Most frequent travellers have spent a good amount of time waiting in passport queues. But even the most patient of travellers would surely take issue with the wait times that have been brewing at London Heathrow Airport.
Data shows wait times for passport control at Heathrow rose above 2.5 hours on one day in July, with authorities missing their target of a maximum 45-minute wait for 95% of visitors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) on 30 of 31 days.
According to the data, which was obtained by Virgin Atlantic, 6 July was the worst day for wait times, with travellers from outside the EEA forced to endure queues up to two hours and 38 minutes, the BBC reported.
While the government said it would send 200 extra staff to Heathrow in the summer, Virgin Atlantic boss Craig Kreeger said other countries were managing their borders better than Britain.
"At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time," he said.
In a recent letter to The Times, British Airways boss Alex Cruz also weighed in on the issue, urging the government to tackle Heathrow’s “border farce”.
While travellers from within the European Union, the EEA and Switzerland can use electronic gates at immigration, visitors from other countries must be checked manually.
But there have been calls to allow travellers from ‘low risk countries’ such as the US and Australia to also use the gates.
Responding to recent results, a UK Home Office spokesman claimed, "the vast majority of people who arrive at Heathrow get through the border within our service standards”.
"But we understand the frustration for those who have experienced longer waits and remain fully committed to working with our partners to reduce waiting times as far as is possible,” he said.
“At the same time, we will not compromise the essential checks we carry out at the border which keep our country safe.”
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