Scores of air passengers were trapped in an airport corridor after staff apparently shut up shop before their flight had disembarked.
More than 150 passengers and cabin crew were forced to bang on doors and shout for help for 30 minutes after their arrival at Gatwick Airport was barred by a locked door.
Customers said they considered setting off fire alarms to alert staff to their plight but were worried they would be arrested.
The problems began for the British Airways passengers when their 7pm flight on Wednesday from Glasgow was delayed by three hours by a French air traffic controllers’ strike.
When the flight landed just before midnight, customers discovered they were trapped.
Katy Shaw, principal lecturer in contemporary literature at the University of Brighton, was flying home after a day trip to Glasgow for a PhD exam.
She said: “We were walking around the security desks and trying to find a phone to ring to let somebody know.
“It was all a big mess up and we were all trying to think what to do.
“Some of us started tweeting Gatwick.
“I have never seen so many businessmen in suits banging on doors.
“It was strange that they hadn’t picked us up on the security cameras, I guess it was just a breakdown in communication.
“After about 30 minutes somebody came round and let us out.”
A Gatwick spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident and apologise for the inconvenience to the passengers.”