First of all, my sympathies go to the families of the victims. The events that took place in Brussels today are really unforgivable. My question might be a little out of line here, but I'm sincerely worried about this...

I travel a lot and so does my partner (we live separately for now). Let's assume my partner is coming to visit me and she had to go through the airport that got attacked by the terrorists. She's currently in the connecting flights area and she feels the blast, by obviously it's gonna be away from her, since she's in a safer zone (maybe not?).

Of course those people will be evacuated, but now what? Where will she be evacuated? How will she be able to continue her way to her destination now? Who will take care of these people?

I don't mean to sound emotionless here, but I'd actually be really mortified if my partner was stuck in a place that just got terrorized (I assume this applies to everyone).

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    To the title question: Whatever those in charge tell you to do (and hope that they know what they're doing) – CMaster Mar 22 '16 at 20:35
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    As far as travel disruption goes, this doesn't seem any different from any other kind of large scale travel disruption (such as weather, volcanic ash, labour strike, earthquake, etc). You talk to your airline, you work something out. – Greg Hewgill Mar 22 '16 at 20:40
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    Broadly, the same thing would happen as if the airport were closed for some other reason. The immediate priority would be ensuring everyone's safety, not helping passengers continue their travel. It would likely be necessary to contact the airline and arrange an alternate flight, which may not be available immediately. That could involve traveling by car or train to another airport depending on the circumstances. – Zach Lipton Mar 22 '16 at 20:40
  • The New York Times has an article: With Brussels Airport Shut Down, What Passengers Need to Know. It discusses the current travel situation and describes how some flights inbound to Brussels were diverted. Obviously, the situation is still in flux and different arrangements will apply for travelers over the next few days. – Zach Lipton Mar 22 '16 at 23:39

What do I do if I'm stuck in between flights and a terror attack happens?

The UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office offered this advice after the Paris attacks. It is general advice so not specific to airports (but still applicable):

Run and hide, don't play dead.


  • Escape if you can
  • Consider the safest options
  • Is there a safe route? Run, if not hide
  • Can you get there without exposing yourself to greater danger?
  • Insist others leave with you
  • Leave belongings behind


  • If you can’t run, hide
  • Find cover from gunfire
  • If you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you
  • Cover from view does not mean you are safe, bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal
  • Find cover from gunfire e.g. substantial brickwork / heavy reinforced walls
  • Be aware of your exits
  • Try not to get trapped
  • Be quiet, silence your phone
  • Lock / barricade yourself in
  • Move away from the door


  • Call 999 - What do the police need to know?
  • Location - Where are the suspects?
  • Direction - Where did you last see the suspects?
  • Descriptions – Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, weapons etc
  • Further information – Casualties, type of injury, building information, entrances, exits,hostages etc
  • Stop other people entering the building if it is safe to do so

Armed Police Response

  • Follow officers’ instructions.
  • Remain calm.
  • Can you move to a safer area?
  • Avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat.
  • Keep your hands in view.

Officers may

  • Point guns at you.
  • Treat you firmly.
  • Question you.
  • Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker.
  • Officers will evacuate you when it is safe to do so.

You must STAY SAFE

  • What are your plans if there were an incident?
  • What are the local plans? e.g. personal emergency evacuation plan

Outside the UK you should replace 999 with the local emergency number (though several widely-known emergency numbers, like 911, should work in the UK too)

It is probably worth remembering, even in recent years, more people die from mundane causes (e.g. car accidents) than from terrorism in Europe.

now what? Where will she be evacuated? How will she be able to continue her way to her destination now? Who will take care of these people?

All this must depend greatly on the type and scale of the incident. I think it would be wise to make some outline plans of your own covering emergency healthcare, emergency accommodation, access to funds for alternate travel arrangements, contact numbers for airlines, etc.

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    As the motivation behind this question is no doubt recent events in Brussels, it's probably worth noting that the emergency number in Belgium, as on most of the European continent, is 112. – phoog Mar 25 '16 at 22:45

Unless you read up on the emergency plans for all airports you intend to visit (most of which are not available for you to read anyway) there is no way for you to tell what will happen to anyone caught in such a situation. Unless you know exactly what kind of incident you are expecting none of your questions are going to have good answers even then. Where they go, and how long before they can continue, is going to depend on a whole lot of factors you won't know about.

The only thing you can assume is that, for most of the world, every effort will be made to take care those stranded, and they will be allowed to continue at some point. Your best picture of what is likely to happen is probably from the 9-11 airspace closures, where many planes were diverted to places they weren't expecting to go to, some for them in different countries for which they didn't have visas. As far as i know everybody eventually got to the where they wanted to go, and all were taken care of, even those who were forced to land in small Newfoundland towns where stranded passengers outnumbered the residents.

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