HomeAirlinesBritish AirwaysBritish Airways closes its top-tier elite security lines at Heathrow (temporarily)

British Airways closes its top-tier elite security lines at Heathrow (temporarily)


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Access to the ‘First Wing’ at London Heathrow Terminal 5 is one of the big perks of British Airways top-tier status as it offers First Class travelers, Executive Club Gold members, and Oneworld Emeralds a sea of tranquillity amidst, what can be, an ocean of stressed-out passengers, screaming children and security lines that go on for miles.

The First Wing is an area of Heathrow Terminal 5 where big spenders and top-level elites can check-in away from all the other passengers in the terminal, and then proceed through their own dedicated security area before walking directly into the British Airways First Lounge.

Well, that’s how it normally works. That’s not how it’s working right now and it’s not how it will work for the next few months.

The check-in area of the First Wing remains open but as of yesterday (9 January), British Airways has closed the security lines attached to the First Wing to allow for the installation of new scanners.

These new scanners are part of the UK government’s drive to equip all British airports with technology that will allow passengers to keep liquids, laptops, and tablets in their carry-on luggage, and for the long-standing limit on the volume of liquid that can be taken through security to be lifted.

British Airways does not appear to have sent out a press release to announce this news, but passengers who are traveling this week and who would have had access to the First Wing security line are being sent an email with the following short message:

From 9 January 2024, the security area in The First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5 is being upgraded.

Heathrow will be installing this new security technology next time you fly, so the airport won’t be quite what you’re used to. Instead, we have set aside security lanes in South Security Fast Track for you to use during this period. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

The email gives no indication as to how long the First Wing security lines will be closed, but Head For Points has reported that the works are scheduled to take 3-4 months and there’s no reason to doubt that estimate.

Yes, China can replace an overpass in 43 hours and build 6,000 miles of road in 12 months but here in ‘the West’, we take 3-4 months to replace two security scanners. Well done us!

I’m one of the people who got the BA email because I’ll be traveling through T5 in the next few days so after I’ve had a chance to try it out, I’ll report back on how well (or not) the alternative arrangements are working. My hopes are not set high.

Bottom line

British Airways has confirmed that the security lines attached to the First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5 have been closed as the area is upgraded. Temporary priority security lines for those with access to the First Wing have, apparently, been opened in the Fast Track area of the terminal’s South security area, and while BA hasn’t said how long this arrangement will be in place, reports tell us that the First Wing security area will be closed for 3-4 months.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Went through the temporary First security yesterday and it had more people than I’d have expected. The process was slightly slower with screening and of course now there is a circuitous walk through the terminal to the First lounge (unless you have access to the “secret-ish” Concorde Room entrance, aka the shortcut). Hoping the upgrade to the wing is speedy — I might be more inclined to use Gatwick for now if possible.

  2. All UK airports have to have the new scanners this year so I think there’s going to be disruption at all of them. But you can bet that BA and Heathrow will screw things up.

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