Airport Guide: London Heathrow

London’s Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe, so make sure you check out our guide for everything you need to know before you go! 

Last year over 80 million passengers moved through Heathrow on nearly half a million flights. The airport is home to Oneworld founding member, British Airways, so has many connecting flights for travellers flying with the airline alliance. Virgin Atlantic also use Heathrow as a main hub for their long-haul flights to the Americas, Caribbean and Asia. 

There are four terminals open to the public with services domestically, across the continent, and to long-haul destinations. As its name suggests, London Heathrow best serves passengers looking to leave or get to London. But there are excellent road connections available to elsewhere with the airport strategically situated at a convergence of motorways.

Heathrow Airport At-a-glance

Official Website: www.heathrow.com

Airport Code: LHR

Terminals: 4

Address: Heathrow Airport Limited,
The Compass Centre,
Nelson Road, Hounslow
Middlesex, TW6 2GW

Postcodes for GPS:
Terminal 2: TW6 1EW
Terminal 3: TW6 1QG
Terminal 4: TW6 3XA
Terminal 5: TW6 2GA

Terminal Checker: www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/terminal-guides/which-terminal

Contact Number: 0844 335 1801

Timezone: GMT+0 October-March, GMT+1 March-October

Lost Property Contact:

Within the UK: 0844 824 3115
International: +44 (0)20 3761 1800
Website: www.missingx.com

Map: maps.heathrow.com – An interactive map useful for both transport connections, and inside terminal services.

WiFi: Free WiFi is available throughout the airport. The network name is ‘_Heathrow Wi-Fi’.

Apps: Heathrow has apps for both Android and iOS.

Heathrow Facilities

As London Heathrow is such a major airport, you can find almost everything you would expect at an airport. There are plenty of designer shops, newsagents, restaurants, cafes, and duty-free outlets at every terminal. There are ATM’s, currency conversion (but do this before you fly for best rates!), charging stations, prayer rooms, children’s play areas, and smoking areas too. Both landside (i.e. before security) and airside (i.e. after security) have plentiful offerings.

Note that the airside area of each terminal closes at night, meaning you will have to stay landside if staying overnight. Sleeping is allowed in the public seating, but it may be uncomfortable. Terminal 4 does boast a YOTEL Air pod hotel if you’d like to stay in the airport, but otherwise, there are many hotel chains in the nearby area.

Shower facilities are only available when in a lounge. We have more details of these below. There are many free water fountains for passengers to top up their water bottles. Remember that you will need to empty your bottle before passing through security, however.

London Heathrow Airport Guide - Luggage

Luggage storage is possible at each terminal but there are no self-service lockers. There is instead a service provided by Excess Baggage Company. The offices are open from 5AM-11PM. It is a minimum of £7.50 to store a single item for up to three hours, with an increased cost depending on how long you would like your item to be stored. Up to 24 hours is £12.50 per item. Up to 48 hours is £20 per item. Up to 72 hours is £27.50 per item, with an extra £5 per item per 24 hours after this. To save costs, most hotels will allow luggage to be stored for free if you are staying in the city.

You can find the luggage storage locations at:

Terminal 2:
Level 1 Arrivals area. To the left of the Airport Information kiosk. Next to WH Smith.
Level 5 Check-in area. To the left of Zone A next to Costa Coffee.

Terminal 3:
Ground Floor Check-in area. Four desks at Zones B, C, E, and F.
Ground Floor Arrivals area. Next to the Emirates lounge.

Terminal 4:
Level 4 Check-in area. Two desks; one opposite Oriel restaurant, and one next to WH Smith.
Ground Floor Arrivals area. To the left of the escalators to the London Underground.

Terminal 5:
Level 3 Check-in area. Two desks at Zone B and Zone G.
Ground Floor Arrivals area. Opposite a Giraffe restaurant. Next to the domestic arrivals doors.

Heathrow Transport Connections

Heathrow Airport Guide - British Airways

Although there are six airports with London in the name, they are all a long distance from one another. It’s not advised to transfer between Heathrow and other airports unless you have at least 6 hours between your arrival time and departure time. Bus services connect airports with each other but traffic around London can be substantial. Therefore it is best to have layovers within Heathrow, where possible.

 

Bus: National bus services are available, mainly by National Express and Megabus. These allow connections to London’s other airports such as Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton, as well as to other UK cities. The airport does have local bus transport available as part of the ‘Transport for London’ (TfL) system, which is particularly low cost. However, this is best used to get to areas very near to Heathrow, rather than to central London itself.

The buses operate from Heathrow Central bus station which is the busiest bus terminal in the UK. It is located at T2&3 with easy access to both the tube and rail stations. Long-distance buses, such as to another airport or to a UK city, depart from stands 6 to 17.

 

Car: Heathrow is located on the M4 motorway, very nearby to the M25 interchange. The M4 heads into London eastbound and reaches Wales westbound. The M25 circles London and connects to several main motorways such as the M1, M3, and M40. All major Car Hire companies have branches at each terminal. 

Taxis are available outside every terminal. To get into central London would cost between £40-£70 and take roughly an hour, dependent on traffic and travel time. London’s roads are often busy, and rail or underground services will often be quicker.

Heathrow Airport Guide - Taxi

Rail: Heathrow has three train stations. The fast Heathrow Express train to London Paddington station in central London serves T2, T3, and T5 with a transfer service at T4. You will arrive in the centre of London in under 20 minutes from any terminal you travel from. It is the fastest way to get into the city. Trains depart every fifteen minutes from 5-6AM daily until 11:30-11:59PM. Children under 15 travel for free.

Regular rail services are available into central London for onward connections. The service is called TfL Rail (previously Heathrow Connect) and is a more affordable but slightly slower solution. Trains depart every 30 minutes or so, and take around 30 minutes to get into London. There is no service from T5, but you can make a free transfer to the T2&3 station to connect. 

Note that staff will promote going on the Heathrow Express as it is owned by the airport rather than TfL Rail which is government-owned. In most cases, the Heathrow Express will cost more unless tickets are bought in advance, or you are travelling with many children.

 

Underground: The London Underground network extends to Heathrow airport on the Piccadilly line (dark blue). It is the cheapest way to travel into London from the airport but takes longer than rail connections. You can use an Oyster Card or a contactless credit/debit card to tap on/off. Alternatively, ticket machines are available at every Heathrow underground station where a paper day travelcard can be purchased.

Depending whereabouts in London you are looking to go, it will take approximately 45-70 minutes to get to most hotels. There are regular underground trains from each terminal every few minutes.

 

Heathrow Terminals

Heathrow Airport Guide - Underground

Although you will see signs for Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport only has four public terminals. Terminal 1, which was the original terminal, closed down in 2015 to allow an expansion of Terminal 2. However, many signs will still have Terminal 1 written on them, or “Terminals 1, 2 & 3 station” as the three previously shared an underground rail stop. Free shuttle travel between the terminals is possible by both rail and bus, but it is far easier and quicker to travel by rail.

When arriving at Heathrow and needing to make a connection, passengers may need to change terminal. Look out for the purple signs when heading off the plane which direct travellers to connections. Even when staying in the airport, customs must be cleared so allow plenty of time if doing a self-transfer. 

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 is also called the Queen’s Terminal in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. Heathrow T2 is the location for Star Alliance flights. Aer Lingus and Icelandair also operate through the terminal due to their codeshare flights with some Star Alliance airlines. Both domestic and international flights operate from T2.

Transferring from Heathrow Terminal 2 to…

Terminal 3: An underground walkway connects the two terminals. It should take approximately 10 minutes to travel from T2 to T3.

Terminal 4 & Terminal 5: A free rail service connects to T4 & T5 four times an hour. You can use an Oyster card, contactless payment card or obtain a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket to gain access. There will be no cost for this. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T2 to T4 or T5 by shuttle train.

Passengers can also make use of the Underground service for no charge but will need to have a contactless credit/debit card or an Oyster card to board. It should take approximately 16 minutes to travel from T2 to T4 or T5 by shuttle train.

Terminal 3

Although most Oneworld airlines use Terminal 3, the main airline of the terminal is Virgin Atlantic, which operates solely from T3. All Delta flights go through this terminal too, as part of their partnership with Virgin Atlantic. Only international flights operate from T3.

Transferring from Heathrow Terminal 3 to…

Terminal 2: An underground walkway connects the two terminals. It should take approximately 10 minutes to travel from T3 to T2.

Terminal 4 & Terminal 5: A free rail service connects to T4 & T5 four times an hour. You can use an Oyster card, contactless payment card or obtain a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket to gain access. There will be no cost for this. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T3 to T4 or T5 by shuttle train.

Passengers can also make use of the Underground service for no charge but will need to have a contactless credit/debit card or an Oyster card to board. It should take approximately 16 minutes to travel from T3 to T4 or T5 by shuttle train.

Terminal 4

Heathrow Terminal

T4 was historically used primarily for British Airways but is now the SkyTeam home. Delta and Middle East Airlines operate from T3, too. The terminal also serves Oneworld airlines Royal Air Maroc, Malaysia Airlines, and Qatar Airways as well as most of the Etihad flights. The latter three all have lounges in T4. Only international flights operate from T4.

Transferring from Heathrow Terminal 4 to…

Terminal 2&3: A free rail service connects to T2&3 four times an hour. You can use an Oyster card, contactless payment card or obtain a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket to gain access. There will be no cost for this. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T4 to T2&3 by shuttle train.

Passengers can also make use of the Underground service for no charge but will need to have a contactless credit/debit card or an Oyster card to board. It should take approximately 16 minutes to travel from T4 to T2&3 by shuttle train. Note that the Underground trains can remain stationary at T4 for up to eight minutes, so there is no rush to board when the train arrives, but it may delay your journey time.

Terminal 5: The only direct way to travel between T4 and T5 is via bus. You will need to follow signs in arrivals to the bus stops. When you exit the baggage reclaim hall, head left and through the exit doors near to the WH Smith shop. On your left will be Bus Stop 7 which has a free local bus service to T5 via bus number 482 or 490. The destination on the bus will say “Terminal 5”. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T4 to T5 by bus. 

Terminal 5

T5 is the primary hub for British Airways and the most recently constructed terminal at Heathrow. Nearly all of the airlines Heathrow flights operate from this terminal. Following their two airlines merger, Iberia also flies from T5. 

The terminal is split into three with the main building plus two satellite terminals which passengers can travel between via a monorail system. If parking in the business car park, passengers will be transported to the terminal via an automatic driverless “podcar” which is operated by a touch screen. Both domestic and international flights operate from T2.

Transferring from Heathrow Terminal 5 to…

Terminal 2&3: A free rail service connects T5 to T2&3. You can use an Oyster card, contactless payment card or obtain a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket to gain access. There will be no cost for this. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T5 to T2&3 by shuttle train.

Passengers can also make use of the Underground service for no charge but will need to have a contactless credit/debit card or an Oyster card to board. It should take approximately 16 minutes to travel from T5 to T2&3 by shuttle train.

Terminal 4: The only direct way to travel between T5 and T4 is via bus. You will need to follow signs in arrivals to the bus stops. When you exit the baggage reclaim hall, head right and through the exit doors to the right-hand side of the Costa Coffee shop. When you exit the building, n your right will be Bus Stop 7 which has a free local bus service to T4 via bus number 482 or 490. The destination on the bus will say “Southall Town Hall” or “Pools on the Park”. It should take approximately 20 minutes to travel from T5 to T4 by bus. 

Heathrow Terminal

Heathrow Airport Lounges

Heathrow hosts a large number of airport lounges if you have a long layover or are travelling for business. Each terminal has airline lounges as well as independent lounges such as Aspire, or No1 with Plaza Premium having a presence in every terminal. There is even a VIP lounge for celebrities willing to pay over £3,000 for access!

Heathrow Terminal 2 Lounges:
Aer Lingus Gold Circle
Air Canada Maple Leaf
Lufthansa Senator & Business
Plaza Premium – one landside and one airside (these lounges have shower facilities)
Regus Express Business
Singapore Airlines SilverKris
United & United Club (for United’s premium Polaris service)

Heathrow Terminal 3 Lounges:
American Airlines
British Airways Galleries Club & Galleries First
Cathay Pacific
Club Aspire (this lounge has shower facilities)
Emirates & Emirates Chauffeur Drive
Heathrow Family & Heathrow R&R
No1 Lounge (this lounge has shower facilities)
Plaza Premium – one landside and one airside (the landside lounge has shower facilities)
Qantas
Regus Express Business (this lounge has shower facilities)
Virgin Atlantic Revivals & Clubhouse

Heathrow Terminal 4 Lounges:
Art & Lounge
Etihad The House (this lounge has shower facilities)
Gulf Air Falcon Gold
Malaysia Airlines
Plaza Premium – one landside and one airside (these lounges have shower facilities)
Qatar Airways Premium
Skyteam (this lounge has shower facilities)

Heathrow Terminal 5 Lounges:
Aspire Lounge (this lounge has shower facilities)
British Airways Concorde Room
British Airways Galleries Club Lounge North, South & T5B
British Airways Galleries First Lounge
British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge
Heathrow VIP Windsor Suite (extremely premium)
Plaza Premium lounge
Regus Express Business

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