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Corralling boarding pax in stairwell

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Corralling boarding pax in stairwell

Old 5th Apr 2022, 17:20
  #1 (permalink)  
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Corralling boarding pax in stairwell

I've seen multiple cases of handling agents for LCCs "boarding" pax through a gate and coralling them in a stairwell before the aircraft has arrived or is ready to accept departing pax.

I get that handling agents who have their fees cut to the bone by airlines are desperate to cut costs.
However, what's the legal position on this ? Do fire regulations in the UK generally allow this ? Do fire brigades (or anybody else) care if this goes on ?

I appreciate that major airports in the UK are generally pretty safe... but safety comes about because people follow (or should follow) safety regs. I'm therefore wondering whethere handling agents are on the right side of the rules on this or not
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 19:22
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It allows them to close the flight on time even if the Aircraft has not arrived or not ready to board. Ground Handlers incur fines often related to not boarding pax fast enough and not closing the flight on time in the system.
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 20:08
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Son of Slot
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Indeed. It is all down to money. It is part of the outsourcing we are discussing in the other thread. Every part of the system is chopped up so that it is no longer a system. It used to be (in all companies) that one section 'handed off' to the next with good will to get the customer to the end result. Now, each section only want to get rid of the customer as fast as possible.

On the other hand, the customer has made it very clear that they want to pay the lowest price and all companies (not just airlines) have complied with ways of saving money. It is circular.
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 20:29
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I agree it all helps to boost profits... but from a UK fire safety standpoint, is it legit ? And has somebody done a test run of what happens if something unexpected happens at the bottom of a stairwell with the lower exit door closed and 50+ people and a couple of baby buggies inside ?

Last edited by davidjohnson6; 5th Apr 2022 at 22:43.
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 01:07
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Aircraft certification requires an emergency egress within a specified amount of time hence a certain amount of emergency exits.
If there is such a requirement for a full jet bridge I havenít heard of one.
If the gate agents donít work for the airline as in they work for a subcontractor ( the lowest bidder) they will be penalized for late closing of the boarding door.
Delay codes are frequently:
  • flight crew ( late arrival)
  • cabin crew ( late arrival)
  • cleaners (delays)
  • maintenance (issues)
  • gate agents
Or something similar as different airlines may use different codes/descriptions.
Be kind to (subcontracted) gate agents as their jobs may literally be on the line.
Theyíre generally close to minimum wage and they donít get travel benefits either.

Last edited by B2N2; 6th Apr 2022 at 01:27.
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 08:18
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"Be kind to (subcontracted) gate agents as their jobs may literally be on the line."

that's the sort of argument that leads to disaster


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Old 6th Apr 2022, 08:45
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
"Be kind to (subcontracted) gate agents as their jobs may literally be on the line."

that's the sort of argument that leads to disaster
As an ordinary pax I can't help noting that the professionals who have replied all fail to addess the OP's safety point:

I get that handling agents who have their fees cut to the bone by airlines are desperate to cut costs.
However, what's the legal position on this ? Do fire regulations in the UK generally allow this ? Do fire brigades (or anybody else) care if this goes on ?
I appreciate that major airports in the UK are generally pretty safe... but safety comes about because people follow (or should follow) safety regs. I'm therefore wondering whethere handling agents are on the right side of the rules on this or not


I am aging but still fit to handle standing in a crowded stairwell, but is this a safe environment for less physically-able pax not classified as requiring assistance?
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 09:32
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Originally Posted by B2N2 View Post
If the gate agents donít work for the airline as in they work for a subcontractor ( the lowest bidder) they will be penalized for late closing of the boarding door.
Delay codes are frequently:
  • flight crew ( late arrival)
  • cabin crew ( late arrival)
  • cleaners (delays)
  • maintenance (issues)
  • gate agents
But this isn't anything new - it was being done 40 years ago, and yes we got pax to the gate early cos then you had some sort of chance of getting them onto the plane on time...
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 10:16
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How about simply announcing departure gates early instead of last minute to keep passengers next to the central shopping area until the very final moment? People will waste any possible "revenue generating" time waiting in lines at bag drop counters and security lines before anyway.
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 14:43
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It became a problem at an airport I used quite frequently. I refused to leave the gate lounge until I could see that the pax were walking towards the aircraft. When confronted by a gate agent I cited Health and Safety. No more was said!
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 22:24
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From my days working in Telecommunications and IT, where I had responsibility for staff - I was introduced to the Act of Parliament that set out safe working conditions and temperatures for staff. Then I was trained as a Fire Marshall. In most of the buildings where I worked, I was part of the team that checked for safe evacuation of staff and customers in a fire etc. as I had to provide emergency communications equipment. In the early 1980s I was involved in numerous fire drills and very much for real on one occaision due to an IRA bomb.

Those stairwells do not need a major event like a fire - they only need someone to lose their balance at the top, or faint and fall forwards ...
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Old 7th Apr 2022, 08:45
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"How about simply announcing departure gates early instead of last minute"

Those who worry or are normally early birds will start lining up immediately - then they obstruct various area and complain about standing in line

I'm afraid you can't win
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Old 14th Apr 2022, 02:07
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I've been in that stairwell at STN for the last few years. This last time we were non-priority, under-seat bags only, (everything else in hold) and I relished the opportunity to simply stay seated until the last moment. And watch as people were processed through the gate long before the aircraft had actually arrived, held in the stairwell, and then held in a queue on the tarmac whilst disembarkation was still taking place. It's ridiculous. It does not speed up boarding one iota. Even if they started the process at the moment the arriving aircraft comes to a halt, people would still be standing in the stairwell and on the tarmac. And the last person through the gate would go through at the same time. Even if they waited until arriving passengers started coming down the air stairs - the same. Another ten minutes? The same.
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Old 1st May 2022, 19:41
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
How about simply announcing departure gates early instead of last minute to keep passengers next to the central shopping area until the very final moment? People will waste any possible "revenue generating" time waiting in lines at bag drop counters and security lines before anyway.

Funny you mentioned that in site with heavy UK participation: I still remember a flight from LHR that did announce last call to attract pax to get only to wait for more than half an hour before the boarding began.
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