Tight connection at Heathrow? BA will drive you to the plane...

By David Flynn, September 5 2017

British Airways is now providing a chauffeur drive service between flights at London's Heathrow Airport, with premium passengers getting the VIP treatment if there's a risk of missing their connecting flight.

The new Premium Transfer Drive service is available for connections from domestic UK flights to the passengers booked onto short-haul flights in Club Europe or long-haul flights in either business class or first class, as well as Silver or Gold members of BA's Executive Club frequent flyer program.

BA says that its team at Heathrow “will track these customers, and where there’s a risk they will miss their connection, will provide an ‘airside’ car transfer between one flight and the next”.

A message will also be sent to the inbound aircraft so that cabin crew can inform affected passengers that a car will be waiting for them on arrival.

"Missing a connection is one of the most stressful situations a customer can experience, so helping them through that journey and keeping them informed is critical," explains Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience.

"The new premium transfer service will enable us to identify customers who are at risk of missing their onward flight, and proactively arrange to collect them by car, whisking them directly to their next flight."

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 88

May be great for the passenger, but does their baggage make the flight also! Great if travelling light but most passengers on BA would have checked bags.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

31 Oct 2016

Total posts 70

First place my mind went as well.. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

Nice! Definitely a step in the right direction. Here's hoping other airlines follow suit..... dreams are free :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 137

This would be perfect for Sydney Airport 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

I'm not so sure.

On the face of it, it seems like a good idea: particularly for Qantas premium customers making tight connections between international and domestic flights, it removes a lot of the stress caused by the usual process. I'm going to ignore domestic-to-domestic connections because Terminal 3 is compact; international-to-international we can gloss over because you can just throw the customer into the back of the Beamer and give the thing a good kick up the backside.

However, the idea does raise a few questions:
- How do we process security and immigration for domestic-to-international connections? We would need to establish a separate access point for premium customers to be screened at some point between being collected from their domestic flight. I suppose you could do this by walking the premium customers to an enhanced version of the current bus gate to have all their processing completed before being loaded into the motor car to be taken directly to their flight, but this presents a single point of failure (and because international security rules differ from domestic, you can't just load an immigration officer into the car to process the departure).
- How do we process checked baggage for international-to-domestic connections? Current rules stipulate that you must collect your bags yourself and clear customs when connecting through to another Australian port. While we could get some teenagers and put them in high-visibility jackets and pay them to collect the bags, we would need a dedicated Qantas premium exit to get passengers out onto Australian soil before putting them into a car and taking them across the tarmac for their domestic connection, lest they get snarled in the regular customs queue.
- How do we justify all this infrastructure for only at-risk connections? As per the above two points, this is a lot of infrastructure just for a handful of premium passengers each morning on connections tighter than Harry Styles' jeans. I suppose you could make it a benefit for all premium customers connecting through Sydney, but then what about the ongoing cost? What about Brisbane? (Ignore Melbourne--they don't have to drive around the world to connect.)

Food for thought.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 124

Austrian manages the non-Schengen to Schengen transition in Vienna by driving you from your incoming flight, to an immigration and security check (used just for this purpose) and then on to your connecting flight.  Of course, there's no need to worry about clearing customs with baggage.  The same would work in Sydney for domestic to international connections.  Customs/quarantine complicates it for international-domestic.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

Does this mean that people using such a connection car avoid the LHR connections sercuity?

13 Aug 2015

Total posts 39

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but I'd be VERY (pleasantly) surprised if they actually did this for a Silver Executive Club member connecting from a UK domestic flight to a short-haul Club Europe flight. I guess we'll see in time...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

From the sounds of it (perhaps just my interpretation) its only for internal UK flights and for people leaving the UK internationally. ie Pax arriving in Business or First on say QF would not be driven to their onward flight. But if you arrive from a UK domestic flight and transfer to QF and leave the UK you may get a ride. 

Perhaps its just wording of the article. It will be interesting to see if its offered to all OW flights & members or just BA flights and their members. Is it possible to get any clarification on it?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 399

Surely the should be focusing on the sub-standard J and F offerings before this?

30 Mar 2017

Total posts 3

They have done this before (80's 90's), back in the good old days when flying was fun.

Qatar Airways

06 Jul 2016

Total posts 40

The article states the service is for UK domestic to international transfers, so it's not available for international pax into LHR transferring to UK domestic (or to international transfers?)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

I imagine you would be driven from your inbound flight to the transfer bus stop and whisked through fast-track flight transfers area to complete the required security screening. Then depending on where your connecting flight is parked you could either just walk to the gate or be taken back through a secure channel to the airside car and onto your gate.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 43

BA have been doing this forever and my bags have never missed the flight

The first time they did this for me was in  the  late 90s and I am just an ordinary person but very FF.

Joyce could learn a lot from BA if his head wasn't so far up his proverbial, o am platinum and chairmans with Q and have never had the service I get from BA etal

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 26

Of course unless BA gets their Conformance Systems Organized this is all pointless

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