Heathrow Airport has suffered a lot in the press this summer (see Heathrow hell: Britain's Awful Airports). It's been criticised for its inefficiency in processing travellers, resulting in long delays and missing luggage. Given that it was built to handle 45 million passengers annually but now processes 67 million each year, it's not surprising that it sometimes has problems.
However I've always been impressed with Heathrow, particularly the speed with which it processes arriving passengers. The last thing a tired traveller wants is a delay getting home from the airport, and Britain's immigration and customs procedures have always been excellent in my experience (unlike the equivalent authorities in some other countries e.g. USA).
This summer's criticism has focussed on departures, but I have bad news for the critics. We passed through Heathrow in record time this month at the start of our holiday to France. We left home by taxi at 6:35 am and were sitting at the departure gate at 7:07, having travelled to the airport, checked our bags and gone through security in only 32 minutes! It's a 20 minute drive from our house to Heathrow at the best of times, so that means it only required 12 minutes to get through the Heathrow check-in palaver.
Of course it helped that we had checked-in online the previous day and only had to drop off our bags, which we did by blagging our way through the business class fast bag drop (the check-in attendant was sitting there idle). Nevertheless, the security procedures were working well and so we had almost two hours to wait for our flight. To top it off, our bags were among the first off the plane upon arrival in Nice. Travelling from the UK really can't get much better than that!