Heathrow Airport is also known as London Heathrow and is a major international airport in London, UK. It is the second busiest in the world by international passenger traffic and the busiest in Europe by passenger traffic. It is positioned 14 miles west of Central London and has parallel runways with four terminals. It is owned by Heathrow Airport Holdings who is owned by FGP TopCo Limited who are an international consortium.
The airport started as a small airfield in 1929 called Great West Aerodrome on land south-east of Heathrow which is a hamlet that it was named after. It consisted of farms, market gardens and orchards at the time as well as several buildings which were eventually incorporated into the airport. It was in 1944 when this development started and it was meant to be for log distance military aircraft but the war was over before it was completed so the government changed to developing it as a civil airport and in 1946 it opened as London Airport changing its name to Heathrow Airport in 1966.
The airport has over 80 airlines operating from it which take people to more than 185 destinations in 84 countries. It is the primary hub for British Airways and a base for Virgin Atlantic. There are four passenger terminals (named numbers 2-5) and a cargo terminal. In the 1950’s it had six runways arranged in the shape of a hexagram with the passenger terminal in the middle and an older one on the north edge. However, the required length for runways has now increased as so it only has two which run east to west in parallel which are extensions from two of the original six in the hexagram.
There are five terminals now at the airport. Originally Terminal 1 was opened in 1968 and it was the base for BA’s domestic and European network and when its owners took over BMI in 2012 it took over their short and medium-haul destinations form the terminal as well. The terminal closed in 2015 and the site was used to extend Terminal 2 and BA moved to terminals 3 and 5. Terminal 2 is the newest terminal opened in 2014 and it is used by Star Alliance members. It is still being developed to prepare for the closure of Terminal 3. Terminal 3 opened in 1961 for long-haul carriers flying to the USA, Far East and Asia. In the 1970’s it was expanded and had the first ever moving walkways in the UK installed in it. It completed its redevelopment in 2007 with improvements to improve security, reduce traffic congestion and make a better experience for passengers. Terminal 4 opened in 1986 and is connected to terminals 1, 2 and 3 by the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. It has had a big upgrade to improve security and reduce traffic congestion and most flights come in from North Africa and Asia. Terminal 5 was opened in 2008 and BA and Iberia have exclusive use of it.
There have been several major incidents at the airport over the years including massive delays in 2010 due to heavy snowfall. When delays are caused by things like this then passengers cannot claim compensation as it is not the fault of the airline. However, if there is a delay due to problems caused by the airline then it can sometimes be possible to claim compensation. This can depend on the specific circumstances because as well as it having to be the airlines fault. Under the EU regulation 261/2004 the airline has to be based in the EU and arriving in the EU or departing from an EU airport for you to be able to claim compensation from them. The flight also has to arrive more than three hours late at its destination. This means that even if it leaves more than three hours late, if it has made up time and you arrive less than three hours late then you cannot claim compensation. The amount of compensation you can get will depend on how long the delay is and the length of flight and you could get up to 600 Euros.
It is also possible to claim compensation if the flight is cancelled. Similar rules apply in that the cancellation has to be as a result of the airline being at fault. They will have to refund your ticket or offer you an alternative and it has to happen within a few weeks of the flight taking place otherwise no compensation will be due. If the alternative flight they offer means that you are delayed in arriving at your destination for more than three hours then you will be able to claim compensation with the longest delays and longest flights being awarded more.
There is a third situation where you may be able to claim compensation and this is if you get denied entry to the flight. This can happen as all airlines overbook flights assuming that some people will not turn up. However, if all passengers do turn up then there are not enough seats for everyone. The airline may ask for volunteers to take an alternative flight and they will offer an incentive, which will need to be negotiated with the airline then and there. However, if no one volunteers then they will force people to not fly. They will often choose those that paid the least for their tickets or those that bought their tickets last and ask them to leave. They will offer a refund or alternative flight but if that means that you end up being delayed in reaching your destination for more than three hours you may also be able to claim compensation in the same way as the other examples.