Major IT failure causes huge queues at UK airports as e-gates stop working

24 September 2021, 14:15 | Updated: 24 September 2021, 15:15

There are huge queues at Heathrow, Manchester, and Edinburgh airport as the e-gates have gone down.
There were huge queues at Heathrow, Manchester, and Edinburgh airports after the e-gates went down. Picture: Louis Theroux

By Sophie Barnett

Three of the UK's busiest airports reported huge queues after an IT failure caused e-gates to go down.

Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh airports all reported problems with self-service passport gates on Friday afternoon.

The gates allow travellers with biometric passports to pass through border control without a manual inspection.

Heathrow Airport said in a tweet earlier: "We’re aware of a systems failure impacting the e-gates, which are staffed and operated by Border Force.

"This issue is impacting a number of ports of entry and is not an isolated issue at Heathrow. Our teams are working with Border Force to find a solution as quickly as possible."

The Home Office issued a statement at 2.30pm which said the issue had been resolved at all airports.

"This afternoon a technical issue affected e-gates at a number of ports," the Home Office said.

"The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved. "We have been working hard to minimise disruption, and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused."

Passengers reported being stuck on aircraft on the runway due to the failure, with queues pouring out of border control.

Documentary maker Louis Theroux was among those forced to wait in long queues at Heathrow.

He wrote on Twitter: "Human logjam at Heathrow - apparently all the e gates at all the airports are down? That's what the man just said."

Hannah King tweeted: "Border force systems are down (shock) and our plane is now stuck on the tarmac due to the volume of the queues inside… @HeathrowAirport please sort this out, this is beyond a nightmare."

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Edinburgh Airport said: "The UK Border Force (UKBF) IT issue is nationwide and UKBF teams are working to resolve this.

"All available UKBF staff are in the arrivals hall to carry out necessary checks and allow passengers to pass through the border as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience."

Gatwick Airport tweeted that "all is running smoothly" at the west Sussex airport.