The station, itself in Hillingdon, serves but a very small residential community in Hatton which is in Hounslow. The nearby area is either within the airport or mainly comprises its associated commercial warehousing and light industrial premises. "Hatton Cross" refers not to a religious structure but to the crossroads on the former coaching road leading southwest and is now applied to the overlying major road intersection immediately southeast of the station.
The station opened on 19 July 1975 in the first phase of the extension of the line from Hounslow West to Heathrow Airport and remained the terminus until Heathrow Central opened at the airport on 16 December 1977.
The platforms at Hatton Cross are in a cut and cover tunnel. The platform tiling on the central columns features patterns made up from the British AirwaysSpeedbirdlogo. The station building, a brutalist concrete and glass single storey box, incorporates the busy bus station which serves the airport and surrounding area.
For the new Terminal 4 at the airport a single track loop was tunneled from Hatton Cross to Heathrow Central (now called "Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3") with an intermediate new Terminal 4 station which opened on 12 April 1986. The tube service to the airport then ran clockwise in a unidirectional loop from Hatton Cross to Terminal 4, on to Terminals 1, 2, 3 and back to Hatton Cross.
While tunnels to the later Heathrow Terminal 5 station were under construction the loop and Terminal 4 station closed on 7 January 2005 and the tube service reverted to its previous two-way running between Hatton Cross and the Terminal 1, 2, 3 station; a shuttle bus from Hatton Cross was provided for passengers for Terminal 4. Service round the loop restarted on 17 September 2006.
From 27 March 2008, when Terminal 5 station opened, every other train of the twelve per hour arriving at Hatton Cross from London has taken the Terminal 4 loop and terminated at Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3. The alternate trains run direct to Heathrow Terminal 5, via Terminals 1, 2, 3.
On its opening in 1975, Hatton Cross was one of 279 active stations on the London Underground, the highest ever; the number of stations in the network has decreased to 270.
Apart from being a tube/bus interchange the station, at a limit of the Heathrow free bus zone, is a busy bus interchange. It is served by London bus routes 90, 203, 283, 285, 423, 482, 490, H25, H26 and X26 (an express route).