A computer problem affecting the automated passport control system created significant delays for travellers arriving at British airports on Saturday. On social media, many travelers complained of having to wait several hours before being able to pass through immigration controls, in the middle of a long weekend.
London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports have cited a national problem affecting British border police's "e-gates", which allow automated checks. "Our teams are working closely with border police to resolve the issue as quickly as possible," Heathrow Airport said on its website, adding that additional staff have been deployed to manage queues and assist passengers.
The UK has more than 270 e-gates in 15 infrastructures. They are available for travellers over the age of 12, whether British, EU nationals or several other countries (including Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan or the United States). "We are aware of a national problem ... affecting arrivals to the UK," a spokeswoman for the UK Home Office said. "We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with operators and airlines to minimise disruption to travellers," she added.
Long queues were also reported Saturday morning to board cross-Channel ferries at the port of Dover (south-east of England) due to a computer problem at passport control at the French border. This has been "resolved," the port said on Twitter, estimating between 30 and 45 minutes the waiting time in the middle of the day, against 90 minutes in the morning.
The disruption comes after British Airways had to cancel many flights – 175 according to British news agency PA – between Thursday and Friday due to a technical problem.