Britain’s automated border control gates have returned to normal operation, the Home Office said last night, after a nationwide system issue caused major delays.
Images posted on social media earlier showed long queues of hundreds of people at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, with frustrated passengers complaining of having to wait several hours in line.
“Following a technical border system fault which affected e-gate arrivals into the UK, we can confirm all e-gates are now operating as normal,” Britain’s interior ministry said in a Twitter post.
“We thank those travellers who were impacted for their patience and staff for their work in resolving the issue.”
While many foreign visitors to Britain need to see a border control officer upon landing, others, including British, EU and US citizens, can use the automated gates known as e-gates to scan their passports and enter the country.
The issue with the automated gates, which came during a busy period for travel in Britain with a spring bank holiday on Monday and a half-term break for schools next week, meant all passengers had to be processed at manual checkpoints.
British airlines and airports have faced other disruption over the past year including from separate strikes involving airport staff and Border Force workers, and from cancelled flights caused by staff shortages last summer.
Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, said it had deployed extra staff to manage the queues and worked with Border Force to help resolve the problem.
“What’s going on @HeathrowAirport? Just landed to scenes of utter chaos. 2 hour queues just to get to the real queue,” one passenger posted on Twitter.
Separately, a French computer outage at Dover border control caused miles of traffic to build around the port, as people headed abroad on the extended weekend.
The issue at Dover was caused by France’s Border Control systems going down for around an hour this morning.