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HEATHROW TAXI ‘TAGS’: The wait goes on for new cabbies wanting to work London’s biggest taxi rank

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

The wait goes on for cabbies looking to gain access to the capital’s biggest taxi rank due mainly to the curious case of Heathrow’s taxi ‘tags’.

Heathrow Airport is home to London’s biggest rank, with up to 500 cabs able to ‘put on’ at any one time. Taxi drivers wishing to service the airport are required to register themselves with the airport in return for a device called a ‘tag’ that allows access to the feeder park to the airport ranks.

In 2019 London Heathrow announced a ‘one in, one out’ policy for new taxi drivers wanting to obtain access tags to the airport’s ranks.

The current policy means that new drivers are only able to join the Heathrow taxi rank and receive a tag device when an existing driver closes their account at Heathrow.

Since then drivers entering the taxi industry must be placed on a waiting list and must hope for drivers to hand back tag devices to allow new or willing cabbies the opportunity to work the Heathrow airport.

Many cabbies prior to 2019 held a Heathrow tag when no limits were imposed on the off chance that they might work Heathrow.

On their first visit to the feeder park they would register themselves onto the system in the ‘cab-in’ located at the rear of the North feeder park. All that was required was their ‘bill & badge’ and £10 to cover the cost of the device.

Back in October 2021 Sam Houston, LTDA Senior Rep, said in TAXI Newspaper: “We’ve been contacted by a number of members regarding tags to work the airport. As usual, enquiries are from both existing tag-holders and also from drivers who are on the waiting list."

Houston added: “It’s important to remember that Heathrow first suspended tags in June 2019 because the parks were constantly oversubscribed, causing significant disruption. The suspension was carried out without consultation or approval by the trade. The situation is different now, and while it’s true that we don’t yet know where throughput will end up, it is becoming harder for HAL to justify not releasing a small number of tags per month to drivers who undertook the Knowledge in good faith with the idea that they’d be able to work the airport. It’s only fair.”

Why are drivers not ranking at Heathrow holding on to their tags?

There are a large number of cabbies that hold a tag and have no intention of using it. However, situations change and working the Heathrow rank may become more of an option years or even decades down the line.

Given how hard it is to get a Heathrow taxi tag, cabbies are reluctant to hand back the device to ease the waiting list.


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