Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton travel chaos as passport e-gates crash | Travel News | Travel


The UK’s passport e-gate system has gone down at multiple airports across the country, causing chaotic scenes for arriving passengers.

A passenger at Gatwick Airport described the scene as an “utter joke” according to the BBC while one at Heathrow said they had faced the “mother of all queues”.

Lucy Moreton, from the Immigration Services Union, told the BBC that queues would build “very,very quickly”.

All arriving passengers will have to be processed by staff which takes far longer than the electronic system.

On a normal day, around 60 to 80 percent of passengers use the e-gates at passport control.

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A passenger who landed at Heathrow Airport this morning told Express.co.uk the queues were “still piling up” after they got through. They said it took them around two hours to get through passport control.

Lina Tayara said: “I got through eventually but I can see a multi layer queue still piling up as more planes were coming through this morning. The immigration officer who checked me in had arrived pulled from somewhere else by an urgent email. Clearly Heathrow was in crisis mode this morning.”

Many airports across the UK are affected by the outage, meaning passengers touching down all over the UK are likely to face queues.

The e-gate system significantly reduces queues at passport control by allowing some passengers to scan their own passports. A Home Office spokesperson said it was aware of a “nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK”. The system was still down by the afternoon.

Staff at the Home Office said it was working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and trying to minimise delays.

Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, tweeted: “We are aware of a nationwide issue impacting the eGates, which are operated by Border Force. This issue is impacting a number of ports of entry and is not Heathrow specific.”

People will have to have their passports checked manually, which is likely to cause long queues for arriving passengers.

Lucy Moreton told the BBC that the outage wouldn’t have an impact on national security, as passports would still be checked by Border Staff.

However, she warned that passengers would probably take their frustration at the queues out on the staff.

Passengers at Port of Dover have also faced issues trying to leave the UK, but that has now been fixed. Passengers travelling back into the UK on the Eurostar have also been hit by passport delays.

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