LHR Border Force in Meltdown? or not?

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  Tom Otley 29 Jun 2018
at 12:21
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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 27 total)

  • frustratedflyer
    Participant

    If you read yesterday’s Evening Standard the front page had BA stating that queues at Heathrow were “totally unacceptable” and up to 2.5 hours with targets missed a staggering 3500 times this year (which is double last year). They forecast a summer or misery.

    Personally I thought things had got better or have I just been lucky? Am I alone or has it really got worse?


    stevescoots
    Participant

    Landed last friday at 19:45 into T5 from JFK. only a 3rd of the E gates turned on, EU lane was snaking down the corridor and non eu area was full.

    Took me 20 mins to go through E-gates. Non EU i would guess would be looking at at least an hour.

    There seemed to be very few staff around except on the EU desk where there were 3 open, with one in use.

    At no point did those in charge think they would pull a few out of the e-gate line or the non EU lines and get them in the EU desks that were manned but thumb twiddling.

    Flew into Philly last week and they were moving people over from Non US to the US lanes when they were empty. Philly took me 25 mins to clear


    rferguson
    Participant

    I think the article should have done some comparisons with passengers (and crew!) entering some US airports – LAX, JFK, IAD – waits are typically an hour at least.

    One thing I will say for the US is at least they are making an effort to reduce the queue times. Much of the processing is now done electronically by machines which if they are able to process your passport (which only seems to happen for around 60% of people – double barrelled names/hyphenated names/have two passports etc forget it) has at least helped speed up the process a little.

    US citizens returning home can now register to use passport control with their mobile phone.

    I don’t understand why the UK hasn’t installed similar technology.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I don’t understand why the UK hasn’t installed similar technology

    I am sure it will all be in working order when LHR T6 finally opens…


    alainboy56
    Participant

    Came through T3 at 16.45 on Thursday last week and to my surprise all was well. There were no queues at the e-gates, even though perhaps only 60% were open.
    Maybe I was just lucky like @frustratedflyer, as I am normally ‘spitting feathers’ on arrival at the lack of organisation and the incompetence of these ‘numpties’.
    My nervous system was given a break for once.


    lostantipod
    Participant

    I think the article should have done some comparisons with passengers (and crew!) entering some US airports – LAX, JFK, IAD – waits are typically an hour at least.
    ….

    Well there is no way my waits at LAX and SFO this year were an hour. Not even half that. Used the ESTA machines and then joined a short queue to see an officer. Whereas returning to LHR T5…using the inappropriately named “fast track” for non-EU passport holders…half an hour to 45+ mins to process 10-15 people. Ridiculous. Whereas 10 years ago i could use an IRIS machine and be done in minutes. Passengers come last in all this ….UK Borders bureaucrats hiding behind “we dont apologise for thorough security” is disingenuous.


    briancarr
    Participant

    Same problem at Birmingham, queued for 1hr 45m. before reaching egates, with five people on non eu doing nothing.


    AnthonyDunn
    Participant

    Travel tip time: try using LCY if you can (and your route permits). We returned from UIP on Sunday evening (okay so 75 minutes late wasn’t the end of the world) and with plenty of people arriving, there were proportionately far more e-gates open there than you will ever see at LHR or LGW. We were through in less than five minutes.


    MarkCymru
    Participant

    I think that Border Force staff are deliberately wasting time. When I got to the front of a 15-minute EU queue (no e-gates open at all), the official asked if I was aware that Basel was not in the EU. I looked blankly and then made the mistake of pointing out that the airport is physically in the EU, albeit that it is considered to be outside it for customs purposes. This triggered a five minute diatribe from the officer. Remember that this was at passport control, not customs, so there was no conceivable justification. He had had a similarly meandering conversation with the woman in front of me


    capetonianm
    Participant

    When I got to the front of a 15-minute EU queue (no e-gates open at all), the official asked if I was aware that Basel was not in the EU

    Whether you go through EU or non-EU border is determined by the country of issue of your passport. Where you started your journey is completely irrelevant (unless Basel is now a country!)


    JuanFSaco
    Participant

    Basel is as much a country as Wales, and is one of the 26 member states of the Swiss Confederation. As a border patrol, even when the strange situation arises that one is travelling from non-eu-schengen to (still-)eu-non-schengen, the fact that one is entering the European Union is certainly relevant, moreso if one seems to have misunderstood the (legal) situation of most of Basel airport and might be unaware of the import restrictions from a non-EU state.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Who actually foots the bill for the immigration staff numbers at the airports – the airport operator or the home office?


    MarkCymru
    Participant

    From Wikipedia: “Euroairport … is governed by a 1949 international convention…The airport is located completely on French soil; however, it has a Swiss customs area connected to Basel by a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long customs road, thus allowing air travelers access into Switzerland bypassing French customs clearance. The airport is operated via a state treaty established in 1946 wherein the two countries (Switzerland and France) are granted access to the airport without any customs or other border restrictions … Though the whole airport is on French soil and under French jurisdiction, the Swiss authorities have the authority to apply Swiss laws regarding customs, medical services and police work in the Swiss section, including the customs road connecting Basel with the airport. However, French police are allowed to execute random checks in the Swiss section as well” (I was quite clear that I understood its customs status, although I have no idea why that was an issue at passport control. I’m a British citizen who was coming home)


    alainboy56
    Participant

    @MarkCymru – I am very surprised you found one so intelligent. The numpties I have the displeasure of talking to have not much idea about anything.
    I have mentioned here in other threads, of how I once had an altercation, if one can call it that (actually, I often have brief, heavy discussions with these idiots), when they asked me where I had come from. After asking why? What does it matter? I start getting the “I have a right as an immigration officer” nonsense, and so I relented and said “OK I came from Doha on QR – Happy now?”. And they put something in the computer and then I remarked “You see, you do not know what you are asking me! Nobody lives in Doha, its a ‘one horse town’, everybody is merely passing through, so your question is useless and shows a complete lack of understanding. I have nothing to hide, so I will tell you I came originally from Abu Dhabi, in UAE, but those whom may have something to hide will NOT tell you they came from Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc, they also will tell you they came from Doha, and they maybe in the queue behind me carrying a British passport, so stop wasting my time, and do your job!” It ended there.
    Incidentally, that very day, and as it was the usual long zig-zag queue, there were ahead of me, but we kept passing each other as we moved forward, 2 Afghani ladies, at least they were dressed as such with complete head to toe Burkas, and both were carrying ‘brand spanking new’ British passports.
    It really is no surprise that there are so many problems in the UK. This UK Border Force, dressed like Gestapo officers from WWII, are about as much use as ‘chocolate fireguards’.


    openfly
    Participant

    When asked where I have come from or going to I always reply with the name of the small town I live in. Never questioned!

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