As the primary airport serving London and a major location for international transfers, Heathrow Airport has emerged as the third busiest airport in the world. Located 14 miles west of Central London, Heathrow Airport is currently home to four operational terminals and two 12,000 ft runways.
Almost 70 million passengers pass through London Heathrow Airport annually, a figure that includes the largest number of international passengers of any airport. In terms of traffic movements, the airport is also one of the world's busiest, driving London and its smaller surrounding airports to the top of more world lists for total traffic movements and total passenger traffic in an area.
The history of this busy airport dates back to the 1920s when a private company called Fairey Aviation began buying land in the southeast hamlet of Heathrow. In 1930, the airfield was declared operational and the following 10 years would see the land used primarily for aircraft assembly, testing, and air shows.
With the onset of World War II, the airfield was requisitioned along with surrounding land for construction of a new international airport. Officially opened in 1946, the importance of the airport expanded steadily over the course of the next forty years. By the early 1980s, 30 million passengers regularly passed through Heathrow. Fast forward to the 21st Century and the continued growth in passenger numbers has led the British government to debate and/or implement multiple new plans for expansion.
In an effort to make travel as convenient as possible for such a huge and diverse number of people, a number of services and amenities are offered for individuals, families, and business travelers. Three airport lounges are available to passengers who have passed through security and include a range of services from Wi-Fi, Television, and comfortable chairs, to printing and business services, complimentary food and drink, a game room and even a spa.
Outside of the lounges are a number of amenities for guests including high speed Wi-Fi, phone charging stations, postal services, cash machines, currency exchanges, and medical stations. In addition to free baggage trolleys, Heathrow also offers a porter service for a nominal fee.
Befitting its place as a world destination, London Heathrow Airport offers services and amenities that go well beyond that of most airports. Concierge services can be arranged in advance, play areas for children are available in Terminals 4 and 5, and even travel necessities like showers can be found in multiple locations throughout the Airport. To satisfy passenger's spiritual needs, the airport has an on-site chapel, multi-faith prayer rooms in each terminal, and faith representatives from many major religions.
Given its place as a center of London travel, there are a number of options for getting to and from the airport. Easily the cheapest option available is the London Underground's Piccadilly Line. With transport under an hour and trains leaving every ten minutes, the Underground makes direct stops at Terminals 4 and 5, and a third stop between Terminals 1 and 3.
Other public transportation options include the Heathrow Connect train line, which stops at local stations in west London, and the Heathrow Express that connects to Paddington Station in roughly 15 minutes. A number of public and private bus services also connect Heathrow to railway stations and various parts of the UK.
Heathrow Airport can be accessed via the M4 and M25 motorways and the A4 and A30 roadways. Parking is available at multi-storey garages for short or long-term stay, with additional private parking options located off-site. Additionally, a full complement of taxis, shuttles, and limousines can be arranged ahead of time or at the airport.