Airport arrivals hit by passport gate failure

·1 min read
Traveller at Arrivals
Traveller at Arrivals

Thousands of passengers arriving at UK airports were hit by delays on Friday after a technical problem disrupted self-service passport gates.

Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh airports all reported problems with the e-gates.

But a Home Office spokesperson said the problem was quickly identified and had now been fixed.

The problem came after weeks of passenger anger over queues because of Border Force staff issues.

The gates allow travellers with biometric passports to pass through border control without a manual inspection.

They are staffed and operated by Border Force, a Home Office department.

"This afternoon, a technical issue affected e-gates at a number of ports, " the Home Office said. "The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved.

"We have been working hard to minimise disruption and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused."

Documentary maker Louis Theroux was among those forced to wait in long queues at the west London airport. He described the situation at Heathrow as a "human logjam".

Louis Theroux tweet
Louis Theroux tweet

Other arriving passengers said they were being held on board aircraft due to the problem.

Officials said the UK's border security was not affected.

Passengers arriving at Heathrow endured lengthy queues over the summer as staff struggled to cope with Covid-19 documentation as well as passports and visas.

The Home Office, which has responsibility for Border Force, said earlier this month that the waiting times being endured by passengers were "unacceptable".

It said Border Force was "rapidly reviewing its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve waiting times".

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