The Layout of the Four Heathrow Airport Terminals
The enormous London Heathrow Airport consists of four passenger terminals and one cargo terminal building. The passenger buildings are named terminals 2,3,4, and 5 since terminal 1 was permanently closed in 2015. Thus, nowadays, LHR passengers arrive and depart from one of the four Heathrow terminals, depending on the airline operating their flight and the point of origin or their destination.
Terminals 2 and 3 lie close to each other. Thus, passengers can get from one terminal to the other on foot, as they are linked via a pedestrian passage. Conversely, terminals 4 and 5 are located within a further distance.
Heathrow Terminal 2
Heathrow terminal 2 first opened its doors in 1955 under the name “Europa Building”. However, after a ground-up renovation during which it expanded, taking over the old Queens Building that housed the airline offices, it reopened in 2014 as “Queens Terminal”. Presently, it has 32 gates and a Satellite building (T2B) and mostly handles flights operated by airlines-members of Star Alliance, a few Skyteam air carriers, and a number of unaffiliated air companies. Flights arrive or depart from Heathrow airport terminal 2 with European air hubs as their destinations. Nevertheless, T2 also serves certain long-haul destinations.
As far as its layout is concerned, it is spread over several levels. In detail:
- The Ground Level is where buses, taxis, and flight connections are to be found (the transportation area).
- Level 1 houses the Arrivals and the baggage claim area.
- Level 4 hosts Departures and Gates A1-A26.
- Level 5 is the zone for Departures and Check-in.
- Gates B31-B49 lie in Satellite T2B.
Passengers can find information kiosks all over the terminal. Thus, some desks are located on Departure levels 4 and 5, while others are to be found at Level 1 (Arrivals). Moreover, two meeting points are available near the entrances of the check-in area (Level 5), and one lies centrally in the Arrivals level 1.
Heathrow Terminal 3
Heathrow terminal 3 began its operation in 1961. It was named Oceanic at that moment. In 1970, it was refurbished. Hence, nowadays, it serves long-haul flights along with a few European destinations. Oneworld members, some Skyteam airlines, and various non-aligned air carriers are present at T3. Virgin Atlantic also uses the T3 facilities. What’s more, British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling partly operate at Heathrow airport terminal 3.
Terminal 3 is configured as described below:
- The Ground level houses the check-in area and the baggage claim zone. Moreover, LHR passengers can access Heathrow Express Train, subway, the Central Bus Station, and trains to T4 and T5 from that level. The north part of that floor is dedicated to Arrivals.
- Level 1 is where Departures and Gates are to be found.
Terminal 3 can accommodate Airbus A380!
The T3 meeting point lies at Arrivals, next to Tourist Services, while passengers in need can address the information desks located at Departures and at the baggage claim area, as well as close to Chauffeur Services in the Arrivals zone.
Heathrow Terminal 4
Heathrow terminal 4 began operating in 1986. It was constructed to serve short journeys and business travelers. That’s the reason why its gates are located within a short distance from the Departures. However, after being renovated, it ended up serving both long-haul and European destinations. T4 lies next to the cargo terminal and hosts almost all the Skyteam airlines, the Oneworld Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Gulf Air, as well as many independent air companies.
Arrivals and Departures are split across two levels:
- The Ground level hosts the Arrivals and the check-in area. Moreover, all terminal transit means (Heathrow Express, subway, taxis) can be accessed through that level.
- Level 2 and mezzanine house the check-in zone. Gates (some of them capable of handling flights via Airbus A380) and Departures are also to be found at Level 2.
The Heathrow terminal 4 ‘s meeting point is situated at the Arrivals level, close to WHSmith. Additionally, three information kiosks lie on Level 2, four desks are located at the Departures area, and one Help Center is to be found at the baggage claim zone.
Heathrow Terminal 5
The newest Heathrow terminal -terminal 5- has been operational since 2008, currently serving British Airways and its partner airline Iberia. It is a vast terminal with a main building (Concourse A) and two satellite buildings (Concourse B and C). In the near future, a third satellite terminal is expected to be added to Heathrow terminal 5’s complex (Concourse D) to cope with the risen flight traffic anticipated as a result of the merger of British Airways and Iberia Airlines.
Heathrow airport terminal 5′ layout is as follows:
- The Ground level houses the Arrivals and the baggage claims. All LHR means of transport are accessible via that level.
- Level 2 is where Departures and Gates A1-A23 lie.
- Departures and check-in are to be found at Level 3.
- The Satellite terminal T2B houses Gates B32-B48.
- Gates C52-C66 are to be found at T2C.
Concourse A is, overall, a British Airways terminal. Concourse B serves the widebody fleet of British Airways and Iberia (but not Airbus A380), whereas the Satelite T2C has 7 stands dedicated to Airbus A380 flights.
The meeting point is to be found at the Arrivals level next to Travelex. Information kiosks lie at the main building’s Departures and Arrivals areas and at T2C’s Departures.
Passengers can reach the two satellite buildings from the main building (Concourse A) on foot through a walkway or use the free Transit Train. The Transit Train is actually an automated people mover (APM) and needs around 5-10 minutes to get to T2B and approximately 10-15 minutes to reach T2C. Despite being more relaxed and somewhat faster than walking, the train tends to get overcrowded.
Transfer Between Heathrow Airport Terminals
Do you have an onward flight from another Heathrow terminal? Perhaps you simply want to leave your terminal. In either case, there are various options for your transfer between Heathrow terminals. Explicitly:
Transfer from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 (and vice versa)
Heathrow airport terminals 2 and 3 lie close to each other. In fact, they are within a 10-minute walking distance. Thus, you can use the pedestrian underpass to get to your destination terminal.
If you are going to transit at London Heathrow Airport, it is advisable to have one hour between flights if your arriving and departing Heathrow terminals are the same, and 90 minutes, if your flight departs from another LHR terminal.
Transfer from Terminals 2 or 3 to Terminal 4
Passengers wanting to reach terminal 4 after landing at Heathrow terminals 2 or 3 can take the London Underground or the shuttle trains (Elisabeth Line and Heathrow Express) from Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 Station. Although fast and efficient, the subway doesn’t head directly to Heathrow terminal 4. As a matter of fact, passengers have to change lines at Hatton Cross. Therefore, Elisabeth Line and Heathrow Express (running twice an hour) are recommended for rides from Heathrow terminals 2 or 3 to T4. The first train leaves T2 and T3 Station at around 05:20 am and the last at 11:50 pm. Still, Bus H30 links T2/T3 and T4 during the night, operating from 03:50 am to 04:50 am every 20 minutes. Buses depart from bus stop 20 of Heathrow Central Bus Station. Although all transit means are free for transfers between Heathrow terminals, if you settle on a train ride, you’ll have to issue a free ticket for your in-between-terminals ride at the automatic machines of the train station. All in all, you can expect a 20-minute journey from T2 or T3 to T4.
Passengers with an onward flight, that is passengers traveling airside from one terminal to another, will have to follow the purple signs (Flight Connections) to reach the free bus stop of each terminal. The free shuttle bus runs every 6 minutes (every 10, during non-peak hours). Special Assistance Buses are dedicated to travelers with mobility issues and families with small babies.
Transfer from Terminals 2 or 3 to Terminal 5
Passengers traveling landside from Heathrow airport terminals 2 or 3 to terminal 5 can opt for the London Underground or the trains (Elisabeth Line and Heathrow Express) as well. The subway runs from 05:10 am to around 00:30 am-01:00 am (all night on Fridays and Saturdays) every 5 minutes and reaches terminal 5 in about 20 minutes. On the other hand, trains run from 05:10 am to 11:45 pm every 15 minutes. Their traveling time is around the same. Bus H30 is also an alternative for rides from 03:50 am to 04:50 am. All modes of transit are free. Nevertheless, you’ll have to obtain a free transit ticket for the train, while for the subway, you’ll have to use a Transport for London Oyster Card or contactless payment (basically to open the station’s gates).
Transit passengers don’t have to collect their items (thus, they can travel airside at LHR Airport) when all flights are on the same ticket or when all flights are operated by Oneworld Airlines and are under the same booking reference.
Transfer from Terminal 4 to Terminals 2 or 3
If you want to transfer from Heathrow airport terminal 4 to terminals 2 or 3, you can take the London Underground operating from 05:00 am to around midnight. The subway runs on a 10-minute frequency and gets to T2 and T3 Station in about 20 minutes. Please keep in mind that you’ll have to use a Transport from London Oyster Card or contactless payment to enter the station. Still, the ride will be out of charge. Alternatively, the shuttle trains run from 05:30 am to approximately 00:15 am every 30 minutes. A free transit ticket will be necessary for those rides as well. The night Bus H30 runs from 03:20 am to 04:40 am, leaving from the bus stops 10 and 11 of T4.
Transfer from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 (and vice versa)
London Underground and shuttle trains from T4 to T5 are more tedious as they require a change of lines at the Heathrow Terminals 2&3 Station. Thus, their traveling time is up to 30 minutes. The direct Bus H30 is more convenient, yet it only runs from 03:20 am to 04:40 am. If you do opt for a train or subway, you should remember that despite being free, they require the issue of a transit ticket and contactless payment or the use of a Transport for London Oyster Card, respectively.
Transfer from Terminal 5 to Terminals 2 or 3
Apart from the night Bus H30 departing from bus stop 12 of Heathrow airport terminal 5 from 03:40 am to 05:00 am, you won’t find another direct option from T5 to T4. Verily, the subway requires a change of line at Hatton Cross, while if you take the shuttle trains, you’ll have to hop on another train line at the Terminals 2&3 Train Station.
What airlines use terminal 4 at Heathrow?
Heathrow airport terminal 4 is basically dedicated to Skyteam airlines. Moreover, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Gulf Air also use T4. Last but not least, various unaffiliated air carriers are also present at LHR terminal 4.
Which airlines use terminal 5 at Heathrow?
Heathrow airport terminal 5 is a British Airways terminal. Verily, the UK flag carrier uses LHR terminals 3 and 5. Nevertheless, T5 is its main hub. What’s more, Iberia -British Airways’ partner airline- also operates from T5.
Are T2 and T3 connected at Heathrow?
The two Heathrow airport terminals are located within a short distance from each other. Thus, passengers can walk their way from T2 to T3 and vice versa. As a matter of fact, the two terminals are linked via a pedestrian underpass.
Which airlines use terminal 3 at Heathrow?
Terminal 3 is basically used by airlines-members of Oneworld. Furthermore, some Skyteam air carriers and many independent providers are present at Heathrow airport terminal 3. Certain flights operated by British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling also arrive or depart from T3. Additionally, Virgin Atlantic operates from T3.
Which airline uses terminal 2 in Heathrow?
Heathrow airport terminal 2 handles flights operated by Star Alliance airlines and some Skyteam members. Moreover, a few non-aligned air carriers are also present at T2 of LHR Airport.