LONDON: UK airports were chaotic on Saturday after glitches in the passport e-gate system held up people arriving in the country for hours. It comes at a busy weekend with a bank holiday overlapping with a school holiday.
Travellers said on social media they waited hours as those eligible to use the e-gates had to have their passports checked by immigration officials instead.
A woman who landed into Heathrow early Saturday wrote: “Returning from Dubai overnight to this mother of queues. “My plane landed at 6am, there is still a sea of people in front of me, passport checks are being done manually.” London’s two main airports -- Heathrow and Gatwick -- were among those affected.
Heathrow said it was “working closely with Border Force”, which operates the e-gates, “to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible” and has deployed additional staff. The Home Office said it was working “with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption”. Border Force have “robust plans in place” to send its officers to help reduce wait times, it added.
Long queues also formed at Dover, a major port for ferries to France in the southeast of England, due to IT issues at French passport control. The Port of Dover said on Twitter that the technical issues were resolved and that the average waiting time was down to 30-45 minutes, compared to 90 minutes earlier in the day.
There are over 270 e-gates at 15 air and rail ports in the UK, according to the government, available to British nationals, EU citizens over the age of 12 as well as passport holders of several other countries, such as Australia and Canada.