Chaos at UK airports as nationwide border system fails

Ivan Coninx/Twitter

Long queues at Heathrow Terminal 5 on Saturday following a nationwide border system problem.


A nationwide border system problem hit electronic gates at UK airports, causing chaos for holidaymakers and passengers arriving in the country.

Pictures shared online showed long queues building at major airports, with many wanting to travel ahead of a public holiday on Mondays, and with schools also in half term.

The error means that travelers have to have their passports checked manually instead of by machine.

Mette travelers took to social media to vent their anger, claiming they had to wait in line for several hours to get their passports seen.

“We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK,” a Home Office spokesperson told CNN in a statement on Saturday.

“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimize disruption to travellers,” the spokesperson added.

Kin Cheung/AP

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London on Saturday, May 27, 2023.

A spokesperson for London Heathrow Airport said: “We are aware of a nationwide issue affecting eGates, which are operated by the Border Force.

“This issue affects a number of gateways and is not Heathrow specific. Our teams are working closely with the Border Force to help resolve the issue as quickly as possible and we have additional colleagues available to manage queues and ensure passenger welfare.

Lucy Morton of the Immigration Services Union told BBC Radio 4 that depending on the airport, 60% to 80% of travelers go through e-gates.

“There is no impact on national security, in fact it will improve national security because every single arriving passenger will be seen by a human, not a machine,” she said.

“But that will build queues, and that in itself builds its own set of problems. People get frustrated, they take it out on staff. Staff are verbally abused, sometimes staff are physically abused, they get hit. All this will start to flow through the day.”

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