Musical chairs at Heathrow – why are British Airways moving flights from Heathrow’s T3 to T5 at short notice?

British Airways Heathrow strikeBritish Airways Heathrow

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BA has recently been looking at returning all their long haul flights to Terminal 5 from T3 as well as some of the short haul flights. Today they finally confirmed the list of moves between the terminals. 


Why are they moving back to T5?

There’s been a lot of speculation about why BA has chosen to move large numbers of flights ahead of the summer at short notice. No, it’s not that they are fed up with BA Executive Members doing a T3 lounge crawl! It’s down to one simple factor that potentially will get a lot worse in a few weeks time. Ground Staff.

If you think logically, there are times when T3 may be experiencing a peak and T5 is quiet and vice versa. So it’s very inefficient to have staff across two terminals if you don’t have to.  While moving everything to T5 may could slightly longer queues at times, it allows staff to be deployed and moved around far more efficiently in one terminal. Hopefully with other airlines moving out of T5 (see below) T5 will remain with a similar number of passengers overall.

The reason why this is suddenly so urgent is that there is a potential BA ground staff strike likely to happen by the end of July unless a resolution with the union is found. It’s also not long until the peak of summer travel when the schools break up, so it’s prudent to do it as soon as possible. 

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5 complex viewed from control tower, February 2018

I think while it’s going to catch a few people out by turning up at the wrong terminal, overall it makes far more sense. Other airlines like Virgin Atlantic consolidated their operations (they moved it all to Heathrow) and moved terminals. Heathrow has shown how easy it actually is to move terminals during the pandemic with musical terminals going on for the last few years. 


Which flights are moving and when?

The list of flights moving does not seem to be completed yet online but all long haul routes will be returning to Terminal 5 from Terminal 3. A number of short haul flights will also move back. All British Airways terminal changes are effective from Tuesday 12 July.

Which short haul flights are moving back to T5?


Which routes will stay at Terminal 3?



Will Iberia and American still operate from Terminal 5?

As a result, Iberia will also transfer all their flights from Heathrow to Madrid to Terminal 3 from 12 July 2022. I am also expecting American Airline flights at Terminal 5 to move back to Terminal 3 as well, but that is yet to be confirmed as far as I’m aware. 


Do I need to do anything if I was supposed to be travelling from T3?

No, you should not need to do anything but I’d strongly advise checking your terminal information in the next day or two when everything has been updated. If you have something booked such as parking or transfers from T3 that can’t be changed, it’s very easy to hop on the Heathrow Express for free between the terminals. 

HT: London Air Travel

11 Comments on "Musical chairs at Heathrow – why are British Airways moving flights from Heathrow’s T3 to T5 at short notice?"

  1. Musical chairs indeed. I have a flight booked to Atlanta (albeit in Nov), which was I recently informed it was switched from T5 to T3. But now you are saying all long haul are being switched back again to T5.
    Or are these changes just for the summer? Confused.

    • At the moment we don’t know if they are long term or just for the summer schedule.

  2. This is just great. I purposely booked Nuremberg and Valencia in August to enjoy T3 lounges. But now I stuck with T5 BA lounge 😢 I guess for terminal change there is no option to cancel a flight and get refund… Ps. Last night I’ve received all the notification emails from BA about this change.

    • If you booked before they stopped Book with Confidence then you can at least get a voucher (and rebook for another T3 destination!). That’s very annoying when you picked them specifically.

      • Thanks Michele, Yes I have that chance to get voucher, but rebooking now something for August is a financial suicide. Prices are skyrocketing. ;(

  3. I understand the mild frustration for passengers starting in London but fot transfer passengers this is great news. It took us 1hour 30mins to transfer from terminal 5 to terminal 3 earlier this month due to shortage of buses/drivers. Some very panicky people about.

  4. We are booked LHR-AUS on BA in September. When the flight was booked, we were flying out of T3. I just got the notification yesterday that we will be flying out of T5 instead. On one hand, I’m not particularly bothered as long as they arent switching it back *on the day*. On the other hand, no T3 lounge crawl, which is sad. 🙁

  5. Im booked on AA to JFK, I booked it via BA and ive had no notification from either them or AA that its moved to T3, flight is in 3 weeks and the online account still shows T5 as well?

    • I’d give it a few days to sort itself out. Have you looked at the app and refreshed the page on the booking?

      • Yeah both the BA app and website still say T5, AA app however says T3. Its a good thing my positioning flight from DUB was cancelled, as id never make it in time with the terminal change now

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