London Heathrow Airport Information
Heathrow is the largest of six airports that service the London metropolitan area and is 14 miles to the west of the UK capital. Renowned as one of the busiest airports in the world it is popular with tourists, business travellers and those boarding flight connections. It is a hub for British Airways and the base airport for Virgin Atlantic and currently spans across 4 passenger terminals (number 2 to 5).
Terminal 2 is the newest, having been completely redeveloped in 2014 on the site of the previously demolished Terminal 1. It features a 1,300 space car park, 52 shops and 17 bars & restaurants.
Terminal 3 is set for closure in 2019, with Terminal 2 expanding further to accommodate the 20 million passengers it currently handles.
Terminal 4 opened in 1986 and has recently had over £200 million of upgrades applied, which have allowed it to handle 45 airlines on the enhanced forecourts that have been designed to alleviate traffic congestion and improve security. The check-in area has been expanded; with a new baggage system installed. All departure lounges have been refurbished as well to improve passenger comfort.
Terminal 5 was officially opened in 2008. It is used exclusively by British Airways and Iberia. The state-of-the-art building cost £4.3 billion and has 60 aircraft stands and can handle 30 million passengers each year. Facilities include over 100 shops, cafes and restaurants.
London Heathrow Airport statistics and services
London Heathrow is the largest airport in Britain, the busiest in Europe and the 3rd busiest in the world. It handles 75 million passengers a year and sees 475,000 flights take off and land on its tarmac. The airport has been redeveloped significantly in recent years to reflect this.
Heathrow’s popularity means it will need to continue its expansion to cope with the increasing number of passengers and aircrafts. The main development that has been earmarked is the controversial third runway proposal. It has been lobbied by MPs since 2009 and it appears that MPs have now agreed on the proposals but the final decision on it won’t be made until winter of 2017/18. It’s expected that the additional runway would not open until 2025. Railway link improvements are also being looked at with an International railway exchange with a station built to link to HS2 High-Speed rail project. There has also be some research into the concept of a potential high-speed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick that would transfer passengers between the two airports in just 15 minutes.
Amenities are fairly consistent throughout all four terminals. All have a 24-hour café, free unlimited Wi-Fi, free USB mobile phone charging stations, currency exchange kiosks, ATMs, children’s play areas, Information desks, multiple restaurants, licenced bars, numerous Duty-Free stores and a wide range of retail stores.
There are many transport options for passengers looking to make their way to and from London Heathrow Airport. It has a central bus station located close to Terminals 2 & 3 that is open 24 hours a day and three underground stations, making it possible for passengers to travel into Central London in less than an hour via the Piccadilly line. However, the fastest rail option is the Heathrow Express, a high-speed train service that can take passengers to Paddington Station in West London in just 15 minutes.
If travelling with lots of luggage, road transport might be a better option; the airport is well connected to the M4 and M25 motorways and has thousands of short and long-stay parking spaces, several different car rental providers in arrivals, and plenty of licenced taxi ranks outside each terminal.
Inter-Terminal shuttle buses and trains are available to ferry passengers between the various airport buildings.
What if you are severely delayed at London Heathrow Airport?
London Heathrow delays are obviously far from ideal, but the Airports facilities are among the best in the world; Terminal 5 won “World's Best Airport Terminal” at the 2014 World Airport Awards.
All landside, and some airside areas of Heathrow are open 24 hours a day, so staying overnight at the airport itself is possible.
For a more comfortable night, there is the option of staying at one of nine hotels situated around the London Heathrow complex. There are also many upmarket private airport lounges that provide shower facilities, and in some cases, rest suites. However they do charge economy passengers and the latest they generally stay open until is 11pm.
Rest zones and lounge-style seating can be found in the normal departures areas but there is limited space so a comfortable seat is never guaranteed. Free Wi-Fi, shower facilities, shops, restaurants, bars and 24 hour cafés provide additional conveniences.