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From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

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New York City, New...
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From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

Next month, I'll be flying British Airways from New York City to Rome with a layover in London Heathrow. Living in the US, I've never been in the UK before.

I want to get a good view of Wembley Stadium while my flight is descending into Heathrow.

From which directions do jet airliners usually land at Heathrow? Into which directions do jet airliners usually take off from Heathrow?

Would it be possible at all to see Wembley Stadium while on approach to Heathrow? What do you think?

Unfortunately, I won't have time to fully experience London in person (maybe next time). So I might as well settle for seeing Wenbley Stadium from the air.

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

The short answer is it depends.

The runways change over at 1500 on most days. Most of the BA flights I take to LHR arrive at 1330 - 1400 and make a final approach from the east, so a view of Wembley would be from the HJK seats. Flights earlier in the day may go to final from the west, but it depends on the flight's arrival time.

I usually sit on the AB side of the plane and just get a quick look at Wembley on a turn in the stacks, but once final approach starts the plane will zip past Wembley fairly quickly (relatively speaking) and there might not be a lot to see even from the HJK seats.

At what time does your flight arrive from JFK and at what time does the flight depart for FCO?

East Sussex, United...
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2. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

TP, my apologies for contradicting you but, the correct answer is it depends very much on the wind direction. Aircraft land and take off into a headwind whenever possible. The most predominant wind direction at Heathrow is a south westerly, so the planes tend to fly in over London, and depart over Windsor.

Not always the case of course as the wind direction is variable. Both runways at LHR are alligned to reflect this, and while the runways may alternate, thats largely because of local noise regulations.

BB

Stanley, Falkland...
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3. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

I used to believe it was down to wind direction, but I now thnk that the wind is rarely strong enough to play a part. Yes, some days they will land into the wind if it is strong enough, but usually its as TP says. (Although I thought the switch was at noon.

However, you might get a good view of Wembley if you are lucky enough to be 'stacked' waiting for a landing slot.

Normally, You are likely to see the centre of London or Windsor Castle.

Landing from the east, you fly near Big Ben, up the Thames, Kew, Richmond etc, and over Twickenham Rugby stadium.

Watford
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4. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

We have a couple of airport workers who post occasionally and may spot this and comment but I've always been told that it IS down to wind direction so that most of the time planes land from the east as the prevailing wind is from the west. Last winter we had a week or more of easterlies and it was a regular occurrence for drivers on the M25 ducking as a plane landed from the west.

The change from north to south runway takes places around 3.00pm but at busy times you sometimes get mixed mode (planes landing and taking off on the same runway) which I'm told shouldn't happen but does.

airport-int.com/news/no-mixed-mode-for-heath…

Amsterdam, The...
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5. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

Wind direction and strength definately affects the runways in use. I cannot speak for LHR but at Schiphol they will use the Polerbaan and Alsmeerbaan runways for landing as the approaches to them are sparsely populated. If the wind picks up then they will route planes over the city, actually right over my route to work and past my office so I always know when the wind has really increased.

If the wind is not a factor then noise control rules are inoperation. I guess the same applies for most large multi runway airports in the world.

London, United...
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6. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

hounslow.gov.uk/news_mod_home/…

A short item about noise controls affecting runway use.

London, United...
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7. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

LHR flights arrive from the east (over central London) and take off to the west approximately 70% of the time - in line with the prevalent W/SW winds.

Even if there appears to be no wind at ground level then there may be a wind effect at higher levels on approach to the airport - or there may be a weather report of expected winds later that would lead to a particular approach being used during an apparent period of 'calm'

For the more used approach over London, as others have noted, a runway switch from north to south, or vice versa, at 1500 gives a slightly different view. For the approach from the west there is no runway switch (a local 'agreement' means aircraft can't take off in an easterly direction from the northern runway, except in exceptional circumstances) so the bulk of aircraft land on the northern runway, and take off on the southern.

So, in short, you need to get a seat on the right of the aircraft and hope you're in the lucky 70% !!

Bingley, United...
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8. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

If the wind didn't make much of a difference then most flights would land from the west as that's less densely populated than central London.

As they don't then it is the wind direction that is the main factor.

It's true at virtually every airport I know of - with the exception of a couple in mountainous areas where you always land uphill

Sheffield
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9. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

The usual landing paths are due east west either north of the Thames on 27 right or south on 27 left. I used to live in Richmond under the latter.

You should - weather permitting as we always say in Britain - get a cracking view of central London and of that amazing arch at Wembley.

If you miss out because of low cloud, try the London Eye.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: From which directions do flights land at London Heathrow?

My BA flight lands at Heathrow at 6:00, and my BA flight to FCO takes off sometime after 12:00.