Special send-off for Olympians

A special Games terminal at Heathrow airport has been made to resemble a London park on Monday to give Olympic athletes a good send-off after the ending of the Games.

Plants, park benches and trees were on display at the terminal in west London as the first of about 6000 athletes arrived for their flights home.

The walls of the special terminal displayed London's skyline and the "park" is filled with distinctively London sights such as the red telephone box and the double-decker Routemaster red bus.

Some Heathrow staff were dressed like park wardens for the day and a bearskin guard was stationed at ticket presentation.

Athletes were invited to record their favourite memory of the Games and hang it on a tree that will be displayed at Heathrow.

Athletes' comments will be collated into books that will be presented to the 1300 Heathrow volunteers who have helped with arrivals and departures.

Departing athletes were expected to leave with more than three bags per person, including outsize sporting equipment.

To make departures easier and to cope with the large number of bags, athletes used check-in and bag-drop facilities at the Olympic Village on Sunday.

Heathrow operator BAA says more than 5000 bags were successfully collected at the Olympic Village and processed through Heathrow's baggage system overnight to relieve the pressure on the airport on Monday.

The temporary terminal is part of Heathrow's STG20 million ($A29.9 million) investment in handling London 2012 passengers. The terminal, with 31 check-in desks and seven security lanes, will be decommissioned after three days and the site returned to its original use as a staff car park.

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