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Lesson 13

Heathrow Airport - UK gateway to the World

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Heathrow Airport showing radar

London Heathrow is one of four major airports serving London. It is consider to be the best of them, and one of the best world airports. BAA (British Airports Authority) is the private company which owns Heathrow. It also owns Gatwick and Stansted.

Heathrow Airport started life as a tented village in 1946 serving only 18 destinations with a handful of airlines making just 9,000 flights a year. The first departure took place on 1 January 1946 bound for Buenos Aires via Lisbon, which was its first refuelling stop on a long haul flight to open up Britain's first air link with South America. In 2000 - 2001 Heathrow operated over 450,000 flights, transporting 63 million passengers through over 90 airlines to 183 destinations worldwide. The airport is named after the village or hamlet of Heathrow, located approximately where Terminal 3 now stands.

There are currently four terminals, with terminal one being for domestic/international flights, terminal two for European flights, terminal three for inter-continental flights and terminal four for for British Airways long haul and Concorde flights and BA flights to Amsterdam, Athens, Paris, Moscow and Tel Aviv. It is thus important before you set off for the airport to know which terminal you are flying from otherwise finding your way around can get quite confusing.

The building of a fifth passenger terminal at Heathrow was given the go ahead by the government in 2001 after an arduous 3 year and 10 month planning inquiry. Terminal 5 will be enormous. Bigger than the whole of Heathrow is today. In fact, on its own, it would be Europe's third largest airport. Terminal 5 will have the capacity to handle over 30 million additional passengers each year.

If you are afraid of flying Heathrow is the perfect airport to fly from. With it being the Europe's busiest airport, offering the most flights to nearly every location, the actual airport is huge. This can be to your advantage as within this huge site, there is a small town, with hundreds of shops across the four terminals. These shops are often the ideal remedy to forget about flying. If you indulge yourself in an hour or so of shopping, you will soon forget that you are due to fly.

There are many cafes, pubs, restaurants and fast food places. In the airport cafes and restaurants are expensive as you might expect but generally the standards of catering are quite good.

There is also a broad range of tax free shops if you are flying to a destination outside Europe. These have replaced the old duty-free shops but still offer branded goods at a cut-price. Prices are good and it is worth picking up alcohol, fragrances, electronic goods and designer goods. Chain restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King carry a guarantee that they will not charge exorbitant prices to their captive audience.

The airport is very modern and clean with all of the facilities you would expect for a large airport and many more. Customs clearance is usually fast and efficient and clearing passport control is pretty stress free.

Looking out of the windows at Heathrow is also fascinating as there is a plane taking off or landing every few seconds from one of the many runways. Wind direction has been important for aircraft. Planes generally land into the wind. Since the west wind prevails in Britain for at least 75% of the time, planes coming into Heathrow have had to fly over London. This is known as westerly operations.

The one slight disadvantage for the airport is its location, but the transport links to it are excellent. The Picadilly Line (the blue one) runs right to Heathrow from Central London and the tubes are very frequent. You can take also the Heathrow express rail link - which is incidentally very expensive, taxis, mini cabs, cars or Heathrow airbuses.

There are shuttle buses operating between the different terminals. Each terminal has its own car parks but the costs are pretty extortionate. There is also a coach station and this will enable people to go to all parts of the country. These provide possibly the cheapest form of transport.

  1. gateway - врата (и прен.); вход
  2. handful - шепа (за количество), малко на брой
  3. flight - редовен полет (на самолет) в определен час
  4. departure - тръгване, заминаване
  5. to take place - ставам, случвам се; състоя се
  6. bound for - пътуващ за/по направление на
  7. to refuel (-ll-) - снабдявам (се)/зареждам отново с гориво; вземам гориво
  8. to haul - транспортирам, превозвам
  9. hamlet - селце
  10. approximately - плиблизително
  11. domestic - вътрешен
  12. to set off - потеглям, тръгвам
  13. go ahead - разрешение
  14. arduous - тежък, мъчителен
  15. inquiry - изследване, проучване
  16. enormous - огромен, грамаден
  17. to handle - работя, боравя, манипулирам
  18. advantage - предимство
  19. remedy - лек, лекарство (и прен.); средство, мярка
  20. to indulge - позволявам си, разрешавам си
  21. duty-free shop - магазин, където се купуват стоки без мито
  22. price-cutting - намаление на цените
  23. fragrance - (благо)ухание, аромат
  24. exorbitant prices - безбожни цени
  25. captive audience - слушатели/зрители/клиенти по неволя
  26. facilities (pl.) - удобства, съоръжения
  27. customs (pl.) - митница
  28. clearance - 1. документ за извършване на митнически и пр. формалности; 2. освобождаване на стоки от митницата; 3. разрешение за излитане/кацане на самолет
  29. efficient - ефикасен; добре извършен
  30. fascinating - очарователен, пленителен
  31. to take off - излитам
  32. to land - кацвам, приземявам се
  33. runway - писта
  34. aircraft (pl. без изменение) - летателен апарат, самолет; авиация
  35. to prevail - вземам/имам надмощие; преобладавам
  36. westerly (a, n) - западен (за вятър, посока и пр.); западен вятър
  37. disadvantage - неудобство; недостатък
  38. tube - подземна железница
  39. the Tube (informal for the London's underground train system) - метро
  40. incidentally - 1. случайно, непредвидено; 2. между другото
  41. shuttle - редовен рейс/влак (обслужващ кратко разстояние)
  42. extortionate - грабителски

 Plane or Plain

Heathrow Airport Fun Facts
  • Over 80 million items of baggage pass through the airport each year.
  • Every day over 26,000 cups of tea, 6,500 pints of beer and 6,500 sandwiches are sold to the public at Heathrow.
  • Whisky is the most popular spirit - on average a bottle is sold at Heathrow every seven seconds.
  • Duty free liquor and tobacco sold at Heathrow is up to 50% cheaper than in the high street for non-EU passengers. Perfume is up to 40% cheaper.
  • Heathrow accounts for almost 10% of perfume sales in the UK and sells over 400 different fragrances. Chanel no.5 is currently the most popular.
  • There are great places to eat at Heathrow: Pret A Manger for a quick snack, The Seafood Bar which offers a range of exquisite fresh seafood while you wait for your flight washed down with a glass of champagne and top London restaurant Chez Gerard has opened its first airport outlet.
  • The grass on the airfield is kept 8" high to prevent birds settling as at this height the birds are unable to spot predators.
  • The Heathrow Lost Property Office receives approximately 200 telephone enquiries per day.
  • Approximately 20 mobile telephones are lost per day at Heathrow.
  • Some of the most peculiar items of lost property found at Heathrow include a glass eye, a suitcase of dead fish, a false leg and the whole front of a Ford Escort car.
  • The most valuable items found to date include a briefcase containing Ј37,000, a laptop computer worth Ј4,000 and gold bars.

World's 10 Busiest Airports by Passengers (2002)

1 Hartsfield, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 76 876 128
2 O'Hare, Chicago, Illinois, USA 66 501 496
3 Heathrow, London, UK 63 338 649
4 Haneda, Tokyo, Japan 61 079 478
5 Los Angeles International (LAX), California, USA 56 198 447
6 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, USA 52 826 304
7 Rhein-Main, Frankfurt, Germany 48 450 357
8 Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France 48 303 439
9 Amsterdam, Schiphol (AMS), Netherlands 40 736 009
10 Denver International, Colorado, USA 35 651 098
... ... ...
21 Gatwick, London, UK 29 628 441

Note: Total passengers enplaned and deplaned, passengers in transit counted once.

Source: Airports Council International World Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

Useful Expressions

  • When is the the next flight to (...) ? - Кога е следващият полет за ...?
  • Could you tell me the flight times to (...)? - Бихте ли ми дали разписанието на полетите за (...)?
  • I'd like to book/reserve a return ticket from (...) to (...)? - Бих искал да резервирам двупосочен билет от ... до ...
  • What time do we take off? - В колко часа излитаме?
  • How much does a tourist class/first class ticket cost? - Колко струва билет за туристическа/първа класа?
  • I'd like to change the date of this flight. - Бих желал да сменя датата на този полет.
  • I want to cancel my ticket. - Искам да анулирам моя билет.
  • Where is the check in desk? - Къде е гишето за проверка на билетите и приемането на багажа?
  • How much luggage can one take on board? - Колко багаж е разрешно да се носи?
  • What is the charge for excess weight? - Каква е таксата за наднормения багаж?
  • How long does the flight take? - Каква е продължителността на полета?
  • Passengers to (...) please kindly proceed to gate №8. - Умоляват се пътниците за (...) да се отправят към изход №8.
  • Please, fasten your seat belts. - Моля, закопчайте коланите.
  • The plane has been delayed. - Самолетът има закъснение.

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