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E-passport gates down at UK airports.
The issue can cause long delays for holiday travelers as all airports across the country that use the gate are affected.
The Interior Ministry confirmed the news but did not say how long the glitch would last.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of issues with the national border system affecting entry into the UK.
We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimize disruption to travelers.
Troubles at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester started on Friday night. All airports using e-gates will be affected, requiring manual passport checks for passengers flying in.
The union warned that queues could build up quickly.
Heathrow Airport issued a statement via Twitter confirming that the matter was ongoing.
Heathrow Airport Tweet: We are aware of a nationwide problem affecting eGates operated by Border Patrol. This issue is affecting multiple arrivals and is not limited to Heathrow.
Our team is working closely with border guards to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and we are deploying additional colleagues to manage the queue and provide passenger welfare. We’re sorry for the impact on your passenger’s itinerary.
Social media users have reported seeing delays and huge lines amid the holiday rush as failed electronic gates at airports across the UK have left travelers stranded for hours.
A user tweeted. @HeathrowAirport Total comedy here at T5. E-gates down – it’s been there for hours, why is there a lack of organization? @SimonCalder.
Another user warned travelers to prepare food and water amid chaos in airports across the country.
The problem comes at a busy time when airports are expected to see an increase in the number of travelers as holiday weekends coincide with semi-annual vacations for families across the country.
The e-gate failure is another setback for passengers at Heathrow, which has suffered dozens of cancellations this week after a British Airways IT system failure that disrupted travelers when 175 flights were canceled on Thursday and Friday.
More than 20,000 passengers were affected by system failures, and BA said staff were misplaced due to the cascading effect of technical problems.
Simon Calder, travel correspondent for The Independent, warned that the failure could spread further chaos beyond inconvenience to arriving passengers.
The entire UK Border Guard business model, including staffing this weekend, is based on the premise that the majority of arriving passengers will be able to use eGates. In addition to British citizens, EU nationals, Americans, Australians, Japanese and other nationalities are also allowed to pass through.
The simple task of verifying that a passport is valid and that it belongs to the traveler presenting it is a transaction that is usually performed easily and efficiently with eGate technology. With these routine burdens removed, UK border guards can spend their time on cases of interest arriving from abroad.
However, if you have to manually check every arrival, the processing time will increase significantly, resulting in very long queues.
Passengers may be required to board an aircraft if immigration is unable to manage arrival flow. This means that delays can accumulate for departing travelers who cannot board the plane.
The issue will also affect France’s UK border posts at Eurostar terminals in Calais, Dunkirk and Paris Gare du Nord.
This is breaking news and will be updated on an ongoing basis.
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