HEATHROW airport has been thrown into chaos yet again as angry passengers were forced to wait in long queues for hours.
Travellers faced a wait of more than three hours at Terminal 2 and 5 with no social distancing at passport control over the bank holiday weekend as they waited to pass strict Covid checks.
Travellers returning to the UK over the bank holiday weekend have been forced to stand in three hour queuesCredit: ferole86/Twitter
Some angry passengers blamed a lack of counter officials on the delaysCredit: @theantipleb/Twitter
Border Force officials had reportedly been told they don’t need to make Covid checks for travellers arriving into the UK from green and amber list countries.
The change had been introduced as a way of reducing queues but irate passengers vented their anger at having to be made to stand in long queues which had been described as “brutal”.
Furious passengers took to social media to vent their rage with one person saying “only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational” while others wanted bosses to “get more staff on desk”.
One person wrote: “I knew Heathrow Airport wait was going to be bad, but this is brutal.
“Families with young kids forced to queue for 2, 3 hours, standing, no food or water beyond what you’ve brought off the plane.
“Yes, it’s border force setting the rules but it’s Heathrow controlling conditions.”
Another said: “We just waited three hours to get through Border Control – it’s not to make families with young children queue like this. Get more staff on desk.”
They tweeted: “The immigration process took 3.5 hours not because there was a huge crowd of passengers but because only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational.”
A third passenger added: “23:05 Saturday night Terminal 5 horrendous queue full of families with children waiting to get through customs.”
In response Heathrow Airport tweeted: “Waiting times at the border have on occasion been unacceptable and we have called on the UK Government to address the problem as a matter of urgency.”
The airport added: “Immigration desks/E-gates can only be operated by UK GOV officials – not airport staff.”
The news comes after seven more countries were added to the UK’s green list of countries earlier this month, which included Germany, Austria and Norway.
According to a leaked report last month officials were told they no longer had to “routinely” check passengers arriving from green and amber list countries.
The immigration process took 3.5 hours not because there was a huge crowd of passengers but because only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational
An angry Heathrow traveller
Under the Covid rules, arrivals have to provide a negative coronavirus test taken before departure and complete a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of setting off to the UK.
Passport e-gates also no longer refer passengers to in-person checks by Border Force officers if a form is not found, it was claimed.
Anyone returning from a red list country must isolate in a designated quarantine hotel for 10 days after arriving.
The cost of doing so for one adult is now £2,285.
The delays were blamed on problems with the e-gates and illness among Border Force staff.
Responding to the leaked report a government spokesperson said carriers were checking all necessary requirements including forms and test bookings.
They said: “This legal requirement on carriers is underpinned by a robust compliance regime, which is overseen by regulators.
“Compliance with these rules is essential in order to protect the population from new variants of Covid-19, and so there will be tough fines for those who do not follow the rules.”
It’s not the first time Heathrow has been thrown into chaos in recent monthsCredit: ferole86/Twitter
One passenger described the queues as ‘brutal’Credit: ferole86/Twitter