Heathrow passengers queue for 'hours' as 'e-gates break and staff are absent'
Frustrated travellers say they were stuck in queues for two to three hours as they arrived at Heathrow Airport from amber list countries on one of the busiest days of the year
Frustrated travellers complained about missing pre-booked coaches or taxis after being caught up in the queue of arrivals at Terminal 2.It came on what was expected to be one of the busiest days of the year at Heathrow and other UK airports after schools broke up for the summer.
Travellers faced further chaos as London Underground trains to and from Heathrow's terminals are closed over the weekend for engineering works, resulting in a replacement bus service to Hammersmith station. Were you caught in the queue? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Passengers arriving from amber list countries claim broken e-gates and a lack of Border Force staff at passport control led to the "absolutely dreadful" wait times on Saturday morning.But Heathrow insisted the queues were within the "agreed service levels" with Border Force. headtopics.com
Ryan Marshall, a Brit who lives in France and flew to the UK for a wedding, said it took him three hours to get through passport control.The 30-year-old said only one Border Force officer was checking passports when he made it to the front of the queue.
Mr Marshall, a building site manager, said: "It only got busy after we landed, but the people at the back of the queue were going to be waiting for hours and hours."Then the machines at passport control broke and there was only one person on the desk checking everyone's passports.
"'My flight landed at 7.30am and it's now 10am, so it's taken me almost three hours to come through. I've now missed my coach so have to get the underground into London and then get a train down to Bournemouth."I've now missed my coach so have to get the underground into London and then get a train down to Bournemouth.
"That doesn't make any sense to me because I'm supposed to be quarantining."When I booked a day five test in Boots, they said there weren't any available, so come in on day 4 instead - it's ridiculous. "I'm supposed to be going back in three weeks time, but the rules keep changing so I might have to cut it short. headtopics.com
"Going on a stag-do and to a wedding has turned into a month long trip. It's put me off coming back to England again."France is on the UK Government's "amber plus" list.John Wilson, 53, said it took him two hours to get through passport control after returning to the UK from Romania, which is on the amber list.
He said he missed his pre-booked taxi and was charged £35 for a trip he didn't take.Mr Wilson, who works in telecoms, added: "There were only two people on the desk and the queues were like a fun park, wrapping around and around like a snake.
"We were halfway through 'the snake' when we started, but by the time we reached the desk it was all the way down the aisle."Our flight landed at 8am and it's now 10.20am, so it's taken us over two hours to get through."I had a taxi booked for 9am but he cancelled on me and charged me £35 because I wasn't there.
Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now "British people seem to just sail through, but for everyone else it was absolutely dreadful."Tom O'Connell, 46, a pharmacy owner from Putney, west London, said: "We've just arrived from Malta which is a green list country. headtopics.com
"The queues were absolutely ridiculous - it took us over an hour to get from the back to the front of the queue."And then there's another massive queue to the person checking your papers."There's just not a enough staff and over half the machines - around 10 of them - were boarded off.
"Most people expect it I guess, but it's just a disappointing way to enter a country. Plus people coming from different countries are queuing together."There a sign for red list countries, but that's it, everyone else is in the same boat.
"Not that I'm concerned because I'm double vaccinated."But they tell you to disembark in rows to stop everyone pushing up the queue."It seems pointless if your then shoved in a queue with the rest of the plane and other passengers."
Sebastian Dossantos, 20, said: "I've come from South Africa, but I had to stop in Portugal for 10 days."I'm here to work in my uncle's restaurant in Leamington Spa. If I'm honest, it's been an absolute mission to get here.
"I think that's the longest queue I've ever been in for sure."It took me an hour because there are hundreds of people queuing."You could tell people were starting to get anxious."I think there were just too many people coming through."
Sales assistant Zoe Mcgrath, 25, said: "I've just flown in from Dublin to visit some friends in London for a few days."It was a lot less stressful than I thought I was going to be."I was quite panicked because it's my first time travelling in a year and a half.
"The only difference is wearing a mask and obviously people aren't on top of you at passport control."It's literally taken me 15 or 20 minutes and that's including collecting my bags."Heathrow Airport said it was expecting to welcome about 128,000 passengers on Saturday and Sunday - down from daily volumes of around 230,000 to 260,000 in July 2019.
CEO John Holland-Kaye said: "This weekend is set to be one of the busiest of the year so far. We're thrilled to see the terminals coming to life again, with most of the shops and restaurants now reopened."We have additional colleagues on hand to ensure our passengers have a smooth journey as they take well-deserved breaks or travel abroad for long-awaited reunions with loved ones."
Gatwick Airport said it expects to see around 250 to 260 flights and between 25,000 to 27,000 passengers a day over the weekend - up from a low of just 15 flights a day at the height of the pandemic.The most popular foreign destination is Spain, with between 60 and 70 flights a day, while around 30 planes will depart each day for Greece, it added.
The airport said flight numbers are still far below the 950 per day at this time of year pre-Covid.A spokesman said: "Our passengers are now able to choose from flights to more than 100 destinations in over 30 countries so we're expecting our busiest weekend of the year so far.
"We will handle over 250 each day, with locations in Spain and Greece particularly popular."We've been looking forward to this weekend - the start of the summer holidays - for some time and cannot wait to finally see our passengers enjoying themselves, whether that's indulging in some retail therapy or eating in our restaurants, before jetting off on a well-deserved holiday."
Manchester Airports Group said it is expecting 958 flights at Manchester Airport from Friday to Monday, 224 at East Midlands Airport and 1,330 at London Stansted.This is up from the 632, 177 and 735 respectively during the same weekend last year, but still well below the 2,512 at Manchester, 503 at East Midlands and 2,139 at London Stansted in July 2019.
A spokesman said: "After what has been the most challenging year in our history, it is encouraging finally to start seeing some passengers return to our terminals."Allowing fully vaccinated travellers to visit amber list countries without quarantining on return has been an important step forward, opening up many more destinations for a well-deserved summer holiday.
"This increase in passengers is an encouraging but tentative step towards recovery, with volumes still significantly lower than they were before the pandemic."Airline easyJet said it is preparing to carry more than 135,000 passengers this weekend from the UK on over 80 routes to green and amber-list destinations across Europe.
In total there will be 251 easyJet flights taking to the skies, with popular destinations including Malta, Madeira, Malaga in Spain, Faro and Lisbon in Portugal, and Corfu and Athens in Greece, the airline added.Ali Gayward, easyJet's UK country manager, said: "With schools breaking up for summer, this weekend sees the busiest weekend so far this year and we are looking forward to taking as many people as we can on that long-awaited and well-deserved trip, or to reunite them with their loved ones."
Tui said it has almost double the number of passengers travelling Friday to Sunday compared to last weekend, with the Balearics and Greece the "clear favourites" and Palma, Ibiza and Rhodes the most popular destinations.A spokeswoman said it will be resuming flights to Alicante and Malaga in Spain, the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, Kefalonia and
Skiathos in Greece, and Marrakech, Morocco, this weekend.Jet2 said it has 170 flights departing to more than 40 destinations over the weekend, up from around 70 to six places the previous weekend.The spokeswoman added: "The start of school holidays in many parts of the UK means that this weekend will be the busiest in months and we're very excited about taking people away to enjoy a well-deserved and long-overdue holiday.
"Destinations such as the Balearics, Canaries, Croatia, Portugal and Greece are all looking very popular with holidaymakers this weekend and beyond, particularly with such great deals to be had."Since May, quarantine and testing requirements have been determined by whether a person is entering the UK from a green, amber or red list location.
Travellers returning from a green destination are not required to self-isolate, but only a handful of major European summer hotspots are in that tier.Spain, Italy and Greece are among the countries on the amber list. Read more: Daily Mirror »
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They report on digital gates not working at an airport with missing staff, but not on major protests against all this COVID bullshit that is happening all over the gaff!! Everyone is entitled to there own opinion, but we all need answers!!! Glad i don't fly no more wouldn't like to be the way they feel right now.
NO SYMPATHY, “it’s a worldwide pandemic, but let’s all go on holiday then”. complete idiots Those fucking e-gates don't work even when they are working It makes me wonder why some people still want to travel abroad for. Those who wish to see relatives or for emergency reasons, I understand. But those going for a holiday? Come on!
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