London Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL), often referred to as Heathrow, is the United Kingdom's busiest and best-connected airport. It is the busiest airport in Europe and by international passenger traffic is the busiest international airport in the world. By total passenger traffic it is the world's third-busiest airport. Heathrow is located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, 15 miles (24 km) west of Charing Cross in Central London.
The current terminal system at Heathrow sees British Airways having operations in Terminals 1, 3 and 4, and does little to align airline partnerships within terminal buildings. This should change once T5 is opened (as detailed above).
To my knowledge, there are six commercial airports calling themselves "London" and this is, frankly, a lie. We have London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, London Southend and London City. Only one of them is technically in London and it is this one which is undoubtedly my favourite. Part of the reason for this is that it is physically very close to me, a 20 minute taxi ride or about 40 minutes on public transport but it is much more than that.
As the name suggests, it is fairly well in the centre of the city, being located in what is now generically termed "Docklands" and has been built in what was the old dock area of the city during the huge regeneration there in the 1980's and 90's. Because of this location the runway is not long and this means that there are no long haul flights from here as a 747 would try to land here and end up in the river Tahmes! Also, being a very built-up residential area there are only certain types of aircraft allowed to use the place for noise pollution reasons, namely propellor planes and what I believe are known as "whisper jets (i.e. those with very little engine noise)".
Haing suffered, and I use the word advisedly, the horrors of Heathrow on the return from my recent trip to Madrid, it is a joy to travel through this place. LCY, to give it it's proper designation, is primarily designed for business travellers who generally fly out early morning and return either that evening or possibly next day. This raises a few points. Firstly, it gets busy at those times and secondly it means that very few people have checked baggage which, in turn, means that you never have to queue for more than a couple of minutes at the limited amount of check-in desks as most travellers only have cabin baggage. Also, I believe that the flights from here only fly to the E states so the passport control is quick and cursory at best which saves time.
LCY is just like a major airport only in miniature and much more comfortable. Yes, there are all the facilities you would expect like a bookshop, cafes and restaurants, bars etc. but it is all so compact and easily negotiated that it is actually not a trial to go through. I should mention that the W.H. Smith bookshop is short on music / motorcycle / canal boat magazines etc. although you can buy any amount of books on business management. I suppose it is a case of playing to your audience.
For me VT is all about personal experiences and I shall share one with you here. Some years ago I was travelling to Vilnius via Frankfurt on a morning flight. I had left plenty of time and my taxi turned up bang on time at 0730. We drove to LCY, which was going against the early morning traffic, and I walked in, checked in, went to the bookshop and had a decent browse and not just a "grab the first thing I see" moment, then went outside for a smoke. Like all public buildings in UK, it is regrettably a no smoking area. I chanced to look at my watch and it was 0810. Forty minutes from home to being checked in, reading material bought and ready to go. That is my kind of airport.
I do apologise for the images but they are the only ones I can find in the wreckage of my computer filing system. I am sure I have others elsewhere which I shall post when I rediscover them. I have also posted a video which I hope give some idea of the wonderful views of East London as you take off.
If you are in central London and want to take a short haul flight, I really do suggest that you consider LCY, it is an excellent facility.
I have never tried their Left Luggage Service but I am putting this info from the Heathrow website for my own (and others) reference is you're stuck for a few hours at LHR (London):
Each terminal has a left baggage facility for storing luggage for a number of hours or days. Items are security checked. Left baggage offices also offer competitive unaccompanied baggage rates and services and sell luggage and travel accessories. Charges are £6 per item per 24 hours (or part thereof). The service is operated by the Excess Baggage Company, who can be contacted on +44 (0)20 8745 4599. Opening times are:
Terminal 1 (06:00 - 23:00)
Terminal 2 (05:30 - 23:00)
Terminal 3 (05:00 - 23:00)
Terminal 4 (05:00 - 23:00)
Just be sure the terminal is open by the time you need your bags (ie, if you have a ridiculously early flight!) Hope this helps, Norman :)
I've had the "pleasure" of transferring through Heathrow on a couple of occasions to other European cities and if you can possibly avoid doing it, it is advisable. Heathrow may not be the world's busiest airport but I'd be shocked if it wasn't the world's largest and the one it takes the most time to get through.
If you are traveling in and out of different terminals, you'll want to give yourself at LEAST 2 hours, 3 is preferable, to cover the inevitable circling around the aiport waiting for a landing spot, the LONG walk through the terminal, the transfer via either bus or Heathrow Express and the pass through security. We had 90 minutes between flights going to Bucharest and we were literally jogging through the airport to make our flight, our bags were not as lucky. I've never had to collect my bags at Heathrow between flights but it is a possibility if you purchase the legs of your journey separately.
Traveling in club or first class on British Airways is an entirely different experience, you can use the Fast Track system to go to the front of the security queue and you can use the extra time to visit the BA lounge.
Anything you could possibly need to know about transferring terminals at Heathrow can be found on their website Heathrow's website including how to do it and how much time you need. Note that the times listed for transfer are the minimum time needed, if your in bound flight is delayed or security lines are unusually long you may need more time.
Americans are often routed through Heathrow when travelling to destinations around Europe and Eastern Europe. On my last trip, I tried flying daytime rather than over night...and I would highly recommend it. Jet lag was much less because I had a normal night of sleep on both ends. (cannot sleep on the flight) I pampered myself terribly by staying overnight at the hotel in the airport before continuing on. Height of luxury.
HOWEVER... I really wasn't happy with Heathrow. It's huge, poorly planned, and definatelyl NOT user friendly. You walk for miles for everything. Hallways with people movers are dismal and in great need of paint. The general maintenance of the airport is poor. When you are transported within the complex on a bus...the route takes you through the most twisted unappealling areas you would ever imagine. I understand they are trying to expand the airport again because their ratings are slipping. I say they had better clean up what they already have.
The main terminal area is dominated by retail sales and passengers have minimal uncomfortable seating ... none of which is restfull. Corridors are too narrow to accomodate the crowds. Restrooms are minimal. There is one quiet room provided with a couple of computers and it is like being in a 1955 closet. Next trip I will use another airport for my connecting flights...for sure.
Luton airport, when it was plain (or is it plane ?) Luton airport was run by the local council and happily ferried people to their two week annual packaged holiday on the Spanish costas.
It's only claim to fame was that it was the rather surreal catchphrase of Lorraine Chase who would answer any sophisticated question with the immortal words 'nahh Luton airport"
About 10 years ago it began to get ideas above it's station and was a some point re-named London Luton Airport.
Once Easyjet moved in the place really began to take off. Nowadays you can use this airport to get to London from any number of places across Europe.
The picture shown is part of the offices complex known as 'Easyland' which is not as the name suggests an Amersterdam red-light district amusement park, but rather the corporate HQ of Easyjet and its other offshoots.
Located to the west of the city, from modest
beginnings, Heathrow has blossomed into
one of the world's busiest airports, handling
over 64 million passengers each year.
234 Bath Road
Hayes, Middlesex UB3 5AP
Distance from city: 24km (15 miles)
The below pictures were taken from onboard our favorite
airline .... Virgin Atlantic
Gatwick Airport is situated around 30 miles south of the city that’s why it’s not very comfortable to fly to/from there. Its advantage is that it is cheaper than Heathrow and it’s not impossible to get in London for less money. There is a train Gatwick Express which runs to Victoria station and it’s like 15 pounds one way ticket.
Our flight was early in the morning that’s why we had to spend the night at the airport but it was not a problem. It is clean and comfortable, there are many places to eat even in the night.
We came through last Friday morning on a flight from Chicago landing at 9:05 a.m. By the time we cleared through customs it was 10:35 a.m. We reached the line for customs at 9:25 am and were handed some bottled water by Heathrow staff. 2 lines, the one to the left for EU citizens wait was about 10 minutes or even less from what I could time. 3 flights had arrived about same time as ours. We arrived on American Airlines in Terminal 3. They had anywhere from 6 to 8 custom agents really couldn't count how many until we got close to front of line.
London and Europe's largest airport and the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger movement, with services from most available major airports world-wide. Flights landing in Heathrow often are delayed by up to 30 min as a simple result of air traffic congestion. As a result of Heathrow's size and overcrowding, disembarking the plane can also take considerably longer than at London's other airports. That also makes customs a good wait.
To get to the centre of London you have a few alternatives:
Piccadilly Line tube line takes around 50 minutes. 3.60 Pounds (2005). This option is much cheaper than the Heathrow Express, and can be faster if your destination is in the suburbs west of London.
The Heathrow Express, a high-speed rail link between the airport and London Paddington Station runs every 15 minutes and takes 15 minutes from terminals 1,2,3 or 23 minutes from terminal 4. It's 13 Pounds for a single and 25 Pounds for a return ticket (2005).
A taxi to town will cost about 50 Pounds. Don't do it unless you absolutely have to.
With the latest terrorist threats, security at Heathrow and other UK airports is tighter than ever. Liquids are prohibited in hand luggage, and the extra time needed to check hand baggage means more time is needed to clear emigration.
I flew out a few days after the emergency and we were delayed an hour waiting for clearance to take off. Everyone was very cooperative though. It makes things easier if passengers obey all instructions and have their coats and shoes off before reaching the screening equipment.
When flying in/out of London mind that Gatwick and Heathrow are humongous airports and it could take you at least 30 minutes from the plane to kissing your boyfriend at Arrivals (and that's with hand luggage only, a EU passport and at midnight mid-week...).
Not taking into account security measures which can take up to an hour due to the sheer number of people to check and the limited personnel and equipment, there is often a solid 20 minutes walk from Security Control to you plane's waiting lounge.
Give yourself a break and allow ample time. I count 1.5hrs for a european flight at off-peak times (e.g. 7am or midnight take-off) and 2+hrs at peak times. This takes into account the journey from the tube/train station (didn't think of that one did you? Can take a good 15 minutes...), picking up my boarding pass, security and walking to the boarding lounge. I might have time for a coffee but not much more.
You can check the BAA websites for maps of the airports and details of how to access them.
A nice airport to break your journey to the US from India.Plenty of window shopping to do here to kill time until the connecting flight.I was happy to see the Concorde in action when I spent a few hours in September 2003 on my way to New York City.
I really love visiting Great Britain, and appreciate all aspects of British culture. I thought it would be fun to have a 2.5 hour layover to transfer flights at London Heathrow, time to enjoy the British gift shops, enjoy some tea, Cadbury bars and Walker's crisps, maybe even get some lunch. However, you barely have time for any of that if you need to switch terminals- there are no high-speed trains as far as I know, after going through security( long lines) in the main International Terminal- to get to your departing flight's terminal - specfically flights to the USA- British Airways uses very slow buses- which only hold 50-60 people, there were over 300-400 in line..I'm glad I decided to leave to fly out when I did and skip lunch or I never would have made it in time. My tip is to allow yourself plenty of time to transfer fights, and don't shop around too much unless you have 3-4 hours at Heathrow. It is stessful. At Chicago O'Hare it always takes awhile to get around, but at least they have trains between the terminals. How can Heathrow, the world's largest and probably busiest airport not afford this service?
Smallest of London airports, but most convenient for the city in terms of travelling time, and also the one where security queues tend to clear up fastest, due to the small size.
Obvious downside is not everyone can use it due to lower frequency of flights and fewer destinations available - the airport is mostly for short haul flights in Europe. The only long haul destination currently available is New York (on an all-business class service by BA, which is especially popular with Canary Wharf folk).
That said, if you're flying from Geneva, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Madrid, Rotterdam, Basel, Luxembourg, and a few other European spots, it's an excellent choice.
DLR (Docklands Light Railway) is right outside the terminal, and - also with tube interchanges - can easily get you to pretty much anywhere in London. Trains are running at least every 7-8 minutes and more frequently at peak times.