Getting Locked In A Gate At Heathrow For 30 Minutes

Filed Under: Travel, Videos

This only applies in Europe, because I can’t imagine how this would have played out in the US. Then again, airports tend to be less automated in the US, so I doubt this happens as frequently.

Two weeks ago, I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 2 from a European city that will go unnamed. I never get recognized, but coincidentally the pilot, purser, and ground crew on this flight had seen my videos. After the flight, I stayed and chatted with the pilot before heading toward passport control. No other passengers were in sight at this point, but I didn’t figure it would be a problem.

Well, a minute later I got to the room between the jetway and the hallway to passport control. The only problem? The door was locked. I motioned to activate the motion sensor. I pushed and pulled. Nothing.

I ran back to the jetway. That door was locked too. One thing was clear: I knew I wasn’t going to wait around for someone to find me. I picked up the black emergency phone, dialed the number for emergency services, and reached an agent immediately.

“Heathrow Police and Fire Department, how can I help?”

“Hi, I’m stuck in the area between the jetway and the arrivals area and can’t seem to get out.”

Apparently, the emergency phone was registered at the wrong gate, so it took them 15 minutes to figure out where I was. Lucky it wasn’t an actual emergency! However, the man was incredibly competent but honestly didn’t sound surprised when he heard what had happened. He stayed with me on the phone the entire time until a woman came to collect me.

At this point, it had been 30-minutes and the return flight had started boarding through the same area, so dozens of bewildered passengers walked past me on their way to the aircraft. I was ordered not to go through their terminal door since I’d be in departures.

The more I think about this incident, the more surprised I am. No one is to blame for this situation, but you’d think there would be a protocol in place for this considering the security concerns. Lord knows what I could have got up to in there alone for 30 minutes… given that the doors are automatic at Heathrow, as opposed to the US where I always seem to see a person guiding passengers, this can’t be an unusual occurrence.

Interested in seeing the event transpire? My latest video has some funny footage:

What is your weirdest airport experience?

  1. Omg
    I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
    I always need a dump immediately after getting off da plane da plane…

  2. You should pitch this as a hack to avoid transit security at heathrow. Just take your time leaving and exit to departures 🙂

  3. Yea, had the same story, I think it was while waiting for them to deliver my gate checked stroller.

    Waited 5 minutes until someone passed and opened the door.

  4. I hate all of the automation at LHR, it never works correctly and often causes delays. I’ll take a (often surely) human any day. Though to be fair the UK version of the TSA drones are also among the worst in the world

  5. I can’t see the issue going to departures as arrivals exit on the same level at least if it’s terminal 3 ( and 5). There isn’t a sterile arrivals area as for example in Charles de Gaulle where the jetways are split — or even the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX
    If you had followed those passengers you would have then been able to then follow the signs for arrivals

  6. “…I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 2 from an European city that will go unnamed”

    Why the secrecy over your city of origin (that, thanks to @Him, we now know was Copenhagen)?

  7. Had the same in december in a flight getting back to DUSSELDORF.. problemen was that all passengers got stuck..still took 30 minutes to get the doors open…

  8. This happens more often than you might think at airports which segregate arrival and departure passengers. Yes, it’s rare that only 1 person gets stuck there alone, but doors do get closed unintentionally or mistakenly and that winds up with people stuck between doors. It’s happened to me while traveling as a passenger multiple times all over the world and I’ve also had to “rescue” passengers similarly stuck at Gatwick multiple times.

    The biggest issue here is that boarding was allowed to continue while you were in the holding area. This is a huge violation of UK security regulations which require that any passenger embarking in the UK must not be exposed (viz. had unimpeded access such as they did) to passengers who have been screened to an alternate standard of security (viz. at an airport outside the UK). If this were to come to the attention of the relevant inspectors, the agents who initiated the boarding process will almost certainly have their airside passes suspended if not outright revoked.

  9. “Lord knows what I could have got up to in their alone for 30 minutes…”

    Indeed, I wonder what you got up to in Copenhagen that you don’t want to tell us…besides it’s “THERE”.

  10. I think what has happened here is that the flight had a short turnaround and the cabin crew all worked the return, so they stayed on board.

    Next time Daniel stop flirting with the cabin crew. At least you werent wearing shorts this time?!

  11. What a little drama queen! I can only imagine you faffing about threatening to sue Heathrow for your terrible inconvenience …this happens all the time, get over yourself

  12. @Elijah

    Why? Its not like it’s a prison. Daniel is a natural drama queen…who can forget the infamous article ‘im late to the airport so i deserve to cut in to the front of the check in line’….

  13. Why isn’t there a security protocol for someone to physically go down the jetway and on board the aircraft to confirm with the crew that all passengers have deplaned? Before locking the terminal doors?

    Seems like a huge process/security flaw.

  14. @ORD Flyer

    Because they assume there won’t be a nerd wasting everyone’s time flirting and talking to cabin crew after the plane has emptied.

    Everyone who arrives on a plane wants to get off as soon as possible. When not seeing someone get off for 10 minutes after the last passenger…with no wheelchairs, what else are they supposed to think?

    It may also be SAS being incompetant cheap-asses.

  15. Why are you so secretive about which city you went to and your flight number you have already taken the flight why so paranoid things like this is a turn off for posts and videos and is the reasons I am not watching any more of your videos or reading any more of your posts.
    BTW it was Copenhagen

  16. As an ex-cop at LHR, I can safely say Heathrow will be fined big time for this by the CAA. Not because you were trapped for 25 minutes, as much as that sucks but because you came into contact with ‘clean’ passengers. Those departing pax who walked past you should have been rescreened and arriving passengers having access to the departures area in the UK is a huge no, no.
    Obviously, the crew were on a turnaround so it wasn’t up to them but a member of ground staff should have waited at the aircraft door until all passengers had cleared the jetty.

  17. This didn’t happen in Terminal 5 and I don’t think Daniel was connecting to another flight in Heathrow (as he later went to baggage claim and got a bag) but I was wondering a couple of things:

    1) Would there have been any repercussions to Daniel if he had just went out toward departures? I guess he would have had to figure out how to make it to baggage claim and I don’t know how he would have entered the UK border by going this way.

    2) But let’s assume this happened at Terminal 5 and he was connecting on to another flight, would there be any repercussions to Daniel then? Would it have put him in the right place to connect? Would there be flags in the system to have prevented him from boarding his next flight, etc., etc.,

    Forgive me if these are stupid questions as I’ve only been through the cluster f that is Heathrow a few times. I’m guessing that the UK Border folks aren’t going to be happy when they see this and they likely will.

  18. @Brian – If he came into contact with departing passengers (which technically he did anyway as there was no physical separation), then a violation has occurred. This is a very serious matter and if detected prior to flight departure would have resulted in full deplaning and re-screening of all passengers.

    The passengers involved themselves are not usually prosecuted or fined unless there is evidence that they intentionally sought to access the restricted area without screening. The person that will be held to blame is whoever commenced the boarding process (viz. the last person to swipe the access door open on departures level) without ensuring the jetway was “clean” of inbound passengers.

    The sanctions against the violator can range from reprimand (if first offence without an actual physical violation such as in this case, that would be the most likely sanction), suspension/downgrade of airside pass (which could require strictly escorted access to the airside only), or even revocation of airside access (which would prohibit either unescorted or escorted airside access).

    Believe me, this is one of the biggest violations you can have as an airside pass holder at a UK airport and it is taken very very seriously.

  19. Typical Europe mentality. Over complicated like a BMW or Mercedes . When it works, its great, but when it breaks, God help us.

  20. Usually when I board at Heathrow (BA) there is a staff member halfway along a corridor, or possibly even the jet bridge, sitting at a computer (which is actually really useful if you ever want to be certain your baggage has been loaded into hold!).

    I’m surprised there was no-one like that down there during the boarding of the outbound flight.

  21. @Endre why don’t you go polish the gun you bought for you 2yr olds teacher…you know Just in case….and do the rest of the world a favour and stay in your backward bible thumping part of the world … by the way there is a McDonalds around the corner… so why ever leave your street right!?

  22. @elijah then you should probably stay off aircraft and stick to busses….unlikely you will ever leave the U.K. …mate

  23. Hilarious story Daniel, don’t listen to these sassy haters–if that’s the penalty for flirting with the flight crew then lock me up 😉

  24. “I never get recognized, but coincidentally the pilot, purser, and ground crew on this flight had seen my videos”

    You “never get recognised” but then suddenly half the world wants to chatter with you….and if the ground crew had recognised and swooned at the sight of you, why did they allow you to get trapped?

  25. @Drew mate I live in the best country in the world. I travel a lot mate and up the pointy end too. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  26. @Sandra I’d shit myself because of the repercussions. Security breach and inconvenience etc.

    Daniel is young and excitable but no drama queen.

  27. Doesn’t…shouldn’t…the agent responsible for arrivals at that gate confirm with the flight crew that all passengers are off? Isn’t that SOP? If not, should be.
    I can think of 4 or 5 times getting off a plane to find the gate exit door locked, but always with all other pax, never like this

  28. Well, I experienced this at IAD once – not alone but with about 50 other pax. As usual for international arrivals, the shuttle docked at the aircraft and was supposed to deliver us to the immigration hall. However, the vehicle delivered us to a long corridor with a locked exit and … departed. We were stuck there for about one hour …

  29. the only person to blame is yourself, should have left with the others. why would anyone recognise you in any case!

  30. Same thing happened to me at Heathrow! Our entire flight got locked IN and could not enter the terminal once we deboarded. It took someone about ten minutes to come open the door. Needless to say, I almost missed my connection. Not a great experience…

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