Heathrow passengers caught in 'unacceptable' queues for another day

5 September 2021, 16:44 | Updated: 5 September 2021, 16:57

The scene this morning at Terminal 3 at Heathrow
The scene this morning at Terminal 3 at Heathrow. Picture: Twitter

By Asher McShane

Passengers flying into Heathrow airport faced more long queues yet again today, despite the Home Office saying waiting times at immigration have been "unacceptable".

Border Force is reviewing staff rosters at the airport, after the Home Office criticised the wait times there this weekend.

Passengers have complained of being stuck in queues for hours trying to get through immigration, with reports of people passing out after being forced to wait for several hours.

Passengers criticised the "horrific" queues at Heathrow's T3 today.

One person aimed a scathing attack on the Home Office today, saying in a Tweet: "Still horrific queues at Heathrow’s T3 this morning.

"It’s inhumane to force the disabled and children especially to stand for hours! Where’s the promised improvement?". 

Airport bosses blamed a shortage of border staff.

Similar queues have also been seen at Manchester Airport. One person posted: "It felt like we spent as long getting through border control at Manchester airport today than We did on actual holiday. Not good at all."

Heathrow said Border Force, which manages the checkpoint at Heathrow, knew there would be extra demand and said they were "very disappointed" that they did not have enough staff on duty on Friday night.

It comes after a number of days in which arrivals at Heathrow have complained about the length of queues at the border, and a lack of social distancing.

On Monday, a passenger said the immigration process in Terminal 2 was "incompetent, ridiculous", adding that he was forced to wait for more than five hours with "no water, no bathroom".

On Saturday afternoon, a Heathrow spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry that passengers faced unacceptable queueing times in immigration last night due to too few Border Force officers on duty.

"Border Force were aware of the extra demand from families and we were very disappointed that they did not provide sufficient resource.

"Additional Heathrow colleagues supported in managing queues and handed out passenger welfare including water, but we need every immigration desk to be staffed at peak times.

"We have escalated this with Border Force and expect them to provide a better service over the remainder of the weekend."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that queue times may be longer as we ensure all passengers are compliant with the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe.

"However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable.

"This is the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers, with particularly high numbers of families with children under the age of 12 who cannot use e-gates.

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

"We are working very closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and we are all committed to making sure all passengers can have a safe and hassle-free journey."