London Heathrow Airport is located 15 miles or 24 kilometres west of central London in the London Borough of Hillingdon close to the town of Hounslow. It is London's primary airport and is the UK's largest airport. In 2007 it handled more than 67.8 million passengers, making it one of the world's busiest airports.
Heathrow Short Stay Parking can be found next to each of the terminals and is recommended for stays of up to five hours.
Heathrow Long Stay Parking is suitable for all travellers going away for a couple of days or more. Parking Express Heathrow is the official Heathrow Long Stay Car Park, serving Terminal 1, 2, 3 and 4. There is also a new Long Stay Car Park specifically for Terminal 5 passengers. The Long Stay Car Parks are open all year round with a courtesy coach service connecting them to the terminals. The transfer service runs every 10 minutes to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 with a journey time of 8 to 15 minutes. For Terminal 4, the service runs every 12 minutes and takes approximately 8 minutes. For Terminal 5, the service runs every 10 minutes and takes approximately 10 minutes.
Heathrow Business parking is even closer to the airport terminals with an even more frequent and fast transfer service. Heathrow Business Car Parks are suitable for all travellers parking for a number of days.
Alternatively parking can also be found at a location nearby and a Meet and Greet service is also available.
London Heathrow Airport serves over 170 scheduled destinations worldwide. It has five passenger terminals which all offer an extensive range of high street retail and catering.
Facilities in the terminals also include airport information; baby change facilities; Business Lounges; car hire desks; cash machines; chapel; currency exchange; Internet access; left luggage; medical assistance; prayer room; showers and visitor information.
By road - Heathrow Airport is 15 miles west of central London and easily accessible from the M4 and M25 motorways. For Terminals 1, 2 and 3 - exit the M4 at junction 4 or the M25 at junction 15 and follow signs for Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3. For Terminal 4 - The terminal is in the southern part of the airport site and has a separate entrance. Exit the M25 at junction 14 and follow signs for Heathrow Terminal 4. If you're coming from the M4, leave at junction 4b and follow the M25 south to junction 14. For Terminal 5 - the terminal is on the Western Perimeter Road and has its own separate access road, reached from junction 14 of the M25. If you're coming from the M4, exit at junction 4b and follow the M25 south to junction 14.
By train - There are several rail options at Heathrow including Heathrow Express, which is the fastest option. Heathrow Express trains run to and from London Paddington every 15 minutes, and the journey takes 15 minutes. Heathrow Connect is a stopping service to London Paddington that runs every 30 minutes, and the journey takes 26 minutes. London Underground's Piccadilly Line trains offer the most cost-effective journey to central London, taking less than an hour.
By coach/bus - National Express and other operators run services from Heathrow to more than 500 destinations. An extensive bus network operates around Heathrow and to destinations in west London and the Thames Valley.
London licensed taxis stop at the taxi ranks outside each Heathrow terminal.
Although Croydon Airport became London's primary civil aviation authority facility in the 1920s, by the time of the Second World War Heathrow was the preferred alternative and in 1944 work began on Heathrow's runways. In January 1946 Heathrow was transferred from military to civil control and was officially opened to the public on 31 May 1946. There were no terminal buildings and passengers checked in at a temporary tent village on the north side of the airfield. International communications needs were handled by a row of telephone boxes and a mobile post office. The only facilities were armchairs, a bar, a WH Smith shop and chemical toilets. After the first year of operation, Heathrow was serving 18 destinations, with 60,000 passengers and 2,400 tons of cargo passing through the airport.
In 1954 Heathrow's main airline, BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation), was joined by BEA (British European Airways) and several other European carriers. The Europa Building (now Terminal 2), opened for short-haul flights in April 1955 and the Oceanic Terminal (renamed as Terminal 3 in 1968) opened on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes. A separate body known as the British Airports Authority was set up in 1966 to run the airport. The organisation remained government-owned until privitisation as BAA in July 1987. A new short-haul building (now Terminal 1) was opened to the public in 1968 and Heathrow developed a 160 acres cargo site linked by tunnel to the Central Terminal Area. By the end of the decade Heathrow was handling 14 million passengers annually.
With the arrival of the Boeing 747 in 1970 (initially flown by Pan Am from New York), Terminal 3 was expanded and an arrivals building added. In 1976 Heathrow become supersonic, with British Airways and Air France operating regular Concorde services. The London Underground was extended to Heathrow in 1977, connecting the airport with Central London in just under an hour.
With passenger numbers reaching 30 million annually by the early 1980s, the airport needed far more terminal space. With the central Terminal Area already being overcrowded, Terminal 4 was constructed to the south of the southern runway next to the existing cargo terminal, and was connected with Terminals 1, 2 and 3 by the already-existing Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. Terminal 4 was opened in April 1986, and became the home for then newly-privatised British Airways. In 1987, the British government privatised the British Airports Authority (now known as "BAA Limited") which controls Heathrow.
In 1996 Heathrow celebrated its 50th anniversary and The Queen opened the refurbished Terminal 2 departures lounge. The £450 million Heathrow Express rail link was opened in 1998 connecting the airport to London's Paddington Station.
Following a lengthy public inquiry the Government gave approval in November 2001 for BAA to build a fifth terminal at Heathrow. Construction on the Terminal 5 site on the western side of the airport began in 2002. When fully complete in 2010, the terminal will have the capacity to handle 30 million passengers a year. The last Concorde flight to carry passengers touched down at Heathrow Airport in 2003 and a £100 million revamp of Terminal 3's international departure lounge was opened. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed at Heathrow's Terminal 3 in order to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo, providing four new aircraft stands. A new 87 metres (285 ft) high £50 million air traffic control tower entered service on 21st April 2007. On 27th March 2008, Phase 1 of Terminal 5 opened to passengers. It is due to be fully completed with the opening of its second satellite building in 2010.