Little known tunnels of Heathrow T5
Heathrow T5 is big, really big. Big enough that there is a shuttle train to take you from one concourse to another – there are 3 in all. Whether you’re coming or going, descending to the transit and waiting for the next train, then waiting again while they conduct a security scan of the carriages after they empty, then jamming yourself in along with all the sweaty oiks – it’s not a fun experience.
On one of our recent trips through T5, connecting between International and domestic flights, I’d noticed signs suggesting that there was a walkway that could be used to get from one concourse to another.
Some reading online confirmed that indeed there is a pedestrian alternative to the shuttle trains, and it can be used whether you are arriving or departing.
Shown to the left is the sign above an escalator leading down to level -4, below the transit train, in the deplaning area of concourse B – where you’d see it upon arrival.
You can follow this walkway to the main T5A security/immigration clearing house just as you would if you took the train
If you’re arriving in T5A, say from a domestic flight, and looking to get to T5B or T5C, then there’s an elevator next to the escalator leading to transit – just stay on all the way to the bottom, and floor -4
You’ll find that almost all passengers leave on floor -2, but just stay onboard!
Once at the most subterranean of levels, this is what you’ll find:
Space, lots of empty space. It’s cool, calm, well lit, and utterly uncluttered by people. It’s a bit of a walk if you go all the way from T5A to T5C, maybe 1/2 a mile, but it’ll only take 5 or 10 minutes. We felt almost giddy to have this expanded sense of autonomy; to be in control of our own progress and means of transportation. It felt great.
Avoiding T5A Security
If you are connecting from one international flight to another you don’t pass through Immigration – just security. This can be very congested at T5A, and pretty exhausting after a long multi-timezone flight. Both T5B and T5C have security stations, but they’re not always open. Taking T5C as an example, there’s a mid-landing on the way down towards the transit shuttle, and the security checkpoint is just off to the side. Often there’s only a single x-ray staffed, and if you’re unlucky you can still spend considerable time waiting for those ahead of you to understand instructions, but it’s still less chaotic than the melee in T5A.