Travel News

Airport chaos as eGates fail again – what went wrong?

Simon Calder’s Travel

Tens of thousands of airline passengers arriving at airports across the UK faced waits of several hours last night after another collapse of the eGates system that automatically check passports. The IT failure took over four hours to fix, during which time large queues built up.

The latest nationwide failure of the eGates system started at 7.44pm on Tuesday evening. The Home Office says “a large-scale contingency response” was brought in within six minutes – basically, everyone had to have their passport checked manually.

With planes arriving every few minutes at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton, Edinburgh and other airports, queues quickly built up.

At Heathrow the pressure on space in the terminal meant that passengers were kept on planes, typically for half an hour.

Many people were waiting in line for two hours or more, and inevitably public transport shut down for the night – leaving many people to try to find taxis home or get hotels at the airports.

The system was restored soon after midnight, but the backlog took time to clear.

Simon Calder, travel correspondent atThe Independent, met some passengers at Heathrow as they emerged from International Arrivals in the early hours of the morning.

What did passengers say?

Fleur Lauriot was flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Heathrow to visit her family. “At the start of the queue, there was a kind of ‘every man for themselves’ attitude. People were queue jumping, which wasn’t good,” she said.

“We were queuing what felt for an eternity. But you know, as Brits, we love to queue.”

Mariella touched down at Heathrow from Athens at 8.30pm and eventually emerged from International Arrivals shortly before 11pm. She toldThe Independent: “It was just crazy for two-and-a-half hours. People lost their connection flights and had to go to hotels to sleep for the night.”

Shenaz, a Londoner, arrived from Lisbon ahead of schedule at 9.10pm. She finally cleared passport control two hours later. “British Airways staff were very good,” she said.

“The airport staff were good. It’s a computer glitch. You blame the the higher authorities.”

Across at Stansted, Jenny Barber said: “It was chaotic. No communication, no direction once you got to gates, hardly any staff. Appalling.”

How do the eGates work – and why are they so important?

Almost 300 eGates are…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…