Delays at UK airports as IT failure hits biometric passport gates

Passengers arriving at airports across the UK faced major queues on Friday after an IT failure hit the electronic passport gates operated by Border Force.

Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh airports all reported problems with the gates, which allow travellers with biometric passports to pass through border control without a manual inspection.

Passengers also reported problems at East Midlands airport.

Heathrow blamed a “systems failure” which affected some entry points to the UK, but said the e-gates were back up and running just after 3pm.

Earlier Edinburgh airport had told passengers: “The UK Border Force (UKBF) IT issue is nationwide and UKBF teams are working to resolve this.

“All available UKBF staff are in the arrivals hall to carry out necessary checks and allow passengers to pass through the border as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

The documentary maker Louis Theroux was among those forced to wait in long queues at Heathrow.

He wrote on Twitter: “Human logjam at Heathrow – apparently all the e-gates at all the airports are down? That’s what the man just said.”

A Home Office spokesperson said it had resolved the problem by mid-afternoon on Friday.

“This afternoon a technical issue affected e-gates at a number of ports. The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved.

“We have been working hard to minimise disruption, and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”

Border Force has more than 270 e-gates at 15 air and rail ports around the country “to enable quicker travel into the UK”.

Confirming the resolution of the issue, Heathrow airport said: “Earlier today, a systems failure impacted the e-gates, which are staffed and operated by Border Force. This issue, which impacted a number of ports of entry, has since been resolved and the e-gates at Heathrow are back up and running again.

“Our teams remain on hand and are working with Border Force to monitor the situation, and to get passengers on their way as quickly as possible.”

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