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Heathrow Case Study

Heathrow and IDGateway logo.

Going online with IDGateway is saving Heathrow Airport’s ID Centre thousands of pounds and hours of work

While many airports continue to use paper-based processes for ID applications as this is the status quo, Heathrow Airport proves that making a change and embracing technology can reap major rewards in both cost savings and time efficiency.

Heathrow airport had long relied on paper-based application processes for airside passes.  These passes are required by all airport staff – whether they work as security staff, cleaners or duty free sales assistants – to access airside or restricted zones within the airport.

This meant that staff applying for passes needed to manually fill out the form and post out to Heathrow’s processing centre. The slightest human error would result in a rejected application, which could result in delays of up to three months before the application was fully cleared.

However, by moving its application process online via IDGateway, Heathrow airport has made big cost savings and significantly reduced a lengthy process from months to days.

Rebecca Corris, Heathrow ID Centre Operations Manager, explains more: “Our previous process for issuing airside passes was very inefficient. The costs were high as we were posting out applications, and it required a lot of manpower to check the thousands of applications we received.  Even the slightest error, such as not fully completing all the sections or signing the wrong page, meant the application had to be rejected, resulting in weeks of delay . Even when everything was good, with the paper-based application, a full airside pass could take on average 15 days to clear.”

Along with a lengthy process, there were concerns around the robustness of using paper forms, as Rebecca explains: “The fundamental problem with paper forms were that we relied on having just the one copy. So if an application got lost in the post, we’d have to do the whole process again.  Also, with paper copies, we couldn’t spot trends or highlight any issues as each one was looked at individually.  We needed a better solution.”

Heathrow airport looked into an online alternative, and called upon IDGateway, a platform which manages the entire airside pass application process online.  This reduces processing time, decreases rejected applications, and enhances security, as the system flags any profiles of interest. IDGateway also carries out an automated random selection for verification checks so that human influence doesn’t impact the applications chosen.

IDGateway were called along with another provider to spend a day road-testing their system at the airport.

Rebecca says: “IDGateway was our preference because they had a robust, workable tool. It took away a lot of the manual work from our end, and also provided some much-needed transparency for applicants.  Previously, ID services were seen as a dark art, as it wasn’t always clear what information was being asked for. With IDGateway, users are told what information to submit and how to do it, and if their application is rejected, they are clearly told why and it can be rectified immediately.”

As well as an enhanced user experience, IDGateway has made substantial cost and time savings, as Rebecca explains: “We can now fully flex our staff as they are no longer waylaid with the timely manual aspects of checking applications, IDGateway does the ‘heavy lifting’ on this aspect now so our team are now more agile.   This helps us be much more efficient and also identify best practice within our process as everything is online. It terms of cost saving, we saved £60k in postage costs alone so far!”

For any airports still using paper-based application forms, Rebecca’s advice is clear: “Online applications is the way forward.  It might be easier to stick to the status quo of what you’ve always done, but bringing it online requires minimal effort and delivers maximum return. The transition period for us was very smooth, and IDGateway did a fantastic job of on-boarding. They care about what they do, and it’s really reflected in their service.”


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