London Heathrow Airport
As the primary airport serving London and a major location for international transfers, Heathrow Airport has emerged as the third busiest airport in the world. Located 14 miles west of Central London, Heathrow Airport is currently home to four operational terminals and two 12,000 ft runways.
Almost 70 million passengers pass through London Heathrow Airport annually, a figure that includes the largest number of international passengers of any airport. In terms of traffic movements, the airport is also one of the world’s busiest, driving London and its smaller surrounding airports to the top of more world lists for total traffic movements and total passenger traffic in an area.
History of London Heathrow Airport
The history of this busy airport dates back to the 1920s when a private company called Fairey Aviation began buying land in the southeast hamlet of Heathrow. In 1930, the airfield was declared operational and the following 10 years would see the land used primarily for aircraft assembly, testing, and air shows.
With the onset of World War II, the airfield was requisitioned along with surrounding land for construction of a new international airport. Officially opened in 1946, the importance of the airport expanded steadily over the course of the next forty years. By the early 1980s, 30 million passengers regularly passed through Heathrow. Fast forward to the 21st Century and the continued growth in passenger numbers has led the British government to debate and/or implement multiple new plans for expansion.
In an effort to make travel as convenient as possible for such a huge and diverse number of people, a number of services and amenities are offered for individuals, families, and business travelers. Three airport lounges are available to passengers who have passed through security and include a range of services from Wi-Fi, Television, and comfortable chairs, to printing and business services, complimentary food and drink, a game room and even a spa.
Outside of the lounges are a number of amenities for guests including high speed Wi-Fi, phone charging stations, postal services, cash machines, currency exchanges, and medical stations. In addition to free baggage trolleys, Heathrow also offers a porter service for a nominal fee.
Befitting its place as a world destination, London Heathrow Airport offers services and amenities that go well beyond that of most airports. Concierge services can be arranged in advance, play areas for children are available in Terminals 4 and 5, and even travel necessities like showers can be found in multiple locations throughout the Airport. To satisfy passenger’s spiritual needs, the airport has an on-site chapel, multi-faith prayer rooms in each terminal, and faith representatives from many major religions.
Given its place as a center of London travel, there are a number of options for getting to and from the airport. Easily the cheapest option available is the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. With transport under an hour and trains leaving every ten minutes, the Underground makes direct stops at Terminals 4 and 5, and a third stop between Terminals 1 and 3.
Other public transportation options include the Heathrow Connect train line, which stops at local stations in west London, and the Heathrow Express that connects to Paddington Station in roughly 15 minutes. A number of public and private bus services also connect Heathrow to railway stations and various parts of the UK.
Heathrow Airport can be accessed via the M4 and M25 motorways and the A4 and A30 roadways. Parking is available at multi-storey garages for short or long-term stay, with additional private parking options located off-site. Additionally, a full complement of taxis, shuttles, and limousines can be arranged ahead of time or at the airport.
Airlines Serving Heathrow
Having the busiest air traffic status in the United Kingdom, London Heathrow Airport gives passengers the choice to select service from over 50 total airline companies. British Airways connects Great Britain’s busiest airport with more than 80 worldwide destinations. The national airline of the United Kingdom offers short distance and long haul flights within Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the Pacific.
Passengers at London Heathrow Airport can board British Airways jets and land at major European cities such as Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Warsaw, and Zurich. Some important Asian destinations offered through British Airways include Beijing, Chennai, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo. United Kingdom’s flag carrier is also one of the few companies to operate direct air traffic between London Heathrow Airport and the American continents. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are some important U.S. destinations on the British Airways schedule. Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro are some major cities in Latin America that are on the British Airways timetable. Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport is entirely designated for British Airways customers, but some flights operate in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
In terms of number of destinations offered, Virgin Atlantic Airways is one of the busiest airlines at London Heathrow Airport. The British company specializes in long haul flights to major metropolitan cities on multiple continents. Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are important U.S. destinations that are directly accessible via Virgin Atlantic Airways service. Passengers can also use this domestic airline to land in remote parts of Asia and the Pacific region such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Sydney. This major airline also offers trips to Accra (Ghana) and Johannesburg, one of the few African destinations available at London Heathrow Airport. The Virgin Atlantic Airways Fleet operates in Terminal 3.
London Heathrow Airport is served by more than a dozen major European airline companies. Flag carriers such as Air France, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Finnair, KLM, Iberia, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, and Turkish Airlines connect London to some of the most important cities in Europe.
Passengers from North America can rely on direct service to London Heathrow Airport thanks to several large American companies. Air Canada operates flights between London and large Canadian cities such as Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and US Airways link some of the biggest cities in the United States with England’s capital city. All of the international airlines at London Heathrow Airport are scattered throughout Terminal 1, 3 and 4.