HomeTravelFive-hour queues at Heathrow following more e-gate chaos

Five-hour queues at Heathrow following more e-gate chaos


Passengers arriving at Heathrow are being forced to wait in long queues or are being held on planes due to a problem with self-service passport gates.

The airport has been plagued with incidents of slow-moving queues and delays at Border Control this year.

Most recently, an IT failure shut down its e-gates on 24 September and there were reports of people fainting in the queue during long waits over the August bank holiday weekend.

Heathrow has attributed the problems to Border Force, which is run by the Home Office.

Last week an unnamed Border Force guard told the Daily Mail that the recurring problems with Border Control were due to a “nightmare” new rota system for guards, increasing working hours and causing some officers to quit their jobs or call in sick.

Passengers at Heathrow took to social media this morning to complain about the long wait times.

“Absolute chaos at Heathrow immigration lines. Could be at least 5 hrs,” tweeted Rolando Estrada.

“Heathrow Airport now: systems for scanning passports is down (again),” tweeted passenger George Zarkadakis.

“Expected time of waiting for arriving passengers: 2-4 hours. I think I’ll stay home next time… and stick to Zoom calls.”

“Remember: every other major European hub airport is able to function normally, but Heathrow – in October 2021 – is STILL struggling with concept of facilitating arriving passengers,” tweeted aviation analyst Alex Macheras.

“Buyer beware flying into Heathrow currently, been queuing for 45 minutes to get into the country, 2 people away from getting in and they redirect us to another 45 minute queue,” tweeted user @I_Lasciel_I, referring to the service as “p**s poor stuff”.

For British and European passengers, the “service level agreement” that Heathrow airport has with UK Border Force is that almost everyone – 95 per cent of passengers – should be through passport control in 25 minutes. For other nationalities, the time is 45 minutes.

Queue times at passport control are not the responsibility of the airport, nor the airline you flew in on (unless they happen to have messed up schedules and a whole bunch of flights have arrived at once), but are managed by Border Force.

Heathrow says that in 2020, Border Force failed to achieve its target in six of 12 months of the year.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “This morning a technical issue affected e-gates at a number of ports. The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved.

“We have been working hard to minimise disruption and continue to monitor the situation closely.

“We apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.” 

She added that security at the border was not affected.

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