Border Force ‘technical issues’ cause chaos at major UK airports leaving passengers stuck in queues

Passengers reported a huge queues and described the situation as an ‘absolute shambles’

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Friday 26 April 2024 10:32 BST
Related video: Simon Calder explains smart passports as UK to begin new trial

A nationwide Border Force outage caused chaos at several major UK airports yesterday, with “a technical issue” affecting electronic passport gates for hours.

The software outage impacted airports including Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Heathrow, with passengers describing it as a “shambles” and complaining of queuing for up to an hour as a result.

The outage caused queues of up to an hour long
The outage caused queues of up to an hour long (BeardOnTheBlock/Instagram)

The incident was first reported by Edinburgh Airport yesterday afternoon, and a statement posted on X/Twitter confirmed: “This is resulting in longer wait times for arriving passengers. Our teams are in the arrivals hall providing support as partners from UKBF work to fix the issue.”

In response to the tweet, one passenger shared a picture of people queuing and described the situation as an “absolute shambles”. Another person complained of “zero communication” and said the area was “completely jammed up.”

It was reported by Edinburgh Live that passengers were queing for at least 45 minutes as a result of the outage. Meanwhile, a passenger affected by the outage at Manchester Airport told Manchester Evening News they’d been waiting for 30 minutes and were only halfway through the passport control queue.

Replying to London Stansted’s similar social media update during the software outage, another passenger responded: “I am indeed in the huge queue.”

At 4pm yesterday, a spokesperson for UK Border Force said: “We are aware of a technical issue affecting eGates across the country. We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”

UK Border Force has now resolved the issue and eGates were up and running again at all affected airports last night.

Electronic passport gates (or eGates) are used to scan both a person’s face and their passport to confirm a passenger’s identity using biometric technology.

A spokesperson for UK Border Force told The Independent: “Yesterday a technical issue affected eGates across the country. The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved. We have comprehensively reviewed the causes and will ensure this issue does not occur again.”

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