London Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport and the sixth busiest in the world, by total passenger traffic. Around 90 airlines use Heathrow airportas a hub to operate flights to more than 180 destinations in 90 countries. It is a truly international airport, with millions of passengers coming through it every year, representing nationalities from all corners of the globe.
There are four passenger terminals at Heathrow (Terminal 1 closed at the end of June 2015 to allow the second expansion stage of Terminal 2 to take place). Flights leave and arrive all the time. There are two runways, with a proposed third one currently the subject of contentious debate. Flights leave for a number of destinations in the UK and Ireland, as well as European and long-haul countries, with departures and arrivals located across the various terminals.
The airport might have ‘London’ in its name, but Heathrow is not actually situated in the centre of the city. Rather, it sits around14 miles west of Central London, in the borough of Hillingdon. This needs to be taken into account when getting to the airport, and enough time allowed for the journey, and to meet the required check-in schedule.
You can drive and park in one of the airport’s long-stay car parks, or get there by train – the Heathrow Express runs direct services from Paddington train station to Heathrow every 15 minutes at peak time. London Underground’s Piccadilly line also stops there. You can also travel by bus or coach.
However, the easiest option is to take a cab, as this allows you to transport heavy luggage much more easily and does away with the need for parking while you are away. Most minicab firms will have a pre-fixed price for airport runs, so you can agree this in advance to avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive at Heathrow. Make sure you book your cab early enough to leave time for hold ups on the M25 and M4 motorways, as these can be very busy at times. You can always grab a coffee at the airport if you arrive early.
Services and Facilities
Heathrow is very well set up for passengers waiting for flights. There are hundreds of shops, restaurants, cafes, entertainments and lounges, as well as facilities such as first aid rooms, showers, business services, phone charging points, places of worship, porters and family rooms. You can stock up on everything you need for your holiday or business trip, and pick up some duty free bargains, once you have passed through customs. Having access to so many shops in one place is another reason why booking a cab home is a great idea – no need to struggle with loads of bulky bags and boxes on public transport, or to budget part of your spending money on costly long-stay parking charges.