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Airport Trial: Bypass Heathrow Security Queues with Timeslot by CLEAR

I broke the news back in 2021 that several U.S. airports were trialling a new system that allowed passengers to book a time to arrive at security,  taking them past potentially lengthy queues, for free. 

Earlier this year I shared an update - that the scheme was expanding to more airports and being made more widely available in existing locations. 

I'm now excited to share that it has arrived in the UK! 

Called 'Reserve by CLEAR' in the USA, Heathrow Airport are trialling an almost identical system, instead named 'Timeslot, powered by CLEAR', and just like over the pond, it's free for passengers to use.

Read on for all the important details... 

Header image showing an airport security scanner with the headline

In the UK, we're accustomed to being offered chargeable upgrades to our airport experience - when arriving at Security, boarding the plane, and again when arriving home at Passport Control. 

Everything that speeds up movement through an airport typically requires paying either them or your airline.

As such, it feels almost shocking that a British airport has adopted a system to allow passengers to pre-book a time slot to arrive at Security, helping them bypass the no cost! 

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Heathrow Airport has launched a trial of Timeslot at Terminal 3, for passengers travelling with Virgin Atlantic, Delta, American Airlines & Emirates. 

Here's everything you need to know about the new scheme... 

What Is 'Heathrow Timeslot'?

Timeslot was introduced at Heathrow Airport in October 2023 and allows passengers on eligible flights to pre-book a time to arrive at a dedicated entry to the security search area in Terminal 3, meaning they can bypass the queues to enter Security and speed up their passage through the airport. 

Who Can Use Heathrow Timeslot?

The system is powered by CLEAR and, just like its American equivalent - Reserve by CLEAR, it's available at no cost to anyone travelling on eligible flights.

It's launched for now as a trial in Terminal 3 only, for passengers flying with Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines, American Airlines & Emirates.

How Do I Book Heathrow Timeslot?

On the Timeslot booking website, enter your flight details and confirm what time you would like to arrive at Security. 

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Sidenote - my personal preference when travelling long-haul, including to the USA, is to arrive at Check-in at least 3 hours before departure, usually just over this, so I would book my arrival slot for around 2hrs 45mins before my flight. 

The system doesn't allow reservations for slots less than 90 minutes prior to departure for long-haul flights, or less than 60 minutes for short-haul flights.

You're given a buffer before and after your reserved timeslot, to allow for early arrivals or delays at check-in - the details are below. 

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You can book groups of up to 5 - you don't need to enter names during the booking process, only your details and the number of travellers in the party.  

Will There Definitely Be a Timeslot Available?

No, availability is not guaranteed for everyone on eligible flights. 

Heathrow Timeslot has launched as a trial, covering selected flights from Terminal 3 with Virgin, Delta, American and Emirates, but eligible flights and airlines could be changed at any point. 

Additionally, as Heathrow state, "the number of reservations available will vary depending on the expected capacity at security and any bookings already made, so there may not always be availability for a time you choose. Slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis."

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Heathrow have confirmed that if there are no Timeslot reservations available, you simply join the standard security lines and follow the usual process. 

When Should I Book My Timeslot? 

You can book at any time during the three days prior to your departure date. 

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For example, if you fly on the 26th October, reservations for your date of departure will open on the booking system at 00:00 on the 23rd October - as shown in the calendar screenshot above. 

You cannot book a reservation any earlier than this. 

How Do I Use Heathrow Timeslot? 

Once checked in, you should head to the designated Timeslot entry point to the security area. To do so, proceed towards security on level one, where you'll see signage for Heathrow Timeslot

All members of the party on the booking need to arrive together, and on arrival at the entry point you'll need the QR code you were sent when booking your slot - this can be printed or on screen.

Next you'll need to have your boarding pass ready to scan at the ticket gates, to enter the security search area. 

Note - this is a different scheme to FastTrack. Timeslot passengers use the general security lanes but via a designated access route. 

When Should I Arrive?

You can arrive at the designated Timeslot entry point from 15 minutes before, to 15 minutes after your scheduled time. 

If you arrive outside of these times, you'll need to go through standard security instead.  

Can I Make Changes To My Booking? 

You can cancel or amend your booking at any time - the link to do so is contained within your confirmation email. 

If your flight departure is changed by the airline, you can amend your booking with details of your new flight, subject to availability. 

Can I Use Timeslot If I Need Special Assistance? 

There is no benefit to using Timeslot if you are registered to receive special assistance.

With special assistance you'll be taken to Security via a separate, dedicated route, which negates the benefit of Timeslot. 

Is This Like TSA Pre-Check? 

Yes and no! 

It is similar in that it allows you to enter the Security area more quickly, but that's where the likeness ends. 

- Heathrow Timeslot is a trial where passengers can book a timeslot to arrive at a designated entry to the security search area, allowing you to bypass the queues. You then use the standard security lines. This system is free of charge. 

- TSA Pre-Check is a paid membership scheme (available to Brits bundled with Global Entry) that allows you to use a shorter queue to enter security at many U.S. airports, but also clears you to use a separate security lane where you face less checks than non 'trusted' travellers - such as not needing to take out liquids and electronics from your baggage or remove your shoes, etc.

For a full breakdown of Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check and whether it's right for you, check out this blog post. 

Questions About Heathrow Timeslot

If you have any questions about Heathrow Timeslot, you can either reach out to me over on Instagram, via email, or you can connect with Heathrow Airport

It's a great trial, and from what I"m hearing is genuinely speeding up journeys through security at Heathrow - somewhere they can be rather lengthy! I've heard a few people say it only took them 5 minutes to get all the way through Security thanks to Timeslot.