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7 Super Heathrow Hacks – Top London Heathrow Tips

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London Heathrow airport is one of the world’s busiest, with a plane arriving or departing every 45 seconds all day. I have compiled 7 London Heathrow tips to ease your journey, just a little. London Heathrow can be big, confusing and frustrating, but I work there so these are all legit London Heathrow tips!

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1.) Know Your Terminal

Currently, Heathrow Airport has four working terminals. Terminals 2, 3, 4 & 5. Getting between them can be up to half an hour so it is definitely best to know your terminal before you leave for the airport. Heathrow has a handy tool on its website which is always up to date. (Don’t just google it, the search engine may bring up old information).

Heathrow – Which Terminal Website

2.) Getting to Heathrow

Trains to Heathrow

A quick note about lifts. There may be a queue at some lifts but don’t be tempted to take the escalators. There are multiple long escalators, it’s probably not quicker and it can be dangerous with bags. Lifts to take:

  • Terminal 2 from the underground tunnel to departures.
  • Heathrow Central from the Elizabeth Line/Heathrow Express platforms
  • Terminal 5 from Elizabeth Line/Heathrow Express platforms or Underground platforms to departures.
Train Options
  • Heathrow Express – At just 15 minutes from Paddington, this is the quickest option from Heathrow to a London terminal station. It is also the most expensive.
  • Elizabeth Line – A bit of a game-changer, this travels to Paddington in 25 minutes and then cuts through Central London in no time at all. It is the most popular train.
  • Piccadilly Line – The dark blue London Underground line is the slowest way into Central, but it is also the cheapest….and you can use this hack to make it even cheaper:

Check out Your complete guide to the London Underground

The Hatton Cross Hack

If you are catching the Piccadilly Line to London Heathrow (and have some time to spare) then there is a sneaky way to save some pennies. If you are travelling to Heathrow during off-peak hours (avoiding 08:30 – 09:30 and 16:30 – 19:00) then hop off at Hatton Cross. Tap your Oyster or card out of the gates and you will have been charged around £3.50 from Central London. Then, you can tap back through and travel on using the “Free Heathrow Travel Zone”. It is a pain in the bottom with luggage as there is no lift but if you are on a budget then it might be worth the faff. It saves £2 on your tube fare. Actually it saves you 0.50p during peak times but it just doesn’t seem worth it for that.

Coaches to Heathrow

You catch the National Express coaches to London Heathrow from around the country and from Victoria Coach Station in London too. It’s a good option if you live further afield. Just remember to leave lots of extra time for traffic snarl ups and break downs. It is also worth noting that they do charge more for going directly to the airport rather than into London itself so price up your options. – Photo by claudiodivizia
Driving to Heathrow

I don’t know an awful lot about this as we don’t drive but there is something you really need to be aware of:

The Drop Off Fees

If you are driving to London Heathrow, even if you are just dropping someone off or picking them up, you need to pay £5. This can be paid online using this website and can be done a little in advance or a little aferwards. There is no way to avoid this if you are driving within the Heathrow area so just be prepared to fork out a fiver.

Oh, and Heathrow is now in the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) so there will be a ULEZ charge of £12.50 if you car isn’t compliant.

Check out Carry On Only! – 20 Top Tips for Hand Luggage Travel

3.) Try a Timeslot

Trials at have begun at Terminal 3 for something they are calling Timeslot. Three days before you fly, you can search for your flight on this website and book a time to go through security. Slots are allocated in 15 minute windows but you can actually arrive up to 15 minutes before or after your entry time. Booking in advance allows Heathrow to limit the entrants and ensure there are enough staff for the people booked.

Let’s see how it turns out!

4.) Getting Through Security

Next on our London Heathrow tips is preparing for security. You can start this before you even leave for the airport. They are going to ask that you remove a few things from your bag as you go through. There are some fancy new machines which will make these rules obsolete but they aren’t everywhere yet. Oh, and at London Heathrow every bag gets its own tray to go through the x-ray machine so spread things out.

  • Know Your Liquids Rule – That’s one clear, resealable bag no bigger than 20cm x 20cm per person. Inside, no liquid container can be bigger than 100ml. The total volume cannot exceed 1 litre. Keep these out and separate in the tray as they go to the x-ray.
  • Remove Your Laptops – You will be asked to remove laptop, tablets and mindless. You will need to place these in a separate tray. Make sure they are somewhere handy.
  • Consider Your Clothing – You must remove all your metal and any boots or high heels. My advice is to wear soft, wireless clothes, skip the belt unless you really need it, and opt for slip off shoes that don’t require much lacing. Oh, and really empty your pockets as you got through.

Check out Top Ten Tips to Pack Your Liquids Bag for Carry On Luggage Like a Pro!

5.) Heathrow Transfer Tips

  • Transfers – If you have through checked luggage and you are continuing your journey from Heathrow then you can use the transfers areas. Follow the purple signs rather than those for passport control. If you need to change term in is you will be using inter-terminal buses. These don’t come as often as anyone would like. They also don’t all go directly between terminals so you may need to catch two. Bare this is mind if your hand luggage is crazy.
  • Security – When transferring at Heathrow, you will be passing through security. This is just as thorough as the main security checkpoint so everything that applied to that, applies here. If you have a little drink from your previous flight, drink it or ditch it. Make sure you have gathered your mini liquids back into their bag and remember that even if you got away with something a little bigger at your origin they will spot it and throw it away.
  • Connection Time – Travel agents and flight aggregator websites will lead you believe that an hour is enough time to transfer at Heathrow. Let me assure you, it really isn’t. This is especially true if you have to change terminals. Realistically, I wouldn’t book a flight through Heathrow with less than two hours.
  • Staying Overnight – If your connecting flights arrive mean an overnight stay, book hotel accommodation. There are no airports in the transfer areas and nowhere nice to sleep. Most people are rounded up and shown to Gate 7 in Terminal 3 for the night. Book a hotel along the Bath Road or somewhere handy for your departure terminal. Remember, you will have to go through passport control and exit the airport to reach these.
  • Transfer Desks – As you transfer, make sure you visit the Airline Service Desks. The staff can make sure you have everything you need for your onward flight, enter any baggage numbers that may not be in your booking automatically and give you more helpful advice like this.

6.) Food and Beverage Tips

  • Download the Heathrow App – The app will let you know about all of the food and drink service outlets in each terminal. You can even order ahead on the app for some of them and collect when the food is ready. This is great if you need to grab and go. Order when you join the security queue and something yummy will be ready for you when you get through.
  • Grab a Meal Deal – Not included on the app are the shops that provide meal deals. These are the cheap and cheerful way to grab a bite at the airport. For £5-£6 you will get a sandwich, a soft drink and a snack. These can be as basic as a cheese sandwich to an elaborate triple sandwich pack. For snacks you can choose fruit, crisps, chocolate and more. Airside, Boots and WHSmiths are the best for these and you can add in M&S Simply Food if you are landside too.
  • Bargain Booze at WHSmiths – This is a rather recent development and I am intrigued to see if it will stick around. They are now stocking a pretty decent selection of wine, beer and cocktail cans for purchase. These are the cheapest alcoholic drinks at Heathrow so bottoms up!
  • Bring a Water Bottle – There are free water fountains near the entrance to many of the bathrooms at Heathrow. The water in these is safe to drink so you can top up and drink your fill.

7.) Getting to the Gate

  • For our final London Heathrow tips, get to the gate on time and prepared.
  • Terminal 2 – Get your legs ready if you are flying from here. Half of the gates are in a separate part of the terminal which is a good 15 minute stride. There are moving walkways to help but travelling down a huge escalator, walking under the tarmac and re-emerging at these gates can be a long way.
  • Terminal 5 – There are some far gate at Terminal 5 too but luckily there is a train. For a hint on which doors to aim for if you are in a rush, follow the British Airways staff. They know the quickest way!
  • At the gate – Have your boarding card and passport ready. They may use self service boarding, in which case you will only need your boarding card but listen for announcements to tell you so.
  • Bathrooms – Heathrow has lots of closed gates. This means you are scanned onto the flight at the point you enter the gate room. Coming back out to find a bathroom means the gate staff have to stop what they are doing to mark you back off the flight, and that you have to carry your boarding card and passport to the loo. Use the bathrooms en route to your gate or hold it until you board.

Final Thoughts on Our London Heathrow Tips

Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports so anything you can do to feel prepared and a little smarter than your average passenger can only be a good thing! Do you know any more London Heathrow tips or hacks that we have missed? I’d love to hear them in the comments. (Oh, and if you see me, wave hello).

Rosie xx

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9 thoughts on “7 Super Heathrow Hacks – Top London Heathrow Tips

  1. Some great tips here, thanks Rosie. By the way, what’s the Hatton Cross hack? I couldn’t seem to find it? x

    1. Oh my goodness, I cant believe I forgott to actually write it haha.

      Here it is – “If you are catching the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow (and have some time to spare) then there is a sneaky way to save some pennies. If you are travelling to Heathrow during off-peak hours (avoiding 08:30 – 09:30 and 16:30 – 19:00) then hop off at Hatton Cross. Beep out of the gates and you will, have been charged around £3.50 from Central London. Then, you can scan back through and travel on using the “Free Heathrow Travel Zone”. It is a pain in the bottom with luggage as there is no lift but if you are on a budget then it might be worth the faff. It saves £2 on your tube fare. Actually it saves you 0.50p during peak times but it just doesn’t seem worth it for that. “

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