Air passengers face Bank Holiday chaos as passport control e-gates stop working at Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick (and French passport system is down if you’re trying to escape via Dover)
- Passports are reportedly being checked manually after e-gate outages
Travel chaos is continuing at major airports in the UK after electronic passport gates started experiencing problems last night.
Passengers returning home have been enduring longer than usual waits through immigration because of a glitch with UK Border Force’s e-gates at airports like Heathrow and Gatwick.
It follows separate IT issues at British Airways which affected 20,000 people on Friday and have already had an impact on flights taking off today.
While a French computer outage at Dover border control has caused miles of traffic to build around the port, as people head abroad for the bank holiday weekend.
The issue at Dover was caused by France’s Border Control systems going down for around an hour this morning.
Travel chaos is continuing at immigration at major airports in the UK after electronic passport gates started experienced outages
While a French computer outage at Dover border control has caused miles of traffic to build around the port
The timing of the e-gates failure has comes at the start of the bank holiday weekend which has been forecasted to be one of the busiest in the UK since Covid, with more than 11,500 flights also expected to depart.
One traveller arriving into Gatwick tweeted: ‘3 hour delay. Flown to Gatwick instead of Heathrow with no warning and now @Gatwick_Airport can’t process anything.’
While Chris Davey tweeted, ‘Total chaos at Gatwick Passport control. Queues of over an hour due to computer gates all unserviceable. Whoever is responsible needs to be fired.’
Pictures of long queues at Heathrow have also been shared online, showing dozens of people in queues waiting to enter the UK.
Richard Gaisford said it is taking ‘about an hour’ to get through immigration and in a clearly frustrated tweet he said: ‘Four hours late due to flight cancellation and delays. Now E-Gates have failed, queues building. Well done @British_Airways @UKBorder @HeathrowAirport – you are a credit to the nation.’
Lina Tayara said, ‘Returning from Dubai overnight to this mother of queues. Apparently national outage in border control machines so manual passport checks.’
The queues at Dover will caused by a similar issue and MP Natalie Elphicke tweeted: ‘This morning’s Dover queues have been caused by an unexpected French border control computer outage.
‘This has now been fixed. It has come at an unfortunate time on such a busy day today.
‘Inevitably this is currently impacting on roads & extra traffic controls have been deployed.’
The timing of the e-gates failure has comes at the start of the bank holiday weekend which has been forecasted to be one of the busiest in the UK since Covid, with more than 11,500 flights also expected to depart
Stansted Airport started sending out this message out at 1am: ‘UK Border Force is currently experiencing an outage affecting its e-gates. There are currently no significant queues, but this may result in longer waiting times.
‘Our team is working with UKBF to support their operations and minimise disruption. We appreciate your understanding.’
Heathrow Airport said it was aware of the problem affecting its passengers.
Lucy Morton, from the Immigration Services Union, told the BBC’s Radio 4 that between 60-80 per cent of incoming passengers now go through e-gates, depending on the airport, but that the solution to the outage will be to put ‘all the passengers through physically-manned officer desks.’
A Gatwick Airport spokesperson told ITV News, ‘Some passengers may experience delays at immigration due to a nationwide issue with UK Border Force e-gates.
Our staff are working with UK Border Force – who operate passport control including the e-gates – to provide assistance to passengers where necessary.’
Border Force they have robust plans in place to support passenger flow and minimise waiting times, with a Home Office spokesperson adding,
‘We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK.
‘We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers.’