Heathrow Immigration

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  PaulJennings 5 Mar 2010
at 14:33

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  • Anonymous


    This is not a subject I have seen discussed on this forum but I wonder what others experience is of immigration handling is at Heathrow.

    My experience yesterday was awful with enormous queues for British and EU nationals. Added to this was the chaos that ensued when additional staff were found and opened desks without warning and without any form of control on the queue. I would normally use IRIS but I had two kids with me.

    If they used a Disney style queue system as they do in many countries then this would not happen and everyone would receive the same level of service. When there is too few staff then everyone waits, when they are fully staffed then the queue would move faster. Hong Kong, and many other have such a system.

    The big question however is just why a EU/UK national should have to wait more than a few minutes to get in. Yesterdays queue was around 30 mins and all the bags from out flight had arrived when we got down stairs.

    I appreciate that they have tough job at times however I find that they lack any form of customer service skill and that they are often grumpy, aggressive and unapproachable. In short, they are not good ambassadors for Britain and provide a pretty awful welcoming committee. I shudder to think how they treat people with immigration problems or who do not speak.

    In the developed world I would argue that they are, like Heathrow itself, at the bottom of any league table. My experience in the USA has always been better that at Heathrow, though I know from many others that I have been pretty lucky. Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and much of Europe however, seem to have people in these roles who actually like dealing with people, the complete opposite of my own experience when coming home.


    This is LHR we are talking about, the same problems along with BAA’s management that have failed to be addressed for years & will probably never be.

    The Iris scan does not compare to similar scheme around the world, eg Schipol.

    However, the Governmental policy of NOT having border controls at LHR, means that you are not logged as leaving the UK!!!

    What is the point of not checking who leaves when we have all the stringent entry requirements? It defies common sense & all logical.
    I fly out of T4 & i have not had my passport checked leaving in 3 years!

    Amsterdam Schipol, Shengen to Intercontinental you always go through Immigration, & special Security check your passport prior to boarding at the gate for flights to the UK. All other countries in Asia, Oceania, Middle East i travel through, Always have in & out registration, controlled borders.

    It makes the whole process pointless & unbelievably incompetant here, let alone the queues & poor version of the Electronic versions…


    I must admit, coming through LGW the other day the Immigration staff were fine. Polite, yet they did their job efficiently. Other pax seemed to be served in a similar way. Haven’t used LHR Immigration for a while now but I usually find them sullen. And, what’s with the pseudo-fascist new uniform?I wonder if it makes the Immigration staff extra officious and right-wing. :o)


    My bugbear with Heathrow Immigration is at T3.

    There are 2 queues for non-EU citizens, to which the ward directs passengers entering into this area to both queues equally (or if there is no ward present, passengers simply file into one or the other).

    Now this is where it gets silly.

    The first queue (furthest to the left) ALWAYS has more immigration officials than the second queue. On my last 2 trips through T3, I made a point of counting: 7 immigration officials processing the 1st non-EU queue and 2 officials processing the 2nd non-EU queue. On my last trip thorugh it was an astonishing 5 officials in queue one and 1 official serving queue two. Of course the passengers are not very happy (to say the very least) to see one queue move at a much, much faster rate than the other.

    Can’t Immigration simply put equal numbers of officials to service each queue? It seems to be a logic too far.

    To give credit where credit is due; I have always found the staff (Immigration officials) to be very courteous and display the utmost in professionalism.


    The last two times i’ve arrived at manchester all the recognition machines had red crosses on them meaning “no can do” for those with machine readable passports, its a farce here too!


    No problems with LHR immigration recently – in fact the T4 experience on arrival from Australia in October was second to none. With a UK passport from the back of economy on a packed flight, I was from plane to car in under 20 minutes. Immigration was a breeze and I was very impressed.

    T5 has been equally good – off a flight from SFO (directly onto an ‘A’ gate) had a 18 minute plane-to-train time.


    I travel out of Birmingham quite often. I came through to passport control off a Milan flight and spotted what I thought was a band member of McFly on passport control. As I wandered up to have my passport checked I felt compelled to speak out and advise the young man that it was about time he had a haircut. The elderly chap directing passengers laughed and so did the other passport checkers. My passport checker replied that he didn’t care. But he did care because three days later I was back and there he was with short hair, his tie done up, his shirt ironed and the stubble gone from his chin. I caught his eye and gave him a thumbs up. Shame he needed telling but that’s society these days.


    LHR Immigration – often slow, usually sulky, never friendly. Definitely an example of why the client state is a bad idea.

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