Passengers who arrived at the airport this morning faced queues of several hours while others were even stuck on planes unable to disembark. The Home Office said the queues were due to a “technical issue”.
Emotions ran high as passengers were forced to wait in queues with no social distancing possible.
One tweeter, V K Baxi, said: “The shambolic goings on at Heathrow. My guest landed at 7am yet nowhere near immigration counter!
Hugo, tweeted: “Four hour delays at Heathrow at the moment. Border Force contacted…remembering how technology was going to solve the border in Ireland…and how you didn’t need to control ‘at’ the border as employers and landlords would be the line of defence.”
Kristen Covo, said: “How can we consider Heathrow to be a world class international airport up and running if this continues to happen?
“Five hour queues at passport control is not only completely unacceptable for any airport but especially one of this calibre, not to mention completely inhumane.”
Twitter user Fgy, said: “It’s about time the Government puts in fines for the airport management for poor performance. It’s absolutely shocking that people’s first experience in the UK they have to go through Heathrow mess.
“I simply vote with my wallet and refuse to travel through Heathrow wherever possible.”
Jade Ocean tweeted: “What a colossal s*** show. Do e-gates at Heathrow airport ever actually work?”
Tweeter Matt said: “Hell at Heathrow again!” Other people questioned why the UK seemed to have slower border services than elsewhere.
Charlie Trotman tweeted: “So I can get through immigration in Barbardos in less than 30 minutes, but Heathrow make you queue for hours, I would say it’s good to be back but…”
This incident comes less than a fortnight after more chaotic scenes at Heathrow when e-gates crashed on September 24.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Earlier today a systems failure impacted the e-gates, which are staffed and operated by Border Force. This issue, which impacted a number of ports of entry, has since been resolved and the e-gates at Heathrow are back up and running again.
“Our teams remain on hand and are working with Border Force to monitor the situation, and to get passengers on their way as quickly as possible.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This morning a technical issue affected e-gates at a number of ports. The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved.
“We have been working hard to minimise disruption and continue to monitor the situation closely. We apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”
The e-gates are managed by Border Force and allow passengers to self-scan their passport rather than dealing with Border guards.
The process is meant to speed up border control and avoid the chaotic scenes at Heathrow today.
Long queues at Heathrow over the August bank holiday weekend reportedly caused people to faint.
British passengers are supposed to be able to get through passport control in 25 minutes under the “service level” agreement Heathrow has with UK Border Force, according to the Independent.
Heathrow said in 2020, Border Force failed to achieve the target in six of 12 months of the year.