London: Heathrow Airport
A blog post about Heathrow Airport may not seem terribly exciting, but I’ve actually been interested in this particular airport for a long time. Back in High School, long before my first international trip, I knew that I wanted to visit London. And small part, but a part nevertheless, of why I wanted to visit was to explore Heathrow Airport. It seemed really cool to fly through the busiest airport in the world (it’s now the second busiest, surpassed by Dubai in 2014), and see all of the different people from all over the world traveling all over the world.
So, when I was preparing to go to Heathrow to fly to Berlin, I was really excited to visit for the first time. I flew in and out of Gatwick during my first trip, arrived through Gatwick as well for this trip. When I arrived at Heathrow, however, I had a sense that it was really familiar. I assumed it was similar to another airport, perhaps CDG in Paris?, and continued on. The feeling of familiarity kept coming back to me, until I realized that I totally 100% had definitely been to Heathrow before when flying from London to Rome four years ago. You’d think I’d remember visiting somewhere I was excited about, but apparently not. Whelp.
Since you’re here, reading about an airport, let me throw some quick facts at you, because I think they’re super cool. Over 200,000 people depart from the airport every day. That’s JUST departures. 200,000 people!!! (For perspective, that’s like the entire population of Des Moines leaving London every day.) There’s also a very posh, exclusive terminal, terminal 6, that is rarely opened, and used only for VIPs, such as the Royal Family and certain celebrities. One other fact that I thought was interesting is that a bottle of Chanel no. 5 is sold (duty free of course!) every 5 minutes in the airport.
As a random word of precaution, security is ON TOP OF IT. They don’t let anything get past them. I had a small bottle of eye drops that I had forgotten about at the bottom of my backpack. It made it through Las Vegas security, Los Angeles security, and Reykjavik security unnoticed. But at Heathrow, I watched as the contents of my backpack were emptied into a bin as the agent (who was very kind and patient, actually) pulled the .05 oz bottle of eye drops from the bottom of my bag. I am not at all complaining about them being secure. I think it’s wonderful that they do a thorough job. I did want to note it, though, for those of you with tiny forgotten about bottles of eye drops.
If you are just passing through, or didn’t get a chance to properly explore London, you still have an opportunity to visit two iconic shops. There are only two Harrod’s in the world. One is the flagship store on Brompton Road, and the other is just after security at the airport. There’s also a Harry Potter shop, where you can get some of the things they sell at platform 9 3/4. Its a nice opportunity to pick up a London exclusive item if you weren’t able to visit the proper shops while in town.