When you’re cutting it fine en-route to the airport for whatever reason, the thought running through your mind is Security. Is there going to be a tailback and a huge wait – should you approach Fast Track and explain you have only minutes to spare? And of course, should you have bought Heathrow Fast Track in the first place? Here, I’m going to give you my subjective answer.
How does Heathrow Fast Track work?
Fast Track security access offers passengers a ‘beat the queue’ product. A separate gate or even a section in some terminals which allows you to go through security quicker – or at least that’s the idea.
It can either be earned via your status with the airline, attached to your ticket or bought for single flights. You’ll know you have Fast Track if it says so on your Premium ticket or if you’ve been given a separate scanable pass.
If you have it on your ticket you really don’t need to do anything – just show up whenever and go on through. I’ve never known anyone with a Senator Card being told to come back in an hour or so. But if you buy it, there are conditions.
What does Heathrow Fast Track cost?
So, if you buy Heathrow Fast Track for £12.50 ($16) a shot, you need fill in details about when the pass will be used i.e. your flight time before you can book it. You are then given a two hour ‘window’ before your flight in which to use it.
The Heathrow Fast Track pass can be used in all terminals, but you’ll need to buy it 24 hours in advance. There’s no point walking in, seeing the queue and booking Fast Track on your phone. It won’t let you.
But is Heathrow fast track worth it?
Here’s the thing. I’m not sure it is. If it’s already attached to your status, then fine. But if you’re paying $16 for it, probably not. Heathrow Security is already very efficient. In the last five years they’ve hugely expanded their security area. And I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get through. I know they have the zigzag waiting line that’s half a mile long, but I imagine that’s for over flow or extraordinary events.
In the past 10 years we’ve all come to expect horrendous queues at security and I have had them at Stansted and on the East Coast US, but Heathrow is pretty good. I even checked their performance to make sure I wasn’t imagining this. See – over 95% of the time queues were less than 5 minutes long. And that’s during the height of summer too. But I know – what about the other 5% of the time?
When should you buy Fast Track?
It’s not an easy decision. Personally, I don’t like the idea of airlines or airports selling us products which enable us to catch our flight. Not if it’s their system failure. After all, once I’m checked in and my luggage is on – if I don’t make the plane on time, it’s going to wait or have to take my luggage off – which causes delays. Essentially, if I need Fast Track to make it on time – I’m just saving the airline and the airport hassle – and paying for the privilege. If there’s a reason for the queue – everyone is delayed, not just you.
However, if I don’t want to wait with the hoi polloi, then the fast track Heathrow lane makes sense. But what we’re talking about here is five minutes of saved time. So it’s up to you.