- Main article: Docking
An Access Corridor, colloquially known as a "Mailslot" due to its distinctive shape, is an airlock that serves as the main point of entry for Coriolis, Ocellus, Orbis, and Asteroid Base stations. Access Corridors are marked by flashing guidance beacons and are approximately 222 meters wide and 52 meters high. They are guarded by Defence Turrets that will open fire on any loitering or intruding ships. Advertising banners are commonly displayed around the corridor on the outside.
All stations require incoming ships to request and be granted docking permission before they pass through the access corridor. Ships without permission will be charged with trespass as they near it. If they do not then vacate the station area very rapidly, the station will become hostile and open fire. Many ships are not fast enough to reverse course before they are fired upon, so pilots must be attentive at all times and not forget to request permission.
The interior of stations is kept pressurised with a breathable, if not always pleasant, atmosphere. Translucent blue force fields generated at the access corridor prevent the immediate venting of this atmosphere into space yet allows the passage of spacecraft. Ships with broken canopies which are on emergency Life Support will no longer be in danger from running out of oxygen once they pass the force fields.
Getting stuck in the access corridor is a common problem for new and inexperienced pilots, or even for seasoned pilots unused to a new ship. Small and medium ships rarely have a problem, while larger ships are far more likely to have issues. Some large ships can require Landing Gear to be deployed early to fit. Sometimes getting stuck is due to a collision caused by inattention from the pilot in failing to notice an incoming vessel while trying to leave the station, or just impatience trying to get past it.
In any case, loitering in the access corridor, even if unintentional, will provoke a hostile response from the station rapidly, so this is a serious situation and should be avoided if at all possible, and dealt with as quickly as possible. Players who get stuck should keep calm and attempt to manoeuvre and reverse out of danger. If this fails, as a last resort logging out of the game and back in will reset the location of the player's ship either as docked or clear of the station. Logging is generally frowned upon but in this case its morality can be left up to the judgement of the player.
In certain situations, a pilot may not have enough time to correctly align with an Access Corridor. While some ships are too wide to enter the Access Corridor any other way, others are small enough that they can perform a 360° roll in the Access Corridor with little or no risk of getting stuck, which means they can be used to enter the Access Corridor without needing to worry about their alignment.
A common misconception of Access Corridors is that their constricting shape is arbitrary, and therefore makes entry into stations more difficult than necessary. In fact, Access Corridors are narrow as a reference to the station design in Elite, as well as to accommodate an unimplemented feature: blast doors. These blast doors are almost never seen because they are locked open pending a future game update, but on rare occasions a bug can cause them to close and obstruct entry to a station or destroy a CMDR's ship. It is currently unknown what purpose the blast doors will ultimately serve or if they will ever be fully implemented.