UK passport control hit by outage causing long waits at airports

By Reuters   May 7, 2024 | 06:09 pm PT
UK passport control hit by outage causing long waits at airports
Passengers queue inside the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain in 2022. Photo by Reuters
Long queues were building at British airports on Tuesday night, including the biggest Heathrow, after the country's Border Force suffered a nationwide technical issue that affected passport control.

Britain's leading airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in the south, Manchester in northern England, and Edinburgh in Scotland, said they were aware of a nationwide problem and their staff were working with Border Force officials to help resolve the issue.

One traveller described border officials rushing to manually process passport holders.

"All the e-gates were totally blank and there was just a lot of chaotic scenes," said Sam Morter, 32, who was returning to London's Heathrow from a holiday in Sri Lanka.

He made it through the airport after around 90 minutes.

Videos posted on social media platform X showed long queues of passengers at passport desks in airports including London's Stansted and Heathrow.

"We are aware of a technical issue affecting e-gates across the country," a Home Office spokesperson said.

"We are working closely with Border Force and affected airports to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologize to all passengers for the inconvenience caused."

Britain's automated border gates system crashed in May 2023, causing long queues and several hours of delays for passengers.

The country's air traffic system also went into meltdown in August 2023 when a technical problem disrupted the National Air Traffic Service for several hours.

Border Force is a law enforcement command within the Home Office, or interior ministry, which operates passport control and e-gates at airports.

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