Heathrow Airport Guide
British Airways Heathrow Flights
American Airlines Heathrow Flights
BMI Heathrow Flights
Iberia Heathrow Flights
Lufthansa Heathrow Flights
Qantas Airways Heathrow Flights

Your Complete Guide to Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport is one of the largest airports in the world, handling over 65 million passengers per year.  It is one of seven airports in London, although it is only one of three which are actually located within Greater London. The airport lies around 12 miles, or 22 km west of Central London, with Harmondsworth, Harlington, Longford and Cranford to the north, Hounslow and Hatton to the east, and East Bedfont and Stanwell to the south.  It is also located nearby the southern end of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Heathrow handles the highest number of international passengers on the planet, and is the largest airport in the United Kingdom, and also in the whole of the European Union. There are currently five terminal buildings, some of which also have satellite extensions.

Although Heathrow is claimed by some to be the world’s largest airport in terms of passenger traffic, it is actually the second-largest, after Atlanta-Hartsfield International. However, since 90% of Heathrow’s passengers travel to and from worldwide destinations, the airport does have the highest number of international passengers in the world. Heathrow also does not have the greatest number of plane movements in Europe, as it is ranked third against Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. In 2009, it recorded a total of 460,026 aircraft movements, with a daily average of 1,260 landings and take-offs. The busiest day ever recorded at the airport was 18 July 2010, with a total of 232,000 passengers, helping to make July 2010 the airport’s busiest month with 6.7 million passengers. The year 2005 had the highest number of recorded passenger traffic, which was 67.69 million.  Only 8% of these passengers travel on domestic flights. Around 33% of the airport’s passengers are business travelers, 36% are tourists and 30% are passengers visiting friends and relatives in the London Area. Heathrow is also important in terms of cargo traffic, handling around 1.3 million metric tons per annum.

The airline companies of BMI and British Airways use Heathrow as their primary hub, while it is also a base for Virgin Atlantic Airways.  There are 90 airline companies in operation and over 170 worldwide destinations served. Some of the most popular destinations include New York (JFK), Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. The airlines at Heathrow Airport are grouped in the various terminals by airline alliance to keep their movements more organized. Star Alliance, as well as a few non-aligned airlines are in operation from Terminal 1, while Oneworld, Virgin Atlantic and some other non-aligned airlines are managed from Terminal 3. Terminal 3 also handles some Star Alliance airline members who are not based in Terminal 1.  SkyTeam, Continental Airlines and all other non-aligned airlines operate from Terminal 4, while British Airways dominates Terminal 5.  From 2011, the airlines’ schedules will change quite drastically due to the latest constructions and developments of Heathrow.  Other major airline companies include Aer Lingus, South African Airways, United Airlines, Iberia Airlines, KLM, American Airlines and Air France.

Heathrow has a long history dating back to before the 1930’s. It was then just an isolated row of cottages referred to as Heath Row.  During World War One it was turned into a military airfield which became known as the Great Western Aerodrome, and was used for aircraft assembly and testing grounds, although the Royal Air Force never made use of the airport. In 1944 the runways at Heathrow Airport began their construction, and the first civilian flight was made on 1 January 1946 to Buenos Aires.  Back in the 1950’s there were six runways at the airport forming a star-like shape, but today there are just two large parallel runways. The Northern runway is 3,902 meters long and the Southern runway has a length of 3,658 meters.  Both runways are 45 meters wide.  In 1955 the first permanent terminal building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It was then named as the Europa Building, which is Terminal 2 today. A new control tower was also opened at this time.  Terminal 3, or the Oceanic Terminal was opened in November 1961 for long-haul routes, while today’s Terminal 1 was in use by 1969.  By now Heathrow was handling around 14 million passengers per year.  Between 1970 and 1990 continuous improvements were made to handle the ever increasing number of passengers.  An arrivals building was added to Terminal 3, as well as other facilities such as the UK’s first moving walkway, and Terminal 4 was constructed to the south of the southern runway. Terminal 4 was then used for British Airways’ flights.

Other important dates in the history are 1987, when the British Airports Authority was privatized and renamed the BAA plc., and 1998 when the Heathrow Express rail service was launched. In 2006 the airport welcomed the Airbus A380 to its specially and newly built pier at Terminal 3. However, due to delays in the aircraft’s production, regular flights only commenced in early 2008.  The first passenger flight was the Singapore Airlines Flight A380, carrying 470 passengers.  2008 was also the year when the new Terminal 5 was completed and officially opened for business.

LHR is the official IATA code for Heathrow. It is also identified as London Heathrow It is possible to enter the following GPS coordinates 51.46972, -0.45139 to aid you in your travelling to and from the airport.

Please find below a selection of Airlines, Destination and approx flight times.

Destination Weekly Flights Distance
Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) 119 346 Km (215 Miles)
Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 117 370 Km (230 Miles)
Edinburgh (EDI) 115 533 Km (331 Miles)
New York John F Kennedy (JFK) 114 5,541 Km (3,443 Miles)
Dublin (DUB) 110 449 Km (279 Miles)
Frankfurt (FRA) 110 652 Km (405 Miles)
Glasgow (GLA) 103 555 Km (345 Miles)
Madrid (MAD) 94 1,247 Km (775 Miles)
Manchester (MAN) 93 243 Km (151 Miles)
Munich (MUC) 92 941 Km (585 Miles)

British Airways, BMI and American Airlines are the three busiest Airlines that fly out of Heathrow; together they cover around 236 routes out of the total of 163. British Airways is the most frequent with around 2,236 flights a week out of a total of 13337. Of all the destinations, British Airways covers 17%. Barajas, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow International, Charles De Gaulle and Manchester being the most frequent destinations.

You can see below a selection of nonstop flights covered with approximate times

Airliner Destination Flight Time (Est)
British Airways Madrid (MAD) 2 Hours 17 Minutes
British Airways Dublin (DUB) 1 Hour 20 Minutes
British Airways Edinburgh (EDI) 1 Hour 26 Minutes
British Airways Glasgow (GLA) 1 Hour 28 Minutes
British Airways Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) 1 Hour 2 Minutes
British Airways Manchester (MAN) 43 Minutes

When arriving you will find the most popular car hire companies situated close by. Please bring your valid driving licence and credit card if your require a hire car on your trip. With so much choice of car rental at London Heathrow airport it may be wise to book online before you arrive as there is limited choice of vehicles at certain times of the year.