Heathrow Airport in London is one of the world's busiest airports, ranking third in the world in terms of total traffic and first in terms of the number of international passengers served. The airport has five terminals serving some 90 airlines offering both passenger and cargo service.
When you fly out of Heathrow, there are many things to consider in choosing your airline. Some passengers focus only on the cost while others are concerned more about the overall experience. Suffice it to say there is an airline to meet just about every need and budget.
For the benefit of our readers, we have compiled our top 10 list of companies flying out of Heathrow based on number of factors including customer surveys, fleet size, total passenger traffic, and total number of international routes. The top 10 are:
There is a temptation to rank British Airways in the number one slot given the fact that we are writing about companies flying out of Heathrow. And while British Airways is easily one of the most recognised names in international travel, it does not have quite the volume as some of its competitors. Unfortunately, the airline is also not well known for great customer service. We included them on our list because of their size and number of destinations.
British Airways maintains a fleet of 265 aircraft and services approximately 190 destinations around the world. Their most popular destinations from Heathrow include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Berlin, New York, Brussels, Calgary, Chicago, Paris, Moscow, Venice, and Zurich.
The flagship air carrier in Australia is Qantas, a company originally started in the 1920s. Though their flights in and out of Heathrow are somewhat limited, we include them on this list because they rank 10th in the world in total annual miles covered. They also consistently rank very high on the World Airline Awards, an annual ranking that the airline industry takes very seriously.
Qantas maintains a fleet of 147 planes and flies to more than 40 international and domestic destinations. The destinations served from Heathrow are Dubai, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Air Canada comes in at the number eight position due to its ranking as the 10th largest airline in terms of fleet size. As of 2012, the company's fleet, including the Air Canada Express subsidiary, numbered roughly 355 aircraft. As the largest airline in Canada, they service approximately 178 international and domestic destinations
Their service for Air Canada out of Heathrow is limited to the following Canadian destinations: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Saint John's, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Although Delta does not rank in the top 20 among the World Airline Awards, they cannot be left out of our list simply because they rank number one in the world in terms of total passenger traffic. Their 2012 numbers show more than 164 million passengers served around the world. Their closest non-U.S. competitor is Lufthansa at 103 million passengers.
The Delta Airlines fleet includes more than 1,200 aircraft serving in excess of 240 destinations around the world. Bear in mind the company only services US destinations out of Heathrow. Those destinations include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis, and New York (JFK).
As the national carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines consistently ranks very high on the World Airline Awards. With a modest fleet of 265 aircraft, they service 238 international and domestic destinations. Out of Heathrow, the company only flies to Istanbul.
Etihad Airways is a relatively new player, having only been established since 2003. As the flagship carrier of the UAE, Etihad prides itself on being an airline that is more than worthy of providing service to some of the world's wealthiest passengers.
The size of the fleet is still relatively small at 86, and the airline only reaches 83 destinations right now. However, Etihad Airways commitment to passenger comfort consistently leads to high rankings among the World Airline Awards. The UAE is the only destination serviced from Heathrow.
Asiana is one of two airlines operating out of South Korea. The 25-year-old company operates a fleet of more than 80 planes servicing 108 destinations around the world. They are also a major cargo transport provider in Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania. At Heathrow, Asiana operates out of Terminal 1 and provide service to Seoul only.
Based in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways is one of the world's most recognised international air carriers. The company was originally established in the 1940s with a focus on Asia. They consistently rank high on the World Airline Awards for their customer service.
Cathay Pacific is somewhat small for an international carrier, with a total fleet of just 133 aircraft. Although they service 112 destinations around the world, the only city serviced out of Heathrow is Hong Kong.
Lufthansa may qualify as the most prolific air carrier operating throughout Europe. It is both the flagship carrier of Germany and the largest airline in Europe, in terms of total traffic and fleet size. They rank fifth in the world in terms of total destinations at 218.
With a fleet size of approximately 287 aircraft, Lufthansa operates out of Heathrow's Terminal 1. Destinations serviced from Heathrow include Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich.
Because a successful airline is based primarily in great customer service, we decided to rank Emirates as our top airline flying out of Heathrow. Emirates ranked number one on the World Airline Awards for 2013, having jumped seven spots from the year before. Customers routinely complement the airline on things like total comfort, attention to detail, and responsiveness of in-flight staff.
The airline was established in 1985, since growing to include a fleet of 205 planes servicing 159 destinations. Emirates only destination from Heathrow is in Dubai but from there you can connect to pretty much any part of the world with another flight with Emirates.
With so many airlines flying in and out of Heathrow there are undoubtedly some you think deserve to be on this list. We do not necessarily agree – except to say that there can only be 10 entries on a top 10 list. However, we do believe notable mentions should be given to:
Qatar Airways – This is the flagship carrier of Qatar, with a fleet of 125 planes. They service 128 destinations including Doha, their only destination from Heathrow.
Singapore Airlines – Singapore Airlines is considered a five-star airline and is the flagship carrier of Singapore. They are a smaller carrier with only 102 planes in their fleet. Singapore is the only destination they service out of Heathrow.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) – ANA is Japan's largest airline with a fleet size of 189. However, their status as an international carrier is somewhat limited with only 32 international routes. Out of Heathrow, Nippon only destination is Tokyo.
If you would like more information about the individual airlines feel free to visit their websites. You can also get a complete listing of all of the airlines flying in and out of Heathrow by visiting the Heathrow website. Listings include airline names, terminal locations, and destinations. Please bear in mind that the information may change more quickly than it is updated.
You can compare prices for flights for all these airlines using the following page to scan all their ticket prices quickly.