An Introduction to Heathrow Airport
Jet-set travel is soaring ever closer to the fabric of our lives. Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest in the world, is a symbol of how convenient sky-bound trips have become in the last 50 years.
In 2016 alone, it welcomed an average of 206,800 people through its doors and tarmac lanes every single day. Record numbers were recorded on the 31st July of that year, when visitors hit a peak of almost 260,000. As you might expect, all those bodies in one place can make for a hectic, slapdash passenger experience as you race to hit your flight on-time. And the stats imply it’s only going to get more prone to queues and congestion…
So, this summer, you’d do well to have a few tips for navigating your own journey to the departure gate. Here are five suggestions for less stress, worry and impatience when you’re heading through Heathrow.
Arrive well in advance!
We’ve all been there – the typical last-minute pack as we stuff a suitcase to breaking point, re-stocking clothes, toiletries, and charging cables for the trip. Then, when you’re all set to go, the roads are clogged with traffic shunting at the pace of a snail. It’s not uncommon for families, couples and single travellers to reach the airport with only an hour to spare before take-off. And that’s only the business of getting there; we have to take check-in, security and weaving through the departure lounge into account…
Are 60 minutes enough to do all of this comfortably? Hardly, if you ask us. Like anything else we attempt, it’s sensible to overestimate the time you’ll spend on the whole process, from getting to Heathrow all the way to the minutiae of travel approval. Pack the night before, ticking off everything you need, and look at typical journey times for the route you’ll be using.
We suggest a two-hour window, at the very least, for flights within the UK. You’ll want to extend that to two-and-a-half or three hours for international flights, as the queues will be longer.
Prepare for Heathrow Security Inspections
Safety and due diligence is (quite rightly) a trait that airlines have to maintain. While we’re familiar with taking off our shoes and belts in the security line, there may be other requests you’re unaware of. These may be in flux, which means you have to be aware of any rule changes before you arrive, just in case they slow you down.
At the time of writing, some Heathrow ‘no-nos’ include a 100ml restriction on any liquids bought off-premise, electronic devices that can’t be switched on, nail scissors, and glass items that are particularly sharp. Many of them aren’t simple either: exceptions can be made for baby food, medicine or a number of items that circumvent blanket regulations.
Thankfully, you can look over the airport’s security protocols on their website, and prepare in accordance. Also, it’s worth remembering that airlines all have their own, ideal baggage weights – check with your travel provider to ensure you’re under the yardstick.
Take advantage of Online Check-In
By heading online, you can eliminate toe-tapping at the check-in desk altogether! Many companies offer this service before you fly, although there’s a big difference in the deadlines they give you. Some are generous enough to leave it an hour or two before you depart, whereas others ask for one or two days’ notice. In either case, you can print the boarding pass at home, and shoot straight to the security point.
There’ll be a bag-drop kiosk – which of course you must research in advance of getting to the airport – for any non-hand luggage. The digital system will ask you to select seats, provide passport data and enter booking references… Once that’s done, you’ll save yourself a lengthy waiting spell.
Download the latest Heathrow Airport Application
Apps are great, aren’t they? They inform, advise and compartmentalise our desires, sitting in our pocket wherever we go. It’s logical, then, to discover there’s an app for real-time flight tracking, courtesy of Heathrow Airport Ltd. It’s called the Heathrow Airport Guide, and it’s a bag of technical tricks that you genuinely shouldn’t miss out on.
It’ll notify you of delays or changed arrival directives. Travel connections can be planned in advance, so the first point on our list is dealt with magnanimously, at no real effort on your part. Yet the best and most useful feature relates to your movement around the building, which can be overwhelming to those who aren’t familiar with the Heathrow bustle…
The Heathrow Airport Guide throws up a map of exits, terminals, gates and shopping outlets, directing you to the spot you’re searching for It’s an invaluable resource, conserving precious minutes that’d be spent on trying to get your bearings.
Reassess all of the above, and explore digital parking solutions
Now, let’s think back to what we’ve discussed so far.
It’s imperative to get to Heathrow as early as you can. Leave two hours free for domestic flights, and up to three for long-haul journeys, upon stepping into the airport. Assemble your hand luggage around the latest security measures, and check-in on the web to skip the front desk. As you’re doing so, launch your Heathrow Airport app to stay in-the-know about plane schedules and directions.
But that’s not all – we strongly urge you to consider the latest in fast, fluid airport parking, such as the meet and greet service offered by Park IT. Our team revolutionise the knack of finding a space, securing your payment, and getting to and from the terminal. Such demands can slam the breaks on your carefully-honed plan; there’s really no good that’ll come out of a laborious parking process.
Book your airport parking through Park IT, and look forward to clear skies for your travel itinerary! Heathrow Airport is one of our main partners – they’ve implemented our solution across their facilities. With the backing of our five-fold guide, there’s not a single, wasted second to endure, wherever you’re heading off to…