Chaos at UK airports after Border Force gates fail causing long queues

Airports across the UK have seen long queues and delays after the country’s border force system was hit by a nationwide glitch.

Pictures on social media showed enormous queues in front of the gates at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Edinburgh and Manchester as thousands waited for their passports to be checked.

Passenger Harmeet Singh, who arrived at Stansted on Tuesday evening, described the delays as “complete madness” with no one in charge.

He told The Independent: “We noticed huge lawless queues with no one in charge. My wife has a back muscle injury and I asked staff three times for a chair but they were unhelpful.

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“More and more passengers arrived, the walkways to the toilets were blocked, 10-15 disabled passengers were waiting and unhappy. It was complete madness.”

Another passenger said he landed at Manchester Airport and faced “huge queues” for passport control and was told the terminal’s e-gates were down.

He said: “Woohoo, landed back in Manchester Airport to find huge queues for passport control. E gates are down country wide. The joys of technology. Great when it works.”

Simon Calder, The Independent’s travel correspondent of, said: “The e-gates are a critical component of the UK Border Force operation at London Heathrow and all major airports – as well as the Eurostar terminal at Paris Gare du Nord.

“A large majority of inbound passengers are able to use them: adults from the UK, the European Union, North America, Australasia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

“Because most arriving travellers are processed automatically, it allows officers to focus on individuals from other parts of the world who need visas.

“All the staffing arrangements are made on the assumption that e-gates will be taking care of most passengers. As we saw almost a year ago – over the late May bank holiday weekend in 2023 – when they fail nationwide things unravel very quickly.”

Paul Curievici, from Haslemere in Surrey, landed at Gatwick Airport at around 7.30pm on a flight from Lyon and waited in line for almost an hour at passport control.

The 41-year-old said: “I was a little bit resigned at what initially looked like another British infrastructure failing, and (I had) quite a lot of sympathy for the poor buggers furrowing their brows and trying not to look embarrassed.”

A London Gatwick spokesperson said: “Some passengers may experience delays at immigration due to a nationwide issue with UK Border Force e-gates.

“Our staff are working with UK Border Force – who operate passport control including the e-gates – to provide assistance to passengers where necessary.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Border Force is currently experiencing a nationwide issue which is impacting passengers being processed through the border.

“Our teams are supporting Border Force with their contingency plans to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible and are on hand to provide passenger welfare. We apologise for any impact this is having to passenger journeys.”

Manchester Airport’s statement read: “We are aware of an issue with UK Border Force’s systems across the country, affecting a significant number of airports.

“Our resilience team and customer services colleagues are supporting passengers while UK Border Force and the Home Office fix the issue.”

London Stansted and Edinburgh airports also said they had been affected by the issue, with UK Border Force working on fixing the glitch.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a technical issue affecting e-gates across the country. We are working closely with Border Force and affected airports to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”

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