London Heathrow Airport Guide

Airport Code: LHR

Time Zone: UTC/GMT +00:00

Flight Enquiry: +44 844 335 1801

Heathrow is London’s main airport and the busiest in the UK with an average of 190,000 domestic and international passengers arriving and departing daily. It has two main runways and five terminals, and serves 180 destinations in 85 countries. The recent expansion of Terminal 2, has seen the airport meet the demands of increased passenger numbers with even more scheduled flights and improved facilities.

Conveniently situated 15 miles west of central London, Heathrow is a popular choice for travellers jetting into the UK for business or pleasure. With fast, direct trains to the city such as the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect, London’s many attractions are just under half an hour away.

When departing from Heathrow, it's best to plan your journey. Give yourself plenty of time before your flight, especially when travelling to the airport by car or bus. Due to the large numbers of passengers the airport handles on a daily basis, traffic is considerable during peak times. Helping you plan your journey is what we do.

Heathrow Hotels

Hotels at Heathrow Airport
Terminal 4 Hotel

Booking a night at an airport hotel the before your flight or for your transit is a great way to travel relaxed and confident your transfer to the airport will be smooth.

Many passengers choose to stay in a hotel at Heathrow Airport, simply because it’s a convenient and hassle-free option, especially if you have an early morning flight.

Heathrow has some excellent options for your stay. For example, if you’re arriving or departing from Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 you can take advantage of airport hotels connected directly to these two terminals. The Hilton is at Terminal 4 and the Sofitel is at Terminal 5. Find out more about the hotels at Heathrow Airport.

Hilton at Heathrow Terminal 4

Hotels Near Heathrow Airport

Due to the large volume of passengers using the airport and the possibility of flight delays, there are a considerable number of hotels a short distance from Heathrow Airport. These offer business and leisure travellers free shuttle buses, a good range of services and a comfortable bed near the airport if the unexpected happens.

Apart from the two onsite hotels in T4 and T5, the Holiday Inn is the closest hotel to Heathrow Airport at less than half a mile away. Find out which hotels near London Heathrow best suits you.

Car Rental at Heathrow Airport

Each of the five terminals have service desks for car rental hire. Renting a car at Heathrow is a flexible and convenient means of travel, especially if you’re touring the UK and want your holiday to start as soon as you step off the plane.

With excellent motorway connections around the country, as well as directly into London, a hire car is an excellent idea.

For expediency and access to the best deals it pays to book online before you arrive at the airport. Find out what Heathrow Airport car rental companies can offer you.

Heathrow Car Rental

Heathrow Immigration & Customs

Unless you’re in transit, you’ll need to go through passport control and customs at Heathrow Airport to enter the UK. Directions are clearly signposted once you’ve left your aircraft.

Passport Control

There are two different queues for passport control:

•British nationals and Swiss nationals, European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA)

•Every other nationality.

 If in any doubt about which queue you’re meant to be in ask airport staff. Passport and documentation checks are thorough at Heathrow, especially if you’re in the ‘other nationalities’ queue, plus it is a busy airport so patience is required at peak times. Those with e-passports (with a magnetic chip) from Britain, European Economic Area or Switzerland can use the e-passport gates to speed up the process. Regular travellers to Heathrow Airport from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or the USA can register to use their e-passports, this costs £50 for a year.

Customs

Which customs corridor you enter after passport control depends on whether you’re coming from the EU or non-EU country. To make clearance through customs quick and painless, there are three channels: red, blue or green.

•Red: Goods to declare

•Blue: No goods to declare, travelling from an EU country

•Green: No goods to declare, travelling from a non-EU country.

Banned and restricted goods

These are taken straight off the UK government services website and include:

•illegal drugs

•offensive weapons like flick knives

•self defence sprays like pepper spray and CS gas

•endangered animal and plant species

•rough diamonds

•indecent and obscene materials

•personal imports of meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries

 Some goods are restricted - like firearms, explosives and ammunition. You need a special licence.

Some food and plant products are also restricted if they:

•aren’t free from pests and diseases

•aren’t for your own use

•weren’t grown in the EU

Heathrow Airport Information

The airport has Passenger Ambassadors in departures and arrivals who are there to help you with any questions you may have; look for the smart purple uniform.

Information Points are also situated in each terminal, for Terminals 1 - 4 these are in the check-in, arrivals or departures areas. Terminal 5 has a dedicated information zone set up with computers in the arrivals area and help points in key locations around the terminal.

Shopping & Duty Free

Forgotten an essential item for your holiday or want to buy some British-themed souvenirs? Heathrow Airport offers excellent tax free and duty free shopping at all five terminals, so if you’ve arrived with plenty of time to spare you’ll be able to browse the wide variety of products including perfumes and skincare, wines and whiskies, fashion and accessories.

If you’re coming back through Heathrow you don’t have to carry your purchases on holiday either, with the Shop & Collect service you can simply pick them up on return, or have them delivered to a UK address if you spend over £300 (Heathrow Rewards member) or £500 (non-Heathrow Rewards member).

Heathrow Airport Lounges

Whether you’re flying business class or economy, there are airport lounges in most of the terminals at Heathrow Airport for your comfort and convenience.

Located both before and after security control, these provide a welcome escape if you need to relax with a drink or meal, work before your flight or entertainment to keep children occupied.

See our Heathrow Airport Lounges page for more information and details on how to access these facilities.

Heathrow Terminals

Terminal 1

Opened in 1969, this is Heathrow’s 3rd oldest terminal and is one of the airports’ three central terminals served by London’s rail links. It is predominantly used by British Airways for short and mid-haul flights but three other airlines also use the terminal: El Al, Icelandair and TAM Airlines. Terminal 1 is earmarked to close in mid-2015, due to the expansion of Terminal 2.

Terminal 2

Originally named the Europa Building, Terminal 2 opened in 1955 and is Heathrow’s oldest terminal. An extensive redevelopment of this terminal took place between 2009 and 2104 and it is now the airport’s newest addition, it has been renamed The Queen’s Terminal. Currently 26 airlines operate from Terminal 2 including, Air New Zealand, Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. More are expected to join the line-up when Terminal 1 closes, and Terminal 2 is expanded again.

Terminal 3

Mainly operating long haul flights to international and European destinations, Terminal 3 opened in 1961 and is the 2nd oldest terminal at Heathrow. It is the hub for Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Oneworld Alliance members such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

Terminal 4

Added to Heathrow in the 1980s, Terminal 4 was built as a base for British Airways, who used it until 2008. Refurbished in 2012, it is now the base for the SkyTeam alliance made up of long haul airlines such as Air France, Delta Airlines, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines. Due to its exclusive use for long haul flights, there is a conveniently situated hotel at Heathrow Terminal 4, the Hilton, which is directly connected to the terminal via a covered walkway.

Terminal 5

The most recent terminal to open at Heathrow in 2005, Terminal 5 can claim being the UK’s largest freestanding building covering a site of 260 hectares and one of its most expensive costing $4 billion to build. Primarily used by British Airways long-haul flights, it is designed to cope with 35 million passengers annually and has a wide range of modern facilities for travellers.

Transit Between Terminals

For Visitors

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Heathrow Airport are all situated next to each other so the quickest way to get between these terminals is to walk which takes about about ten minutes. Terminals 4 and 5 are further away and are served by the Heathrow Express and the London Underground, a 20 minute and 16 minute journey respectively.

For Passengers

If you’re a passenger with a through-ticket and no baggage to collect then you should follow the purple signs for Flight Connections. Your journey time will be a few minutes walk if the terminals are next to each other (T1, 2 and 3) or you will be transferred to the departure terminal by a free bus (T4 and T5).

Heathrow Airport Parking

With an airport that is spread over such a large area, terminals in different locations and multiple parking options, working out where to park and at what price can be an entire travel mission in itself.

We've broken down the process simply and clearly at this page. Find out where to park, either at the airport or at an independent parking provider. See options for airport hotel parking and find out where the business parking facilities are.

It's all covered right here.

Long Term

If you’re going to be away for a few days or more, using one of Heathrow Airport’s long stay car parks is a good idea.

With the long stay car parks providing patrols, security fencing and CCTV, you can rest assured your car will be safe at Heathrow. There are three long stay car parks, one catering for Terminals 1, 2 and 3, one for Terminal 4 and another for Terminal 5.

Transport to and from the long stay car parks is provided by free shuttle bus.

Short Term

Best for picking up or dropping off passengers, or day trips, short stay parking at Heathrow Airport is the closest parking to each of the five terminals. Parking for two hours or more can be booked online in advance. 

Valet

For that added prestige, Heathrow provides valet parking at all five terminals and this can be booked in advance or you can just turn up on the day. This is a really convenient parking option if you’re pressed for time, travelling with a large amount of luggage or with children.

Simply drive to the designated drop-off point and your car will be parked securely. When you return it will be ready for you to be picked up in the designated pick-up area, you can even get it washed and vacuumed when you’re away.

Business

Business travellers can take advantage of the Heathrow Business Car Parks. They are closer to the terminals than the long stay car parks. There is a Business Car Park serving Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and Terminals 4 and 5 each have their own. Transfer times from the Business Car Parks are between three to five minutes, and the transfer bus runs every five minutes.

Luggage Storage

Heathrow Airport has left luggage storage facilities in each terminal which is convenient if you wish to store your baggage for just a few hours or for longer periods. Luggage storage can be used on the day or pre-booked in advance. The cost is £5 for up to two hours, £10 for 2 - 24 hours and £5 for each additional 24 hour period.


Terminal 1

Arrivals level (ground floor), next to lifts for Heathrow Express.

Opening hours: 06:00 - 23:00.


Terminal 2

Arrivals level (ground floor).

Opening hours: 05:30 - 22:00.


Terminal 3

Arrivals level (ground floor).

Opening hours: 05.30 - 23:00.


Terminal 4

Arrivals and mezzanine level (ground floor), west end of arrivals hall.

Opening hours: 05:30 - 23:00.


Terminal 5

Arrivals level (ground floor), UK arrivals end.

Opening hours: 05:30 - 23:00.


Heathrow Airport Questions, Advice & Answers

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Useful Links

Hotels

Heathrow Terminal 4 Hotel

External

Heathrow Airport

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