AirportTransportLondon Heathrow Airport (LHR)

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London’s west is Europe’s busiest, and the world’s second-busiest international airport. It is a major hub for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and there is a good chance you will pass through Heathrow if you’re arriving in the UK on a long-haul flight.

Facilities at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow has four terminals. Terminals two and three are conveniently clustered together, but terminals four and five are at the other end of the airport. Terminal one is no longer used.

Facilities at Heathrow are excellent with plenty of shopping, eating and drinking options to keep you busy while waiting for your flight.

Heathrow also has more airport lounges than any other UK airport. If you have a Diners Club card or Priority Pass membership (which comes with many American Express Platinum cards) you have access to lounges at all Heathrow terminals.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2, also known as The Queen’s Terminal, has 33 shops including branches of Hamleys, Harrods and John Lewis and 13 restaurants, bars and cafes including Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionist’s Cafe and two pubs.

Terminal 2 also has the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge, Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Lufthansa Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge and two United lounges.

Terminal 3

There are 81 shops at Heathrow Terminal 3 including branches of Fortnum & Mason, Hamleys and Harrods plus 14 restaurants, bars and cafes.

Lounges at Terminal 3 include two American Airlines lounges, two British Airways lounges, Cathay Pacific Lounge, Club Aspire, Emirates Lounge, No 1 Lounge, Plaza Premium lounge, Qantas Lounge, Swissport and the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Terminal 4

Terminal 4 has 37 shops including branches of Hamleys and Harrods and nine restaurants, bars and cafes.

Lounges at Terminal 4 include the El Al King David Lounge, Etihad Airways first and business class lounges, Gulf Air Falcon Lounge, Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, Qatar Airways Lounge and the SkyTeam Lounge.

Terminal 5

There are 81 shops at Terminal 5 including branches of Fortnum & Mason, Hamleys, Harrods and John Lewis plus 17 restaurants, bars and cafes including Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, the Fortnum & Mason Bar and several pubs.

Lounges at Terminal 5 include the Aspire Lounge and Spa, the Plaza Premium Lounge and six different British Airways lounges.

Which terminal?

Heathrow’s terminals are organised according to airline alliance with Star Alliance members using Terminal 2, Oneworld members (except most British Airways and Iberia flights) using Terminal 3, SkyTeam members (except Delta and Garuda Indonesia) using Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 is used exclusively for British Airways and Iberia.

Generally, airlines use the following terminals (although it is always good to double check before passing through security):

  • Aegean Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Aer Lingus – Terminal 2
  • Aeroflot – Terminal 4
  • Aeromexico – Terminal 4
  • Air Algerie – Terminal 4
  • Air Astana – Terminal 4
  • Air Canada – Terminal 2
  • Air China – Terminal 2
  • Air France – Terminal 4
  • Air India – Terminal 2
  • Air Malta – Terminal 4
  • Air Mauritius – Terminal 4
  • Air New Zealand – Terminal 2
  • Air Serbia – Terminal 4
  • Alitalia – Terminal 4
  • American Airlines – Terminal 3
  • ANA – Terminal 2
  • Arik Air – Terminal 4
  • Asiana Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Austrian – Terminal 2
  • Avianca – Terminal 2
  • Azerbaijan Airlines – Terminal 4
  • Beijing Capital Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Biman Bangladesh Airlines – Terminal 4
  • British Airways – Terminal 3 and 5 (most British Airways flights use Terminal 5)
  • Brussels Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Bulgaria Air – Terminal 4
  • Cathay Pacific – Terminal 3
  • China Eastern – Terminal 4
  • China Southern – Terminal 4
  • Cobalt Air – Terminal 3
  • Croatia Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Delta Air Lines – Terminal 3
  • Egyptair – Terminal 2
  • El Al – Terminal 4
  • Emirates – Terminal 3
  • Ethiopian Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Etihad Airways – Terminal 4
  • Eurowings – Terminal 2
  • EVA Air – Terminal 2
  • Finnair – Terminal 3
  • Flybe – Terminal 2
  • Garuda Indonesia – Terminal 3
  • Germanwings – Terminal 2
  • Gulf Air – Terminal 4
  • Hainan Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Iberia – Terminal 5
  • Iberia Express – Terminal 3 and 5
  • Icelandair – Terminal 2
  • Iran Air – Terminal 3
  • Japan Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Jet Airways – Terminal 4
  • Kenya Airways – Terminal 4
  • KLM – Terminal 4
  • Korean Air – Terminal 4
  • Kuwait Airways – Terminal 4
  • LATAM – Terminal 3
  • LOT Polish Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Lufthansa – Terminal 2
  • Malaysia Airlines – Terminal 4
  • MEA – Terminal 3
  • Oman Air – Terminal 4
  • Pakistan International Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Philippine Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Qantas – Terminal 3
  • Qatar Airways – Terminal 4
  • Royal Air Maroc – Terminal 4
  • Royal Brunei Airlines – Terminal 4
  • Royal Jordanian – Terminal 3
  • Saudia – Terminal 4
  • SAS Scandinavian Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Singapore Airlines – Terminal 2
  • South African Airways – Terminal 2
  • Sri Lankan Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Swiss – Terminal 2
  • TAP Air Portugal – Terminal 2
  • Tarom – Terminal 4
  • Thai Airways – Terminal 2
  • Tianjin Airlines – Terminal 3
  • Tunisair – Terminal 4
  • Turkish Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Turkmenistan Airlines – Terminal 4
  • United Airlines – Terminal 2
  • Uzbekistan Airways – Terminal 4
  • Vietnam Airlines – Terminal 4
  • Virgin Atlantic – Terminal 3
  • Vueling – Terminal 3

Travelling between terminals at Heathrow

A free travel zone operates at Heathrow and there is no charge to travel from one terminal to another.

If you are transit-passenger with a connecting flight at a different terminal you are able to take a free flight connection bus from one terminal to another without passing through British immigration but you will still need to clear security when you arrive at the next terminal. Simply follow the purple flight connection signs to the coach gates to catch your bus. Connecting buses to other terminals depart every 10 minutes.

If you are not a connecting passenger, or if you are connecting from a domestic flight arriving at one terminal to an international flight departure from a different terminal, then there are several free ways to travel from one terminal to another.

From Terminal 2 to Terminal 3
It is a 10-minute walk between terminals 2 and 3 via a pedestrian underpass.

From Terminal 2 to Terminal 4 or Terminal 5
You can take the Heathrow Express train from Heathrow Central railway station (which serves Terminals 2 and 3) or the tube from Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 tube station to either terminal 4 or Terminal 5. With either service, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless payment card (there is no charge for this trip) and you are also able to get a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket for use on the Heathrow Express train from the ticket machine at the station.

The Heathrow Express train runs every 15 minutes and the tube runs every 10 minutes.

From Terminal 3 to Terminal 2
It is a 10-minute walk between terminals 2 and 3 via a pedestrian underpass.

From Terminal 3 to Terminal 4 or Terminal 5
You can take the Heathrow Express train from Heathrow Central railway station (which serves Terminals 2 and 3) or the tube from Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 tube station to either terminal 4 or Terminal 5. With either service, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless payment card (there is no charge for this trip) and you are also able to get a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket for use on the Heathrow Express train from the ticket machine at the station.

The Heathrow Express train runs every 15 minutes and the tube runs every 10 minutes.

From Terminal 4 to Terminal 2 or Terminal 3
You can take the Heathrow Express train from Terminal 4 to Heathrow Central railway station (which serves Terminals 2 and 3) or the tube to Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 tube station. With either service, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless payment card (there is no charge for this trip) and you are also able to get a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket for use on the Heathrow Express train from the ticket machine at the station.

From Terminal 4 to Terminal 5
Local bus routes 482 and 490 operate a free service between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. You can also take the tube to Terminals 2 & 3 and change for another train to Terminal 5.

From Terminal 5 to Terminal 2 or Terminal 3
You can take the Heathrow Express train from Terminal 5 to Heathrow Central railway station (which serves Terminals 2 and 3) or the tube to Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 tube station. With either service, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless payment card (there is no charge for this trip) and you are also able to get a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket for use on the Heathrow Express train from the ticket machine at the station.

From Terminal 5 to Terminal 4
Local bus routes 482 (destination Southall Town Hall) and 490 (destination Pools on the Park) operate a free service between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Terminal 4. You can also take the Heathrow Express train or the tube to Terminals 2 & 3 and change for another train to Terminal 4.

You should allow 10 minutes to get between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 and 20 minutes to travel between the other terminals.

Getting to and from Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is easily accessible from central London by tube, train and bus and there are also bus and coach services to other cities elsewhere in the UK.

Travelling between Heathrow Airport and Central London

There are lots of options for getting into Central London from Heathrow Airport, but most people take either the tube or the train.

Heathrow Airport to Central London by tube
The most popular way to get to and from Heathrow is via the Piccadilly tube line that runs from central London with three stations at Heathrow: Terminals 2 & 3; Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. The tube takes approximately 45 minutes from central London. The cash fare is £6 one-way; with a contactless payment card or an Oyster card, it costs £5.10 during peak travel times and £3.10 off-peak.

Heathrow Airport to London Paddington by train
There are two rail services connecting Heathrow Airport with London Paddington railway station.

The fastest and most expensive option is the Heathrow Express train, which connects Heathrow Airport with Paddington Station in 15 minutes, with trains running every 15 minutes. Tickets cost £22 off-peak and £25 peak (£27 if you buy your ticket on board the train). You can travel in the Heathrow Express first-class carriages if you are a Star Alliance Gold member.

A cheaper alternative is the TFL Rail train service, which follows a similar route to the Heathrow Express but it takes a little longer as it is not an express service. Trains run every half hour, the journey time is 25 minutes and the one-way fare with contactless payment or an Oyster card is £10.10 off-peak or £10.20 peak.

Heathrow Airport to Central London by local bus
The cheapest way to get into central London from Heathrow Airport is by a regular local bus, but whether this is worth the effort depends on whether you are travelling during the day or night.

This is a good option late at night when the N9 night bus runs directly from the airport to Trafalgar Square every 20 minutes for just £1.50, taking around an hour to get into Central London.

However, it’s not such a great option during the day as there is no direct bus route linking the airport with Central London meaning that you may need to change to multiple buses (taking as many as five different buses in some cases) and this coupled with more congested roads during the day means that the trip into town can take over two hours. Also because you have to take several different buses, the journey will be more expensive at £3 and it doesn’t cost that much more to take the tube.

Heathrow Airport to Central London by coach
Green Line, National Express and Megabus coaches also go into central London. These are not strictly airport bus services, but rather long-distance coach services from other parts of the country that just happens to call in at Heathrow Airport en route to London. Most of these coach services run express to Victoria Coach Station, but Green Line services terminate at their own coach station (near Victoria) and also make some stops in Kensington and Knightsbridge.

These coaches are a comfortable way to travel and quite good value (but not as cheap as regular local buses or the tube). Although they do not provide as regular a service as other airport transport options, they are worth considering if you’re staying at a hotel near Victoria Coach Station (or the Kensington/Knightsbridge area if you’re taking the Green Line coach).

All coaches into central London stop at the Heathrow Central Bus Station, which is within walking distance to Terminals 2 and 3. Many of these coaches also stop at Terminal 5 and there are some coaches that stop at Terminal 4 as well.

Travelling between Heathrow Airport and other London airports

Although you can easily get between London’s different airports by travelling via Central London, there are some direct bus and coach services that link Heathrow with Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports without the need to go into London.

It is important to note that these direct services are not always the cheapest or quickest way to get between London’s airports and it is sometimes cheaper and faster to travel via Central London.

When booking National Express coaches, you will usually get a much cheaper fare if you book your ticket online well in advance but this means that you’re tied into a specific coach departure rather than the first available bus. For an extra £5, there is the option for a more flexible ticket that lets you take a later coach if your flight is delayed. Because cheap tickets are often not refundable, this is a good idea as you will otherwise need to allow extra time to clear customs and immigration before your scheduled departure time.

All coaches into Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports stop at the Heathrow Central Bus Station, which is within walking distance to Terminals 2 and 3. Many of these coaches also stop at Terminal 5 and there are some coaches that stop at Terminal 4 as well.

Heathrow Airport to Gatwick Airport
The easiest way to travel between Heathrow and Gatwick airports is by the National Express coach service, which runs around 100 times each day. For a relatively short (one hour) journey, it is not particularly cheap, but it is not much more expensive than going via Central London and it is certainly a much easier option.

However, if you have enough time between your connecting flights, it can be nice to go via central London to see some of the sights (or have a nice meal and a few drinks in a pub) before continuing onward to Gatwick.

Heathrow Airport to Luton Airport
National Express have an hourly coach service that links Heathrow and Luton Airports. This usually takes around an hour, but you should allow longer as the roads can get congested at times.

The alternative is to take the Green Line coach into Central London and transfer to the Green Line coach to Luton Airport (it is easier to take the Green Line coach into London as Green Line have a different London terminus to National Express).

The other option is to take the tube into London and get off at Kings Cross St Pancras and then take the Thameslink train to Luton Airport Parkway.

Heathrow Airport to Stansted Airport
The National Express coach service from Heathrow to Norwich goes via London Stansted Airport. This service runs around once every two hours and takes around an hour and 20 minutes but, like the other airport to airport coach services, it is subject to delays due to traffic congestion.

The other option is to take the train into London Paddington railway station, then the tube to London Liverpool Street railway station, then the Stansted Express train to Stansted Airport. Officially this takes a little longer than the coach, but it is a more frequent service and is more reliable as it is not subject to delays due to traffic congestion.

Heathrow Airport to the other London airports
There are no direct coach services to London’s other airports. This means that you need to travel into central London to make connections if you need to get to London City or London Southend airports.

Travelling between Heathrow Airport and other cities in the UK

If you need to travel directly to somewhere other than London, you can often get a direct coach which will save having to go into London.

Megabus and National Express operate frequent coaches to and from Heathrow Airport. Both Megabus and National Express have direct services to Bristol and Cardiff and National Express also have direct coaches to Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Coventry, Exeter and Leicester.

If you need to travel between Heathrow and Reading, Slough or Windsor, Green Line Coaches have regular coach services to these towns.

Almost all coaches stop at the Heathrow Central Bus Station, which is within walking distance to Terminals 2 and 3. Many of these coaches also stop at Terminal 5 and there are some coaches that stop at Terminal 4 as well.

An exception to this are coaches to Windsor, Slough and Reading. These coaches all serve Terminal 5 but only some of them continue on towards the Heathrow Central Bus Station.

Amenities
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  • Wheelchair access
  • Tourist information
  • Cafe/restaurant
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