Passengers who flew into Birmingham were LOCKED inside the plane – when the ground crew couldn’t find a key to let them out.

Travellers arriving on a Thomson flight from Kefalonia in Greece were stuck on board for around 20 minutes after touching down.

It happened when no key to operate the “airbridge” – allowing them to walk between the plane and the main terminal building – could be found.

As the hunt for the electronic key continued, ground staff from airport contractor Swissport searched for a set of steps to allow the passengers to disembark.

Passenger Dennis Smith, 74, who was returning from an 11-night holiday, said the pilot was forced to switch the air conditioning on as the saga unfolded on September 28.

“It was quite comical really,” he said.

A plane made an emergency landing at Birmingham Airport to help a sick baby.
Birmingham Airport

“We thought we might have to use the chutes to get off.”

Birmingham Airport confirmed the incident took place but referred the Mail’s enquiry to Swissport.

A spokesman for the firm said it happened when a new shift of workers could not find the key, which was usually left inside the airbridge.

He said: “The electronic authorisation key for the airbridge wasn’t available.

“The team had to find some steps from somewhere else.

“They are normally kept in the control of the airbridge.

Passengers flying into Birmingham were stuck aboard a Thomson flight.
Passengers flying into Birmingham were stuck aboard a Thomson flight.

“When the new shift went in, there was no key.

“They were trying to find it while also looking for a set of steps.

“By the time they found a new key, the steps had turned up.”

There have been a string of problems at Birmingham involving Swissport .

Staff shortages have been blamed for baggage-handling and flight delays – with up to a quarter of the company’s airport manpower calling in sick on one day in July.