London Heathrow Terminal 3

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An aerial view of Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport.

London Heathrow Terminal 3 is an airport terminal at London Heathrow Airport, serving the British capital city of London. Terminal 3 is currently used by Oneworld members and a few other non-affiliated airlines. It is also the hub for Virgin Atlantic's long-haul operations.


Opened as The Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961, it was built to handle flight departures for long-haul routes.[1] At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London from the gardens on the roof of the terminal building. Renamed Terminal 3 in 1968, it was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities added included the UK's first moving walkways. The terminal was refurbished between 1987 and 1990 at a cost of £110 million.[2] In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed[3] to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Emirates and Qantas now operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380. Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt through the addition of a new four lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building, was completed in 2007. These improvements were intended to improve passengers' experiences, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic was assigned its own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium. Heathrow Airport Limited also has plans for a £1bn upgrade of the rest of the terminal over the next ten years which will include the renovation of aircraft piers and the arrivals forecourt. A new baggage system connecting to Terminal 5 (for British Airways connections) is currently under construction. In addition to the baggage system, the baggage claim hall is also set to undergo changes with dedicated A380 belts and an improved design and layout.[4]

As of 2013, Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962 square metres (1,065,220 sq ft).[5]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Terminal 3 is used by the majority of Oneworld alliance members, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian. SriLankan Airlines, US Airways and British Airways who also use Terminal 1 and Terminal 5. However it is not used by Iberia (Terminal 5 only), TAM (Terminal 1 only), Malaysian Airlines and Qatar Airways (both Terminal 4 only). It is also used by Vueling which is a wholly owned susbsidiary of International Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways and Iberia but is not itself a member of Oneworld. Vueling, British Airways and Finnair are the only airlines offering shorthaul flights from this terminal.

The principal non-aligned airlines are Emirates and Virgin Atlantic, the smaller ones are Iran Air, Oman Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines. Delta is a Sky Team member but has moved some flights from Terminal 4. Middle East Airlines has also joined Sky Team but remained in Terminal 3.

The main presences in Terminal 3 are American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic who have their UK hubs located here, although Virgin Atlantic's Little Red domestic services operate from Terminal 2 as there is no provision for domestic services in Terminal 3. British Airways have a notable presence which will grow following the closure of Terminal 1 (due to restricted capacity in Terminal 5). Emirates, with 5 A380 flights daily to Dubai, is the other major user of the terminal.

All Star Alliance airlines formerly based in Terminal 3 moved to Terminal 2 between June and September 2014 and none now fly from this terminal.

In 2012 Terminal 3 handled 18,4 million passengers on 92,639 flights. 25% of the airport's passengers, making it the second busiest terminal after Terminal 5 but only 20% of the airport's flights, which is fewer then both Terminal 5 and Terminal 1. The average of 199 passengers per flight reflects the terminal's long haul focus.,[6]

Airlines Destinations
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Raleigh/Durham
British Airways Barcelona (from 26 October 2014), Budapest, Gibraltar, Helsinki, Lisbon, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Delta Air Lines[7] Boston, Los Angeles (begins 27 October 2014), New York-JFK, New York-Newark (begins 29 March 2015), Seattle/Tacoma
Emirates Dubai-International
Finnair Helsinki
Iran Air Tehran-Imam Khoemeini
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Haneda
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore
Qantas Dubai-International, Melbourne, Sydney
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia
SriLankan Airlines Colombo
Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia
Virgin Atlantic Atlanta (begins 27 October 2014), Boston, Delhi, Detroit (from 1 June 2015), Dubai-International, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai (ends 31 January 2015), New York-JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Shanghai-Pudong, Tokyo-Narita (ends 31 January 2015), Washington-Dulles
Seasonal: Cape Town (ends 26 April 2015), Chicago-O'Hare
Vueling Bilbao, La Coruna

Airbus A380 and Boeing 747[edit]

Emirates and Qantas are the only operators of the Airbus A380 at Terminal 3. The 5 Emirates daily flights to Dubai use the A380, as do the 2 Qantas flights to Dubai, 1 of which continues to Sydney and 1 to Melbourne.

Virgin Atlantic is the only operator of the Boeing 747 in Terminal 3. In summer 2014 5 of its 747s were based at Heathrow.

Inter-terminal Transport[edit]

Terminal 3 is connected by an underground walkway to Terminals 1 and 2. Terminals 4 and 5 can be reached by the free Heathrow Express rail service. London Underground services can also be used to transfer to Terminals 4 and 5 (the former requiring a change of train at Hatton Cross), but this service is only free to Oyster card users who have a ticket covering zone 6.[8]

In addition, numerous buses ply between the Central Bus Station (for Terminals 1, 2 & 3) and the other terminals, however using the train service is much quicker and easier for passengers with luggage. The bus service is free between terminals.

Ground Transport[edit]

Road links[edit]

As part of the three central terminals at Heathrow, it is well linked to the M4 motorway via the M4 spur road and through a tunnel under the north runway. There is a large, multi-storey car park opposite the Terminal connected by an aerial footbridge.

Rail links[edit]

Terminal 3 is accessed by the London Underground from Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 tube station, with trains towards Cockfosters station via Central London. The Terminal is also accessed by Heathrow Connect and Express from Heathrow Central where services go to London Paddington. Heathrow Connect services are due to be replaced by Crossrail when it finally opens at some point in the future and services would be increased from 2 trains per hour (about every 30 minutes) to 4 trains per hour (about every 15 minutes).

Bus links[edit]

Terminal 3 is accessible to both bus and coach services from Heathrow central bus station. Current services are:[9]

  • 724 – Heathrow - Uxbridge - Watford - Hatfield - Welwyn Garden City - Hertford - Harlow
  • A40 – Heathrow - Uxbridge - Beaconsfield - High Wycombe

* - Buses marked with an asterisk run as part of the London bus network on behalf of TfL

There are also several coach services operated by National Express operating to other London airports such as Gatwick, Stansted & Luton and other cities in the United Kingdom.


  1. ^ "Heathrow's history". Heathrow Airport. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Transport" 11. London: City Press Limited. p. 151. 
  3. ^ "Debut A380 flight lands in London". BBC News. 18 March 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2008. 
  4. ^ "BAA Heathrow unveils plans to re-develop Terminal 3". BAA Plc. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  5. ^ "Heathrow facts and figures". Heathrow Airport. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Heathrow facts and figures". Heathrow Airport. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways announce new summer schedule" (Press release). Delta Air Lines. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "tfl Bus Maps - Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3".