07 May 2024

‘Nationwide issue’ with airport e-gates causes significant disruption

07 May 2024

A “nationwide issue” with Border Force e-gates has caused significant disruption at airports across the country.

The Home Office said it was aware of a “technical issue” affecting the gates and was working closely with Border Force to resolve the issue “as soon as possible”.

Images and footage shared on social media on Tuesday evening appeared to show long queues forming at the e-gates, which scan passports, in London’s Heathrow Airport.

A spokesperson for the airport said: “Border Force is currently experiencing a nationwide issue which is impacting passengers being processed through the Border.

“Our teams are supporting Border Force with their contingency plans to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible and are on hand to provide passenger welfare.

“We apologise for any impact this is having to passenger journeys.”

A spokesperson for Stansted Airport said: “We are aware of an issue with UK Border Force’s systems across the country, affecting all UK airports.

“Our operational and customer service colleagues are supporting passengers while UK Border Force and the Home Office fix the issue.”

Paul Curievici, from Haslemere in Surrey, landed at Gatwick Airport at around 7.30pm on a flight from Lyon and waited in line for almost an hour at passport control.

The 41-year-old told the PA news agency: “(I was) a little bit resigned at what initially looked like another British infrastructure failing, and (I had) quite a lot of sympathy for the poor buggers furrowing their brows and trying not to look embarrassed.”

Mr Curievici said the e-gates at Gatwick had since reopened but that fast-track passengers continued to be prioritised, which he found “pretty galling”.’

He continued: “There was an awkward moment – half of us had been funnelled into the ‘all passports’ queue.

“When the system came back online they reopened almost all the UK/EU gates without opening any for us – I actually raised it with a member of staff and they finally opened one.”

Sam Morter, 32, who arrived at Heathrow from Sri Lanka, said it was “pandemonium” when he got to passport control in Terminal 3, where all of the e-gates had blank screens.

He told PA: “There was a lot of Border Force officials running and scrambling around. Four or five went to man the posts and start processing the UK passports manually.

“But at the same time, hundreds of passengers started to flood into passport control, so it all of a sudden became chaotic and they couldn’t cope with the number of the people coming in.

“We weren’t given any information. There was no information on the Tannoys or from staff.”

The disruption comes after Border Force workers staged a four-day strike at Heathrow in a dispute over working conditions last week.

The union said the workers were protesting against plans to introduce new rosters they claim will see around 250 of them forced out of their jobs at passport control.

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