The Ultimate Guide to Heathrow Terminal 5 for Families
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Considering that 40% of Heathrow’s passengers passed through Terminal 5 in 2018, there’s a good chance that your family was one of them. If you weren’t one of those travellers, here’s an overview of what to expect in Heathrow Terminal 5 (T5) when travelling with children.
Heathrow introduced the T5 family check-in area for families with children under 12 in July 2018. It resides in Zone A, to the left as you exit the lifts from the tube or Heathrow Express. During school holidays, it can take longer than other desks but is often nearly empty. I would not choose the Family Check-in over the first class entrance, as it has its own security area and access to the lounge. Also, there is a large interactive screen for children to play with while you queue. I find the play area to be a bit too far from the check-in desks to be comfortable with my small children, but it works for many.
If you’re travelling from T5 this summer, you can pick up a free gift at the Family Check-in at Heathrow, as they’re giving away 5,000 My 1st Years backpacks (valued at £25) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 26 July to 30 August 2019.
Like all of Heathrow, Terminal 5 opens family lanes dedicated to those with children 8 years and younger during peak travel periods, although they often are the same speed as the normal queues. If you have Fast Track, use it.
According to Heathrow Airport, If you are travelling with a baby or infant (generally defined as younger than 2), you can carry a reasonable amount of liquid and liquidised food for the baby or infant. Breast milk may be carried in quantities greater than 100 milliletres and the volume of each container or bag must not exceed 2 litres.
The shopping at Heathrow can be unexpectantly helpful for families, especially if you’re travelling carry-on only. Boots sells formula, Ella’s pouches and all the usual toiletries, plus you can pre-order baby items 4 weeks to 48 hours before departure with its Reserve and Collect service and pick them up after security.
At the other end of the price spectrum, you may find luxury shopping more comfortable at T5 in terms of prices (up to 25% off due to tax-free status) and that the staff is more amenable to children than on the high street. If buying a big-ticket item, consider signing up for Heathrow Rewards ahead of time.
Free Play Areas at Heathrow Terminal 5
Heathrow T5 offers a free-to-use soft play area similar to a leisure centre along with a separate area for children younger than 2. The Kids Area is located after security near Gate A2. The area is not staffed, and children have to be accompanied by adults and wear socks. It is open from 6am to 9pm daily.
The Terminal 5 play area is subpar to the Terminal 3 play area because it lacks ample adult seating and power points, is without a changing facility or bathroom and bans food. It’s nice that there is some natural light and it’s located right in the airport, unlike Terminal 3, which is hidden away in a separate corridor. Also, the Terminal 5 play area does not have any screens, while in Terminal 3 there is a large telly that can distract wee ones from burning pre-flight energy.
Travel mum Eimear Varian Barry always hits Wagamamas after security in T5 as a comfort meal for the family. “Airports can be stressful and overwhelming”, Eimear told TPG UK. “To be able to see a restaurant you know the kids love that has healthy options is a relief”. Another option for family-friendly sit-down fare is Giraffe while Pret, Starbucks and Itsu are also quick grab-and-go options for families.
Changing and Feeding Facilities
Baby-changing facilities are located throughout Terminal 5, next to all restrooms and are denoted with a baby changing or bottle symbol. A well-publicised issue with the feeding areas at Heathrow is that they are not private or well-designed for women who express. If you have lounge access you may find the restrooms more suitable. Galleries Lounges have excellent feeding and changing stalls.
If you’re travelling with kids, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 has options to make the experience more enjoyable. Be sure to take advantage of the Family Check-in area, the designated security lanes and other facilities in the terminal. In a later column, I’ll be exploring the best lounges in T5 for families.
Featured photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy.