Airport Guide to London Heathrow (LHR)

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Airport Name
London Heathrow Airport

Airport Location
The airport is located 12 miles west of London.

Terminals
4

IATA Code
LHR

Telephone
+44 0844 335 1801

Airport Overview

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and the fourth-busiest in the world, in terms of passenger traffic. However, Heathrow has the distinction of handling more international passengers than any other airport in the world – a testament to its importance as a transit-point for intercontinental travel.

Flights to Heathrow Airport are provided by an incredible 90 airlines, serving 180 destinations worldwide. Heathrow is home-base for British Airways, which operate direct and indirect flights to basically every major city you can think of, from Heathrow’s beautiful, new Terminal 5 building.

London – a compelling, cosmopolitan city – certainly has an appropriate gateway in Heathrow Airport: a highly modern, convenient hub that is truly geared toward providing the best possible experience to travelers. Located 15 miles (24km) from central London, there are plenty of easy, hassle-free transport options available to travelers looking to get downtown. The flocks of tourists, who are no doubt going to descend on London for the 2012 Olympic Games, can look forward to a warm welcome and efficient service.

Terminal Transfer

Terminals 1 and 3 are within easy walking distance of each other, and are connected by a pedestrian underpass equipped with moving walkways. It should take about 11 minutes to walk between Terminals 1 and 3.

To reach Terminal 4 from Terminals 1 or 3, use the free, convenient Heathrow Connect rail shuttle. The rail shuttle departs every 30 minutes from Heathrow Central, located beneath Terminals 1 and 3. The trip to Terminal 4 from Heathrow Central takes six minutes. Alternatively, you can catch the 555 bus, which runs every 19 minutes between the terminals, stopping right outside the buildings.

To reach Terminal 5 from Terminals 1 or 3, use the Heathrow Express rail shuttle. This service departs every 15 minutes from Heathrow Central, and takes only about three minutes to deliver you to Terminal 5. Alternatively, buses 441 and 724 provide a free transfer service (taking 10 minutes), as does night-bus N9 (in operation between 11:55pm and 4:55am).

Getting into Town

Airport Taxi: London’s iconic black taxis are readily available at the ranks outside all the terminal buildings. The trip into central London will take between 30 minutes and an hour, and cost a hefty £50-55.

Bus: An extensive local bus network connects Heathrow Airport to many west London destinations. Heathrow’s central bus station is located between Terminals 1 and 3, and is open 24 hours a day, with a travel center that stays open from 6am to 10:30pm. You’ll be able to get route and timetable information from the travel center. A one-way fare into central London will cost £2.20, and the trip will take about an hour.

Train: The easiest, quickest method of accessing central London from Heathrow is the Heathrow Express rail service (£18). Trains leave Heathrow Central between 5:07am and 11:42pm every day, and take only 15 minutes to reach Paddington Station. Slightly slower, but just as easy and cheaper, is the Heathrow Connect rail service, which has trains leaving every half an hour from Heathrow Central, stopping at local railway stations in west London on the way into the city. Heathrow Connect tickets are £8.50 (for Paddington Station), and the journey time is about 25 minutes.

Metro: The London Underground also provides access to central London from Heathrow Airport, via its (dark blue) Piccadilly Line. There are three Underground stations at Heathrow: one for Terminals 1-3, and then one each for Terminals 4 and 5. All of the Heathrow stations are designated “Zone 6” destinations, and the fare you pay will depend on which zone you intend on traveling to (most likely Zone 1, if you want to get to the heart of the city). Using the Underground is a cheap (maximum £5), reliable option – especially if you’ve used it before, and know how its routes work. Make sure you buy an Oyster card at the airport for the cheapest fares.

Car Parking

There are four parking options available at Heathrow Airport: Short Stay, Long Stay, Business and Valet. Note that the terminal building’s forecourts are for dropping off passengers only – if you’re there to pick someone up, you must use one of the Short Stay car parks. Short Stay car parks are located near all the terminal buildings, and are recommended for stays of up to five hours. Fees are £2.70 for up to 30 minutes, £4.50 for up to an hour, £6.60 for up to 90 minutes, £8.40 for up to two hours, £11.60 for up to three hours, £15.10 for up to four hours, £18.60 for up to five hours, and £49.30 for the day. The Long Stay parking areas are connected to the terminal buildings by a free shuttle-bus service, running every ten minutes to Terminals 1 and 3 (with a journey time of seven to 15 minutes); every 12 minutes to Terminal 4 (taking three to seven minutes); and every ten minutes to Terminal 5 (taking about five minutes). Long Stay parking is charged at £17 per day for the first four days, but reverts to £16.40 per day if you stay longer than that. For Business and Valet parking information and tariffs, please consult the airport’s website.

Information Desks

There are five efficient and helpful information desks at Heathrow Airport: in the arrivals area in Terminal 1 (near the car rental desks), in the check-in area in Terminal 3, in the arrivals area in Terminal 3 (near the meeting-point), in the arrivals area in Terminal 4 (near the taxi desk), and in the arrivals concourse in the north section of Terminal 5.

Airport Facilities

Money and communications: There are currency exchange facilities and ATMs accepting international credit cards located before and after the security check-points in all terminals. Note that you can pre-order your foreign currency from Heathrow Airport’s official website (at no commission) – and then just pick it up from the first Travelex you find when you arrive at the airport. Heathrow also has a post office, located on the first floor of the departures area in Terminal 3.

Luggage: Baggage trolleys are available at no cost; arriving passengers will find a fleet of them waiting in the baggage reclaim area. There is a lost-property office, open every day from 8am to 7pm, and located in Terminal 3 (near the Heathrow Express ticket counter) – and additionally, a fancy new online lost-luggage database system (see website for details). There are also numerous left-luggage facilities, where you can store your goods for a maximum of 90 days. You can find the left-luggage offices on the ground floor of the arrivals areas in Terminals 1, 3, 4 and 5. Note that these offices are generally open from about 5:30am to 11pm every day, and the cost for storing baggage is £8.50 per item per day. There are also porter services starting from £8.

Conference and business: Heathrow Airport has three business lounges that passengers traveling on any airline may use (for a fee). All offer a serene environment, complimentary snacks and refreshments, free international magazines and newspapers, Internet access and phone and fax facilities. There are two Servisair Executive Lounges (£17.50), in Terminals 1 and 3, and a No.1 Traveler Lounge in Terminal 3 (£25). It’s recommended that you book your space in these lounges prior to arriving at Heathrow through the airport’s official site. If you’re seeking meeting or conference facilities, these are offered by many of the airport’s on-site hotels.

Other facilities: Shoeshine services, mobile phone and laptop charging stations, shower facilities (Terminal 4), prayer rooms and an interdenominational chapel, observation galleries, smoking areas (before security control only), emergency medical facilities, a health center, pharmacies, a spa (Terminal 5), Internet kiosks, travel agents and tour companies, and access and amenities for disabled passengers.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is available in all the terminals of Heathrow Airport, provided by Boingo. To access this service, simply open your Internet browser. You will be directed to Boingo’s homepage, where you can either log in (if you already have an account), or choose a pay-as-you-go plan (which you can pay for using a credit card). Rates are £3.95 per hour, or £9.95 per day.

Shopping: Shopping at Heathrow Airport is an experience unto itself. There is a frankly dizzying amount of shopping to be done at Heathrow, with stores spread evenly throughout the terminal buildings. For beauty and wellness products, check out Beauty Studio (Terminal 4), Chanel (Terminal 3), Cocoon (Terminal 1), or Jo Malone (Terminal 3). For accessories, films, games, music, electronics and gadgets, try Add+ (Terminal 5) or HMV (Terminal 1). For fashion, try the High Street-style boutique stores, Bulgari (Terminal 3), Burberry (all terminals), Hugo Boss (Terminal 1), Longchamp (Terminal 1), Prada (Terminal 5), Ted Baker (Terminal 5), and many others. There are even Swarovski crystal stores in Terminals 1 and 3 – and that most famous of British shopping institutions, Harrods, currently has three outlets at Heathrow Airport (Terminals 1, 3 and 4). There are World Duty Free stores in both the arrivals and departures areas of all terminals, where you can find good deals on the usual favorites, such as tobacco products, wines and spirits, chocolates and perfume.

Food and drink: Not to be out-done by the shopping environment, the food and beverage options at Heathrow Airport are varied and excellent. If you have a morning flight and are hunting a solid pre-departure breakfast, try the funky, eccentric Dining Street Restaurant, or Garfunkel’s (both in Terminal 4). For coffee and a quick snack, try Apostrophe (Terminal 5) or Pret A Manger (Terminals 1, 3 and 5). If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll be delighted with Krispy Kreme (Terminals 3 and 5), and Yo! Sushi, with its iconic Japanese-style conveyor-belt (Terminal 3). There are fine dining options at Heathrow Airport, too – “rhubarb” in Terminal 3 is roundly regarded for its interesting menu; Carluccio’s (Terminal 5) serves delicious and authentic Italian food; Chez Gerard (Terminal 3) is an all-day French brasserie of rare quality; and the UK’s favorite chef, Gordon Ramsey, has a Plane Food restaurant in Terminal 5 boasting magnificent views of the runways through its all-glass facade. If you’re just thirsty, there are plenty of bars at Heathrow Airport: for a good old-fashioned “British pub” experience, try the Harlequin Alehouse and Eatery (Terminal 1).

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Airport Guide to London Heathrow (LHR) was last modified: December 21st, 2016 by Ryan Clare
Author: Ryan Clare (355 posts)

Ryan has traveled to more than 15 countries including Canada, France, Austria and Spain. He has an insatiable curiosity that manifests in a knack for travel. He hopes to travel to every continent and experience as many cites and cultures as possible.