I found lots of evidence that Heathrow is not closed overnight and that passengers without a visa who are transiting through the airport can hang out overnight air side to catch their connecting flights the following morning.

Between 11:30pm and 6am Heathrow is restricted by the Government to 5,800 night-time take-offs and landings a year. There is also a night quota limit, which caps the amount of noise the airport can make at night. Around 80% of the night flights at Heathrow are between 4.30-6am with on average around 16 aircraft are scheduled to arrive each day between these hours. Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights scheduled between 4:30am-6am from landing before 4:30am. We also do not schedule any departures between 11pm and 6am.

My question specifically is whether this is allowed if you're flying into and from Terminal 5 without a transit visa (being exempt from the transit visa requirement) and your connecting flight leaves the following morning?

3 Answers 3


Do NOT under any circumstance book a flight which has transit at Heathrow Terminal 5 with the connecting flight leaving the following morning if you do not have a visa and you are a citizen of a nation whose nationals are mandated to have a visa/transit visa when entering/passing through U.K.

On March 15 2017 I was detained together with a female Canadian permanent resident among others at Heathrow Terminal 5. She was there before I arrived and explained to me her flight arrived the previous night with connection the following morning at 16:00 GMT, basically she had a 15 hour layover which lasted overnight. I overhead her conversation with the I/O so I know her story to me was true.

Around midnight, the Terminal was to be shut down and she was asked to exit the airside and cross immigration. Her request to remain there was not accepted. She was administratively designated (to her objection) as someone who made an application for leave to enter the UK, and was of course refused, and detained. Now her flight was at 16:00 the following afternoon so you would think she would be released at 8:00 in the morning when the Terminal reopened. NO! They were going to hold her till boarding time and then she would be escorted (like a criminal) to the plane by immigration agents with her documents handed to the pilot to be returned to her upon arrival at her destination.

It even got worse, snow storms on the East Coast of the USA/Canada forced cancellations of many cross Atlantic flights on that day so her departure date was no longer known. After being held for 24 hours at the temporary detention facility in Terminal 5 (which has a 24 hour maximum hold time), by the time I was leaving/released she was being processed to be moved over to a permanent detention facility until a flight was obtained for her. She was bawling her eyes out and it was a sad sad tragedy however I could only comfort her so much under the circumstances.

Bottom line do not take an overnight connecting flight through Terminal 5 if you do not have prior clearance to enter the U.K.

  • 10
    This lady sounds very unlucky. Canadian Permanent Residents (with the appropriate post-2002 physical permanent residence card) are normally allowed to make a landside transit, including crossing the UK border, providing they are departing by air by the end of the following day. [I picked Afghanistan passport but you can substitute the proper passport if you like.] There may be special circumstances in this case of course; perhaps she was already known to UK immigration.
    – Calchas
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 16:00
  • 5
    @SheikPaul Just so you know, she probably had something Stange about her. A passport and Canadian permanent residence card let you enter teh Uk and stay until 23:59 the next day for transit
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 5:49
  • 1
    This is horrible. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 10:47

I don't know what evidence you have found. Terminal 5 airside is not open overnight. It closes after the last flight of the day and reopens the next morning. You will not be able to get into the T5 airside area without a same day boarding pass.

If your connecting flight is the next day you may be entitled to pass through immigration and come back the next day, even if you would normally require a visa for this, this depends on exactly which passport you hold.

  • 2
    You are perfectly entitled to answer your own question, please do. I believe there is a system where you can stay airside in terminal 3, but it is not encouraged, and I am only vaguely remembering. At one time those people who could not go landside during irrops while the airport is closed were accommodated in a locked UKBF office, but @GayotFow probably knows what they do now.
    – Calchas
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 11:31
  • 3
    Solid gold, more and more of stuff like this!
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 11:33

As stated in Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Transit without a visa: Nationals of [insert country] holding confirmed onward tickets making an airside transit at London Gatwick (LGW), London Heathrow (LHR) or Manchester (MAN) on the same calendar day to a third country (excluding Ireland (Rep.)).

Meaning, yes, the transit area does close overnight and you would need to enter the UK.

However, a passport and Canadian permanent resident card will be enough to enter the UK for an overnight connection (you can stay until 23:59 the next day), regardless of nationality.

So at the end of the day, barring other complications, the person concerned will be fine.


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