Heathrow chaos as passengers queue for SIX HOURS at passport control
Chaos at Heathrow as passengers queue for SIX HOURS for passport control with no social distancing, food or water as ‘just two staff man 10 desks’
- Passengers at Heathrow last night waited hours to get through passport control
- Just two UK Border Force staff were manning 10 desks at the airport on Sunday
- Heathrow Airport pins blame for delays on the Home Office over a lack of staff
- Arrivals say the airport turned into ‘hell on earth,’ as they queued for six hours
Chaos struck Heathrow Airport last night as passengers queued for six hours to get through passport control with no social distancing, food or water as just two members of staff manned 10 desks.
Ten flights are believed to have arrived close to each other at the airport as Terminal 2’s immigration hall filled with people who were fuming that only two officials were on duty at the passport counter to check their documentation.
Irate passengers were left furious as they stood in line for hours to pass through border checks, with one warning: ‘This is how you spread the virus.’
Passengers posted images of the chaos as they stood close to each other in a sprawling, giant queue, which they described as moving at ‘slower than snail’s pace,’ or ‘not moving at all.’
Some complained that they were forced to stand alongside passengers from red list countries, who have to go into quarantine hotels but were mixing with those who had travelled from countries not on the list as they waited.
Heathrow Airport has pinned the blame for the delays on the Home Office, saying Border Force desks were not sufficiently staffed to deal with arrivals and Covid-19 checks.
A spokesman for the airport said today: ‘Border Force needs to continue to maintain adequate resourcing and effective processes to prevent unacceptable queue times.’
The Home Office, however, has vehemently denied that only two Border Force staff were working, stating that employees work in socially-distanced bubbles, and that other desks were open for arrivals.
Passengers were left furious as they waited more than six hours to pass through border checks at Heathrow Airport on Sunday night
One woman said the queue was ‘hell on earth’ as they waited to pass through border control on Sunday evening. Some were left ‘in tears,’ as they waited
Heathrow Airport was branded a ‘disgrace,’ for the queues, but the hub has said the delays are the fault of the Home Office, as it failed to provide enough Border Force staff to deal with arrivals
Aura Radu, 24, arrived on a flight from Romania at 6pm on Sunday but did clear passport control until just after midnight.
She told MailOnline: ‘It was like hell on earth. Hundreds of us were made to wait for more than six hours and when we asked security staff what was going on, they just shrugged their shoulders. It was horrendous.
‘We had no food, and it became very hot and a lot of passengers like me almost fainted. We pleaded with officials to give us some water, which they eventually did.
‘There were passengers from red list countries and others who were not, all mixing together. It was complete chaos, an utter shambles.’
Staff handed out water to delayed passengers, but they say there was no food and no room for social distancing. One person warned: ‘This is how you spread the virus’
With the queue moving at a ‘snail’s pace,’ many passengers resorted to sitting on the floor and waiting for some movement
Aura Radu, 24, arrived on a flight from Romania at 6pm on Sunday but did clear passport control until just after midnight. She told MailOnline: ‘It was like hell on earth’
Most of the passport control booths were empty last night, despite hundreds of passengers being forced to wait to get out of the airport
Petre Stanaringa said: ‘Absolute madness, thousands of people in queue for more than 3 hours now, this is how you spread the virus!’
Another passenger tweeted last night: ‘We have been stuck waiting for passport control at Heathrow Terminal 2 for more than four hours.
‘No explanation provided. The queue has stopped moving in the last 30min, there are just two agents checking passports at at least 10 desks.’
One Twitter user posted a picture of the chaos along with the message: ‘The state of #heathrow yesterday-spent 6 hours queuing at immigration control.
‘Thank god for the guys with speakers and the friendly people around me-probably caught Covid tho. What happened @HeathrowAirport?! Enough to make you never want to travel again.’
Tom Warwick posted: ‘What’s the point in quarantine hotel, if Heathrow collect everyone in a room for 5 hours with no real segregation before quarantine.
‘I spent five hours next to a woman who was flagged as Red list and hastily taken away at the final desk. Heathrow’s failure to plan & install systems.’
Twitter users Roger Hooker posted alongside a picture of the queue in the immigration hall: ‘pop down to @HeathrowAirport terrible scenes in Terminal 2….dangerous.’
Ioana Dinca, another frustrated passenger fumed on Twitter: ‘This is the queue in front of me-nothing moved for 30 mins!!! People are tired and hungry and nobody seems to take responsibility…horrible way to treat people.’
Ms Radu revealed that the delay in Heathrow’s immigration hall meant she missed her train back to Reading and was forced to take a taxi, which cost her more than £50. She did not get back to her home until 3am.
Heathrow apologised for the ‘stress and frustration,’ experienced by passengers, who raised concerns about the spread of Covid-19 in the queue
She fumed: ‘I understand that thorough checks need to be carried out over Covid tests, passenger locator forms and other things.
‘But the airport needs to have a better system in place. How can you only have two people dealing with some many passengers, that is taking inefficiency to the extreme.’
Ms Radu, who works in HR demanded that Heathrow management reimburse her and all other passengers who were forced to fork out extra money to get home.
She said: ‘Heathrow should apologise to us all and pay us back what we have had to pay. Passengers missed trains, flight connections and many were left stranded because of their incompetence.’
A Heathrow spokesperson said this morning: ‘When additional measures were implemented at the border, we were clear that the implementation was not just about one day.
‘Border Force needs to continue to maintain adequate resourcing and effective processes to prevent unacceptable queue times for arriving passengers.
‘While our teams are on hand to support Border Force, it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure their processes are properly managed.’
MailOnline has approached the Home Office for a comment.
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