any more lounges be open In October?

  10. Shirley J Diaz

    What the He'll
    I just got used to terminal 5, figuring out where to go

  11. Elaine Walker

    T3 is so much easier to get to if travelling by car (always use valet parking). I've never liked T5 (had to when using BA) and detested the whole experience. Always fly AA; drop off car, cross the road, one last cigarette and in you go.

  12. Allen

    LHR is by far my least favorite airport for AA connections in Europe. Going from T3 to T5 and vice versa is a miserable experience even on a good day, and I don't think I've ever been able to do it in less than an hour. I will actively choose any other AA connecting airport such as Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, or Munich, in order to avoid LHR. If I could ever get a flight that...

    LHR is by far my least favorite airport for AA connections in Europe. Going from T3 to T5 and vice versa is a miserable experience even on a good day, and I don't think I've ever been able to do it in less than an hour. I will actively choose any other AA connecting airport such as Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, or Munich, in order to avoid LHR. If I could ever get a flight that doesn't require a terminal change, I would be much more inclined to book through LHR, especially if that single terminal has a few decent lounge choices.

  13. Maxpower

    I don’t understand the hate for Heathrow connections. Even between T3 and T5.
    If you fly to Amsterdam, sure it’s somewhat seamless, but you walk for miles regardless of where you’re going. It’s impossible to avoid a walk. The entire airport is set up to walk nonstop. It makes the new SLC feel like a casual 100ft jog. It’s nice to pass all the Gouda stands but cmon… that’s the only nice thing about...

    I don’t understand the hate for Heathrow connections. Even between T3 and T5.
    If you fly to Amsterdam, sure it’s somewhat seamless, but you walk for miles regardless of where you’re going. It’s impossible to avoid a walk. The entire airport is set up to walk nonstop. It makes the new SLC feel like a casual 100ft jog. It’s nice to pass all the Gouda stands but cmon… that’s the only nice thing about Schiphol.
    CDG is nice enough but still requires buses between a nice terminal and an old terminal.
    Frankfurt is a long walk and a likely bus to your plane if you go anywhere on a Lufthansa narrowbody. Not to mention the whole terminal set up is a German concrete aesthetic I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    Busses at Heathrow are very very easy between terminals and you end up at Harrod’s. What’s wrong with that?

    1. Brian

      Any time you attempt to justify LHR connections by touting its bus system, you've lost the argument.

    2. CMC

      Agreed. Buses are terrible. At LHR they are particularly bad. They go through the ugliest, nastiest, dirtiest guts of the airport. Standing only ensuring people get knocked into each other or knocked over unless they hold on for dear life.

      Give me MAD any day for zero buses (unless there is an odd timing with overflow) and proper/efficient trains linking buildings. Transiting through Madrid is a pleasure and so much better than Heathrow. No...

      Agreed. Buses are terrible. At LHR they are particularly bad. They go through the ugliest, nastiest, dirtiest guts of the airport. Standing only ensuring people get knocked into each other or knocked over unless they hold on for dear life.

      Give me MAD any day for zero buses (unless there is an odd timing with overflow) and proper/efficient trains linking buildings. Transiting through Madrid is a pleasure and so much better than Heathrow. No the lounges are not as plentiful, but the airport experience itself is significantly better.

    3. Maxpower

      I’ve taken busses routinely at Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and CDG.
      It’s routine at cdg between terminals.
      And normal in Amsterdam and Frankfurt because they refuse to build more gates but prefer to just shuttle you to your plane and force you to walk miles in the interim.
      Aside from FlyBe, I’ve never had a bus gate at Heathrow.
      Your point?
      An overcrowded train somewhere else with a bus to your plane or a mile+ walk is better than a bus why?

  14. Reno Joe

    Don't forget, AMEX's lounge will be in T3 as well.

  15. JOJO

    AA and BA having split operations is why I avoid connecting at LHR for flights into Europe.

  16. SG

    Back in the day when T3 was still open before Covid, British Airways would also operate a substantial amount of flights out of T3, because T5 was not big enough to accommodate all BA flights. I assume that will soon be the case again, so BA is first trying to get rid of thier guests, and as demand continues to rise they will probably split thier own ops too.

  17. Stanley

    There are unofficial plans to reopen the admiral lounge in T3... Cathay lounge as well as HK is relaxing entry rules of vaxed travellers

  18. Alex80

    Does anyone have any insight into lounge access at Heathrow currently if you have an Admiral’s Club membership (regardless of class flown)?

  19. Brian

    Lounges aside, flying into T3 on AA and then having to connect to BA in T5 is a royal pain in the keester

  20. Tom I

    If this sticks for the long term and Cathay and Qantas re-open their lounges I'm all for it. I agree that transiting through one terminal is a big positive but I always book my flights with plenty of layover time. Loved relaxing in both lounges prior to my flight back to LAX.

  21. stogieguy7

    Perhaps it's part of a longer term program? However, on the face of it, this doesn't seem to make a lot of sense and will inevitably lead to disorganization. Remember, it's AA we're talking about here so expect more rolling delays because they misplaced a crew....

  22. guflyer

    Has the Admirals Club in Terminal 3 reopened? Are there plans to reopen it soon?

    1. Chris_

      The Admirals Club is currently closed.

  23. Jack

    COVID notwithstanding, T3 is a better terminal anyways - better lounge choices. Hope AA decides to stay.

  24. Jackson

    That picture is of terminal 2, not terminal 5.

  25. Creditcrunch

    BA want to move some of its flights back to T3 by the Autumn so it’s all a bit messed up, I assume they are doing the switch back in phases over the next few months with AA back in T3 by November.

    1. Howard Burkeman

      It wouldn’t matter to me which terminal American Airlines use at Heathrow. I will never set foot on another AA flight having been treated so shabbily and frankly dishonestly on a recent trip in the USA. The airline is poorly run and has no clue about customer relations or the faintest idea about how their premium class passengers should be treated. Simply appalling airline.

Featured Comments Load all 31 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Brian

Any time you attempt to justify LHR connections by touting its bus system, you've lost the argument.

Maxpower

I don’t understand the hate for Heathrow connections. Even between T3 and T5. If you fly to Amsterdam, sure it’s somewhat seamless, but you walk for miles regardless of where you’re going. It’s impossible to avoid a walk. The entire airport is set up to walk nonstop. It makes the new SLC feel like a casual 100ft jog. It’s nice to pass all the Gouda stands but cmon… that’s the only nice thing about Schiphol. CDG is nice enough but still requires buses between a nice terminal and an old terminal. Frankfurt is a long walk and a likely bus to your plane if you go anywhere on a Lufthansa narrowbody. Not to mention the whole terminal set up is a German concrete aesthetic I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Busses at Heathrow are very very easy between terminals and you end up at Harrod’s. What’s wrong with that?

Bryan Sharkey

Worst connection situation ever. Terminal 5 to terminal 3, dealing with American transfer passenger section. Almost 2 hours alone and completely repetitive of original checkin system. I felt bad for the people working behind the counters to always be in stressful situation. They absolutely need more people working there or more efficient process for all the people with short connections.

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