Terminal 3 was opened as The Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes.At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London from the gardens on the roof of the terminal building. The Oceanic Terminal was renamed as Terminal 3 in 1968 and was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities were also added, including the UK's first moving walkways. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed in order to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas now operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380. Terminal 3 has an area of 98, 962m2.
Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt by the addition of a new four lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building was completed in 2007; these improvements were intended to improve passengers' experiences, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic were assigned their own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium. BAA also have plans for a £1bn upgrade of the rest of the terminal over the next ten years which includes the renovation of aircraft piers and the arrivals forecourt. A new baggage system which connects to Terminal 5 (for British Airways connections) is currently under construction. In addition to the baggage system, the baggage claim hall is also set to undergo changes with dedicated A380 belts and hope of improving design and layout of the area