What started out as naught but a grassy airfield in the 1920s is today the world’s busiest international airport and the largest transit hub in the United Kingdom. Home to five terminals – including the newly revamped Terminal 2, The Queen's Terminal, which reopened mid-2014 – Heathrow sits on 3,000 acres and features an incredible array of lounges for leisure, as well as restaurants and retail opportunities off-runway. Much loved institutions of fashion and fare found at Heathrow include Harrods, Zara, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, with around 80 retailers and 40 eateries to keep you busy pre- or post-flight.
Heathrow Quick Facts
Distance from city: 15.5 miles
Number of airlines: 90+ airlines operate from Heathrow
Number of destinations served: More than 180 locations worldwide
Number of terminals: Five
Number of runways: Two main runways and one crosswind runway
You will find the check-in areas on the first floor of Terminals 1 and 4, the ground floor in Terminal 3 and the top floor of Terminals 2 and 5, all marked by illuminated cubes. You should arrive at check-in three hours before a long-haul flight, two hours before a European flight and 90-minutes before a domestic UK or Ireland flight. Make sure to have your tickets, passport and baggage ready for handling.
If you need to store your baggage for a few hours or days, there are baggage storage facilities on the ground floor of each terminal. Opening hours are 05:30 to 23:00 (excluding Terminal 1 which opens at 06:00) and storage fees start at £5 for four hours, up to £27 for 72-hours and £9 for each day following. Lost property offices are located in the Heathrow Express building in Terminal 3 and the arrivals hall in Terminal 5. You can also search the online lost property database and have it sent out to you for a fee.
Currency exchange facilities and cash machines are located before and after security points at all Heathrow Terminals.
Internet Access / Wi-Fi
Heathrow’s Wi-Fi service is available throughout the terminals and is free for all travellers for the first 45-minutes, or 90-minutes if you are a member of Heathrow Rewards. To stay connected after your free session expires, you can pay-as-you-go for extra time at the dedicated computer desks located around the terminals. Wi-Fi access rates start at £3 for an hour, £5 for up to three hours and £9 for one day.
Business travellers will have no worries making deadlines and getting work done on-the-go at Heathrow Airport. With 23 dedicated Business Lounges, valet and business parking services, the handy Heathrow Airport Guide mobile app and Wi-Fi access throughout the terminals, business travellers will find it easier than ever to stay connected. If you’re not flying in a cabin class or a member of a loyalty program that grants you lounge access, you can still enjoy all the perks of the productive and plush spaces. Book ahead to use the Servisair Executive Lounge in Terminals 1 and 3 for up to three hours before your flight, with complimentary bar service and quiet surrounds, or the No. 1 Traveller Lounge in Terminal 3 where you can enjoy free Wi-Fi and quick treatments at the Travel Spa.
There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained (and tire them out!) before your flight at Heathrow. The Family Lounge in Terminal 3 had dedicated play zones for ages zero to two and three to nine, as well as a quiet room, game zone and private nursing area. The Lounge is open from 06:00 to 21:00 and is free to use, though time limits may apply during busy periods. There are also “stay & play” areas located in Terminals 1, 4 and 5, with slides, soft play areas for the littlies and separate zones for babies. Stay & play areas are suitable for kids up to nine years of age and operate from 06:00 to 21:00. In addition to entertainment offerings, there are baby change facilities before and after security points at Heathrow.
Heathrow Airport offers a personalised concierge service to help guide you through the terminal, ideal for families, new fliers, foreign visitors and business executives. For departures, a concierge host can meet you kerbside or at the Heathrow Express station ready to assist you with your baggage, breeze you through priority check-in and security and onward to the boarding gate. For arrivals, a concierge host can wait for you as you exit the aircraft, escort you through priority customs and immigration, assist you with collecting your bags and see you to your transport. Airport concierge services can also be used if you need assistance transferring between flights.
If you need a freshen up before or after you fly, showers are located in the No. 1 Traveller Lounge in Terminal 3 and can be pre-booked online or used for a fee if you’re not a lounge program member.
Unwind in style, get a little work done or enjoy a few hours of luxury before you fly at one of the Heathrow Airport Lounges located in Terminals 1 and 3. The Servisair Executive Lounge in Terminal 1 is open from 05:15 to 22:15 daily and serves complimentary drinks and snacks. Maximum length of stay is three hours and children are welcome if accompanied by an adult. The Servisair Lounge is also located in Terminal 3 on the second floor. Open from 05:45 to 22:00 every day, the lounge offers free Wi-Fi and complimentary food including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Travellers are able to use the Servisair Lounges at Heathrow for a fee, provided they are travelling from the terminal the lounge is in and adhere to the smart casual dress code.
No. 1 Lounge
The No. 1 Lounge found in Terminal 3 can be accessed up to three hours before your departure for an entry fee of £30 for adults and £15 for children aged two to 11. The No. 1 Lounge is open from 04:30 to 22:30 and offers guests one complimentary hot meal from the bistro, drinks from the bar, free unlimited Wi-Fi, showers, a cinema room and games room. Extra indulgences can also be booked at the lounge’s Travel Spa, offering massages, facials and manicures. Children are welcome and guests must follow the smart casual dress code.
A number of airlines have dedicated lounges at Heathrow, open to passengers travelling in cabin classes above economy or high level loyalty members. One-off lounge access may also be purchased – check with your airline to see how you can gain access to the exclusive spaces for pre-flight respite. The following airlines are just some of those with lounges at Heathrow Airport:
British Airways have a collective of six lounges at Heathrow, known as the British Airways Galleries. The lounge series includes an Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 5, First Lounge dedicated to First Class passengers in Terminals 3 and 5, and an International Lounge and Domestic (UK and Ireland) Lounge both found Terminal 1. Guests are able to use the British Airways lounges if they are flying with British Airways in First, Club World or Club Europe class; are a Silver or Gold member of the British Airways Executive Club; or are an Emerald or Sapphire member of any oneworld airline loyalty programs.
Facilities include three instalments of the acclaimed Elemis Spa in Terminal 5, free Wi-Fi access, dedicated kid zones, a Wine Gallery and Champagne Bar, 20-seat cinema and plenty of spaces for business and to power your personal electronic devices. British Airways Galleries Lounges are open from 05:00 until 22:30 or the last departure daily.
Located at Gate H in Terminal 3, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is the airline’s flagship Clubhouse and is all about giving guests the VIP treatment. The award-winning Clubhouse features a menu of luxurious treatments at the Cowshed Spa, a 14-metre long cocktail bar serving both classics and modern mixes, and Den for gamers and TV lovers. The Clubhouse has plenty of laptop points for those who wish to work or be in control of their own entertainment, plus a mouth-watering menu tempting you with gruyere and truffle toasted sandwiches for breakfast, British-inspired tapas for lunch and traditional afternoon tea.
The expansive Clubhouse includes areas designed for the utmost relaxation including an après-ski themed Lodge and Viewing Deck, Poolside Lounge with a Japanese water-wall and Grey Goose Loft Bar boasting a bird’s eye view of the runway. The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is open from 07:00 to 22:30 every day.
American Airlines operate three lounges at Heathrow Airport: The Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge and Arrivals Lounge. The Admirals Lounge in Terminal 3 features complimentary Wi-Fi, a floating bar and bistro area, private spa-like showers and a dedicated children’s room. The Admirals Club is open to Admirals Club members, American Airlines or oneworld passengers flying in First and Business Class, and oneworld Emerald or Sapphire members.
The Admirals Club is open from 06:30 to 21:00 daily. Use of the Flagship Lounge is exclusive to First Class international passengers, and is located in Terminal 3. The Flagship Lounge boasts a fully equipped business centre and cyber cafe with high speed internet, a complimentary buffet and premium bar service and shower facilities. The Flagship Lounge is open 06:30 to 18:45 Sunday to Friday and until 17:00 on Saturday.
The American Airlines Arrivals Lounge can be found straight after customs on level two of Terminal 3. Open from 06:00 to 14:00 daily, the Arrivals Lounge is open to American Airlines First and Business Class passengers as well as oneworld Emerald guests. After touching down, you can enjoy a shower, have your clothes pressed, relax with complimentary drinks and Wi-Fi and dine at the breakfast bar.
Heathrow’s Terminal 1 is mainly used by British Airways’ international flights and by certain airlines associated with Star Alliance (including Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines). Terminal 1 can be accessed using the London Underground, the Heathrow Connect and Express trains, as well as a number of busses and the M4 motorway.
The freshly reopened Terminal 2 at Heathrow is home to 23 Star Alliance airlines as well as Aer Lingus and Germanwings.Terminal 2 is situated next to Terminal 1 with easy access to the T2 Short Stay parking and the Central Bus Station, which hosts the Underground, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect trains along with buses and coaches. From Terminal 2, connection times average around 1 hour, a significant reduction compared to Heathrow's other terminals which usually take 90 minutes.
Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport is the main hub for Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul services and is also used by members of the oneworld and Star Alliance programs. Air Canada and American Airlines also use Terminal 3 as their UK hub, alongside other airlines including Delta, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Air China, Japan Airlines and Qantas. Terminal 3 is accessible via the London Underground tube station, Heathrow Central train station, several busses and the M4 motorway.
Heathrow London’s Terminal 4 is the base of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which includes Air France, Air India, Etihad Airways and United Airlines. You can get to Terminal 4 via the M25 motorway, the London Underground tube station, Heathrow Central station and a handful of bus services.
Terminal 5 at Heathrow London is the main base for British Airways and Iberia, Spain’s national carrier. British Airways uses Terminal 5 for the majority of their Heathrow operations, with selected usage of Terminals 1 and 3 when Terminal 5 is busy. Terminal 5 is accessible via the London Underground tube station, the Heathrow Express train service, RailAir express buses and a number of bus and coach services, as well as the “personal rapid transit” system – the zippy purple pods linking the terminal to its Business car park.
Heathrow is renowned for its frequent and reliable public transport, connecting travellers who are commencing or completing their journey in the English capital several different ways.
The Fastest: Heathrow Express
The fastest way to get to or from the airport is via the Heathrow Express – a non-stop train that runs every 15 minutes between London Paddington and Heathrow Central stations. The journey itself takes around 15 minutes, but you should add on a couple of minutes if you’re travelling from Terminals 4 or 5. The train travels directly to Heathrow Central for passengers needing Terminal 1 and 3, and to Terminal 5.
Those travelling to Terminal 4 should also disembark at Heathrow Central and jump on the free transfer train. If you’re travelling from the airport, the express service runs to Paddington Station near Hyde Park and Oxford Street, where you can catch additional trains or take the London Underground. The Heathrow Express train runs from approximately 05:00 until just before midnight daily, with tickets available for purchase online, at the stations or on the train (which costs a few pounds more). A standard-class single fare is £26 if you purchase the ticket on board or £21 if bought in advance.
The Cheapest: London Underground
The Piccadilly Line on the London Underground is the most budget-friendly option for getting to or from Heathrow Airport. With services running every 10 minutes from around 05:00 until 23:30, it’s easy to jump on the tube at one of the three Heathrow Underground stations – one station for Terminal 1 and 3 together, and individual stations at Terminals 4 and 5.
The journey time from Heathrow’s Underground stations to central London is just under an hour and costs £5 on an Oyster single fare during peak times Monday to Friday, or £3 at any other time after 09:30. You can also purchase paper tickets at the Underground station which costs a little more than using an Oyster card (£5.70 for a single adult fare). Refer to the London Underground Map for a more detailed journey planner.
Buses, Taxis and Car Hire
Buses and coaches frequently zip in and out from Heathrow. For local busses, the 24-hour Heathrow Central bus station is located between Terminal 1 and 3 via the underground walkways. Certain bus services also stop at Terminals 4 and 5. A single adult bus fare is £2.20 – tickets can be purchased on the bus or you can use your prepaid Oyster card.
A taxi trip between Heathrow and Central London can take between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the traffic and time of day, and costs anywhere from £45 to £85. You also have the option of pre-booking a fixed-price minicab, with the eco-friendly greentomatocars the preferred minicab provider for Heathrow Airport. Car hire companies at Heathrow include Hertz, Avis, Europcar and Budget.
Short Stay parking
Each terminal at Heathrow has Short Stay parking located nearby. Short Stay parking is priced according to duration and is recommended for no longer than 24-hours. Short Stay parking starts at £3 for the first 30 minutes. You can also pre-book your Short Stay parking online and take advantage of special prices.
Tariffs apply to certain times of the day at Terminal 4 only – Short Stay parking starts at £0.00 for up to 30 minutes between 06:00 and 08:00, and £0.00 between 18:30 and 20:30. Standard Short Stay parking prices apply outside these peak hour windows.
Long Stay parking
If your holiday is based in London and you’re planning a trip on the side, Long Stay parking at Heathrow has you covered. There are three Heathrow Long Stay parking complexes located on the perimeter roads surrounding Heathrow, which run free courtesy coach services to the airport terminals. Prices for Long Stay parking are £22 for the first day and £17.20 for each additional 24-hour period or part thereof, while peak periods incur slightly higher fees at £25.30 for the first day and £20 from thereon in.
Peak periods are 25 October to 3 November and 20 December to 5 January for Terminals 1 to 4, and 25 January to 23 February for Terminal 5. The Long Stay car park may also be used free of charge for up to two hours for those picking up or dropping off passengers at Terminal 4.
Business and Valet parking
Exclusive business parking is available for each terminal. The business parking complex for Terminals 1 and 3 is located on the Northern Perimeter Road and is open to all travellers. Rates for Terminal 1/3 business parking vary day to day from £25.30 to £26.30 – these same fees are also applicable to Terminal 4 business parking on the Southern Perimeter Road. Terminal 5 business parking rates vary from £31.20 to £32.40 depending on the day and there are plenty of speedy transfers available from each business parking compound.
Valet parking is also available at all Heathrow terminals. Whether you’re travelling with children or have a lot of luggage in tow, valet parking is quick and convenient for just a little extra – you can even add a car care service so you return to a nice clean ride! Valet parking prices start at £67.30 for one day off-peak, £77.40 for one day on peak for Terminals 1 to 4, and £87.50 for Terminal 5.
There are plenty of transfer options between the airport terminals at Heathrow via walkways, railways and busways. Terminals 1 and 3 are just a short 10-minute walk apart, while the Heathrow Express, London Underground and certain bus routes service other terminals. The London Underground connects Terminals 1, 3 and 5 and takes a maximum of 16 minutes per journey.
The Heathrow Express train services Terminals 1, 3, 4 and 5 and takes up to 20 minutes. Terminals 4 and 5 are also linked by bus routes 490 and 482, which can take around 20 minutes between the two points. London Underground transfers are free if you use a London Oyster Card, otherwise you will need to purchase tickets at the stations or on board.
As one of the world's busiest airports, London Heathrow is serviced by a wide range of airlines. The following airlines reach London Heathrow Airport. Don't see the airline you are looking for? Talk to a consultant to book your London flights with your preferred airline.
The following airlines reach London Heathrow. Don't see the airline you are looking for? Talk to a consultant to book your London Heathrow flights with your preferred airline.