Passengers Stuck for Hours in Long Lines Amid Passport Control Meltdown

Border control at many of the UK’s biggest airports was disrupted for multiple hours on Tuesday evening after electronic passport gates suffered a nationwide outage.

Thousands of passengers landed at London Gatwick — Europe’s eighth busiest airport — late on Tuesday to face massive delays in entering the country.

This reporter was among those to face the huge lines, spending almost two hours queuing to get through passport control — longer than the flight from France I’d taken.

Similar issues were reported at major airports nationwide, including hubs like Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, as well as Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.

“Only the manual desks are being manned and it’s going to take a while to get through,” one airport staff member shouted to passengers who had just disembarked a flight only to see crowds filling the hallways.

“All airports in the UK are impacted,” she added.

Gatwick Airport queues

Polly Thompson

The crowd was left waiting in the increasingly hot corridor, slowly edging forwards with no idea how long the delay would last. Many made calls to relatives, telling them not to wait up.

There was mostly no access to toilets or water, and buggies carrying disabled and elderly passengers could not pass through the crowds.

“It’s absolute chaos. They’re telling us nothing,” complained one passenger, who had just flown back from holiday in Benidorm, Spain, with his family.

A group of upbeat young men cracked jokes, drawing a few laughs from tired passengers.

“Oh… and it’s another long corridor boys,” they joked as the crowd slowly moved around yet another corner in the airport. “Every ten feet we have to cheer.”

“Let’s light a cigarette and set off the fire alarm. That would get us all out of here quickly,” said another.

As the temperature in the packed hallways began to rise, others became more frustrated.

“We have no idea what is happening. These are crazy queues in Gatwick airport,” Gedi, a Lithuanian national returning to his home in the UK, told BI. “I’m feeling very sweaty and very hot.”

After around 50 minutes, BI’s reporter entered the main border control hall, where more staff were on hand, trying their best to calm the crowds and handing out bottles of water.

“It’s a national outage of the e-gates,” one airport official confirmed to BI. “The Home Office will know more, but it’s across all the airports nationwide. It’s unplanned.”

A massive

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