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My wife was thinking of travelling through LTN on her way until we found out that there's apparently no airside transit area in LTN and you need to pass through border control, so even if you catch another flight without ever leaving the airport, you need a transit visa (if you're not a EU citizen or some other exception).

It made me wonder - if the airport has no transit area, what will they do with you if you show up without a transit visa? Has anyone had that happen to them? From what I understand about the airport, they'll anyway have to bring you from arrivals to departure if they want to send you away again.

Or is there an airside transit and you just need to exit if you need to check in to your next flight (which these days you can do online if you have no luggage) ?

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    You probably won’t make it to the airport in the first place, the airline should prevent you from boarding. And if you do get there, my guess is that you’ll have a nice chat with the guys and gals dressed in dark blue and end up in detention (probably not the nicest experience in the world) until they manage to get you out of their way. Ugly stamps in your passport and red flags in your record a bonus, I suppose.
    – jcaron
    Aug 27 '20 at 21:03
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    It's worth nothing that "some other exception" covers quite a lot. In addition to the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to visit the UK without a visa, there are also exceptions for landside transits for most (though not all) journeys to/from the US and Canada. Aug 27 '20 at 21:27
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    There was this story some time back: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/150878/… Aug 27 '20 at 21:48
  • She likely doesn't need a transit visa to clear the border control. Where does she live, does she have a visa of any other country, and where is she travelling from and to?
    – Crazydre
    Aug 28 '20 at 16:22
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    @Tom As I suspected then - she doesn't need a visa (see my answer) :) This is why we expect those asking a question to actually provide specific details, not just ask in general, vague terms and expect an accurate answer.
    – Crazydre
    Aug 30 '20 at 11:50
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Without the right credentials to enter the UK, the airline will not permit your wife to board the flight. She'll not even fly to Luton, but will instead be turned away at the airline counter in the departure airport.

Airlines are very careful to examine traveler's documents before a boarding pass is issued. That's because airlines are required to return passengers to their point of departure at the airline's expense if the passenger is refused entry into the destination country because they lack the required passport nationality, or visa or visa waiver.

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    OP's wife may well be exempt, OP needs to clarify that
    – Crazydre
    Aug 28 '20 at 16:22
  • I'm accepting this answer despite the other one (by @Crazydre) being more useful, because it addresses the actual question asked better.
    – Tom
    Sep 7 '20 at 9:19
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There is no transit area at Luton airport. That said, she doesn't need a visa.

Per the current rules, 48 hours before the scheduled flight arrival, she is to register HERE and print the form to present at the border if requested.

Other than that, she only needs her passport, Austrian residence permit and connecting boarding pass. She'll be admitted to the UK until 23:59 the next day.

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