Thousands of travelers gathered at West London Airport on Friday, with reports of people waiting several hours to pass passport control. The Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the Border Force, admitted the situation was “unacceptable” and promised action.
The worst scenes were recorded on Friday evening, with reports of passengers falling ill while in line.
Photographs posted on social media showed large numbers of people crowded together, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of travelers have expressed their frustration on Twitter and other social media sites.
One wrote: “There are people collapsing in the arrivals of Terminal 5 due to overcrowding and lack of ventilation. Certain Covid security measures. “
A second commented: ‘Horrible kettle at Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals tonight.
“No border force. No ventilation. No emergency exits. No explanation.
“I stayed there for over an hour. People are fainting. The panicked Heathrow skeleton ground crew not knowing what to do.
Another added: “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like Heathrow right now for passport control.
READ MORE: UK tourist arrivals crumble as Heathrow staff chaos continues
There is a particularly high proportion of children under 12, who take longer to process because they cannot use electronic gates.
Heathrow said it had “compounded” the problem with Border Force, which it asked to provide additional resources.
An airport spokesperson said: “We are very sorry that passengers faced unacceptable immigration wait times due to the too few border force officers on duty.
“Border Force was aware of the additional demand from families and we are very disappointed that they did not provide enough resources.
“We have additional colleagues at Heathrow to help us manage queues and distribute passenger welfare, including water, but we need each immigration office to be staffed at rush hours.
“We’ve stepped that up with Border Force and expect them to provide better service for the rest of the weekend.”
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry called the situation “unacceptable” and promised action would be taken.
He commented: “Throughout the pandemic, we have been clear that wait times can be longer as we make sure all passengers comply with the health measures put in place to ensure safety. of the British public. However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable.
“Border Force is rapidly revising its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve wait times.
The Home Office added that Border Force is working closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and is committed to ensuring that passengers have “a safe and hassle-free journey.”
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This notice was published: 2021-09-04 22:06:12