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Passengers wait two and a half hours in 'unacceptable' Heathrow queues

14 August 2018 08:51

Heathrow arrivals faced long queues at passport control

Heathrow arrivals faced long queues at passport control

Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport last month faced queues of over two and a half hours at passport control, new figures have revealed.

The data, obtained by Virgin Atlantic, shows that UK Border Force hit its processing targets on just one day in the whole of July - a figure the airline called "unacceptable".

UK Border Force has a target of processing 95% of all passengers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) within 45 minutes.

Travellers to the London airport were hit with the longest queues on July 6, when non-EEA visitors spent up to two hours and 36 minutes waiting in queues at passport control.


Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger told the Press Association: "This summer significant queues at Border Control mean that thousands of visitors have regularly faced the longest queues in London to get their passports checked, often over two hours, leaving them frustrated before they've even started their trip.

"At Virgin Atlantic we're doing our bit to try and help our international customers - providing extra staff as well as drinks and snacks for the queue - but only the Border Force can resolve these unacceptable queue times and they must take action.

"We all agree that security and safety at our airports is vital and remains our top priority, but other countries are managing their borders more effectively.

"At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the Government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time."

Computer failure

The Home Office said the queues were partially caused by a computer failure and a large number of vulnerable adults and children arriving.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The vast majority of people who arrive at Heathrow get through the border within our service standards.

"But we understand the frustration for those who have experienced longer waits and remain fully committed to working with our partners to reduce waiting times as far as is possible.

"At the same time, we will not compromise the essential checks we carry out at the border which keep our country safe.

"We are making sure Border Force has the resources it needs and are deploying 200 additional staff at Heathrow over the summer."

If you're a non-EEA resident planning to visit the UK, make sure you have the right travel insurance by checking out our great value cover for global residents.