Heathrow Airport: Your Gateway to the World

Picture yourself flying high above the clouds, getting set for an exciting journey. It could be a cozy café meet-up in Paris, an adventurous safari in Africa, or a trip to the majestic Great Wall of China. Your adventure kicks off at Heathrow Airport, a busy center linking London to more than 200 places around the globe. Surprisingly, Heathrow wasn’t always a major player – it started off as a small airfield in the 1930s!


Today, Heathrow has an impressive total of five terminals (unfortunately, Terminal 1 has been retired), catering to millions of passengers every year. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or a novice flyer, navigating through Heathrow may appear overwhelming. However, don’t worry, brave adventurer! This detailed guide will provide you with all the necessary details for a seamless and hassle-free experience at Heathrow.

heathrow airport

A Brief History of Heathrow

Heathrow Airport started as a small airfield in the 1930s. After World War II, it grew into a large airport complex. Interestingly, Heathrow used to be called London Airport until 1966. Now, it has four passenger terminals (2 to 5) and a cargo terminal. In addition to the passenger terminals, Heathrow Airport also houses a dedicated cargo terminal.

Navigating Heathrow Airport Terminal

There are four operating terminals at Heathrow Airport. Each of these terminals provides a variety of amenities to meet the needs of its passengers. From shops and restaurants to lounges and other services, each of these terminals has something to offer its passengers whether they are departing, arriving or in transit. Knowing the layout of your airport can help you make the most of your airport journey.

  • Terminal 2: Primarily serves airlines like Star Alliance carriers (e.g., Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines) and some non-alliance airlines like Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways.
  • Terminal 3: This terminal is a hub for Oneworld Alliance carriers (e.g., American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas) and some non-alliance airlines like Emirates and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Terminal 4: Terminal 4 is used by airlines like SkyTeam Alliance carriers (e.gDelta Air Lines, KLM) and some non-alliance airlines like El Al and Malaysia Airlines.
  • Terminal 5: This terminal is the exclusive domain of British Airways.

Terminal Facilities and Services

Inside each terminal, you’ll find everything you need to make your journey even better. From baby changing rooms to prayer rooms and assistance services, there’s something for everyone, no matter your age or background.

Heathrow Airport caters to a wide range of traveler needs. Here are some of the facilities and services you might find helpful:


Passengers at Heathrow Airport can enjoy a diverse shopping experience with a wide range of options to choose from. Duty-free shops offer a variety of products such as alcohol, tobacco, cosmetics, and electronics at tax-free prices, allowing travelers to save money on their purchases. Designer boutiques showcase luxury brands and high-end fashion items, providing a premium shopping experience for those looking to indulge in some retail therapy.


There’s something for every taste bud at Heathrow, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars catering to diverse cuisines and budgets.

Currency Exchange: 

These currency exchange bureaus offer a convenient and efficient way for travelers to exchange their money into the local currency of their destination. They typically have competitive exchange rates and may also offer additional services such as traveler’s checks, prepaid currency cards, and international money transfers.


Whether you need to withdraw some pounds for a quick snack or to purchase a last-minute souvenir, you can easily access cash at one of the many ATMs located throughout Heathrow airport. These ATMs are conveniently placed within the terminals, making it easy for travelers to access money when they need it most.

Luggage Storage:

Left luggage facilities are available if you need to store your luggage for a few hours before your flight.

Business Lounges:

Relax and unwind in a comfortable environment before your flight. Several airlines and independent lounge operators offer access to business lounges for a fee.

Free Wi-Fi: 

Wi-Fi is accessible in the terminal to keep you connected or organize your trips. Simply select Heathrow Wi-Fi and follow the instructions on the screen. After signing up, you’ll have complimentary Wi-Fi for your time at Heathrow. For assistance with Heathrow Wi-Fi, contact Customer Care at 0808 189 1365.

Heathrow Airport Map

Navigating through Heathrow Airport, which can be overwhelming due to its size, becomes much easier with the help of a comprehensive airport map. This map offers detailed guidance on the different terminals, gate locations, amenities, and transportation options accessible at Heathrow Airport, ensuring a seamless journey.

Departure Procedures

There are a few things you need to do when leaving Heathrow Airport, such as checking in, going through security, and getting on the plane. It’s important to know the departure process and follow the rules to make your travel experience easier. It’s recommended to arrive at the airport early to have enough time for check-in and security.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when planning your departure from Heathrow:

  • Check-in: Most airlines allow online check-in 24 hours before your flight. This can save you time at the airport. However, be sure to check your airline’s specific policies for online check-in procedures and baggage allowance.
  • Security: Budget enough time to clear security checks. Heathrow can get busy, and security lines can vary in length. Generally, arriving at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight departure is recommended, especially for international flights.
  • Baggage Drop-off: If you have checked baggage, locate the designated baggage drop-off area for your terminal. Look for signs or ask airport staff for assistance if needed.

Interesting Trivia about Heathrow Airport

Did you know that Heathrow Airport was originally a small airfield known as the Great West Aerodrome?

  • Heathrow Airport is not owned or controlled by the government. It is subject to government regulation and control, particularly in the areas of aviation security, aviation safety, and air traffic management.
  • Heathrow’s iconic Terminal 5, designed by architect Richard Rogers, opened in 2008 and is one of the largest free-standing structures in the world.
  • With over 80 airlines serving more than 180 destinations worldwide, Heathrow Airport is a global hub for air travel.
  • Heathrow’s busiest day on record was July 31, 2011, when the airport welcomed over 233,000 passengers in a single day.
  • The airport’s code, LHR, stands for London Heathrow Airport and is derived from the nearby village of Heath Row.

To summarize, Heathrow Airport has a crucial role in linking travelers from all over the world to London and beyond. By getting to know the airport’s terminals, amenities, and departure processes, you can confidently and effortlessly navigate Heathrow Airport, guaranteeing a hassle-free journey from beginning to end.


The best way to find out your departure terminal is to check your airline's website or confirmation email. The terminal information will be clearly stated there.

Generally, it's recommended to arrive at Heathrow Airport 2-3 hours before your flight departure, especially for international flights. This allows ample time for check-in, security checks, and any unforeseen delays.

Several convenient options are available for getting around Heathrow, including the Heathrow Express train, the Heathrow Airport Underground (Tube), the free Heathrow Heathrow automated people mover, and buses.

Yes, Heathrow Airport offers free Wi-Fi throughout all terminals, allowing you to stay connected before your flight.

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