Your Guide to London Heathrow Airport
Where is Heathrow Airport?
If you’re coming to London via Heathrow Airport you’ll be landing in the UK’s busiest airport that currently handles over 68 million passengers a year! It’s situated just 15 miles west of central London on the Southern end of Hillingdon in Middlesex (surrounded by areas like Harlington, Hounslow, East Bedfont and Colnbrook). As Heathrow Airport is so well connected to central London via public transport, you can catch a tube on the Piccadilly Line in tube zone 6 from the airport to get to the heart of the capital in around 45 minutes. If you catch the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Train Station it will only take you 15 minutes; the Heathrow Connect train only takes 25!
History of Heathrow Airport
During World War I, Heathrow was nothing more than a military airfield, and even though it was developed as a Royal Airforce transfer base in 1944 it was never used! It wasn’t until May 1946 that Heathrow Airport opened fully for civil use. Its 2 runways and terminals 1, 2 and 3 were built during the 1950’s and 1960’s, and by the end of the 60’s over 14 million passengers were using the airport every year. When the Piccadilly tube line was extended all the way to Heathrow in 1977 (which meant that you could get to Central London in under an hour) this only increased the airports popularity even further and passenger numbers reached 30 million by the early 1980’s. Another terminal was needed, hence the building of terminal 4, and even faster connections to London were offered when the Heathrow Express and Heathrow connect services were provided in the 1990’s.
Today, Heathrow Airport is the UK’s largest and busiest, with over 90 airlines flying to 170 destinations carrying over 68 million passengers a year! Expansion is still taking place, with Terminal 5 having opened in 2008, and construction of the Heathrow East scheme which will build a replacement terminal for terminals 1 and 2 in time for the 2012 Olympics. There are even talks underway for a potential 3rd runway, which would only increase the importance of Heathrow Airport even further. Fortunately for you there are plenty of hotels nearby so you won’t have to travel far before or after your flight!
The Positives of Heathrow Airport
There are huge plus points to flying in and out of Heathrow Airport. Firstly the transportation links are fantastic! It’s really close to the M25, and the tube and train links making travelling into central London really easy. Also, as so many millions of people use the airport every year there are an abundance of hotels in the area vying for your trade. This means that you can stay close to the airport for a really reasonable price and don’t have to worry about travelling for miles to get to your hotel once you land, or making it to the airport on time for your return flight. As Heathrow is such a significant UK airport there’s much more to do here than just catch your flight. You’ll find hundreds of shops and restaurants here to suit any budget; just don’t forget to make the most of Duty Free!
Need to Know Heathrow Airport
As Heathrow Airport is the UK’s largest, covering an area of 4.69 square miles, this is a huge place to navigate, so make sure you wear comfy shoes, make the most of the moving walkways and follow the signs so that you don’t get lost! As the current runways and terminals have a maximum capacity of 55 million passengers, and Heathrow Airport actually handles 68 million passengers a year, you should expect this airport to be incredibly busy and subject to some delays. However, as Terminal 5 has just opened, talks are underway for the potential of a 3rd runway and the Heathrow East scheme will create a brand new terminal to take over the current roles of Terminals 1 and 2, this should all be solved soon enough! Just bring a good book and make the most of the great shopping!