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Navigating Heathrow Airport for Beginners

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Foreign Geek Sky

As you know, this year one of my resolutions is to write more. One way to do it is to write guest posts, but I want it to be a two way street. So this month, I have been contacting a few awesome people to exchange guest posts with. I hope to do it at least once every month. Well, let’s hope I stick with the plan. Today, Sarah, who took a gap year to travel to Asia and Europe before pursuing her career, is going to share with you her love for Heathrow Airport.

For someone who regularly uses Heathrow Airport as my go-to airport, I thought it would be a useful task to impart some of my own personal knowledge and experiences in this article to help people navigate London’s most intimidating airport.

Heathrow_T5

To the people unaware of how big Heathrow actually is; it has 6 terminals in total. The first 5 terminals cater for short and long haul flights with the final terminal dedicated to cargo aircraft. Heathrow is situated 22 kilometers from London and is reported to facilitate over 73 million departing and arriving passengers per year according to Heathrow’s official facts and figure.

I remember when I first used the airport, as it was a distinctly daunting prospect, trying to navigate one of the world’s busiest airports on my own wasn’t an easy task. How times have changed, though, as I now use the airport on a monthly basis, traveling between offices and meeting with clients.

What are the obvious pitfalls with an airport the size of Heathrow that I should avoid?

What should people be focusing on that have never used the airport before? These are just some of the questions I have been asked by colleagues and friends that have never used the airport. So let’s try and address some of the pressing concerns that many people have with London’s flagship airport.

Navigating the terminals

One of the best things about Heathrow is even if you mistakenly arrive at the wrong terminal; Heathrow has an underground train system that can transport you to your terminal of choice. It’s also free so you won’t have to worry about the potential cost of a cab ride.

Is it hard to get to Heathrow?

This is entirely dependent on where you are coming from and what modes of transport you are using. If you are traveling via the tube directly from the center of London, the journey is fairly effortless. However, if you are coming from London using the bus service, a cab or even via car your journey could well be determined by what time you’re traveling and the volume of traffic you encounter. London was ranked as one of the most traffic-congested cities in the entire world by Forbes in 2013, and for good reason.

Is it easy to park cars?

One of the perks about using Heathrow is that its parking facilities are extremely advanced. There are many different options that will suit the needs of almost anyone. Short and long stay parking options are available depending on the duration that you’ll be away. I tend to use the Business Parking due to the “state of the art driverless pods” that are being trialed at Terminal 5. These allow me to park my car and then I am transported to the airport terminal in just 6 minutes via a pod.

The Business Parking is also patrolled by security staff and has CCTV cameras that monitor the area according Parking4Less so there’s no need to worry about the safety of your car while you’re away.

How hard is it to get to check-in desks?

The beauty of Heathrow is that it is one of the most technologically advanced airports in the world. It also has a wealth of information regarding flights, check-in times and desk on large screens throughout the airport.

Additionally, Heathrow also has a very useful app that I always use to track my flight and any other information I might need along the way. Over the years, I have found that the updates are posted on the app before they are on the Departure screens. Download the app for free here.

I’d like to hope that some of the answers I have provided in this article will help ease any fears you have when using Heathrow for the first time. The key, obviously, is to make sure you know your flight details and also the rules and regulations specified by the airline you are traveling with. If you know all of this information, the rest should be a walk in the park.

And that’s all from Sarah, the airport geek. I have never been to London before but I am sure this article will put me at ease when I step into Heathrow airport. Btw, what’s your favorite airport?

Miaw on air

Thank you for reading you guys! Drop me an email if you would like to exchange guest post with me.

Ps. Read about my airplane dining saga here and here. Pic source via.

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  • Love this post – such great advice! This time I used the parking service where you give them your car and they meet you when you fly back. It was a little pricey, so I’m not sure I’d use it again.

    My favourite airport is Singapore, hands down. Come on, it even has a butterfly garden!!!

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