What are the most important things you need to know before departing from Heathrow Airport? Which terminal do you need and how will you get there? How much time before boarding do you need to be at the airport? What items are you allowed to carry in your hand and hold luggage? In this guide, you will find the answer to every question regarding Heathrow Departures.
The first step is to find your terminal and then choose the most convenient mode of transport to get to the airport. Even if you get your terminal wrong, you can use the inter-terminal shuttle and train services to easily transfer from one terminal to another. Find out how to quickly pass through check in and security control by knowing what items you can or can’t have with you. Once you clear security, you have many things to keep you busy before your gate opens. At all four terminals, an array of facilities, restaurants, cafes and duty free shops wait for you to discover them.
Take some time to read our Departures Heathrow guide so that you can enjoy a stress-free day of departure.
*Due to COVID-19 and until further notice, all flights operate from Terminal 2 and Terminal 5.
With four terminals and ninety active airlines operating from Heathrow Airport, you should know in advance which terminal your flight departs from. As you can’t walk from one terminal to another, except for Terminal 2 & 3, the transfer time by bus or train can take up to 20 minutes. This could make the difference between making and missing your flight so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time and find out your terminal in advance.
The departures halls are located:
When you’re about to go to the airport or if someone is dropping you off, get the latest Heathrow Live Departures information via the official airport website. On that page, you can see an overview of all Heathrow flight departures or filter them by terminal. You can also sort them by scheduled time, flight number, departing to, and status of the flight. If you want to obtain the information you need faster, you can type in the departure flight number, the airline or city. Don’t forget to pick the right date for the departing flight you’re looking for.
Now, that you know your terminal, you can start searching for the most convenient mode of transport to get to Heathrow Airport Departures.
Designated drop-off lanes are located outside all terminals, but only for unloading luggage. You are not allowed to park and wait because the Police patrols the area and will ask you to leave as soon as you’re done unloading your bags.
If you’re planning to drop off your passengers and leave immediately, it is advised that you arrive early at the airport to find a vacant parking spot at the forecourt. For a long goodbye before boarding the plane, you can park at the Heathrow Short Stay Parking facilities that are located close to the terminals. Charges start at £4.50 for 30 minutes and £7.80 for the first hour.
A new scheme proposing a £5 fee for parking at the drop off lanes is still under discussion. If it is approved, it will probably be put into effect by the end of 2021. This plan is introduced as an economic recovery solution for the reduced passenger traffic caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The busiest airport in the UK is well connected to London and the rest of the country. You can reach the airport with various transport options, such as by car, train, bus or coach, and taxi.
During off-peak traffic hours, driving to the airport is the most efficient and convenient way to get there. Heathrow Airport is located 24km (15mi) west of London and takes 40 minutes to reach by car.
Below, you can see the driving directions for the four terminals:
One less thing to worry about when driving your own car to the airport is finding affordable parking near Heathrow. The prices for the official car parks add up quickly, especially if you’re planning to park your car there for a long time. A 30-day stay in the Long Stay Car Park at Heathrow can cost £150 while at an off-site parking provider £90. This means that you can save up to £60.
Four train providers connect Heathrow to central London and other destinations outside London.
If you’re coming from the city centre, you can use the services of TfL Rail, Heathrow Express, and London Underground. At all these three providers, you can pay using an Oyster card or debit/credit card. Fares depend on the distance from your departure point to the airport. The Rail-Air bus links operate direct routes to the following stations: Feltham, Guildford, Reading and Watford Junction.
National Express operates more than 100 routes a day to and from the airport. You can take a National Express bus to get to central London Victoria, to other cities and airports all over the UK. All services operate from the central bus station between Terminals 2 & 3. You can also use local buses for areas outside greater London or a Hotel Hoppa bus to pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at the airport.
Although taxis are known for their high rates, they are fast to get you to the airport when you’re in a rush. Taxis from Heathrow serve more than 550 routes to UK cities and towns.
If you pre-arrange a ride with one of the licenced companies, you will know the exact cost of your trip. Whether you choose to book a private taxi company or a minicab, you will be dropped off curbside at your terminal, and the driver will help you with your luggage.
Depending on where your journey starts from, you can use one or more of the above transport options. You may need to take a local bus or coach and then change on to one of the trains of the national rail network.
If you find yourself in the wrong terminal, you can always use one of the following transfer methods to get to the right one.
From Heathrow Terminal 2 Departures, you can walk to Terminal 3 via the pedestrian underpass. It only takes 10 minutes.
From Terminal 2, you can take one of the free inter-terminal trains to get to Terminal 4. The travel time is 20 minutes.
Free London Underground services and shuttle trains run between Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 and Heathrow Terminal 5 departures. The average journey time is 20 minutes.
To get from Heathrow Terminal 4 departures to Terminal 5 and backwards, you can ride for free bus number 482 or 490 (towards Heathrow Terminal 5). The buses call at Bus Stop 11. In 25 minutes, you’ll be at Terminal 5.
Passengers with mobility difficulties can contact the special assistance desk.
Check-in times vary according to the destination. International flight passengers are advised to be at the airport three hours before the scheduled departure. Domestic and European flights passengers should arrive at the check-in counter no later than two hours before their flight.
The gates open for boarding 45 minutes before departure regardless of the destination.
The main reason for being that early at the airport for an international flight is because almost all travellers flying to an intercontinental destination will carry at least one bag that needs to be checked in. This results in long queues of passengers waiting for the bags to be checked in, which can take hours.
If you can’t stand the queues, most airlines offer a self-service check-in and an online check-in. The self-service check-in counters are located next to the airlines’ desks. Even better, you can check-in online, book a seat and have your boarding pass in a digital form. Once you arrive at the airport, your airline will have a bag drop area for you to load your luggage.
Heathrow Airport has a two-bag policy. You’re allowed to carry only two items of hand baggage with the following dimensions 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in). Handbags and laptop bags count as pieces of hand luggage. If your bags don’t comply with the rules about the size or you have more baggage, you’ll be asked to check them in.
Other basic rules about luggage and permitted - prohibited items are:
Flight Departures Heathrow Halls have the most extensive duty free stores directory among all UK airports. You can find various products and popular brands. Our comprehensive Heathrow Duty Free guide provides you with the full list of retailers classified by category, such as beauty and fragrance, electronics and entertainment, fashion and accessories and more.
Heathrow Terminal 2 Duty Free
At Heathrow Terminal 2 Departures, you’ll find well-known brands, such as Harrods, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Hamleys, Smythson and more. The shops are scattered across three levels:
Heathrow Terminal 3 Duty Free
Arrive early at the airport so you can spend as much time as you want at the 40 shops housed in Heathrow Terminal 3 Departures. Check out the latest fashion trends at Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes, buy new cosmetics at Mac or a souvenir from Glorious Britain.
The shops are located in Level 1 near departures and check in.
Heathrow Terminal 4 Duty Free
Your choices in shopping are countless at Terminal 4 with high fashion outlets, such as Michael Kors, Saint Laurent, and Valentino. If you’re looking to replace damaged baggage or to buy a small gift for a loved one, you can find what you’re looking for at World Duty Free, Cath Kidston, and Dixons Travel.
All shops are situated near check in, Level 2 Departures.
Heathrow Terminal 5 Duty Free
Whatever it is that you forgot to pack, you’ll find it at Terminal 5. This terminal is home to over 50 stores, including high street brands, beauty products, travel essentials, gift shops, pharmacies, electronics, and almost everything that you would find in a shopping mall.
At Terminal 5, the shops are located in Level 2, near Gates A1 - A23, and Level 3 Upper Departures.
Heathrow Departures Terminals have a great reputation for their quality restaurants and cafes where you can sit and enjoy every meal of the day. There are, of course, take away options and fast food chains to have a quick bite before boarding. Below, you can read an overview of the restaurants and cafes available at Heathrow.
Terminal 2: Ca’puccino, Caffe Nero, Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, Costa, Eat, Heston’s The Perfectionist’s Cafe, Leon, London Pride By Fuller’s, The Flying Chariot (Wetherspoon), The Gorgeous Kitchen, Wondertree, Yo! Sushi
Terminal 3: Caffe Nero, Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, Caviar House & Oyster Bar Costa, Eat, Giraffe, Oriel French Restaurant & Bar, Pret a Manger, Spuntino, The Curator, The Darwin, The Market Gardener
Terminal 4: Carluccio’s, Caffe Nero, Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, Costa, Eat, Comptoir Libanais, The Commission, The Prince of Wales
Terminal 5: Caffe Nero, Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, Costa, Eat, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, Huxleys Restaurant & Bar, Itsu, Pilots Bar & Kitchen, Starbucks, The Crown Rivers, The George, Wagamama, Wetherspoon Express
Numerous facilities for every kind of need are available at all four terminals. The facilities include airline ticket desks, bag wrap, bureau de change, cash machines, information desks, meeting points, special assistance, toilets with baby changing facilities, accessible toilets, airline and airport lounges, drinking fountains, multifaith prayer rooms, telephones.
For every UK and Ireland traveller who is looking to cut down the costs of their upcoming trip, there is an online airport parking website that compares the most trusted and affordable car parks near airports.
Parkhero helps you with your airport parking needs by collaborating with parking providers that offer competitive rates. What you only have to do is to choose your airport and travel dates. Spend as much time as you need to compare one by one the features and services of every parking facility, and then in a few minutes, you can confirm your booking. Once you receive the confirmation email, you’re all set! Remember to bring it with you on the day of your departure to enter the parking facility.
Don’t leave airport parking for the last minute because when booking early with Parkhero, you can save up to 60%.
While the contents of this article were compiled with the greatest possible care, there is the possibility that certain information will become outdated or incorrect by the time of reading. Last updated in December 2020.