London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Airport in London, UK


Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is a major international airport in London, United Kingdom. Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic (surpassed by Dubai International in 2014, and Hong Kong International in 2016), as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and the sixth busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. In 2016, it handled a record 75.7 million passengers, a 1.0% increase from 2015. 

It is located in the west of London, 17 miles (27 km) from central London. It is the primary hub for the UK's national carrier, British Airways, as well as Richard Branson's iconic airline Virgin Atlantic.

London Heathrow (LHR) is a giant, sprawling airport divided into four terminals (T2, T3, T4 and T5). Originally established in the late 1940s, it is London's primary airport and the premier air gateway into the United Kingdom. It is also the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic and Europe's foremost hub airport.

Due to its size, increased security requirements and the fact that development had not kept pace with its growth, Heathrow has became overcrowded and has developed a reputation for long queues, inefficiency and delays. However, since Terminal 5 opened in March 2008, and despite initial problems with the brand new terminal, this situation has improved. Terminal 2, the airport's original terminal, closed in November 2009 for demolition and rebuilding and reopened under the name of "The Queen's Terminal" in June 2014. Terminal 1 closed permanently on 29 June 2015 and will be absorbed into Terminal 2.


Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security unit of the Metropolitan Police, although the army, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security.

Full body scanners are now used at the airport, and passengers who object to their use after being selected are required to submit to a hand search in a private room. The scanners display passengers' bodies as a cartoon-style figure, with indicators showing where concealed items may be. The new imagery was introduced initially as a trial in September 2011 following complaints over privacy.

Airlines & Destinations

There is currently a long, drawn out game of musical terminals being played by the airlines at Heathrow: British Airways is gradually moving all of its flights to Terminals 5 and 3. While British Airways is doing this the other airlines are moving round to better use the space that has been vacated. Eventually the idea is that all of the airline alliances (Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam) will have their "own" terminal which their members use, thus minimising the number of connecting passengers who have to change to a different terminal. Terminal 2, the oldest and smallest terminal, was closed for a time for upgrade works and reopened on 4 June 2014. Terminal 1 closed permanently on 29 June 2015. British Airways operates from T3 and T5. As of August 2015:

  • T2 — The Queen's Terminal — Star Alliance: Lufthansa, SAS, Air Canada, United, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines, etc.
  • T3 — Oneworld: Virgin Atlantic, British Airways (Accra, Barcelona, Bilbao, Budapest, Cape Town, Denver, Gibraltar, Helsinki, Las Vegas, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Lyon, Marseille, Miami, Nairobi–Kenyatta, Phoenix, Prague, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin), various international carriers such as American, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Qantas. Some Delta flights.
  • T4 — SkyTeam: Aeroflot, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, etc.; also smaller international airlines including China Eastern, China Southern, Etihad, KLM and Qatar, some Delta flights. Turkmenistan Airlines now operates from this terminal.
  • T5 — Oneworld: Most British Airways and all Iberia flights, etc.

Make sure you double check which terminal you need to use on the Heathrow Airport website as the situation changes frequently!

Aegean AirlinesAthens, Larnaca
Aer LingusBelfast-City, Cork, Dublin, Shannon
AeroméxicoMexico City
Air AlgérieAlgiers
Air AstanaAstana
Air CanadaCalgary, Halifax, Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, St. John's, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air ChinaBeijing–Capital
Air FranceParis–Charles de Gaulle
Air IndiaAhmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Newark
Air MaltaMalta
Air MauritiusMauritius
Air New ZealandAuckland, Los Angeles
Air SerbiaBelgrade
AlitaliaMilan–Linate, Rome–Fiumicino
All Nippon AirwaysTokyo–Haneda
American AirlinesCharlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham
Asiana AirlinesSeoul–Incheon
Austrian AirlinesVienna
Azerbaijan AirlinesBaku
Biman Bangladesh AirlinesDhaka
British AirwaysAberdeen, Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Amman–Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Athens, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Bangalore, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, Beijing–Capital, Beirut, Belfast–City, Bergen (ends 28 October 2017), Berlin–Tegel, Bilbao, Billund, Bologna, Boston, Brussels, Bucharest–Otopeni, Budapest, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cairo, Calgary, Cape Town, Chennai, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denver, Doha, Dubai–International, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gibraltar, Glasgow-International, Gothenburg, Grand Cayman, Hamburg, Hanover, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Houston–Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Innsbruck, Inverness, Istanbul–Atatürk, Jeddah, Johannesburg–Tambo, Kiev–Boryspil, Kraków, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuwait City, Lagos, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Leeds/Bradford, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Luanda, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Málaga, Manchester, Marseille, Mexico City, Miami, Milan–Linate, Milan–Malpensa, Montreal–Trudeau, Moscow–Domodedovo, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Nassau, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nice, Oslo–Gardermoen, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Paris–Orly (ends 28 October 2018), Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pisa, Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Riyadh, Rome–Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Santiago de Chile, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Sofia, Stavanger (ends 28 October 2017), Stockholm–Arlanda, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tallinn, Tehran–Imam Khomeini, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Toulouse, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin, Washington–Dulles, Zagreb, Zürich
Seasonal: Biarritz, Brindisi, Chania, Corfu, Faro, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Grenoble (begins 2 December 2017), Kos, Kalamata, Menorca, Montpellier, Murcia, Mykonos, Nantes, Olbia, Pula, Salzburg, Santorini, Split, Tenerife-South (begins 21 October 2017), Turin (begins 2 December 2017), Zakynthos
Brussels AirlinesBrussels
Bulgaria AirSofia
Cathay PacificHong Kong
China Eastern AirlinesShanghai–Pudong
China Southern AirlinesGuangzhou
Croatia AirlinesZagreb
Seasonal: Rijeka, Split
Delta Air LinesAtlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Philadelphia (ends 24 March 2018)
Seasonal: Portland (OR), Salt Lake City
EgyptAirCairo, Luxor
El AlTel Aviv–Ben Gurion
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa
Etihad AirwaysAbu Dhabi
EVA AirBangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Taipei–Taoyuan
EurowingsDüsseldorf, Hamburg
operated by Eurowings EuropeSalzburg (begins 1 November 2017)
operated by GermanwingsBerlin–Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart
FlybeAberdeen, Edinburgh
Garuda IndonesiaJakarta–Soekarno–Hatta[b]
Gulf AirBahrain
Iberia ExpressAsturias, Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca
Iran AirTehran–Imam Khomeini
Japan AirlinesTokyo–Haneda
Jet AirwaysDelhi, Mumbai
Kenya AirwaysNairobi–Kenyatta
operated by KLM CityhopperAmsterdam
Korean AirSeoul–Incheon
Kuwait AirwaysKuwait City
LATAM BrasilSão Paulo–Guarulhos
LOT Polish AirlinesWarsaw–Chopin
LufthansaFrankfurt, Munich
Malaysia AirlinesKuala Lumpur–International
Middle East AirlinesBeirut
Oman AirMuscat
Pakistan International AirlinesIslamabad, Karachi, Lahore
Philippine AirlinesManila
QantasDubai–International, Melbourne, Perth (begins 24 March 2018), Sydney
Qatar AirwaysDoha
Royal Air MarocCasablanca, Marrakech, Rabat
Royal Brunei AirlinesBandar Seri Begawan, Dubai–International
Royal JordanianAmman–Queen Alia
SaudiaJeddah, Riyadh
Seasonal: Medina
Scandinavian AirlinesCopenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm–Arlanda
Singapore AirlinesSingapore
South African AirwaysJohannesburg–Tambo
SriLankan AirlinesColombo
Swiss International Air LinesGeneva, Zürich
TAP PortugalLisbon
Thai AirwaysBangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul–Atatürk
Turkmenistan AirlinesAshgabat
United AirlinesChicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Uzbekistan AirwaysTashkent
Vietnam AirlinesHanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Virgin AtlanticAtlanta, Boston, Delhi, Dubai–International, Hong Kong, Johannesburg–Tambo, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Barbados (begins 12 December 2017)
VuelingA Coruña


By car

The airport is some 17 miles (27 km) west of central London. A large part of the journey can be made by means of the M4 motorway, which can, however, be quite congested at peak periods. Terminal 5 can be reached directly from junction 14 of the M25. The airport is also near the M40 and M3.

The car rental depots are all concentrated along the northern periphery of the airport, and free shuttle buses are available from all terminals. There can be time delays when arriving at the hire desk with large queues so make every effort to get to the desk before the crowd, perhaps by getting one member of the party with hand luggage to go straight through. You may find at early morning or late evening that the arrivals hall desk is closed and you have to go straight onto the shuttle bus and check out your rental at the depot instead.

Bear in mind if you are intending to drive into the centre of London you will be liable for the Congestion Charge, which is currently £11.50 per day and applies on weekdays (Monday-Friday) between 07:00-18:00. Automatic number plate recognition cameras are in operation, and your car rental company will track you down and bill you with the hefty fine if you fail to pay - you have been warned!

Parking your car

Different car parks have different procedures. There is no shortage of choice when parking your car at Heathrow but there are many procedures to follow depending on which car park you choose. Some simply get you to turn up and report to a reception area which is easy enough. However some others have different procedures such as using the credit card you used to pre book with to enter the car park or even registration plate recognition.

There is also a massive difference in the prices charged by many car parks in and around Heathrow. For example, you can find individual house owners in the vicinity of the airport who are happy to rent you a space outside their house for a week or two and it’s usually very cheap in comparison to the large car park operators; however, this is definitely a case of "buyer beware"!

Of course, there is no security at these spaces – you get what you pay for to some extent – plus you often find that you are left to your own devices to get to the airport. This could mean public transport if you’re lucky, but more often than not, it means getting a taxi both there and back. This usually results in negating any of the cost savings you have made in the parking itself.

Public transport to and from London

All the terminals have very good public transport links to and from central London, with options ranging from local and express buses to the London Underground and rail services. The majority of travellers heading to central London use public transport as it the easiest way to go. Note that there are different rail stations for the five terminals at Heathrow - be sure you take the right train as not all trains go to the same terminals. You can usually check the front of the train or listen to the onboard announcements for an idea of where the train is going.

By train

  • Heathrow Express05:33-23:48 (Terminals 2 & 3)The fastest way to central London from Terminals 3 & 5 is the Heathrow Express rail service, but it is also by far the most expensive. The train departs from Terminal 5 every 15 minutes, stops at Terminal 3 and then runs non-stop to London Paddington, Central London, where connections are available to the rest of London’s transport system. It does not operate directly to Terminal 4; you must take a connecting (Heathrow Connect) train to Terminals 3 and change - cross platform - to the Express. Journey time from Terminal 5 to London Paddington is 21 minutes, and from Terminals 1 & 3 it’s 15 minutes. Single: off-peak £22, peak £25, on-board £27); Return: £35, on-board £37 ; Oyster Cards are not valid

The trains are air-conditioned, modern, comfortable and are fully accessible with a wheelchair area, disabled toilet and level access to the station platforms. Free Wi-Fi Internet access is available on board. Mobile phone coverage is available throughout the entire route, including in the tunnels under Heathrow. On board TV entertainment plays throughout the journey, offering BBC News bulletins, destination information, comedy clips and trivia. Quiet zones are available where this does not play. There are two classes of accommodation - Express (Standard) Class and First Class. First Class offers a larger seat, more legroom (though there’s plenty in Express Class), tables and complimentary newspapers. The First Class area of the train also stops closer to the station exits. Since the journey is only about 15 minutes long either way, the First Class area is something of a real luxury and really only for those with money to burn.

Fares can be purchased in advance on the internet, from the station or on board the train and they vary in price depending on where you bought them. National Railcard discounts are available at Heathrow Express station ticket offices only (with the exception of Disabled Persons Railcard, which can be used on-board). Child fares (5–15 years inclusive) are about half the adult fare. Under 5s travel free. If you book your ticket online you can have it sent to you as an email message to print out or as a mobile phone picture message, both contain a barcode and the conductor scans this on the train.

London Travelcards and Oyster Cards are not valid on the Heathrow Express.

  • Heathrow Connect (Direct from Terminals 2 & 3, and via a connection from T4 and T5). 05:29-23:30 (Terminals 2 & 3)This service uses the same route to London Paddington as the Heathrow Express but is a slower, less frequent train which also serves intermediate local stations in West London. It’s cheaper than the Heathrow Express and it serves Terminal 4 directly, but passengers needing to get to Terminal 5 have to change to a connecting service at Terminal 3. Heathrow Connect provides a convenient connection to London Underground’s Central Line at Ealing Broadway station. Trains depart Terminal 2,3 for London Paddington every 30 minutes, stops: Hayes & Harlington, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway. Journey time from Terminal 3 to London Paddington is 28min. Occasional direct services from London Paddington to Terminal 4, listen to on board announcements for up-to-date information. To London Paddington: single £10.30, open return £20.70; To Hayes & Harlingto £6.30 Adult Single; Oyster cards are not valid between Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow; Passengers holding a Travelcard or Oyster Card must buy an additional ticket for the journey between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow

The trains are air-conditioned, modern and accessible with a wheelchair area and disabled toilet. Although Heathrow and London Paddington stations have step free access, be aware that not all intermediate stations are wheelchair accessible. Audio and visual journey information is provided on board. Mobile phone coverage is available throughout the route, including in the tunnels under Heathrow.

NB: Tickets must be purchased before boarding the train (tickets will be checked on board and those found not to be holding a ticket will have to pay a penalty fare) and can be bought at station ticket offices or online (only to London Paddington). Child fares (5–15 years inclusive) are about half the adult fare. Under 5s travel free.

  • SouthWest Trains (Bus link from Terminals 2 & 3, bus 285, and Terminals 4 & 5, bus 490, to Feltham railway station.). Trains every 20 minutesAlthough a slower route, if you are heading for south London or the west London suburbs, Richmond or Windsor, this could prove a useful shortcut. Regular bus services run from the airport to Feltham station (single fare £1.30 on Oyster) and a frequent east-west rail line runs between Reading and London Waterloo (single fare £5). Depending on the route, some trains take 30 minutes (trains via Richmond), others take 45 minutes (trains via Hounslow and Kew), so it is advised to check the train times carefully if you are rushing to catch a plane. You must buy your train ticket before boarding as this is not an airport express train but a standard suburban rail service. You can use Oyster cards valid for zone 6 to use the train and bus on this route.

By tube

London Underground’s Piccadilly Line direct to central London. Up to every 5 minutes (dependent on terminal). Oyster cards are valid.

The Piccadilly Line runs direct from all the terminals to the very centre of London, stopping at stations close to many of London’s landmarks, shopping and entertainment areas, as well as the major transport hub at King’s Cross St. Pancras. It stops frequently and is comparatively slow (60 minutes from Terminal 5 to King’s Cross St. Pancras vs 45 minutes using the Heathrow Express and changing to The Tube at Paddington). However, it is an integral part of Transport for London’s network so Travelcards and Oyster Cards are valid, making it a good value option. It’s also a fairly quick option if you want to get to much of west London.

Trains depart Terminals 4 & 5 every 10 minutes and stop at Terminals 2 & 3 before continuing to London, thus making the frequency from Terminals 2 & 3 every 5 minutes. Trains to and from Terminal 5 do not stop at Terminal 4 and trains to and from Terminal 4 do not stop at Terminal 5. Be aware that if you are heading from central London to Terminals 2 & 3 then it is normally quicker to wait for a train which terminates at Terminal 5 as the trains to Terminal 4 wait there for up to 7 minutes before continuing to Terminals 2 & 3. Terminal 5 trains go directly to Terminals 1 & 3 first, then continue to Terminal 5. The Tube closes during the night for maintenance work and the first trains leave Heathrow at about 06:00. Last trains are around 00:00, but check beforehand!

Be aware that during peak rush hour periods the Tube becomes extremely overcrowded, particularly in the central zones. Trains originally designated for Heathrow are sometimes rerouted down the Rayners Lane branch or terminate short at Acton Town or Northfields to deal with peak-hour congestion - the driver will normally make an announcement if this is going to happen. You should bear this in mind if you are using the Tube to travel to Heathrow during rush hour and ensure that you leave central London in plenty of time. Also, try to join the train as far up the line as possible - King's Cross St Pancras is a good bet - since you will stand a much better chance of finding a seat and somewhere to put your luggage. Also, if you are going to T4 or T5 and a train to the other terminal comes along and it looks like it has space, it can be a good bet to get on that train, then get off at Hatton Cross station (just before Heathrow) and wait until the right train comes along, since in central London the train you actually want may be very crowded.

As the Tube is a rapid transport system designed with short journeys in mind, the trains are not as comfortable as a mainline train. However, from Heathrow there will almost always be seats available and luggage space is provided. There is space for wheelchairs and the Heathrow stations are accessible, but as the Tube is an old system originally built in the 19th century, very few stations in central London are accessible to wheelchairs. Almost all involve negotiating staircases and escalators. Earls Court is an exception and some other stations can be reached by wheelchair users by changing to alternate lines here. More stations are being adapted (King’s Cross St. Pancras is now accessible, for instance) and accessible stations are shown on the Tube Map available on TfL’s website [www] . Audio and visual journey information is provided on board.

The Tube is a closed system and nearly all stations have ticket barriers. Tickets should be bought at the station and the cost of a Zone 1 - 6 (Central London - Heathrow) single is £4.50. Penalty fares are in force for those caught without a valid ticket. Travelcards (day, or period tickets which allow unlimited travel on all of London’s public transport, not just the Tube) are available and will almost certainly provide better value if you plan on using London’s transport system more than a couple of times. The cheapest option for anyone spending much time in London will probably be to get an Oyster Card (a Transport for London travel smartcard), which is always cheaper and easier than paying fares in cash. See transport for London’s website [www] for more information on Oyster Cards and other available fares.

By coach

  • National Express coach (direct to London Victoria Coach Station). approx. 07:00-23:30A direct coach service from Heathrow Central Bus Station to London Victoria Coach Station every 30min. Journey times are 40-50min. Tickets can be bought from the National Express ticket office at Heathrow Bus station or on the Internet. Some services operate via Terminals 4 & 5, but the service is more limited. Free transfer is available to Terminals 2 & 3 and the Central Bus Station from Terminals 4 & 5 via the Heathrow Express and Connect trains or the shuttle bus services. All coaches are accessible to wheelchairs. to LONDON Victoria Coach Station from £6; transfer to Gatwick Airport £20; London Travel cards and Oyster Cards are not valid

By bus

Day time local buses to the areas surrounding Heathrow.

In the day time there are no local bus services to central London (that service is provided by the Tube), but there are plenty of services to areas of west London and outlying towns such as Slough and Maidenhead. Heathrow Airport have a map and journey planners on their website showing the routes available.

Fares vary depending on the operator, but Transport for London services (red buses) are subject to the standard flat fare when paying by cash (Travelcards and Oyster Cards are also valid on these buses).

If you really want to go by local bus during the day from central London (perhaps you have a bus pass not valid on trains or coaches), expect a journey time of about three hours, depending on exactly where you start from. If you're intrepid, use the TfL journey planner [www] to find details, times and (most importantly) where to change buses, which you may end up doing three or four times depending on where you start from and when you travel.

N9 Regular late night London Bus Service.

During the night, when most of the rail and coach links (and the flights!) have stopped operating, one of the few ways you can get to and from Heathrow is by using the N9 night bus service, which operates to and from Aldwych in central London via Hammersmith.

The service runs every 20 minutes on weeknights and takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes to Heathrow Central Bus Station and continues to Terminal 5. The service is operated using modern, accessible, low-floor busses with a wheelchair space.

The N9 is a normal Transport for London Night Bus service and so is subject to a flat cash fare of £2.00. All Travelcards and Oyster Cards are valid on London Bus services.

By taxi

  • Black cabs - London’s famous black taxis - are available for hire outside each terminal. Journey time into Central London varies wildly depending on distance, time of day and traffic conditions. It can take anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours. Fares vary similarly, as a rough guide it could cost about £55 to Central London.
  • Minicabs (private hire cars) must be ordered in advance by phone (or internet in some cases) and usually cost less than a black cab. Never take a minicab if you haven't pre-booked it, because then it's just a stranger's car!

If you are thinking of taking a taxi into London then consider the Heathrow Express (you can pick up a taxi at Paddington station to complete your journey). They will probably be faster and cheaper, and almost as easy to use.

Public transport to the rest of the UK

By coach

  • National ExpressOperate direct coach services from Heathrow to many cities around the UK, as well as direct links to all of the other London airports. Most coaches serve Terminal 5 as well as the Central Bus Station, some stop at Terminal 4. 
  • The AirlineOxford Bus operate a 24 hour frequent (every 20 minutes during the day) coach shuttle service to and from Oxford. Adult: single £23, day return £24, period return £29.

Connections with trains:

  • RailAir (Central Bus Station (Terminals 2 & 3), Terminal 5, Reading station),  +44 118 957-9425First runs express coach between Heathrow Central Bus Station and the Reading railway station to connect with train services.Adult single £20.00 (advance online or via iOS and Android app £17.00)
  • Green Line's #724 (to Watford Junction for trains to the Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool, NW England and Scotland), +44 844 801 7261
  • Bus #285 (to Feltham for trains to Richmond, Camberley, Bracknell, London Waterloo, Clapham Junction and the South), +44 20 7222 1234Single under £5
  • Bus #490 (from Terminal 5 to Richmond via Terminal 4, Hatton Cross and Feltham station.),  +44 20 7222 1234Single under £5

By train

Heathrow does not yet have any direct rail services to anywhere outside of London, meaning that you will have to go into the centre of the city and then come back out again, but making a connection in one of the central London railway stations is fairly easy.

Through tickets are available to & from Heathrow Airport from any station in the UK, using either the Tube network, Heathrow Express or Connect from central London or the RailAir coach links. If you want to use the Heathrow Express it’ll probably be cheaper to buy your ticket for it separately. Make sure you specify the method you want to use to reach Heathrow when you buy your rail ticket.

All of the major railway stations are also on the Tube network, making cross-London connections from Paddington fairly straightforward. Below is a quick summary of the principal connections available:

  • Paddington: (by Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect) For Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Penzance, Cardiff, Swansea and the overnight sleeper to Cornwall.
  • Euston: (Tube - Circle Line: Euston Square then walk 200m) For Birmingham (New Street), Manchester, Liverpool, the Lake District, Glasgow and overnight sleepers to Scotland.
  • Liverpool Street (Tube - Circle Line) For Cambridge, Stansted Airport, Norwich and the Essex coast.
  • Marylebone: (Tube - Bakerloo line) For Birmingham (Snow Hill) - slower than the main route from Euston but can be cheaper.
  • St Pancras: (Tube - Circle Line) For Luton Airport, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, high speed services to Kent - and Eurostar services to Paris and Brussels
  • King's Cross: (Tube - Circle Line) For Cambridge, York, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and daytime trains to Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen.
  • Victoria (Tube - Circle Line) For Brighton and Gatwick Airport.

If you plan on travelling on the Great Western line to the South West of England or South Wales then another option is to take the local U3 bus from the Central Bus Station to West Drayton railway station. The bus takes around 20 minutes to complete this journey when there is no traffic. From there take a local train to Reading railway station in order to connect to other services. The benefit of this route is that you are buying a normal railway ticket, as opposed to one that has a premium attached for a journey starting or ending at Heathrow.

For information, time and fares for trains to & from Heathrow Airport check the National Rail Enquires website.

By taxi

There are many airport transfer services that provide personal transport services to Heathrow Airport. All transport companies that operate transfer services must be licensed with the relevant local authority. Drivers are issued a badge after undergoing various checks and vehicles are issued licenses confirming that they have passed rigorous safety checks and have the correct insurance in place. Drivers and vehicles are licensed as either Hackney Carriages or Private Hire, each one is covered by different regulations. When booking an airport transfer you should always check that the company has a license from the council. This is particularly important when booking over the internet or over the phone. Booking directly with a taxi company rather than with an online booking agency will usually be more cost effective.

Get around

As it's such a difficult to understand and constantly changing place Heathrow has a significant internal transport system so people can get around. All travel within the airport boundary on local bus and Heathrow Express & Connect trains is free:

  • Terminals 2 & 3, as well as the Central Bus Station are all in the Central Terminal Area and are within walking distance, linked by underground tunnels with travelators. The Central Terminal Area is in the middle of the airport between the runways, Terminal 4 is in the south-eastern corner of the airport, beyond the southern runway and Terminal 5 is in the far west of the airport, between the runways.
  • To get from the Central Terminal Area to Terminal 4 you can take the free shuttle train (every 15 min journey ~20 min) or tube (free only with Oyster card).
  • To get from the Central Terminal Area to Terminal 5 you can take the free Heathrow Express train (every 15 min journey ~20 min) or tube (free only with Oyster card).
  • To transfer between Terminal 4 & 5 there is either buses (#482 or #490) (journey ~20 min) or you can take the train to the Central Terminal Area and change.
  • If you are connecting to another flight airside there is a network of free buses that will take you between terminals (if you need to change terminal).

It's always good to have a little extra time when transferring from one flight to another, and this is true especially in a place like Heathrow. On a really busy day or during inclement weather your plane may not be allowed to land at its scheduled time, therefore two or three hours is certainly not "too much" time, especially if your next flight departs from another terminal.


Terminal 1 (Closed)

Terminal 1 was closed in June 2015. It had opened in 1968 and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in April 1969. Before Terminal 5 opened, Terminal 1 was the Heathrow base for British Airways' (BA) domestic and European network and for a few of its long haul routes. The acquisition of British Midland International (BMI) in 2012 by BA's owner International Airlines Group meant British Airways took over BMI's short-haul and medium-haul destinations from the terminal.

The site of Terminal 1 is being used for an extension to Terminal 2, which opened in June 2014. A number of newer boarding gates used by Terminal 1 had been built as part of the Terminal 2 development and are being retained as part of Terminal 2. British Airways was the last operator in Terminal 1. Two flights of this carrier, one departing to Hannover and one arriving from Baku, marked the terminal closure on 29 June 2015. British Airways operations have been relocated to Terminals 3 and 5.

Terminal 2 

The airport's newest terminal, officially known as the Queen's Terminal, was opened on 4 June 2014. Designed by Spanish architect Luis Vidal, it was built on the site that had been occupied by the original Terminal 2 and the Queens Building. The main complex was completed in November 2013 and underwent six months of testing before opening to passengers. It includes a satellite pier (T2B), a 1,340-space car park, an energy centre and a cooling station to generate chilled water. There are 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants.

Terminal 2 is used by all Star Alliance members which fly from Heathrow (consolidating the airlines under Star Alliance's co-location policy "Move Under One Roof"). Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Flybe and Icelandair also operate from the terminal. The airlines moved from their original locations over a six-month period, with only 10% of flights operating from there in the first six weeks (United Airlines' transatlantic flights) to avoid the opening problems seen at Terminal 5. Development will continue at the terminal to increase capacity in preparation for the closure of Terminal 3 in 2019.

The original Terminal 2 opened as the Europa Building in 1955 and was the airport's oldest terminal. It had an area of 49,654 m2 (534,470 sq ft) and was designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually. In its final years it accommodated up to 8 million. A total of 316 million passengers passed through the terminal in its lifetime. The building was demolished in 2010, along with the Queens Building which had housed airline company offices.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 opened as the Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes for foreign carriers to the United States, Asia and other Far Eastern destinations. At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London from the gardens on the roof of the terminal building. Renamed Terminal 3 in 1968, it was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities added included the UK's first moving walkways. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Emirates and Qantas operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380.

Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt by the addition of a new four-lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building, was completed in 2007. These improvements were intended to improve passengers' experience, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic was assigned its own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium.

As of 2013, Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962 m2 (1,065,220 sq ft) and in 2011 it handled 19.8 million passengers on 104,100 flights.

Terminal 4

Opened in 1986, Terminal 4 is situated to the south of the southern runway next to the cargo terminal and is connected to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 by the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. The terminal has an area of 105,481 m2(1,135,390 sq ft) and is now home to the SkyTeam alliance, with the exception of Garuda Indonesia, Middle East Airlines, and Delta Air Lines which use Terminal 3, and to some unaffiliated carriers. It has undergone a £200m upgrade to enable it to accommodate 45 airlines with an upgraded forecourt to reduce traffic congestion and improve security. Most flights that go to Terminal 4 are flights coming from Asia and North Africa, as well as a few flights to Europe. An extended check-in area with renovated piers and departure lounges and a new baggage system were installed, and two new stands were built to accommodate the Airbus A380; Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways operate regular A380 flights.

Terminal 5

Terminal 5 lies between the northern and southern runways at the western end of the Heathrow site and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008, some 19 years after its inception. It opened to the public on 27 March 2008, and British Airways and its partner company Iberia have exclusive use of this terminal. The first passenger to enter Terminal 5 was a UK ex-pat from Kenya who passed through security at 04:30 on the day. He was presented with a boarding pass by the British Airways CEO Willie Walsh for the first departing flight, BA302 to Paris. During the two weeks after its opening, operations were disrupted by problems with the terminal's IT systems, coupled with insufficient testing and staff training, which caused over 500 flights to be cancelled. Until March 2012, Terminal 5 was exclusively used by British Airways as its global hub; however, because of the merger, on 25 March Iberia's operations at Heathrow were moved to the terminal, making it the home of International Airlines Group.

Built at a cost of £4.3 billion, the terminal consists of a four-storey main terminal building (Concourse A) and two satellite buildings linked to the main terminal by an underground people mover transit system. The second satellite (Concourse C), includes dedicated aircraft stands for the Airbus A380. It became fully operational on 1 June 2011. Terminal 5 was voted SkytraxWorld's Best Airport Terminal 2014 in the Annual World Airport Awards.

The main terminal building (Concourse A) has an area of 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft) while Concourse B covers 60,000 square metres (650,000 sq ft). It has 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually as well as more than 100 shops and restaurants.

A further building, designated Concourse D and of similar size to Concourse C, may yet be built to the east of the existing site, providing up to another 16 stands. Following British Airways' merger with Iberia, this may become a priority since the combined business will require accommodation at Heathrow under one roof to maximise the cost savings envisaged under the deal. A proposal for Concourse D featured in Heathrow's most recent capital investment plan.

The transport network around the airport has been extended to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. A dedicated motorway spur links the terminal to the M25 (between junctions 14 and 15). The terminal has a 3,800 space multi-storey car park. A more distant long-stay car park for business passengers is connected to the terminal by a personal rapid transitsystem, which became operational in the spring of 2011. New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground's Piccadilly line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

Coffee & Restaurants

There are restaurants and fast food outlets in the departure areas of all five terminals, though, like most airports, the food can be overpriced.

Terminal 2


Terminal 3


  • Boots, 06:00-22:00, sell a limited range of pre-packed sandwiches, salads and bottled drinks at a very good price. Located in departures, both before and after security, and in the arrivals hall.
  • Costa, 24 hours, serves fresh coffee, tea, hot drinks, sandwiches and pastries. Located in departures, before security.
  • O'Neills, 06:00 until last flight. An Irish bar, which sells a range of reasonably priced pub meals with your pint of Guinness. Located after security.
  • AMT Coffee, 24 hours. A coffee shop which also serves a range of snacks. Located in the arrivals hall.


  • Marks & Spencer Simply Food, 06:00 - 22:00, sell a large range of pre-packed, sandwiches, salads, cakes pastries and bottled drinks. Not cheap, but good quality and value, after all - it's not just food! Located in the arrivals hall.
  • Garfunkel's, 06:00 - 23:00, serves a range of British and American food including decent breakfasts. Located in departures, before security.
  • Eat., 05:00 - 21:00, serve fresh, simple, seasonal sandwiches, soup, salad and cakes, bottled drinks and tea & fresh coffee to eat in or take away. Located after security.


  • Brasserie Chez Gérard, 07:00 until last flight, serves a range French food and drink in a casual atmosphere. Located after security.
  • Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, 07:00 - 21:00, serves caviar, smoked salmon and seafood. Located after security.

Terminal 4


  • Boots, 06:00 - 22:00, sell a limited range of pre-packed sandwiches, salads and bottled drinks at a very good price. Located in departures, both before and after security.
  • Costa, 05:30 until last flight, serves fresh coffee, tea, hot drinks, sandwiches and pastries. Located after security.
  • Pret (After security turn left and walk to the gates at the end.). British chain of sandwich shops. £2+.


  • Caffe Nero, 24 hours, serves fresh coffee, tea, hot drinks and Italian style sandwiches and pastries. Located before security.
  • Prince of Wales (formerly Bridge Bar) (After security). 05:30 - last flightThis establishment serves "pub" food. There is a couple of cask beers on tap and a selection of keg beers as well. 


  • Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, 08:00 - 20:00, serves caviar, smoked salmon and seafood. Located after security.

Terminal 5


Heathrow Airport and British Airways are trying to give their new terminal a feeling of quality so you won't find any of your regular, cheap high-street fast food joints in T5. There are a few places where you can grab a bite to eat without breaking the bank though:

  • Boots, 06:00 until last flight, sell a limited range of pre-packed sandwiches, salads and bottled drinks at a very good price. Located in departures, both before and after security.
  • Costa, 24 hours, serves fresh coffee, tea, hot drinks, sandwiches and pastries. Located in the middle of the arrivals concourse.


  • Caffe Nero, 05:30 until last flight, serves fresh coffee, tea, hot drinks and Italian style sandwiches and pastries. Located on the departures level in the north of the check-in area. Has great views of the northern runway.
  • Marks & Spencer Simply Food, 05:30 until last flight, sell a large range of pre-packed, sandwiches, salads, cakes pastries and bottled drinks. Not cheap, but good quality and value, after all - it's not just food! Located on the arrivals concourse.
  • Giraffe, 05:30 until last flight, an alternative restaurant with a very up beat atmosphere and style. Serves food from around the world, including cooked breakfasts, curry dishes, pizza, sandwiches, fish and chips, salads, burgers, grilled steak and everything else they've got. Prices aren't too expensive. Located after security.
  • Eat., 05:30 until last flight, serve fresh, simple, seasonal sandwiches, soup, salad and cakes, bottled drinks and tea & fresh coffee to eat in or take away. Located after security.


  • Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, 05:30 until last flight. An airport restaurant from the 3 michelin star celebrity chef based on the Boxwood Cafe. Breakfast menu is available until 11:00. Serves a range of fine food tailored toward to needs of airport customers, example dishes include "Foie gras and chicken liver parfait, celeriac remoulade, toasted country bread" as a starter, "Escalope of veal, lemon, capers and a nut brown butter" main and "Valhrona chocolate fondue with banana, marshmallows and waffle" desert. Casual dress code. Not cheap. Located on the south side of the terminal after security.
  • Huxleys, 05:30 until last flight, serves great traditional British food and drink, including afternoon tea. Located after security.
  • Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, 05:30 until last flight, serves caviar, smoked salmon and seafood. Located in T5 and T5B, after security.

Accommodation & Hotels

  • Crowne Plaza London HeathrowStockley Rd, West Drayton,  +44 871 942 9140The hotel near Heathrow Airport has a number of facilities including a restaurant, bar and health club.


  • Holiday Inn London HeathrowSipson Road, West Drayton,  +44 871 942 9095Near to both London Heathrow Airport and the M4. It also provides airport parking and business facilities.


  • Holiday Inn Slough-WindorChurch St, Chalvey SL1 2NH (M4 to Jct6. A335 signed Slough (centre), 1st roundabout take 3rd exit which is Church St: 10 mi (16 km)), +44 1753 551551Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00Long stay parking. 3 Star Hotel for airport stopovers, hotel conferences near London or visiting Legoland and Windsor Castle.



Airport services


Amongst its other attributes as an excellent orienteering course and exercise facility, Heathrow is also something of a haven for shoppers with branches of shops from the British high-street and beyond, including the London icons Harrods and Hamleys.

Internet, Comunication

The entire airport is covered by a Boingo Wireless network. Prices are as normal for any Boingo hotspot (currently a fairly steep £9.95 per day, £5.95 per hour or £14.95 per month). Most airline lounges will offer free wifi and this does sometimes leak out into areas just outside the lounge. BA's BT Openzone provided free hotspot used to be a prime example of this however the airline began applying a password which changes monthly in 2010. If you have a BT Openzone account however you can still make use of the wifi with your account.


Showers are available to travellers in both Terminals 3 and 4, and in the airline lounges in each terminal. Every terminal has at least one pay-to-enter lounge that doesn't require airline status or membership.


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