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, Star Alliance members, as well as 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; Singapore Airlines, 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]

In 2011 Terminal 3 handled 19.4 million passengers on 104,100 flights.[5] Terminal 3 is used by the majority of Oneworld alliance partners (except British Airways who use Terminal 1 and Terminal 5, Iberia (Terminal 5), Malaysian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways (all Terminal 4).

The main presences in Terminal 3 are American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic who have their UK hubs located here. British Airways also have a significant presence, mostly due to restricted capacity in Terminal 5.

After the first phase of Terminal 2 is completed in June 2014, it is expected that all Star Alliance airlines currently based in Terminal 3 will move to Terminal 2 throughout 2014. The long term plan, subject to funding and increased capacity at Heathrow, is to demolish Terminal 3 after the second phase of Terminal 2 is built on the site of Terminal 1, which is due to be demolished no later than 2016.[6]

Airlines Destinations
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Raleigh/Durham
British Airways 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, Seattle/Tacoma
Egypt Air Cairo
Emirates Dubai-International
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
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
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Oslo-Gardermoen, Stockholm-Arlanda, Stavanger
Singapore Airlines Singapore
SriLankan Airlines Colombo
Thai Airways International Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi
Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Ataurk
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia
Virgin Atlantic Atlanta (begins 27 October 2014), Boston, Delhi, Dubai-International, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Mauritius, Miami, Mumbai, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, New York-JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Shanghai-Pudong, Tokyo-Narita, Washington-Dulles
Seasonal: Cape Town, Chicago-O'Hare, Vancouver
Vueling Bilbao, Florence, La Coruna

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.[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. ^ a b "Heathrow facts and figures". Heathrow Airport. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Heathrow
  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".