Getting to and from Heathrow
London Heathrow is the world´s 3rd busiest airport for passenger traffic and handles the most international passenger traffic in the world.
Situated to the west of London, Heathrow started out as a military airfield during World War 1. It was mainly used to assemble and test aircraft in the early years and only opened to civil aviation in 1946.
The 50’s and 60’s saw massive development of the terminal buildings. The first terminal building which is now known as terminal two was opened in 1955. Terminal 3 which was known as the Oceanic terminal was completed in 1961 and finally Europa terminal (now known as terminal 1) was completed in 1968. By the end of the 60’s Heathrow was handling more than14 million passengers a year.
In the 1970’s the Piccadilly line was extended to Heathrow, connecting the airport to central London in just under an hour.
Due to the enormous growth in passenger numbers during the 80’s there was a need to expand the terminals further. Terminal 4 was constructed next to the cargo terminal and away from the other 3 terminals due to a lack of space. Terminal 4 was opened in 1986 and that became the home of British Airways until they moved to T5 in 2008.
The newest addition to Heathrow is terminal 5 which was opened by the Queen in 2008. It’s impressive design and state of the art facilities has heralded a new chapter and a vital addition to the Heathrow’s continued evolution. The new terminal has provided Heathrow with much needed space and facilities to deal with the ever increasing number of passengers to the UK.
Today London Heathrow is used by over 90 airlines that fly to over 170 destinations worldwide. It serves as the main hub for British airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI and welcomes 67million passengers per year to the UK.
All five terminals offer a comprehensive selection of shops, Bureaux de Charge and help desks.
All the terminal buildings have Wi-Fi hot spots provided by BT Openzone, The Cloud and T-Mobile. Free Wi-Fi is available in the various British Airways lounges, the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Clubhouse, the BMI (British Midland) Gold lounge and the KLM Holideck lounge.
With the opening of Terminal 5 there is likely to be a long drawn out game of musical terminal swapping. British Airways are slowly moving all of its flights to T5. Whilst BA are moving, other airlines are being moved around to make better use of the freed up space. The ultimate vision is to have all the airline alliances in their own terminals thus minimizing the need to change terminals when connecting to another flight.
Therefore it is essential that you check with the airline before leaving for Heathrow to ensure that you have the correct departure details.
Getting to and from London Heathrow has never been easier. There are a whole host of options from trains, tube, buses and taxis to suit your budget. Listed below are the most popular options:
London Heathrow by Tube
London Heathrow is connected to central London and the rest of the tube network by the Piccadilly Line. The tube is cheaper than the Heathrow Express but takes longer and can be crowded during peak rush hour (Morning and Evenings).
The average journey time to Piccadilly Circus is about 50 minutes. There are 3 stations at London Heathrow servicing Terminals 1-3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. A single ticket to central London costs £4. Services start from 5am with the last train leaving at 11:45pm.
It may be useful to buy an Oyster Card if you are going to be using London’s public transport system. For information on the oyster card please use the following link:
London Heathrow by train
The fastest way to travel into central London is the Heathrow Express. This is a direct service from Heathrow to Paddington. Trains leave Heathrow every 15 minutes from 05h10 until 23h30 and there is a similar quarter hourly return journey in the opposite direction.
A single second class ticket bought from a ticket office/machine is £16.50 for adults and £8.20 for children. First Class tickets are also available and offer a larger seat, more legroom (though there’s plenty in Express Class), tables and complimentary newspapers. The First Class area of the train also stops closer to the station exits.
The trains are air-conditioned, modern, and comfortable and are fully accessible with a wheelchair area, disabled toilet and level access to the station platforms. T-Mobile Wi-Fi Internet access is available on board for a fee. Mobile phone coverage is available throughout the entire route, including the tunnels under Heathrow.
Heathrow express calls at two stations serving the airport, Heathrow Central (Terminals 1-3) and the other Terminal 5. Passengers for terminal 4 should change at Terminals 1,2, 3 for a free and frequent transfer service to Terminal 4
This service uses the same route to London Paddington as the Heathrow Express but it is a slower, less frequent service, stopping at many of the local stations along the way.
It is cheaper than the Heathrow Express and it serves Terminal 4 directly. Passengers for Terminal 5 will have to change for connecting services at Terminals 1-3. Trains depart every 30 minutes from terminal 4 and the approximate journey time into London Paddington is 33 minutes.
The trains are air-conditioned, modern and accessible with a wheelchair area and disabled toilet. Although Heathrow and London Paddington stations have step free access, be aware that not all intermediate stations are wheelchair accessible.
Tickets have to be purchased before boarding and can be bought at station tickets offices. An adult single journey to London Paddington is £6.90 with children prices approximately half the adult fare. Children under 5 travel free of charge.
London Heathrow by Coach
National Express operates a direct coach service from Heathrow Central bus station to London Victoria coach station. Coaches depart every 30 minutes and the average journey time is approximately 40-50 minutes.
Fares are available from £4 if bought on the internet. Tickets can also be bought at the National Express ticket office at Heathrow Central bus station. Services start from approximately 7am till 11:30pm daily.
National express also offer a "Hotel Hoppa¨ service which takes you to and from your Hotel to Heathrow for £3. Children travel for just 50p. Tickets can be bought from the bus driver, your hotel or you can book online.
In addition to the "Hotel Hoppa" there is an inter airport service which link all of London’s airports and it is the only direct link between them. So if you have arrived at Heathrow and have to transfer to Gatwick, Stansted or City we suggest you use this service.
Not all the services are accessible to wheelchairs yet, however National Express have indicated that their entire network will fully accessible by 2012.
Operate a low cost high frequency service from Fulham Road to Gatwick. The coaches are not hard to miss in their distinctive orange colour and the service runs every 20mins from 6am till 11pm. Fares vary depending on the demand in a similar manner to how budget airlines price their fares. Fares start from as low as £2 and it is a good idea to book online.
Dot2Dot is a door-to-door shuttle bus service that will take you from the airport terminal to your hotel or any other Central London or Canary Wharf destination, making no more than 3 stops along the way.
You can either book through the internet, phone or just turn up at the Dot2Dot desk at terminals 1,2,3 or Terminal 5. You are likely to wait for a space to become available if you haven’t booked in advance.
The journey takes approximately 40-70mins with a maximum fare of £19. There are discounts available for groups travelling together. This alternative may be cheaper, quicker and more convenient than taking a taxi.
London Heathrow by Taxi
London’s famous black taxis are available for hire outside any terminal. Journey times into central London will depend on the distance, time of day and the traffic conditions. Therefore the average journey time into central London can vary between 40mins to 2hrs.
Fares vary similarly, and an average cost is about £55 to Central London.
Mini cabs are also available but must be ordered beforehand, either by phone or the internet. These are cheaper than Black Cabs.
If you are considering using cabs for your journey it may be easier to take the Heathrow Express to London Paddington (Then take a cab for the rest of your journey) or the Dot2Dot service. This will most probably be faster, cheaper and more convenient.
London Heathrow by Bus
In the day time there are no local bus services to central London but there are plenty of services to West London and outlying towns (Slough Maidenhead).
Fares vary by operator but Transport for London services are subject to a flat fee of £2.Travel cards and Oyster are available on these services and are cheaper than the cash fee.
Although the bus network across London is excellent we recommend that you use the other transport services to get into central London. Depending on the time of day and where you start from it may take up to 3 hours to get into central London.
For the intrepid traveller, use the TFL journey planner to plan your bus journey. This excellent tool helps find the details, times and most importantly where to change buses. You will have to change buses at least 3-4 times during your journey into Central London